Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un: Imette St. Guillen


Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un.
I don't know what to say. Haven't cried like this in a while.

Linda called me yesterday late, so I didn't hear the phone. It turns out our friend and classmate, Imette, was the woman found in Brooklyn, in a remote area, on Saturday. Insha'Allah her funeral will be on Thursday.

I just wrote an entire post about how I can hear her saying she wanted to be a forensic scientist, like the people on CSI, our jr. year. About how I remembered the story of her name- there's no Saint Guillen, her name was created from her parents' two created names- when I wrote an email JUST LAST WEEK. About how Imette SHOULD BE HERE. About how one of the 3 photos I keep from my college years in my journal features Imette, Mike, Erica, and I. About how devastated her mother and sister must be. About how she repped Boston hard. About how I ticked her off senior year, and show she should still be around THIS YEAR at the 10 year OLAS LFP anniversary to tease me about it. About how she is beautiful and funny and smart foevewr in my memory. She should be growing old, and instead someone saw fit to kill her. And how she will now only ly be beautiful and funny and smart in memory. I'll remember her.

Of course blogger erased the post and I'm literally exhausted- too tired to write anymore.

May her killer face swift capture and sure punishment. Que sufre exactamente lo que merezca.

May God light Imette's path and give her peace and eternal rest, and a merciful reward.

make duas for her family- only her sis and mom left.


Friday, February 24, 2006

Super-who? Super-you!

Yesterday was a day of lasts. Last time I'd see my kids at Bell, probably until their end-of-year program. Last time to act innocent and surprised when they threw me a potato chip-and-gatorade party. For those who are interested, the gatorade was red- I shared my 'grownup' Diet Coke with Miss Katie, who was shadowing me as my replacement, so they wouldn't feel bad that I didn't drink it. Last time to actually be surprised when one of my students came up with a genuine, astute piece of literary analysis. Last time to hug them all and say thank you.

*sigh* anyways.

Still got lots on my plate this weekend. Need to go now. Can't...seem...stuck...to...comfy...chair~ *uff!*

okay, I'm gone. Enjoy the fact that I am a natural defender of the weak. Mwahahaha~


You are Supergirl

Wonder Woman
Iron Man
The Flash
Green Lantern
Lean, muscular and feminine.
Honest and a defender of the innocent.

Click here to take the "Which Superhero are you?" quiz...

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Off to see the Wizard...


Today starts my last week with the kids at BELL, and man, it looks like a busy one.

My schedule is fuller than it has been. I get to go do fingerprinting (for only the 4th time in 3 months), and the kids do their first rehearsal for their drama today.
Tonight, insha'Allah Ima check out some free language classes being offered at AlmaMater.

Tomorrow, I'm going to court while I still have a free morning to *ahem* get my name changed to my name because the legislature of the Commonwealth of Virginia are a bunch of cracked-out ijit-spawned terrified fools. Ahem. Sorry bout that. Lil too much haterade this morning, perhaps? Or maybe just the fact that I never changed my name in the first place, just added my maternal last name as per Portareecan custom, and now I have to have it 'officially' changed even though it has never been changed. Yeah. Ima lay off that stuff.

Then, this weekend, I'm teaching a class for someone Sat. Morning, and I believe a certain friend has a baby shower that afternoon, and my friend Patty is performing in the District that evening. Oh, and the MSA at AlmaMater is hosting an "annual" spring dinner that same night. It don't rain but it pours.

Alhamdulillah, though. I have stuff to do! I make a difference in this world! That's pretty good, huh?


Sunday, February 19, 2006

Back to life, back to reality...

peace, y'all

Okay. I feel better. And plus I'm in blog withdrawal.

Couple things have happened: I went in Friday for my Entrance Interview and fingerprint papers for the New Job. Thursday the site directress at Bell informed me that she wasn't able to schedule the kids' presentations (Black History Month and all) for this coming Thursday, which is my last day.

So I will miss their presentations.


I know that isn't as big a deal, as, say, the recent mudslides in the Philippines. There are bigger things than this going on. To keep my own internal reality-ometer on keel.

But I'm sayin', those 4th graders have worked HARD to get over their own teachers' perceptions of them, their own language issues and barriers. They have had to get over themselves and their attitudes and "the 'c' word (can't) and the 's' word (stupid) and the 'n' word (y'all know that one)." They worked to suspend their own disbelief in themselves and they're going to present something that they worked hard for. They believe in me to start them off and I won't be there. I'm MAD, man.

