Thursday, December 31, 2009

Look up and fear Allah

I couldn't help but quiver in fear when I looked up at the moon 30 mins. ago as I walked out of my grandmother's house heading home.

I drove around looking for a mosque that was praying the eclipse prayer and could find none. I went through Faiha, Roudha and finally Bayan, all the mosque's had their lights off.

My cousin headed prayers during tarawee7 sometimes, and he said they didn't get any notice from the ministry to prepare for Eclipse prayers tonight.

I wonder why?

Not to rain on New Year's partying? I hope I'm wrong.

Please, look up and fear your God. and do as his messenger asked us to do and pray until it is lifted.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Please Watch Food Inc.

3eedkom Mbarak everyone.

Please watch this movie. It will open your eyes wide to some pretty horrific facts that affect you directly 3 times a day. (here's the u torrent client if you don't have one, install it first before you click on the movie link).

Sure at some times it is a bit too heavy on american sentimentality towards animal treatment, but most of the time it is very straight forward, logical and smart in its pacing and simplicity of presentation so we can understand the enormity of its implications.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Wonderful Insight Into How Our Brains Work

My brother sent me this the other day, please please please watch it:

World Science Festival 2009: Bobby McFerrin Demonstrates the Power of the Pentatonic Scale from World Science Festival on Vimeo.

What do you think this means? aside from being astonishing.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Litany Against Fear + Death by Stoning

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

This is the Litany of Fear, any reader of Frank Herbert's DUNE books will recognize. They're probably the most memorable lines in the book. It described desert dwelling arab-looking bedwins wearing "still-suits" which recycle and distill the body's own liquids, of perspiration and urine. Men who's sign of respecting one another is to spit infront of them, because the liquid is their most sacred possession. Men who are awed when someone sheds "tears" for a dead loved one. "Giving water to the dead". The dead who have no use for the water which you give in tears. To them the act is so wasteful and irrational, it can only be explained as a mystical religious act.


Another story caught my eye yesterday on BBC & the Indepedent:

Saudi princess 'given UK asylum'

Princess facing Saudi death penalty given secret UK asylum

It's curious that the 2nd story in the Independent wrongly states that the child also would face death. As I understand it, Shari3a law ac states that the pregnant woman awaiting stoning or flogging is made to wait until birth, and in some cases even allowed to nurse the child for sometime if needed, until the baby can survive without her, and THEN she would be flogged if she wasn't married, or stoned to death if she was.

This is a classic case of the conflict in moral values between us muslims and those of the west.

What do you people think?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Intolerance? No, it's more like Love

Sorry for the long absence. Was too busy with many different things, not least of all my MBA thesis is due in October and I still haven't chosen a topic... I don't know what I want to write about, I'm not particularly passionate about business in itself I guess. Sure I find the whole crashing of the financial markets interesting, mainly because I'm all "Allah told you so!". but that's preaching, it's not an academic question.

But anyhow I came across this Aya in surat al-Ma'eda:
لَقَدْ كَفَرَ الَّذِينَ قَالُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ الْمَسِيحُ ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ وَقَالَ الْمَسِيحُ يَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ اعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ رَبِّي وَرَبَّكُمْ إِنَّهُ مَنْ يُشْرِكْ بِاللَّهِ فَقَدْ حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ الْجَنَّةَ وَمَأْوَاهُ النَّارُ وَمَا لِلظَّالِمِينَ مِنْ أَنصَارٍ
لَقَدْ كَفَرَ الَّذِينَ قَالُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ ثَالِثُ ثَلاثَةٍ وَمَا مِنْ إِلَهٍ إِلَّا إِلَهٌ وَاحِدٌ وَإِنْ لَمْ يَنتَهُوا عَمَّا يَقُولُونَ لَيَمَسَّنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِنْهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ

"They do blaspheme who say: "Allah is Christ the son of Mary." But said Christ: "O Children of Israel! worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord." Whoever joins other gods with Allah,- Allah will forbid him the garden, and the Fire will be his abode. There will for the wrong-doers be no one to help." (72) "They do blaspheme who say: Allah is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except One Allah. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy), verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them." (73)

Now, the above clearly and unequivocally declares those who say Jesus is God, or say Jesus is the Son of God, both to be kufaar. It doesn't matter if they were kindhearted people. Because Allah declares Shirk (Idolatry) to be the greatest of all sins

إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَغْفِرُ أَنْ يُشْرَكَ بِهِ وَيَغْفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَلِكَ لِمَنْ يَشَاءُ وَمَنْ يُشْرِكْ بِاللَّهِ فَقَدِ افْتَرَى إِثْمًا عَظِيمًا

Which translates that God does not forgive Idolatry, and all other sins are lesser and are forgivable.

Why am I writing this?

Well, some find the above pretty obvious, and in no need of explanation, but I found people who question even these basics. Some of my relatives were even angry with me when I said that Christians go to hell no matter how nice they are.

But also, the real reason is that I have Christian friends who are close to me. I like them and think they are swell guys. I also do not lie to them that they are perfectly alright with their beliefs. What kind of a friend I'd be if I did that? to know from the Qur'an that my friend is going to hell and stay silent and not attempt to talk to him about it would be one of two things:

1- I don't believe in the Qur'an's every word. or..
2- I betray my friend for the sake of staying in his good graces so I can enjoy jokes and laughs with him during Dinya.

I don't personally like either of these two. So I find it compulsory to warn those nice Christians I meet all over.

Ofcourse here I don't exclude Jews either :P so I suppose I should at some stage talk to my buddy Israel about it, but that would be a trickier discussion. Because as far as I know, modern day Jews ARE monotheist. But they reject Mohammad's prophethood pbuh, and hence reject the word of Allah the Qur'an.

