Al-Bayan - November 2003 2
editorial In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. Go to any Muslim conference and you’ll hear “the youth are our future” more times than the adhan. I think this is a good way of looking at things, but more importantly, I think the youth, specifically college students, are the present. College students these days are on the forefront of some of the most important ideological and social battles taking place in America today. If you have any doubts, try going to an anti-war demonstration that isn’t organized by university students. But college isn’t only a place where opposing camps duke it out; it’s also a time during someone’s life when significant internal battles take place. It’s a time when a tremendous amount of information is processed and placed into a math-like function that determines the identity of the individual. It’s a time when you take two decades worth of knowledge and life experience and boil it down into a single plan for the future. College is where you think about what job you want, when you want to get married, and how you want to be remembered. The college student is looking for answers, and everyone, from gutter-punks to the New Right, are offering their own solutions. You just have to filter them to find the right one. This situation is what Ustadh (teacher in Arabic) Suhaib Webb has called “the Survivor Series.” [Webb is a nationally-recognized speaker and scholar on Islam]. What I’ve just described isn’t really a problem; it’s just the way things fall into place. This then leads us to ask how we, as the Muslim community, are to understand and deal with this situation. My thoughts: pouring resources, time, and energy into developing the college Muslim community will yield better returns than any hot stock. It’s no secret that the whole concept of a university is based on concentrating minds, ideas, facilities, and diversity to a level that economists refer to as “economies of scale.” What this means for Muslims is that we will never have a similar opportunity for developing, enriching, and empowering Muslim America once these individuals graduate. I think the Jewish community realized this a long time ago, because the Hillel House is the most functionally useful and beautiful student center I’ve ever seen, and it brings students in contact with each other as well as with Jews from the surrounding communities. Muslims are beginning to realize this, albeit slowly. The Zaytuna Institute’s new program of bringing Zaytuna to Berkeley is an excellent first step in this direction, and so is Ustadh Suhaib Webb’s weekly lecture series. But we, as college students, need similar programs aimed at enrichment and education, and we need it on a more comprehensive level. I’d like to see Muslim doctors come and speak to the pre-med students about what being a physician really entails. I’d like to see software engineers tell computer science majors what a fifteen-hour workday is like. I’d like to see national-level organizations like CAIR and MPAC come to our campus and tell us how we fit into their big picture. I also think this contribution can work the other way, because the talents and perspectives of college students can be put to great use outside of the classroom. In summary, I’d like to see Berkeley students incorporated into a larger Muslim community that extends beyond the few square miles that make up our campus. This scenario is illustrated perfectly in this issue of Al-Bayan. As a former organizer for the publication, I think this issue is special because it really draws from some of the younger members of the CalMSA. Herein lies a view of the jungle that is Berkeley, what sophomores are thinking about marriage, and what juniors have to say about dawaa. Together with other more salient topics like hijab and the news media, I think this issue, when seen as a whole, is a very informative glance at what the Muslim college experience is, and what it could be. - Adil Khan, The Paper Czar
International - page 3 The Media & Gulf War II - Mahin Ibrahim Introduction to Zionism - Basim Elkarra
The Arts - pages 4 and 5 Before the Wedding - Shazia Kamal Music Review - Maryam H. Maznavi Movie Review - Wais Hassan Poem - Yasmine Khan
Editors: Bushra Ahmad Munir Moon Layout: Salman Alam Nazish Ekram Wais Hassan Mahin Ibrahim Abdulfatah Idris Miralem Jakirlic
Adil Khan Kamran Khan Sofia Mohammed Mariam Naqvi Sarah Siddiqui Adil Syed
The UC Berkeley Muslim Students Association wishes all of our brothers and sisters Ramadan Mubarak and a blessed Eid-ul-Fitr!