But okay, I'm gonna take the New Job, which I don't see as too likely to give in and just let me take my second day off to see some kids present. So boo.

Good stuff is happening too: Sherry (yup, from over to the left in the blogline) is in town! She came in LATE Thursday night, and we spent all of Fri. together after my NewJob stuff. We played slumber party in the hotel late; talking about what we'd do if we had $350 million to play with; her family and job making her nuts; famous movie stars; how old Sherry is since she is now a whole twennyfahve; (and I'm not b/c I have yet to reach such lofty heights, lol); the requisite "if you had a perfect man-making machine" question and the absolute "there-is-no-such-creature and if I could choose I wouldn't" answer... stuff like that. I'm glad she came but sad I only got to spend that time with her since I've been under-the-weather literally as well as figuratively and not willing to do the hump from where I live into the City. She's staying in a nice place over in Dupont, actually. I kvetched about walking up that dangone hill in my one pair of boots, but I did enjoy passign the time with her.

Sherry! You need to move your butt to DC!

I have some questions.

I want to learn how to recite the qur'an. I love to sing and have always considered doing so as a service to God and a way to use that talent to His Glory. How do Ido that?

Anyone want to teach me some surahs and nasheeds by heart? I'm serious! I think it was IzzyMo who was remarking on the dearth of beautiful voices in Islam. As a Black convert who came up in the gospel-music tradition (and loved it), I'm with her- that has a missing place. But first I think I need to get some surahs down. And just now, I'm broke. Suggestions?

GOtta go... one more thing- congrats to all the winners and mentions over at Brass Crescent. I was one of the 165! I think what you're doing is worthy and worthwhile.


Thursday, February 16, 2006

Haterade is bad for you


I want to know this: why is my religion being equated with violence in the West?

Because the real answer I keep coming up with is that it is practiced by a large group of 3rd world, non-white people.

Yes, I'm sure many people will give me reasoning all the way back to before the hijra about how Islam was spread by the sword. About Turkey. About Danish cartoons.

But I think that alllllll of the reasons you give me can come back to what I said: mainly practiced by 3rd world, non-white people.

Maybe I've just been drinking too much haterade. The prejudice is getting to me.

I believe in choices, but my GOODNESS, yaLateef, porque fue que yo tenia que escoger la ruta mas dificil? Aun sea que es la Tuya, la mas perfecta? ** WHYYYY?!

I need some dua to get rid of the haterade in my system. TTYL.


** (ticked-off Spanish):Oh God All-Seeing, why was it that I HAD to choose the most difficult Path? Even though it IS Yours and the most perfect?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Bad things HAVE to happen


Yeah, so yesterday I wrote this ENTIRE post about how I'm going to be grateful again, b/c I've been pretty low for most of february up to this point.

Word to everyone: don't go see 'Something New'. First off, they make a buncha cracks about Farrakhanist Muslims in the first 5 minutes of the movie. Yeah. Not cute.
But also b/c the movie was shallow at some points. And to be honest with myself, I just didn't like it.

Nada, I wanted to share the following with you. I wrote it when wondering why I was feeling so bad, and why so many bad things have to happen.

"...and in that moment i was blessed to realize that bad things happen because they're my everyday prophets. i hate to have one in front of me, i hate to see others going through them, and i don't like that they're there, these bad bad low low points. and yet they open the door to the best thing i've seen yet, they tell me how sweet the future is going to be, and that it has been around the corner the whole time. think about it: you have to train, to win. betrayal comes before that one true, trustworthy, amazing love. a child is burned first, so then truly respects fire. i mean, ask your mother, even hard labor comes before the glory of witnessing new life. the realization was the most painful and at the same time the most valuable piece of inspiration i will ever have.


Friday, February 10, 2006

And now, a word from the ditzy american side...

(warning! Nafs ahead! )

...the Olympic skiers from Africa (esp. Ethiopia and Senegal) are all GORGEOUS!!!! And the Armenians! And... I'd better stop there...

Who Knew?

And here I was gonna skip the opening ceremonies!

And the Imam's Wife?

The Renegade Rebbetzin fascinates me. Reading her is both fun and reminiscent of a time when I was younger, and more open, and wanted to Know Everything.

I grew up in a Jewish neighborhood with a Jewish best friend, so I actually got interested in orthodox judaism before I chose Islam, did some reading about it, etc.

One of the coolest books I ever read was 'how to run an orthodox jewish household' or something similar, b/c it EXPLAINED all the stuff I'd seen over the years.