Anyhow, in the end, I'm saying that this isn't a message of Intolerance, it's a message of Love. because it's very "inconvenient" to tell it in the first place, and there can't be multiple rights. there's only one right. As Allah says just after the above ayat in il-Ma'eda:

أَفَلَا يَتُوبُونَ إِلَى اللَّهِ وَيَسْتَغْفِرُونَهُ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ
Will they not then turn to Allah and ask His forgiveness? And Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Life of Pi

I just finished this wonderful book. Read it over almost one whole year, mainly because I don't read unless I can't get on my computer. Which ends up being when I'm traveling, hence my bookmarks are always boarding pass stubs!

It's about a young Indian boy named Piscine, or Pi as his self chosen nickname. His dad is the proud zookeeper of Pondicherry Zoo, a humble community attraction in none other than Pondicherry, South East India.

If you can get past the introductory 1/3 of the book (which is in itself both entertaining and funny), you reach the point where Pi's family have to migrate to Canada, so they sell the animals to various Zoos around the world, and board a cargo ship heading to Vancouver across the Pacific.

The ship Tsimsum is carrying many of the animals which have been sold to Vancouver Zoo as well, and then it sinks... and Pi's stranded "cast-away" journey begins.

Pi finds himself sharing a lifeboat with a Zebra, a Hyena, an Orangutan a few flies and last but definitely not least, a 400 pound Bengal Tiger.

From this last tidbit you probably think, "ok.. so it's a fantasy about a mini Noah's Ark.. I see where this is going." But hang on..

The Animals do not have philosophical conversations with each other about the meaning of life. Instead, they behave like real animals and Pi tells you what happens in frame by frame Clarity that bests the National Geographic, and with him trapped in there, with Reality that makes you regret putting the book down each night as you realise how late the hour became.

The boy Pi tells us that he is a Muslim, a Christian and a Hindu all at the same time. He also manages to have his Muslim Mulla and his Christian Priest as well as his Hindu Guru to accidentally meet all at once and have one of the most amusing exchanges I read in years.

But amusing anecdotal quirks aside, the book simply wants to show us how deeply aware of God Pi is. And ultimately and eventually, how this relationship ends up between the two towards the end of his ordeal at sea.

At the beginning of the book one Indian old man tells the western author:
"I shall tell you a story so wonderous that I promise you, by the time I am finished, you will believe in God!"

One point during his lonely time in the middle of the ocean Pi says one of my favorite lines that stuck with me:
"The stars shone with such fierce brilliance, it seemed ridiculous to call the night dark!"

and this one about Atheism:
"To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation."

Enjoy :)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

‏ ‏لن يفلح قوم ولوا أمرهم امرأة

هذا الحديث في صحيح البخاري كتاب الفتن رقم 6570

حدثنا ‏ ‏عثمان بن الهيثم ‏ ‏حدثنا ‏ ‏عوف ‏ ‏عن ‏ ‏الحسن ‏ ‏عن ‏ ‏أبي بكرة ‏ ‏قال ‏
لقد نفعني الله بكلمة أيام الجمل لما بلغ النبي ‏ ‏صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ ‏أن ‏ ‏فارسا ‏ ‏ملكوا ابنة ‏ ‏كسرى ‏ ‏قال:
لن يفلح قوم
ولوا أمرهم امرأة

و المقصود "نفعني الله بكلمة أيام الجمل" أن أبي بكرة رضي الله عنه كان مناصرا لأم المؤمنين عائشة رضي الله عنها بعد مقتل عثمان رضي الله عنه و لكن لما وصل أمر الفتنة الى القتال رجع أبي بكرة و كف بسبب هذا الحديث


The question here is being a parliament member considered "welaya 3amma" or not.

Since Majles il-Umma's main function is to be the "Legislative arm of Government", it is actually in a higher position than the "Executive arm of Government". Because simply put, it lays down the laws which Government should follow.

I also think the position of "Judge" is also "welaya 3amma". And again I don't think a woman should be appointed Judge either.

So based on the above 7adeeth I think it's a prophetic statemtent that speaks about any people who appoint a lady to public office.

I did not vote for women yesterday, and I had no doubt in my mind that Ma3sooma (my vote is in her constituency) was a great person. If she had been a man, I would probably vote for her. But again I didn't vote for her because of this 7adeeth.

So best of luck to Kuwait in their misguided choice to place 4 women into Parliament. Inshalla we don't get more in the future.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Bridge in the Title

For the longest time I thought Monet's Water-lilies was my favorite painting of all time. It sits in Japan's Museum of Western Art, and I don't plan on visiting Japan anytime soon.

But later I saw his Japanese bridge series and my eyes were lost in the green shades in it, and I changed my mind about my favorite of all time. You guys remember Robin Williams' movie "What Dreams May Come"? Heaven was presented as if it were a Monet impressionist canvas.

I know that any stretch of the imagination of what Heaven would be like is going to do it great injustice. But we can't help trying to imagine it, because we hope for it so much. Hope for the final lasting joy we'll meet there.

Here's a collection of the paintings which Monet painted in Giverny with the bridge at it's center. Thank God for Monet's failing vision by the end of his years.

note: if you find the paintings a bit fuzzy, try clicking on them to get clearer resolution.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Is Being an Extremist a Good Thing?

*Judith's face in "Judith Beheading Holofernes" by Caravaggio

Before you can answer, you need to know what the word "Extremist" means 1st correct?

The meaning according to today's media is usually referring to any "religious fundamentalist". Which is why recently news broadcasters are more careful to add "Islamic", so the title becomes "Islamic Extremist".

Sometimes non-religious groups such as the secular Turks go SO overboard that even they get to be called "Extremists". In their case, their secularism becomes a religion in itself (take one look at Attaturk's shrine and how Turks feel about him to confirm this).

Some Christians get called Extremists, some Orthodx Jews get called Extremists. So the term is definitely not specific to Muslims. But is really more related to Ideology.

But how about we go to the root of the word itself? EXTREME.

