Monday, January 24, 2011

What makes a super man?

The term Manhood is a pretty loaded word. Mainly because of it's long existence I suppose. For as long as there was man, there was the word man.

On a most basic level it is a noun for our species. But I intended in this post to talk about the term as opposed to woman.

So do I mean Man as in Male?.. again on a most basic level, yes, but surely there's much more to it than that right? the term is "loaded". It means much more than just the anatomical aspect of it.

If I attempt to delve a little deeper and spell out some of the those "unspoken" meanings of Manhood, we can start with:
- Honor
- Providence
- Responsibility
- Strength
- Security
- Vigilance

Ok, these are only the positive sides of Manhood. Or we can say "being a Man" is supposed to be a positive thing. Sure there's a negative side to each of these qualities, like:
- Strength misused for Brutality
- Providence into Selfish stinginess
- Vigilance into Oppression
and so on..

So let's cut to the chase.. being "Male", on a most basic level gives strength and power. It can be financial power, muscular power, political power, you name it. It is mainly "out-doorsy" power. Feminists can kiss my ass but when it comes down to it, women in this world only have power which men have provided to them. Women are only safe because men are protecting them. AS THEY SHOULD! don't get me wrong.

Hmmm.. I don't like the way this post is heading.. I intended it to talk about what's a proper measure of a man. And I veered off into defining what a man's role compared to a woman's is. I suppose it's inevitable. How about I just summarize where I come from and let it be:

خطبة الوداع للرسول صلى الله عليه و سلم يوم عرفة السنة 10 هجرية:
أما بعد أيها الناس إن لنسائكم عليكم حقاً ولكم عليهن حق. لكم أن لا يواطئن فرشهم غيركم، ولا يدخلن أحداً تكرهونه بيوتكم إلا بإذنكم ولا يأتين بفاحشة، فإن فعلن فإن الله قد أذن لكم أن تعضلوهن وتهجروهن في المضاجع وتضربوهن ضرباً غير مبرح، فإن انتهين وأطعنكم فعليكم رزقهن وكسوتهن بالمعروف، واستوصوا بالنساء خيراً، فإنهن عندكم عوان لا يملكن لأنفسهن شيئاً، وإنكم إنما أخذتموهن بأمانة الله واستحللتم فروجهن بكلمة الله فاتقوا الله في النساء واستوصوا بهن خيراً

So this shows what a muslim man's attitude to women should be. "Fear Allah with regard to women, and take good care of them." And he started with women's rights before men's rights. Which I think is so appropriate and elegant because it is men who are more likely to abuse these rights, not women. Why? simply because they are able to.

So what makes a good man, and a better man? and what makes a superman?

I'll put it in as few words as I can:"The best man is a man who takes care of the most number of people, well."

A son taking care of his parents, is better then one who doesn't.

A husband taking care of his wife (well) is better than a bachelor.

A good father with lots of kids and a wife (all well taken care of) is better than a good husband who chooses not to have kids.

A good manager in a company taking care of a dept. is better than a good employee who only worries about his own work. The bigger the company, the more employees, the better.

A president of a whole country (well taken care of) is better than a good company manager/CEO..

you surely get the picture. The more "dependents", the better.

Assuming the quality of the "care" is constant and uniform. Then the more people the better you are. and the more of a Man you are.

المؤمن القوى خير وأحب الى الله من المؤمن الضعيف، وفى كل خير

Having said that, it seems in this day and age, the roles are shifting. Dependency is not so obvious and glaring like it was 50 years ago. Some women single-handedly take care of many people, so this argument I'm making isn't exclusive to men only. Equally, the more people a woman takes care of, the better "woman" she is.

I wonder if there's a list somewhere of the top 100 People in terms of "how many people being taken care of by this person".

Thoughts anyone?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Most/Least Valuable Thing?

I think the most valuable thing in the WORLD.... is humility.

and the most worthless thing in the world is...? you guessed it. arrogance and self-worth.