Therefore, RenReb does still fascinate me, b/c she's a modern twist on all that. For the record, Rebbetzin is what the wife of the Rabbi is called in an orthodox community.

So. I'm amused and bemused now by reading all the hilarious stuff on RenReb's site and thinking... where is the stuff like that on Islamic Living?
Where's the Imam's Wife (and how come I don't know if that particular status/position has a title?) to amuse me while telling me how to lay out the dates and milk before maghrib during Ramadhan?

I don't know any imam's wives too well, ya see. Most of the ones I know are either much older or moved away as soon as they got married, thereby taking with them the opportunties to talk about householdy stuff.

UmmIbrahim, feel free to let me know your take, since you're the Imam's Daughter, that counts.

I mean, don't get me wrong, my Islam is that of the spirit. But sometimes, and reading RenReb, I feel that hankering to learn something by living it, and including it into my life.

Is this making any sense?

Where's the Imam's wife?

This isn't the same, by the way, as being a preacher's wife in a lot of senses. I don't think. From the preachers' wives I knew when I was growing up.

It IS the same in that the wife of the spiritual leader is expected to be an example to all the women in the community- even when she's another woman too, who just happened to marry a dude with a hankering to be close to God and know Him by leading the people at the church. That can get kinda wearing, and make one woman self-conscious, etc. I want to acknowledge that, while at the same time, distinguishing that from what I mean.
Christianity as commonly lived in the US is pretty secular. So I guess, in my head, the little rituals of life and religious customs, besides prayer, arent' there to be established for a preacher's wife. That's all I'm saying.

Maybe because under some POV in Islam, any man with enough learning can lead the community? Is the Cleric's Wife a westernized thing?

I'm having way too much fun thinking about this. Just shows how down and blue and bored I've been today, I think.


Imam's wives, holla atcha girl!


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

I know I'm not alone...

peace y'all

... in wanting to file my Federal taxes for free online. Right? Just some linky-loo for ya while trying to pull myself back to normal. Cartoon debacle sinkage will do that.

On that same note, though, does anyone know where I can file my kinda complicated state taxes online for free as well? All the places at the IRS site are tryna charge $25 bucks for a straight shot at the state forms. I don't even want to think what'll happen when I tell them I've worked and/or lived in four separate US jurisdictions in 2005. And all that for (way, way) less than $25K. Why did I do this again?

Oh, yeah, the teaching love.


I still want to be a midwife.

I just have to figure out how.

I wrote the whole sell-out post b/c I was really in funk about this: How on earth do I get to be a midwife without huge huge crazy debt??

Does anyone know of a midwife who can apprentice me? I'll work for room and board and an education. I'm serious. My whole problem for the past 3 years has been keeping myself healthy and alive and off the streets while dealing with various shades of bovine scatulation (look it up) in an effort to become certified as a teacher. So that then I can save up some cash and cash in on all those benefits that you see out there for being a teacher, like having your loans forgiven for working in really poor schools. For the record, ALL of the schools I've ever worked in have qualified for that program, but I never have, b/c my degree isn't in education, it's just what I live and breathe to do.

I digress.

All my readers, sisterfriends, people who just happened to stop by- keep this on your mind. ANything about midwifery that passes your radar, I want to know about, b/c you never know when an opportunity will come through you, insha'Allah.

ok, I'm done.


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Weighin' in on the cartoon debacle

I know y'all have been waiting to hear what I have to say on this. To be perfectly clear, I am completely against the physical and explosive violence toward Denmark that has been displayed around the world. I'm also muhejebah, I cover my hair and dress modestly outside my house. I am in no way oppressed, but you wouldn't know that by seeing me through Western stereotypes. But what's new?

I keep running up on the question of the violence against Danes and Danish property as reaction to the cartoons published back in September and again last month. One of adult ESL students is the sole television journalist for a European station. He's stationed with the Washington bureau; and so along with the perks of teaching him and his wife about pop culture (think why black women have straight hair, hip hop, and southern accents and expressions) I, as a muslim woman but also his teacher, faced his very journalistic questions.