1. the farthest point
2. an unacceptable or extreme nature or degree: the extremity of his views alienated other nationalists
3. an extreme condition, such as misfortune
4. extremities hands and feet

So hands and feet are extreme too! because they are far from the center.

Also there's a negative connotation to it, "unacceptable", "misfortune".

Being Extreme basically means "far from the center". And we mostly feel that that is a bad thing, but why is it a bad thing? I'm not disputing, I'm only trying to understand why.

The center is good. Why though?

Most people in any given situation will be congregated around a fuzzy middle. And the farther away from that "average center point" the fewer people you'll find. So the Extreme sides of any argument usually finds the least amount of supporters for it, correct? (usually atleast)

If you stay in the middle, you'll find yourself closer to "most" people. And hence have the least amount of arguments. It's the point of equilibrium. The point of least resistance.

In contrast, if you stand on the edge of a spectrum, you'll have the biggest amount of argument with everyone else. It's the toughest place to sit peacefully.

A calculation of any airline's trip distances would show this clearly:

If you wanted to serve the same destinations from the far east of Egypt, (for example Sharm elShaikh), then the total of all these distances would become alot higher.

So if we correlate distance between places to differences in ideological views, then we can say that being in the middle makes you the most popular, and least hated among the people around you, right?

Which is exactly why Extremists are the most disliked people anywhere.

So the answer is clear here, Extremism is bad right?

Well, the answer will depend here on whether or not the views of the majority of society (which by definition is the middle) are good views, or bad views.

But if the definition of "good" is to "get along" and "be good to one another", then being in the "center" is the best thing for that as we just discovered right? I mean, in order to have the least amount of argument or "trouble" with other people, the best thing is to follow what the majority wants right?

After all that is what Democracy is all about.

Ok.. but it gets more problematic when the "center" of one society differs from the "center" of another.. so which is the "correct" center? In Muslim societies it's very inappropriate to drink alcohol, while in others around the world it's alright if taken "in moderation".

One might say it's ok to drink if you're in the West, but you should stop when you're in a muslim country. That is what my English friend visiting Kuwait would do. He'll try to "blend" in. He's again trying to "please everybody as best he can". Changing his position according to the surroundings.

But again, drinking a glass of wine is either "good", or "bad". Regardless of whatever everyone around you feels. It is either:
1- Poison. so it will harm you and is bad for you EVEN IF YOU'RE IN THE WEST.
2- Healthy in small doses and good for your heart as long as you don't get yourself drunk. So according to this view it is good for you EVEN IF YOU'RE IN SAUDI ARABIA.

So basically what I'm trying to say is, if we always assume the center to be good, we still don't have a clear picture of what rules we should apply in order to become good people. The Aztecs used to think they should sacrifice a person every day:

If you teleport an Aztec high priest to today's world he'd feel ashamed and depressed that he's forbidden to sacrifice people for his gods. Talk about severe culture shock.

Well to cut a long story short, because this post is already too long, I don't believe the center is always "good". I believe that whatever God tells us to do is always "good". Even when it becomes out of style. In the minority. At the extreme.

Alot of what is now considered to be the "norm", such as:
1- Athiesm or Idolatry (Worship of men or denial of God's existence)
2- Reba. (Usury, or Loans with Interest)
3- Zina. (Unmarried sex)
4- Gay and Lesbian sex.

These are only examples of things which God clearly forbids, and which today's western societies do not forbid.

People don't do these things because they think they're the "right" things to do, they do them because they don't like to be told to stop doing something they like. People did not make long and careful scientific studies to determine the long lasting effects (good or bad) of the above behaviors, and then base their judgement based on the results. People simply reject God's authority over them, and do whatever they like to do.

No one in his right mind would have speculated only 1 year ago, that the World's Economy would collapse because of debt. And now they can't stop talking about it. And the crisis is real and hereto stay.

1 year ago I argued with another MBA student that the current form of loans is 7aram and is bad for the economy. And his answer was "If we stop doing interest loans, no one will loan, projects will stop and the economy will stop!". Why don't we consider that without interest loans the economy will continue to go ahead using Joint Ventures? partnerships. The people with money and the people with Ideas will become partners in success or failure, which makes the financier WAY more careful with their money and where they invest it.

1 year ago I was the Extremist on this particular topic. and now my view is inching it's way towards the center vveeeerry slowly. But in order to learn the lesson we needed a world-wide crisis? (and even now most westerners don't agree that the Islamic model is the best still, even though they lowered their interest rates from Gov. to Banks to almost Zero ANYway!).

The main outcome of being a muslim, is to believe that Allah's way is the best way. Without needing proof.

So I for one don't need a world-crisis to learn that Riba is bad. Even when the rest of the world is doing it.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Israel = 3abdAlla ... ?

Spirit of Nature by Betty Rubinstein

I was astounded too when I learned what Israel translated into. The sources (and here as well) I checked explain it by separating its two parts:

1- Isra (or the hebrew verb sara).
2- El, which is a short form for "the God" il-Elah.

So the 2nd is obvious, but what about the 1st part? They seem to point to the meaning of "Dominion" and "Rule". But then they go into really ugly blasphemous meanings where Jacob (who's name is Israel) supposedly fights and overcomes the Angel of God. And by extension, "He who dominated God". Which I think is ridiculous.

But from a Muslim's point of view, I think the meaning makes perfect sense if it simply means "Dominated".

So Isra -El would become "Dominated by God". Which in arabic is simply: Abd Allah.

So the prophet Jacob pbuh was simply named 3abdalla :)

Another translation for "ysera" mentioned was: "striven or saved".

Again I reject the meaning of "striven against God" which they suggest, but the latter is ok with me: "Saved by God"

I'm not sure which of the two is correct, "Dominated by God" or "Saved by God". But I like both.

Now, what started this whole question in my head was that I recently added a guy to my MSN contacts whose very NAME is Israel. I chat with Israel from time to time these days!

feels weird doesn't it?

So what's the background? who and why? the plot shall thicken I promise you.