I see or hear in the news about a country president who is attempting to change his country's constitution in order to be eligible for re-election for an indefinite number of terms. And I cringe at that person's arrogance and self-worth. I hear someone screaming down at a worker or a maid just because they gave them a task which they didn't do to perfection (a perfection that only exists vaguely in that person's mind, and is not consistent, and can change after a day or two).

I literally cringe with disgust when I see such belittlement of others. and the scary part is, if I had done it, I probably wouldn't have noticed anything wrong. I would probably feel I am worthy of being superior than those around me, and I'm showing them what's right for their own good. Even though my real motive would be to show them how superior I am to them, and that they should know it in their cores never to challenge me.

Self-worth is purely a lie. that is the main source of it's evil. It is simply misleading and drives you to do some things that are out of your capabilities, yet you'll think they are within them. We think we know all the ins and outs of a problem, it's limits, it's variables, we think we have total control over something. Therefor we know what's best.

But we don't know everything, and the more we believe that we do, the more we think that what seems risky behavior in the eyes of others, is totally safe. So we do risky behavior and lead others towards destructive outcomes.

On the other hand...

I haven't seen anything in this world more beautiful than humility.

And what sort of humility do we mean really? how many kinds of it are there? A person can never show real and genuine humility to another except when they feel that they are truly and unquestionably inferior to them.

If I walk to my office and pass by the teaboy, and he accidentally stumbles and spills coffee over my clean white dishdasha first thing in the morning. What would stop me from cursing him for his clumsiness and low education. Clearly thinking that it was his fault and his parents' fault for not educating him enough to get a better job than this one. For not knowing exactly how many cups of coffee he can carry safely without spilling them. For not judging properly how many cups his tray can carry.

In my arrogance I could go on for hours listing all the flaws in this poor man's life that led him to this simple unfortunate event of spilt coffee.

And also in my arrogance I would forget to list all the necessities and forces that made it impossible for his life to have taken any other course. Choosing to skip college in india and work as a tea boy right in his early teen years wasn't much of a real choice for him. Choosing not to start a small farm with modern high-yield farming practices, in order to increase his family's prosperity and freedom wasn't much of a real choice since he didn't know how to do all that, and without someone teaching him how to do it, it would have been very unwise for him to risk what little assets his family had with such a project that could fail.

In reality... if I had infinite knowledge about all the factors that controlled this teaboy's life up to this point... if I had known how he had no REAL control over his life in order to land this lowly job, and no control over the genes he was born with to have such muscles which would falter at this particular moment and cause him to spill coffee all over me..

If I had all that knowledge, I would understand FULLY that it wasn't really his fault. so I would do my utmost to calm his fears about my wrath or backlash.

But do we really have to be SOooo full of knowledge and foresight in order to be compassionate? for one thing we're NOT full of knowledge. Our information about things around us chronically limited and incomplete. But what we CAN be sure of is that we don't know everything. And that IF we knew then we might have lots of reasons to forgive and to understand.

That's why humility is the most valuable thing in the world. It's because it's the most truthful. it puts us in exactly our rightful place. and from there we can act accordingly, and properly.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Nag Hammadi Library, Apocalypse of Peter and Surat al-Nisa'

I've been doing alot of reading trying to understand the New Testament..

I mean, ok, we as muslims we say teh Qur'an is completely the word of Allah. given to Gabriel, given to irrasool Mohammad (pbuh).

Old Testament is mainly the Torah, given to Moses, which til today the Jews hold dear.

New Testament however, turns out its more like narrations by the disciples of Jesus (pbuh), rather than an actual inherited book. One according to each of the disciples. Book of Mathew, Book of Marc, and so on.. so it's just the narration of things that happened to/around Jesus (pbuh) told from the point of view of that disciple.

I came across this piece in the Nag Hammadi Library from Apocalypse of Peter:

When he had said those things, I saw him seemingly being seized by them. And I said "What do I see, O Lord? That it is you yourself whom they take, and that you are grasping me? Or who is this one, glad and laughing on the tree? And is it another one whose feet and hands they are striking?"

The Savior said to me, "He whom you saw on the tree, glad and laughing, this is the living Jesus. But this one into whose hands and feet they drive the nails is his fleshly part, which is the substitute being put to shame, the one who came into being in his likeness. But look at him and me."