Cover Story - pages 6 and 7 Reconstructing Aghanistan - Munira Syeda
Think! - page 8 Crossword Puzzle - Tehniat Cheema and Alya Hameed Food for Thought - Latifat Apatira
Humor - page 9
Al-Bayan is operated solely by students on a voluntary basis. Signed articles represent the views of their respective authors, not necessarily those of the Al-Bayan staff, the University of California, Berkeley, or the ASUC. Unsigned articles represent the views of the majority of the staff. Al-Bayan is not an official publication of the University of California, Berkeley or the ASUC. Office: 506 Eshleman Hall Send Questions and Comments: email@example.com
Stay updated with MSA events and issues by visiting msa.berkeley.edu
Comedian Is All Halal - Adeel Iqbal Dawaa - Kiren Rizvi
Continuations - Pages 10-12
Covering Up Your Rights - Roshanak Jones
Cover picture: "Building Democracy" by Adil Syed
International The Media’s Spin on Iraq By Mahin Ibrahim
plications still resonate in Americans’ minds. These three slogans subtly “The written word is far more powerful changed the course of the war and how than simply a reminder: it re-creates Americans should view it, based on the past in the present, and gives the time period in which they were us, not the familiar remembered used. What this suggests is that the thing, but the glittering intensity of same event can go on for months but the summoned-up hallucination.” it changes in tone and attitude based -Northrop Frye, according to Neil not on Hussein’s regime but on the Postman’s “Amusing ourselves to Bush Administration. The enemy death” article changed hands to suit the White A mark of manipulative media House. First it was weapons of mass outlets are the way they reshape ma- destruction, then Saddam Hussein, jor world conflicts through their care- then Hussein’s form of government. Look closely at what “showdown,” fully-crafted coverage. Evidence of “war on” and “war in” imply. The first this is the Gulf War II. gives a mano-a-mano apTelevision news, in proach to the situation. particular, has great It’s Bush versus power in depicting Hussein; freedomcurrent events. lover vs. psycho TV is a window dictator; cowto the world, boy vs. Middle and networks Eastern In’jun. capitalize on This breakthis. What down is all too networks common amid such as CNN the media and and ABC simplifies a conchoose to flict that is comcover deterplex. mines what viewWhen compared to ers will know. CovGulf War I, the events are erage equals knowleerily similar. Mass media theoedge. However, networks take this to a new level through its use of rist Roderick P. Hart wrote in 1993 slogans. During Gulf War II, war slo- “American mass media, the White gans altered the perception of the House, and even popular culture conwar. CNN’s coverage is the best ex- spired to demonize Saddam Hussein. ample. If one backtracks into time and Although the war itself clearly resulted from geopolitical enlooks at CNN’s war covtanglements among erage throughout the oil-based economonths, one will see mies, the rhetoric of that each slogan fits the new spin the Bush ... war slogans al- the war was little than psychoAdministration has put tered the percep- more logical reductionon the war. ism.” What Hart First, CNN is ex- tion of the war. wrote about Gulf amined here because it War I easily works is a relatively trusted for its sequel. network. It airs 24“Iraq: Showdown” hours and is famous for covering Gulf War I. Other networks sets up the perfect image of a pistol engage in slogan manipulation as fight occurring in a saloon. Here, CNN well, but none as time-oriented as pits good against bad. This is a trivialized version of events, and is inCNN, which can be seen below. Before war was declared, start- deed recreating the past in the ing from late September 2002 to Feb- present. Lines blur between Bush ruary 2003, CNN coined the phrase Senior and Junior, Saddam Hussein “Showdown: Iraq.” This was just one then and now, and that is exactly what of many to grace the screen. War CNN should not allow. The media exwas declared on March 19th, 2003 ists to bring clarity and cohesiveness which brought the phrase “War on to an ever-changing world. It is not Iraq.” This title had a blink-and-you’ll here to connect dots when they should miss-it effect. It was only on CNN for not be connected. Later, “War on Iraq” gained popua few weeks until it was sacked in April. Then “War in Iraq” was in fash- larity. This made sense. It was short ion. By May, the war was over and ! Continued on page 11 the slogans were retired, but their im-
Introduction to Zionism By Basim Elkarra
zones; Lebanon and Syria were assigned to France, while Jordan and ionism. What exactly is Iraq to Britain. Under the agreeit? How does it relate to Ju- ment, Palestine was declared a daism? In order to under- British Mandate. There were many stand the current conflict in the British officials who openly favored Middle East, it is essential that we the creation of a Jewish state in the heart of the Arab world. Some have knowledge of this ideology. When examining Zionism, one were Christian Zionists believing should take into consideration the that the Jews had to return to the difference between the ideology and Holy Land before Jesus would removement of Zionism and the reli- turn to usher in the last days and gion of Judaism. Judaism is the re- for others it was establishing a Euligion of the Jewish people, based ropean power in the heart of the on the belief of one God and its Middle East to tame the Arabs. In teachings are taken from the Old 1918, the British government isTestament and the Talmud. Zion- sued the Balfour Declaration to the leader of the British Zionist movement: Zionism is a movement [for] a His Majesty’s government Jewish homeland in Palestine. views with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewism, on the other hand, is defined ish people, and will use their best as the movement founded in 1893 endeavours to facilitate the that sought and achieved the found- achievement of this object, it being and development of a Jewish ing clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice homeland in Palestine. The Zionist movement arose in the civil religious rights of the exlate nineteenth-century