About 1 year ago our ISP was facing a problem with people who consume lots and lots of bandwidth using bittorrent. They're usually 2-4% of the total number of users, yet they consume as much as 20-25% of the total pipes.

No devices existed at the time that cached the files which you get through bittorrent. Caching is so simple and useful, it basically means when more than 1 user tried to download the same file, then the system would save the huge file locally on its disks so the 2nd time it would not have to pull it through the expensive international links. Saving lots of bandwidth in the process.

However, we found 3 companies that did it for Bittorrent, and only 1 of them worked well enough to be used in a live network serving half a country.

The product worked so well and I loved it so much that I took it as my personal crusade to resell it to other ISP's in the region!

The catch was that the company that makes it originated in Israel. And dealing with Israeli companies is illegal according to Kuwaiti law. And also morally I would feel very uncomfortable handing cash to people who support bombing ghazans so brutally and so on and so forth.

The company did everything it can to "mask" it's true identity, by basing its main office in Boston US, changed the numbers of all it's support employees to US numbers. Yet, strangely the support engineers would "wake up and sleep" in sync with the middle-east's timezones?

Ya3ne i7na mo aghbiya or naive lhaddaraja.

Now, when it comes to my own moral dillema here, if there was a "Mexican" company for example that made a similarly effective product, I'd switch to it in a heartbeat. but there isn't.

So I decided to not only buy it with a strong conviction, but also to resell it and believe in it and add my own sales/marketing markup on top >:-P

I'm even giving a presentation this coming Thursday in Bahrain to other ISPs in the middle east showing them how this system benefited our network.

Either go all the way, or not at all. There is no middle ground.

What do you guys think? am I doing something wrong here?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Cable Cut 2 Days Ago

"The Waiting" by Morteza Katouzian

And yet another cable cut in the FOG cable (sea fiber cable linking Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Dubai) happened 2 days ago, on 31st. March 8:30 PM.

This is the 4th cable cut that affects Kuwait internet in the last THREE MONTHS only *mumble grumble*

And to top it off, our Ministry of Communications officially tells us it has NO MORE capacity for ISP's to purchase to cross over the Khafji border into Saudi (The Saudi side has bandwidth to offer, but our side doesn't, because there's no minister to take the decision of buying the new equipment. We're talking no more than 20k-40k KD here).

So now we are about 20% down from our normal bandwidth capacity, which explains the congestion and latency last night. The latest update is that the ship reached the cable off the shore of Dubai last night, and estimated time to finish is 4 more days. Will update you inshalla.

Update 6th. April, 2009

The cable is now fixed since last night, and they began testing it and bringing the downed circuits back up this morning around 9:30 AM.

il7emdella 3alassalama

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Yesterday I Was Happy :)

Yesterday was the milcha (official marriage) of one of my close work friends (Bojacob) to my cousin.

Seeing them happy made me happy, and I hope to God they make each other happy for the rest of their lives =)

What's up with the "mini 3ers" that happens at the milcha?? I thought that was too much honestly. There was a mini-koosha too.

My mom, my aunts and sisters were.. almost un-recognizable. Even Um-Jacque came to visit from the U.S.!! she's almost 90 I think. She played with me when I was about 1 year old in Florida. She can't get enough of Kuwaiti culture. All her daughters and granddaughters call her "Yuma" :)

My daughter Taiba (8 yo) surprised everyone with her dancing!! she danced so much she ended up sitting in the middle of the floor from tiredness lol

Mabrook Bojacob and mabrook cuz. I'm truly happy for you two.

Monday, March 16, 2009

I'm Only 3.5 Years Old

I believe now that (and this is debatable) a person who chooses to not pray (even for 1 prayer) is not a muslim anymore. I also believe that whoever stops being a muslim, all his past good deeds become void and useless. Ya3ne bel3arabi esaffer il3addad.

And I only started praying regularly and on time for the past 3.5 years. And I thank Allah profusely for that, and ask Allah fervently that I never leave it ever again, til the day I die.

So I'm only 3.5 years old.

Also, tonight, I sat in a cafe' across a long time friend of mine, who used to be quite religious and is extremely well-educated intellectual. He called me up yesterday that he wanted to sit with me to "talk".. and that he had a... "crisis of faith"... that's how he said it over the phone. And from that phone call until a few hours ago my mind was so worried about what he meant. We rarely go out to talk. almost never. never one on one atleast. So all through last night I was worried if he was serious or only joking. Shino qasda crisis of faith?? those aren't light words at all.

And tonight in the cafe' he tells me that he agrees that there's only one God and that God exists.. but he's wondering how can he be sure that Islam is the correct religion.. is the Qur'an really the word of Allah, and that possibly it was made up by Mohammad (pbuh)...

I won't attempt to say everything he said to me.. or everything I replied with.

I just tried to be as calm and methodical as I possibly could.. while hiding (or trying anyway) my shock and disbelief at the words coming out of his mouth.

We parted with me simply stressing to him that he asks guidance in this matter from Allah and that if he's really truthful in his plea, God will not lead him astray.

And as I dropped him home and drove off my face contorted fiercly with great fear and horror for what is "possible".. that such a previously religious person could openly utter such blasphemy. sej sej inna Allah yahdee man yashaa' wa yudhillu man yashaa'.

I was chocking up in the car just desperately asking God to save myself and save those who I loved the most from the fate of kufur.

I'm only 3.5 years old, I'm a baby basically. And I witnessed a grown man die infront of me as he spoke.. paid the bill then walked with me towards my car. a dead man. Sub7aan Allah.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

High Divorce Rate in Kuwait?

First of all, the proof. Is there really a high divorce rate in Kuwait?

This report says that "The divorce rate in the UAE has touched 46 per cent, the highest in the AGCC. The divorce rate in Qatar is 38 per cent; it is 35 per cent in Kuwait and 34 per cent in Bahrain"

Why is it this high? I think it's because we're spoiled. plain and simple. And we love ourselves more than we love other people.