But I, when I had looked, said "Lord, no one is looking at you. Let us flee this place."

But he said to me, "I have told you, 'Leave the blind alone!'. And you, see how they do not know what they are saying. For the son of their glory instead of my servant, they have put to shame."

So this is basically Peter, the closest companion of Jesus (pbuh) being confused as to why he's seeing two Jesuses, one being nailed on the cross, and the other standing on a tree watching. And Jesus telling him that the one on the tree is truly himself, while the one being crucified is a substitute!

And then you look at the Qur'anic verse in surat al-Nisa' 157

و قولهم انا قتلنا المسيح ابن مريم رسول الله وَمَا قَتَلُوهُ وَمَا صَلَبُوهُ وَلَـكِن شُبِّهَ لَهُمْ وَإِنَّ الَّذِينَ اخْتَلَفُواْ فِيهِ لَفِي شَكٍّ مِّنْهُ مَا لَهُم بِهِ مِنْ عِلْمٍ إِلاَّ اتِّبَاعَ الظَّنِّ وَمَا قَتَلُوهُ يَقِينًا {157}بَل,رَّفَعَهُ اللّهُ إِلَيْهِ وَكَانَ اللّهُ عَزِيزًا حَكِيمًا {158}النساء

And [for] their saying, "Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah ." And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble him to them. And indeed, those who differ over it are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of it except the following of assumption. And they did not kill him, for certain. {157}

Rather, Allah raised him to Himself. And ever is Allah Exalted in Might and Wise. {158}


Now, the Nag Hammadi scrolls are all authentic and dated to the 1st-2nd century A.D. yet they're all called "non-canonical", meaning they're not recognized as "official" parts to the New Testament. It is even theorized that the scrolls themselves were buried in fear of heretical persecution.

I feel thankful that such a document exists to show some of my christian friends.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Mokaani Mokaani, Ya Zamaani

My eldest daughter Taiba when she was 3 years old, had this conversation with her maid:

Taiba: "laish ma 3indech xxxx?" (forgot what the xxxx was)
maid: "ma 3indi foloos" *chuckle*
Taiba pauses thinking.. then: "eshtere foloos!" *expression clearly stating problem is solved*

So now that's her iconic line which we remember of her childhood.

Then my boy Abdalla also when he was 3 years old, after being fed his last lunch lugma, and seeing me walk past the table carrying a plate with a big slice of chocolate fudge cake on it. He puts the back of his hand on his forehead and says:

"ana ta3baan, abe cake..." *and he lets out a fake tired sigh*

and that's his iconic line.

So I'm thinking of making Tshirts with these lines.. and thought since Zaina is almost 3 years now.. she's due for her own iconic line.. and a couple weeks ago she didn't disappoint :P

My wife: "Zaina goleeli qessa"
Zaina: "inzain.."
My wife: "yalla"
Zaina: "Mokaani Mokaani, ya zamaani.."
me and my wife looking at each other puzzled..
Zaina: "kaan fee elephant"
me and my wife break out laughing

Friday, February 12, 2010

Who do You Subscribe to on Youtube?

Here are a few of my favorite Youtube channels:

By far the coolest guy on Youtube these days for me is Joe Penna (AKA Mystery Guitar Man, MGM for short) famous for this one:

The 6ag erguba he does at 1:26 is smile-enducing. going strong approaching 6 million views.

And last one he did here is also creative and amazing:

The amount of patience this dude has in his editing makes me just scratch my head.

He also directed this movie for RhettandLink:

just.. so.. good.. I'm thinking of buying one of those t-shirts to be part of the whole experience.

And other channels I follow are the witty and funny Natalie (AKA communitychannel)

Also Brandon Hardesty (AKA ArtieTSMITW) some pretty funny and good movie re-enactments:

This guy Tobuscus is also funny, spoofing Farmville!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Bitter Sweet Humility of It

Three days ago our whole house got hit by a quick virus. It started with my little one Zaina, then her 10yo sister Taiba, then my wife, then me, my son Abood, the maid, you name it. In the period of 24 hours the household turned into a sort of refugee camp.