Many of us Muslims will hear the questions. So first, to those of us who are bothered by society's monolithic view of Muslims and Islam: Get Over It. I learned a long time ago as a Christian Black child that what I do represents the race in so many ways. That meant if I acted up and vandalized places and treated people with disrespect, some person who didn't know that all people, Black people included, are different, would say, "Look! See! No wonder those people don't have anything. They're uneducated , rude, ignorant, and undeserving." Say what you like. As part of the generation raised by those who fought the Civil Rights revolution, I know that eyes are on me. I will be questioned, fairly or not I will be held as part of the actions of my brethren. Get over it. Tis life in the U S of A. I can distance myself, but the greater good is to educate someone else while I'm doing so. It's like the whole taliban thing. Or being asked why my husband makes me cover my hair (I'm neither married nor a muslim from birth, so that takes work to correct!). I know it'll happen. And move on.

Next: "Why is everyone freaking out? It's just some pictures of this prophet guy."
astaghfir'Ullah Al Aziz.
I had to keep in mind that this particular student is really more agnostic than secular Christian, is European, and thus is just ignorant to the point of view that's sparking such protest.
Many many people can and have explained this better than I, including Umm Z and the morning commentator who was on ABC yesterday at 4AM. If you are Christian, and you hear a fuss about a prophet, you may not understand how big a deal this is because you're making the wrong analogy. In terms of reverence, what Muslims are commanded and believe is a lot closer to what today's western Christians think of as Jesus Christ (may he be granted peace) himself, and not the pope or any other contemporary figure. Yes. Yes. This is true. Since Islam has been established there has been agreement within the religion (and that, my friends, is hard and almost an oxymoron in itself unfortunately) that there are to be no images of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings upon him. None. No stained glass windows in masajid with images of the Prophet, no icons in your art history books. Only if you understand this do you know that just putting the pen to paper with the intention of drawing this man, however benign, was apt to land somebody in some hot water regardless.

But then they took it a step further?! God help them.

"What about the freedom of expression?"
Secondly, as has been said again, the cartoons drawn are not just representations of a god-touched but still human man. To the contrary: they are being used to represent an entire religion as violent, ignorant, and unworthy of respect. And THAT is why I know every Muslim who saw this will react- inwardly, calmly or violently, but a true reaction nonetheless- to the disrespect implied. That the editors and others of a similar opinion would hide behind freedom of expression is not only despicable but irresponsible, and unworthy of the profession of journalism in our times.
You see, freedom of expression comes with the responsibility to use it properly. That's why libel is against the law. And it's why censorship is definitely applied in the editor's offices across the world. Some things you just don't say. As Mama says, "Just because you can doesn't mean you should. You can say anything. But how you say it is what really counts." Give me a break. Hiding behind the skirts of freedom of expression doesn't exempt you from using good judgment.

And all this was about the religion of Muslims. In the west we have to remember that life isn't all fun and games in the majority of the world where Islam is practiced. It's hard. Men and women work, they come home, they may or may not have television, but they certainly don't have the magnitude of media and diversions available here. You live for work and religion. Want to tick somebody off? Belittle one of the two. Want to make your life really hard? Make fun of the one uplifting example so many people have, take it and sully it as if it means nothing, when it's the most sacred thing there is. Hello!! Were you trying to bait someone? I truly believe that the editors in question were aiming for such an explosive response. No one who publishes daily journalism can be that ignorant. They knew what they were doing.

Dr. H. Hassaballa on the danish cartoon escandalo says it better than I can:
"Now, this is total speculation on my part, but I believe in my heart of hearts that the publishers of these cartoons think that Muslims are nothing but a bunch of barbarians. To prove it, they intentionally published offensive and provocative cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad in a horrible manner so that Muslims will threaten innocent Europeans, shoot guns in the air, and burn Danish flags. And you know what? Muslims, by and large, took the bait and ended up looking like barbarians. Isn't that a stupid thing to do? I think so. Don't you think so?"

I'm disappointed in my people. We took the bait- not of the danish and french and german editors. No. This was the bait of asshaitan, to pull Muslims away from the right path and into committing wrong against others who HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS ISSUE.

Going back to my southern Black roots, I'm all about a boycott. I've heard opinions against that, most lucidly AbuSinan's argument that a boycott hits unsuspecting and unrelevant Danes where it hurts. But having that tradition in my cultural heritage, I know it works, I know how to do it, and it is a form of disapproval that will be heard without my physical striking of any blow. Please believe that even now the government of Denmark is straining to control the economic effects of one editor's stupidity, because in the end, it's going to hurt a lot more than the preservation of his particular freedom of expression warranted.

Or, as my aunt likes to say, "Economics ain't nothin' but a war. You tryin' to keep your money, and the other side tryin' to get you to let hold of it."