A good, productive and stable marriage is built on one's ability to "LOVE" someone else and make sacrifices for them. We in this region as a whole are materialistic and wealthy. Couples get married because marriage is the new "thing to do", it's merely the new toy. Maybe the honeymoon period is the only highlight of the whole affair. Both sides needed intimacy and (Yes,) they needed some good sex, so they get married to do it. There's nothing wrong with that. Infact if there's one good thing this says about our society is that atleast some young people feel that they should "get married first" before "doing it". That's a noble and encouraging thought.

But after the 1st few months? the 1st couple of years?

First sign of trouble, and you see both sides contemplating the "Dee" word. They think "I don't need this.". And rightly so, they really don't need it. Either of them. Both are wealthy, both have high paying jobs, their rooms in their parents' houses are still empty and perhaps are still untouched with their original furniture of the previously "single" boy or girl.

So High Divorce Rate in Kuwait means 2 things:
1- We're too spoiled to want to stay in the marriage team. (Negative)
2- We still respect our Islamic sensibility enough to get married in order to have regular sex. (Positive)

So what will happen to us in umm... say 50 years?

The world will be less dependent on our oil, the oil will become less abundant anyway. We will become poorer in general. Right?

We will have less materialistic "toys" to play with. We will become less spoiled. And I think we will tend to stay committed to our marriages more.

Our men will start actually doing some "work" to earn a living. And less of these jobs will be suited to women, and the women will have less incentive to leave the umbrella of her husband's (modest) financial security.

Just like the stories of our grandfathers and grandmothers, remember those?

Now, is that a bleak picture? I don't think so!

With less material distractions, and with healthier marriages, I only see us becoming happier people.

What do you think about that upside-down logic? :)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Dr. Laurence B. Brown's Conversion Story

I found out about Dr. Laurence Brown from my aunt, then I looked him up and found his website and turned out to be truly his, and the story was authentic from his own telling. The first few times I told the story to others, I couldn't help choking up as I reached the end, it is nothing short of truly miraculous:


There is a certain fascination with conversion stories, and for good reason. Frequently they involve dramatic life-altering events, sufficient to shock the convert out of the materialistic world and into the spiritual. Most who pass through such moments of trial and panic experience an overwhelming feeling of helplessness, and turn to their Creator in prayer. In virtually every case I know, they forget the strained theological formulas they have been taught and instinctively pray directly to our Creator.

For example, a lady once related her ‘Born Again Christian’ conversion story on a popular evangelical television show. This lady told how she had been the sole survivor of a terrible boat-wreck. During her days and nights alone in the harsh elements of the open ocean, she told how God spoke to her, guided her and protected her and how, seeking His favor, she prayed to God and to God Alone. In her long tale, she mentioned God over and over again, and never once mentioned Jesus Christ. However, the moment she was saved by a passing ship, she threw her arms open to the heavens and yelled, “Thank you, Jesus!”

There is a lesson here. When in panic and stress, people instinctively pray directly to God, without intermediary or intercessor. That is the default setting of our spiritual consciousness. However, when relieved of their distress, people frequently return to their previously held theological formulas, no matter how strained or bizarre. All converts feel God saved them, and that the miracle of their salvation justifies their beliefs. But there is only One God, so it makes sense that there can only be one religion that is true in all aspects. Hence, only one group can be right and all others are, to one degree or another, wrong. For the latter group, their personal miracles serve to confirm them upon disbelief rather than upon truth. As Allah teaches in the Holy Qur’an, “Allah leaves astray whom He wills and guides to Himself whoever turns back [to Him]” (TMQ -- Translation of the Meaning of the Qur’an: 13:27) and “So those who believe in Allah and hold fast to Him – He will admit them to mercy from Himself and bounty and guide them to Himself on a straight path.” (TMQ 4:175) As for those astray in disbelief, our Creator leaves them to stray upon whatever misdirected path they themselves choose.

So who will become Muslim based upon my conversion story? Only one person: me. Muslims might appreciate my story, others might not. Either way, here it is:

In 1990, I was in the last year of my ophthalmology residency at George Washington University hospital in Washington, DC. My second daughter was born October tenth. To my great dismay, she was a dusky, gunmetal blue from the chest to the toes. Her body was not getting enough blood, and the cause was found to be a coarctation of the aorta -- a critical narrowing in the major artery from the heart. Needless to say, I was shattered. Being a doctor, I understood she needed emergency surgery, with a poor chance of long-term survival. A consultant pediatric cardio-thoracic surgeon was called from across town, and I left him in the neonatal intensive care unit to examine my daughter. With no companion but my fears, I went to the hospital prayer room and fell to my knees. A product of Christian-American heritage dating back to 1677, nonetheless this was the first time that I even partially recognized God. I say partially, for even then I prayed the prayer of a skeptic, “Oh, God, if you are there . . .” I promised that if God existed, and if He saved my daughter and then guided me to the religion most pleasing to Him, that I would follow. I returned to the neonatal ICU roughly fifteen minutes later, and was shocked when the consultant told me that my daughter would be fine. True to his assessment, within the next two days her condition resolved miraculously, without medicine or surgery. She grew to be a perfectly normal child and as of this date -- July 2008 -- is on the verge of her eighteenth birthday.

Now, as I said before, I am a doctor. And although the consultant provided a medical explanation for my daughter’s miraculous recovery, I simply didn’t buy it. I remember him explaining about a patent ductus arteriosis, low oxygenation and spontaneous resolution. But I also remember thinking, “No,” my daughter’s salvation was not a medical miracle, but a divine one. Many who make promises to God in moments of panic find or invent excuses to escape their part of the bargain, once God relieves them of their distress. I could easily have assigned my daughter’s recovery to the doctor’s explanation rather than to a miracle from God. But faith had entered my heart, and it wouldn’t leave. We had cardiac ultrasounds taken before and after, showing the stricture one day and gone the next, and all I could think was that God had made good on His part of the deal, and I had to make good on mine. Even if there was a medical explanation, that was nothing more than the pathway by which Almighty God chose to answer my prayer and effect His decree. I did not then, and I do not now, accept any other explanation.