It took me personally completely by surprise, as I'm rarely sick, I stay in the company of sick people with an almost smug expression like I have some sort of silly immunity or something. Astaahil.

Wed. afternoon I was fine and teasing my grumpy sick Zaina, and by the same evening I was in Zaina's bed clutching my stomach while she was infront of me singing and waving her hands as if conducting the opera playing in her head. Ahh the irony eh? thankfully it was lost on little Zaina or I wouldn't hear the end of it.

But here's what made me make this post..

At one point in that evening as I started getting stronger and stronger gagging urges, I went to the bathroom sink, waiting and anticipating each heaving sensation.. then my stomach got squeezed so painfully and in a sustained upward surge of agony, it felt like a large hand has gotten a firm hold on my intestines and was trying to wrench them out of me. it wasn't like the usual stomach aches you get, it was much more severe and different, on a scale I couldn't have imagined only seconds before. My knees buckled and I had to suddenly rely on my hands on the sink to keep from falling to the floor. That near fall was another nastily sobering surprise, after you have taken standing tall for granted your whole life.

During those 10-15 seconds of being barely in control of my own body and mind, I felt one singular thought crystalize shining and clear in my head. I felt like those people in the Aya

حَتَّىٰٓ إِذَا جَآءَ أَحَدَهُمُ ٱلۡمَوۡتُ قَالَ رَبِّ ٱرۡجِعُونِ ( المؤمنون٩٩)


{ولو ترى إذ المجرمون ناكسوا رؤوسهم عند ربهم ربنا أبصرنا وسمعنا فارجعنا نعمل صالحا إنا موقنون}السجدة 12

I felt suddenly very sorry and repentant for every and any bad thing I did in my life, whatever it was, remembered or not. I felt utterly weak and powerless over anything. not even the train of thought in my own head. And when you lose the illusion of the power you think you have, you quickly know who to turn to, the One WITH all the power. The decision and choice becomes utterly simple, as if it was even ridiculous to even call it a choice. There is really no choice, there's just Him sib7anah.

I spent the night in fever and weak sweating but it was so blissful and much better situation than the pain I was in earlier, and I felt immense gratitude for this respite. Sej sej we take soooo many blessings we have for granted, unthanked.

And now only 2 days after I am much better and walking around confidently, eating whatever I like (no more mash5ool o low-fat robah)..... and that feeling of humility starting to slip away again. as if nothing bad has ever happened. How quickly we forget.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Imogen Heap - Wait it Out

Finally, finally, finally Imogen Heap made a new album after her amazing 2005 Speak for Yourself.

She does all the instrument tracks herself then compiles them on her own computer. is she cool or what?

The new album Ellipse is wonderful, and at times even cleverly funny. But this track by far steals the whole show.

Please enjoy,

Where do we go from here?
How do we carry on?
I can't get beyond the questions.
Clambering for the scraps
In the shatter of us collapsed.
That cuts me with every could-have-been.

Pain on pain on play, repeating
With the backup makeshift life in waiting.

Everybody says: "Time heals everything."
But what of the wretched hollow?
The endless in-between?
Are we just going to wait it out?

There's nothing to see here now,
Turning the sign around;
We're closed to the Earth 'til further notice.
Stumbling cliché case -
Crumpled and puffy-faced -
Dead in the stare of a thousand miles.

All I want: only one street-level miracle.
I'll be a an out-and-out, born again from none more cynical.

Everybody says that time heals everything all in the end.
But what of the wretched hollow?
The endless in-between?
Are we just going to wait it out?

And sit here cold?
We'll be long gone by then.
And lackluster in dust we lay
'round old magazines.
Fluorescent lighting sets the scene
For all we could and should be being
In the one life that we've got.

(Musical interlude)
In the one life that we've got.

Everybody says that time heals everything.
But what of the wretched hollow?
The endless in-between?

Are we just going to wait it out?
Sit here. Just going to wait it out?
Sit here cold. Just going to sweat it out?

Wait it out.