Watch me hold my money til' Lincoln hollers. That, I can easily do in solidarity, within my conscience as a Muslim. So I'll miss those exquisite butter cookies- but for the sake of the Prophet, I think that's fair.


Give men their due credit and respect!

What Does 'Boys Will Be Boys' Really Mean?

Peace to all.

I read this day'fo'yesterdy and then popped over to Shabana's entry for the day on the violence of female bodies.

Know what? As trite as it sounds, as pat and perfect the statement is, it's true: I am Muslim because I don't want any of this. I don't want the violence of exposure to such perfection and self-hatred. I want a husband and sons and community brothers who outright reject the impression that they don't know better than to lap this up.

As much as love to opine otherwise, especially as American women, men are Not dogs. Tis time to give them credit.

And men: do as the boy in the story: "I'm a better person than that" should be what rolls through your mind when a scantily clad (insert sexy-hollywood-femme-of-the-day here) rolls across your screen and strolls across the magazine page. Because Dr. Mir and Ms. Roffman are right: the exposure is only there because MEN BUY IT and want it and reinforce it, just like so many other supposedly benign and truly harmful phenomena that surround us.


Friday, February 03, 2006

Sell Out Soul

peace unto y'all

I feel like such a sell-out right about now.

I got dat full-time-wit-benefits job that my aunt was bugging me about. And though I'll definitely like the position, I feel like such a sell-out.

I don't think I want to keep teaching, much as I'll miss the kids. the frustrations are just too great. Add to that that I'm not willing to put myself into debt to get the last flippin' credits necessary to earn a license and I will not be staying in the school system to foment my own social changes within the lil ones.

it makes me want to eat. Eat. Eat. EAT. I just had a bowl of cereal earlier, and i just ate some rice w/shrimp gumbo, and though I'm full it makes me want to eat some more. Or smoke a cigarette (months, now, since that feeling has hit). or call a certain good friend who told me he felt like a sell-out some time ago.

I do remember soothing him at that point but right now I can't for the life of me remember what I told him, which would be so nice b/c I need it now. Can't call him. Have this small problem with being way too fascinated with him for my own good just now, so I have 'haraamed' contact with him. Nope, not joking. Shabana gets points for that word, by the way.

Add to that the frustration of people's reactions around me. Good thing I called my mother (3 states over) and told her about the offer first, good thing she was gently congratulatory as is her cheerful way, b/c my aunt didn't even crack a smile. She was like, 'Thank God, cuz your butt was on your way outtahere.' Gee, such a cheerleader, woman, and I did this isht for YOU. I sold Out For You and you can't even say CONGRATS. Yeah, so that hurts.

And here it is: I'll be working 40 hours a week. The work is worthy and honest (doing phone calls for disabled people returning to work). but this is not changing the world. And it's not me going to the grad school of my dreams. And yeah it's great in the short term but I sense that I could get stuck so easily in the stability of it all. At the same time though, I have been so dependent for so long that I think I'll only have a clear head when I have some space of my own again. I'm officially saving my money and planning on moving back to portareeco. I dunno.

I just feel like a sell out. That's all.

Excuse me while I go find some red meat and high glycemic carbohydrates.

Feel free to leave comforting words of wisdom and surahs cuz a sister is in need.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Inna Lilahi wa Inna Ilayhi Raji'un

Coretta Scott King

Mother King has passed. Funny, I was thinking about her the other day. She survived a strong if human husband and continued working in her own quiet way. May God bless her.


Israeli Troops, Jewish Settlers Clash - Yahoo! News

Submitted to the Radical Women of Color Carnival :

The most exposed racist quote I've seen in a while was in this article:
"Two right-wing Jewish members of parliament were among those wounded in the clashes. Effie Eitam, a legislator from the National Union Party, stood among the protesters with blood streaming from his forehead.
'They are treating people here like Arabs,' said legislator Arieh Eldad in a telephone interview from the scene with Israel Radio. Eldad said he suffered a broken arm

Wait. So you acknowledge that violence against resisting people who consider the land they're on to be their rightful homeland is wrong? Good for you.

Darn skippy they're treating you like you treat Arabs. Not so good on the receiving side? THEN CHANGE THE WAY YOU TREAT ARABS. The golden rule ain't just an economic principle.

sorry bout my bitterness, I just couldn't believe he out and out basically said, "we treat people like dirt but we don't deserve to be treated that way". Ijits.

hoping for peace