For the next few years I tried to fulfill my side of the bargain, but failed. I studied Judaism and a large number of Christian sects. I felt I was on the right track, close to the truth but not upon it. I never fully embraced any specific Christian formula, for I could not reconcile the differences between Christian canon and Jesus’ teachings. Eventually I was introduced to the Holy Qur’an and Martin Lings’s biography, Muhammad, His Life Based on the Earliest Sources.

During my years of study, I had encountered the Jewish scriptures’ reference to three prophets to follow Moses. I had concluded that John the Baptist and Jesus Christ were two, but that left one. In the New Testament Jesus Christ spoke of a final prophet to follow. When I found the Holy Qur’an teaching the oneness of God, as both Moses and Jesus Christ had taught, I become convinced Muhammad was the predicted final prophet. Suddenly, everything made sense: The continuity in the chain of prophethood and revelation, the One-ness of Almighty God, and the completion of revelation in the Holy Qur’an. It was then that I became Muslim.

Pretty smart, hunh? No, I would err greatly if I believed that I figured it out for myself. One lesson I have learned is that there are a lot of people more intelligent than I who have not learned the truth of Islam. It is not a matter of intelligence but of enlightenment, for “…whoever believes in Allah – He will guide his heart” (TMQ 64:11), “Allah chooses for Himself whom He wills and guides to Himself whoever turns back [to Him]” (TMQ 42:13), “And Allah guides whom He wills to a straight path.” (TMQ 24:46)

So I thank Allah that He chose to guide me, and I attribute that guidance to one simple formula: recognizing our Creator, praying to Him and to Him alone, and sincerely seeking His guidance. And whom He guides, none can lead astray.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Standing Next to a Murderer.. infront of God

About five years ago, at the lunch table with my family, having m6abbag Balool extremely fresh and tender, my dad and grandmother were talking in low shocked voices:

Dad: "He did what???"
Grandmother: "inna lillah wa inna ilaih raje3oon, what can you do or say? it's hard to imagine."
Dad: "That man?? he prays with us in our mosque!! are you sure it's him??!"
Grandmother: "Yes I am sure as I am sure you are my son. There's no mistake."

Then they stop while my dad shakes his head "La 7ola wala qowata illa billah". and my grandmother sighs and her hand forming her next lugma not enthusiatsically. My dad's shock stopped him from eating altogether. My eyes following both of them with concern and curiousity, I can't help but ask what's going on? And they tell me the horrific story.

This man who's only maybe a few years older than I am, in his mid 30's at the time, very quiet and mild mannered, divorced with children, and regularly prays at our neighborhood mosque, was in the newspaper for murder.

Turns out he was not mentally stable, and was on medication for a long time. I would never have suspected it, because he always had this air of calm and good manners about him. He even walked slowly, never rushing to catch a rak3a.

The reason he was in the paper was that he had come to his father's house one day, where his ex-wife lived with his children, he got a knife from the kitchen, and as he sharpened it he told his eldest daughter not to be afraid, and that she would go to heaven, then as she was totally unsuspecting, he cut her throat. (that was pretty hard to type out)

He was going to continue with the rest of his children but his son ran crying to his mother and they all escaped.

The man disappeared and the case was famous at the time, it was too shocking to comprehend.

I had trouble for a long time to connect the face of the man I remember from the mosque to the man in the story. I couldn't imagine such a horrific act from ANYone I knew, let alone knew from the mosque.

Almost a year ago, I see the man in our mosque and my dad points him out to me.

He must have been released from the psychiatric hospital and heavily treated, and God knows what has been done to him. I am not a legal expert, but I think perhaps a death sentence wouldn't have been understandable in his case. Who could gaurantee that he's not a danger to anyone now? What if he forgot to take his pills?! My mind is having trouble handling him, free and so close to me physically. There are many parents who bring their sons to the mosque, from 4 years and upward. I fear for their safety near him.

Since he came back his presence has been very noticeable to me. Where he sits. He sits at the right back corner of the mosque with a few cushions and a Qur'an on its X shaped wooden carrier. He prays in his spot all the time, before and after prayers. He reads that Qur'an all the time. He doesn't talk to anyone. And not many talk to him.

Sometimes I see one of the old respected men of the mosque sitting with him talking softly.

I am always aware of his presense or absence. And whenever he turns towards me I intentionally turn my head away from him, ignoring him. I can't bring myself to say Salam to him. Always on the defensive around him.

I also feel sad thinking of his crime and how is he dealing with his guilt. He certainly looks like he's in pain because of it. I can't imagine what sort of strong will to live and faith in Allah's mercy he must have just to be able to walk and eat and breathe every morning, and pray and ask for Allah's forgiveness. I feel sorry for him. But I also can't speak to him or even offer greeting.

Yesterday and today it was by chance that he stood next to me for the first time in salaat. Which pushed me to write this post.

We're both men of very different circumstances. il7amdulillah Allah gave me beautiful kids and a beautiful wife who loves me and I love them all. and I can't imagine hurting them. And next to me is another man who has many years ahead of him and has to live with this horrible crime he did. He's not in prison for life, he's not sentenced to death. He's a Kuwaiti who the government didn't know what to do with. It's too strange to judge. But his biggest judge which he has to face now is Allah's judgement.

All he has to face that is repentance. As much as he is man enough to muster.

I still can't bring myself to pray to Allah to forgive him. I don't know him much. I don't want to know him at all. I am curious to what he's thinking now, but he repulses me.

And the wonderous and amazing thing is... No one can ever say who was a better man as we stood there, me or him.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Giving and Receiving in the Didache

I was thinking of avoiding people who hurt you in any way this morning. Usually they do it without meaning to. But in the end, the hurt is received, and it is not pleasant. You may have a certain level of tolerance for being hurt. A threshold for pain. Anything bellow that level is fine, you can take it. But with time, either that threshold becomes lower, or the hurt being received becomes higher, and they meet in the middle, and you can't endure it, you can't take it. You WANT to endure it, because enduring it would be good. But your knees simply buckle from underneath you and you fall. Or perhaps not yet, they just threaten to fall.

And then your alarm goes off. You have to protect yourself from more hurt, otherwise the next hit will surely mean you WILL fall. And you don't want to fall. Falling is the most shameful thing that could happen. So what to do? if you tried returning hurt back, you would know how useless and bad that was. It only breeds regret. And regret makes you hate yourself for being not wise enough.. to simply just.. avoid.

If you simply want to avoid hurt, you just stop receiving from people. You close the door shut, to the good as well as the bad. And you definitely never ask to receive.

As I was pondering all this, this morning I was researching old texts from the Bible (I needed information talking to a christian who was curious about Islam), and I came to hear of the "Didache", it's a text believed to have been written in greek by early 100-200 A.D. christians concerning the newly converted, and as I read into it, I found this piece (what's between parentheses are my comments):

Happy is he who gives according to the commandment, for he is guiltless. (Generousity)
Woe to him who receives; (The Warning)
for if one receives who has need, he is guiltless;
but he who receives not having need shall pay the penalty, why he received and for what. (The Accounting and the Reckoning)
And coming into confinement, he shall be examined concerning the things which he has done, and he shall not escape from there until he pays back the last penny.
And also concerning this, it has been said,
Let your alms sweat in your hands, until you know to whom you should give. (The Responsibility and Care in Helping those who Deserve it)

What struck me was the responsibility tied with receiving. You can't get anything completely for free. If someone is kind to you now.. you need to be careful of the hurt that might come later.. if for no other reason that they feel entitled to.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Lesbo Concert One Summer Evening

I've been a fan of the Indigo Girls since the 80's. And when I went to San Diego this past summer and saw that they were to play at this place: Humphrey's "Concerts by the Bay" me and my youngest sister immediately booked tickets and went.

The catch was that both Indigo Girls are lesbians (but not lovers themselves), and at the time California was juuuuust starting to issue marriage licenses to gay/lesbian couples, it was an issue being talked about all over the news.

The morning the courts started doing that me and my wife went to a great breakfast restaurant which serves the best scrambled eggs with home baked bread, along with cut fruit and watermelon, the whole table is just filled with hearty juicy food. There were atleast 4 different tables around us that had gay couples dressed in tuxedo suits, with maybe a pink/peach handkerchief neatly tucked in. All celebrating their "weddings". One table had two couples with their families celebrating, the table was so long it took the whole side of the place.

The mood was festive, everyone was happy, they all felt like it was a triumph for humanity and justice.

That night at the concert with my sister I was waiting for salat ilmaghreb and I can clearly see when the sun is setting on the pacific horizon. So I get up to go to the bathroom and I'm told that most of the restrooms are reserved for women. The door with the Male sign has been taped with a piece of paper that said:
"We are sorry, but this restroom is for women only. Please use the male restroom at the gates"

Turns out since most of the fans for this band were also lesbians, 90% of the people attending were women. So I go and join the line of grumbling men waiting to use the single male-dedicated bathroom at the gates, overhearing lines like "How's this for discrimination", and "This is so unfair".

As my turn comes I quickly do my ablution (wudhu) and I hear the opening band starts, Brandi Carlile (The Story):

Lovely song, but I have a bit of a hard time finding a suitable patch of grass behind the bungalows and the stage to actually pray.

Then when I go to my seat which happened to be many rows behind my sister, because she reserved her ticket a month before, while mine was almost a previous day's notice. And surrounding me on all four sides were lesbian couples. And as the night went on and the songs became more affectionate, and the more beer consumed, the more kissing and smooching that happened all around me.

I felt VERY out of place and VERY uncomfortable needless to say. True that I had a good time repeating the words of some of the songs almost by heart, since they were so familiar to me. But I didn't actually like alot of what they stood for, I simply liked the beats and melodies which they wrote. As far as gay/lesbian rights go, I think what Allah decides in them is the most appropriate. Imagine if all the gay/lesbian people in the world lived in a single country, by theory and definition, that country should become extinct in a matter of 50 years or so... basically it threatens the continuation of the human race. Nothing serious really :P

My sister was screaming her head off on 2nd row, so she was clearly having fun. Good for her. Plus as a full blown feminist, the frenzy of justice and vindication for women was right up her alley, true she's not really comfortable with lesbians either, but I suppose she can indulge in some denial here, details details.. don't get bogged down in the details. Only liberty matters right? sure whatever.

And in the end, the noise was so loud throughout the concert my head hurt and I thought to myself, I could have just downloaded their albums and listened in the comfort and solitude of my iPod...... right?

But atleast Ms. Carlile was a pleasant surprise.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

His Voice Tore My Heart Out

I 1st heard his voice talking to BBC's Lucy Ash last Thursday, he was afraid for his children. This morning I heard him again on BBC, his voice barely sustained, his sobbing unstoppable, three of his daughters and a niece killed in their room by a tank shell slamming into their building. This happened Friday, the exact next day after the 1st interview I heard.

This is the full heart-wrenching story from BBC's Lucy Ash:
Gaza doctor's loss grips Israelis

He used to work in Israeli hospitals helping jewish mothers deliver their babies. He's been an activist for peace. And during the 21 days of bombing he's been a frequent face of Palestinian suffering on Israeli TV, and 1 day before the cease-fire his tragedy is as we speak shocking Israelis to their core, and forcing them to question what they did to Gaza.

This is the same story reported by Haaretz:
Israeli-trained Gaza doctor loses three daughters and niece to IDF tank shell

And now all he could muster was a cry of impaling pain "Why did my daughters die?". I ask of Allah to give him the faith to endure this and hope for God's reward.

Only a couple of days ago I got a call from my wife that my 4.5 yo son ran infront of a large Yukon at the co-op and got his foot wedged under the tyre before the driver managed to stop the car quickly and the tyre didn't go over my son's foot. il7amdellah alf. Thankfully his foot didn't have any breaks, just a minor injury to the muscle and it swelled.

The point is, when I first heard it on the phone, I was silent for about maybe 5-10 seconds, then was able to ask where they were, and that I'm going to follow them to al-Razi hospital. I guess those blank seconds had my head filled with fears of what might be wrong with his foot, and if the injury is going to ruin his foot permanently or not. and so on of the many fears a parent might have for his child.

It only occured to me to thank God later. Maybe 1 hour later. And I don't mean only thank Allah that his injury wasn't any worse (God forbid), but I mean actually accept the bad and thank Allah for it. because even the bad things than happen to us can be good things if we thank Allah and be patient.

I truly regret that I wasn't able to come to my senses on the spot, and consider how minor this event was. and consider how this doctor lost three of his eldest daughters in a single moment. I really ask of God never to place me a in a moment of enormous test like this one without me being ready to accept it and be thankful for it.

Yalla la teblana.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Kiva Rocks the World

Ever heard of Kiva before?

Ever heard of Micro Financing?

It's somewhat like charity, but where you get your money back.

Mohammad Yunus started the whole thing with Grameen bank and won the Nobel Prize for it.

The IDEA is simple:
You give a small loan to a poor person with a small idea (usual example: indian lady wanting to buy a sewing machine). That lady then repays the loan (without interest) using the income of the sewing machine, and can then support herself better. The lender keeps a database of the loan and repayment schedule, and if the lady doesn't pay back in time, she's not taken to the police, she's simply blacklisted to not receive any more money in the future.

The repayment rate is usually between 98-100%!!!!

These people take their loans seriously.

So what's Kiva? It's a website that takes this model to the next level, the INTERNET.

It lists thousands of loan seekers, and you can lend any of them using paypal! You get your money back over a certain time period.

Here's a video that tells the whole story:

A Fistful Of Dollars: The Story of a Loan from Kieran Ball on Vimeo.

Friday, January 2, 2009

A Mouse Trap That Doesn't Work..

I only recently noticed a comment by "The Wise One" under "My Friend The Atheist" in which he basically proclaims that he is an atheist himself and mentions a few issues which he thought were proofs that Islam is a lie and also mentions "Intelligent Design" and how our human bodies are not well designed.

I wish to respond. O' Mr. Wise One:

You mentioned how our blood vessels are all chaotic and tangled up. You prefer them all proper and straight and parallel for example? you don't like that there's way too many in there? more than what's efficiently needed? And what about redundancy and failure tolerance? You see chaos but when you get cut and start bleeding, you don't think how all a doctor really has to do is put the parts close together and wait for these veins to find their way to each other and mesh? How come you don't marvel at that? How do cells understand what they need to do as group? how is it that when the healing is sufficiently complete, that the cells actually STOP?? because you know that extra unwanted rampantly growing tissue is nothing but cancer. How is it that we don't get cancer after every cut?

Intelligent Design proponents usually bring the example of a simple Mouse Trap. I recommend this book I read a few years ago "Darwin's Black Box". We all know that the basis of the theory of evolution is "Survival of the Fittest". That random mutations occur throughout generations and which ever mutation is more "fit" (stronger, faster, smarter, more gorgeous) , is more likely to reproduce and survive, while the "unfit" (weaker, slower, dumber, uglier) is less likely to have offspring, and eventually die out of the population.

The problem is that some of our biological systems are so complicated and advanced in order to give the slightest bit of benefit, that slow and gradual mutation can NOT produce middle steps that are "partially beneficial" to the animal.

The book explains in heavy detail the process of blood coagulation, or clotting. If you get cut and your blood doesn't clot quickly, you'll bleed until you die. No one has yet been able to show how the modern clotting process could have had a simpler ancestral chain which would have worked, say with 50% or even 20% effectiveness.

To illustrate the idea more, the book uses the example of a mousetrap, which is many many times simpler than the chain of chemical reactions which clotting needs. To make a mouse trap to work and catch mice, you need about 4-5 parts to make it work. A base, a spring, a hammer, a holding bar and ofcourse the cheese. Those parts need to be aligned so carefully together in order to be ready to trap anything, (I remember that from my childhood qubbi trapping days). Now if any of the parts is missing, or not positioned correctly, the whole trap's effectiveness would not be reduced by a certain amount, the whole trap would STOP working. There's no "previous ancestor mutation" to it. Any previous random mutation to the mousetrap would have been a complete failure at catching mice.

And since we know that these mutations take 10's of thousands of generations to occur, I ask why would any organism that includes a bunch of parts of a system that does not really benefit the animal in any way, keep the system? wouldn't evolution theory dictate that a useless mousetrap be removed? to save the energy and cells required to make it atleast. The animal itself can not predict that the system of parts is useless now, but is HOPING to evolve it into a useful mousetrap 100's of yearsin the future, and thousands of generations later.

I agree that evolutionary mutation is correct when each step produces a benefit. But when each individual step does not produce a benefit, then why would the animal continue in that path? the more logical way for it is to mutate backwards and remove the part in later generations no?

Here's a link that the author of the book Behe talks about an evolutionary experiment where a kind of bacteria evolves to be able to benefit from cirtus Multiple Mutations Needed for E.Coli:

if only one mutation is needed to confer some ability, then Darwinian evolution has little problem finding it. But if more than one is needed, the probability of getting all the right ones grows exponentially worse. “If two mutations have to occur before there is a net beneficial effect — if an intermediate state is harmful, or less fit than the starting state — then there is already a big evolutionary problem.” (4) And what if more than two are needed? The task quickly gets out of reach of random mutation.