Europe isting non-Jewish communities in amid nationalist fervor throughout Palestine, or the rights and politithe continent. Zionism acquired its cal status enjoyed by the Jews in particular focus from the ancient any other country. During the British Mandate Jewish longing for the return to Zion period, the land and and received momentum from people of Palesthe increasingly intolertine were being able conditions facing transformed. the large Jewish With incommunity in creased Tsarist Russia. Jewish Theodor Herzl immigrabecame known tion and as the founder the sysof modern-day tematic Zionism after colonizapublishing his tion unbook, The Jewish State. In his book dertaken by he called for the esthe Zionist tablishment of a Jewish movement during state, either in Palestine, this period, the JewUganda, or Argentina. The Fourth i s h community was able to esZionist Congress, held in 1904, de- tablish separate and virtually aucided on Argentina. However, two tonomous economic, political, and years later the Congress decided military institutions. A state within upon Palestine instead. Of course, a state was ready by the time the the Congress was powerless to movement launched its drive for “inmake its plan a reality. dependence” in 1948 after the However, international develop- United Nations endorsed two ments helped the Zionist movement states within Palestine. gain some energy. This was the peAs a result of the Zionist riod of major European territorial ac- endeavor, Palestinians were masquisitions in the Middle East as the sacred and more than 800,000 beOttoman Empire began to crumble. An agreement between Britain and France divided the Arab region into ! Continued on page 11
The Arts “Al-Mu’Allim” by Sami Yusuf By Maryam Hasna Maznavi !!!!! (5 out of 5 Crescents) It’s not surprising these days to find practicing Muslims to be uninformed about some of the most basic components of Islam, such as the significance of praying on time or of loving the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Through his new album entitled “Al-Mu’Allim,” or “The Teacher,” 23-year-old Sami Yusuf reminds his listeners of the importance of paying homage to and thanking the beloved messenger of Islam – who all Muslims strive to emulate. The CD’s target audience is today’s Muslim youth as it focuses
on strengthening the listener’s love for the Prophet (pbuh) and for God through its appealing sound and arrangement. Ranging from simple vocals and instruments in tracks like “Meditation” to the very intense, powerful, and emotional soundtracklike song called “The Creator,” Yusuf utilizes his extensive knowledge in music composition and theory to create some of the best nasheeds available to Muslims today. With the holy month of
Ramadan and the Muslim holiday, Eid-ul-Fitr, soon approaching, “Al-Mu’Allim” serves as a great gift for friends or even for oneself as it provides a cultivated balance between the beauty of this world and the next. For additional information on Sami Yusuf and for product information, please visit the Awakening label website: www.awakening.nu.
What You Need to Know By Shazia Kamal “Will you marry me?” What a simple and direct question, yet at the same time full of mystery, anticipation, fear and anxiety. What does this question entail? What are the consequences of saying yes? Of saying no? If only there was a magic book that could answer all of these questions… When I read the title of the book, “Before the Wedding: 150 Questions for Muslims to Ask Before Getting Married,” I was instantly amused at the notion of a “handbook” for marriage. The concept of marriage is so abstract and taken for granted, that I never thought to sit and think of it as something concrete, something that impacts people with such a great force. Authored by Munira Lekovic Ezzeldine, a graduate of the University of California at Los Angeles, “Before the Wedding” begins with a focus on the individual and then branches out to its external facets. Ezzeldine writes in the chapter titled “Self-Reflection,” “Sometimes fam-
ily and friends push marriage without allowing for sufficient introspection.” (Hmm, sounds familiar.) She then goes on to cover such impor-
There are questions that people constantly fail to notice because they don’t seem important at the time.
tant aspects as the Islamic ideology of marriage, finances, questions, children, and friends and family. Each chapter has a set of questions for the reader to ponder upon. Some of the questions initially seem superfluous, like “Do you have pets? Do you want pets?” When a Muslim American is looking for a spouse, pets are not usually at the top of the
priorities list. However, these types of questions tend to catalyze a practical way of thinking, instead of just imagining a storybook married life. That, essentially, is Ezzeldine’s goal in creating this guide. She states in the chapter entitled “How to Use this Book,” “This book is a guide, not an instruction manual.” There are several questions that people constantly fail to notice because they don’t seem important at the time. But “Before the Wedding,” uses these questions to lead the couple into thinking about the bigger issues. The fact that Ezzeldine emphasizes the importance of conversation through these questions is another thing that is overlooked by many people. Sometimes, people focus on the individual’s actions more, and that does not give a direct impression of that person. As an unmarried Muslim American female, this book transformed my vision of marriage. I was pulled down from the clouds and brought into the “real world.” I didn’t lose my romantic visions, but I learned how to deal with them in a realistic fash-
ion. Still, others may find the questions to be unnecessary, even bizarre. Therefore, this book is to be used at the users’ discretion, as a tool to make easier the most important decision of one’s life. I think that Ezzeldine makes clear that idea.
I was pulled down from the clouds and brought into the ‘real world.’
As marriage covers half the faith of Islam, it is obligatory for Muslims to deal with this issue in a correct way, so that we can all live a happy life and enjoy this sacred institution that Islam has blessed us with, Inshallah (God-willing).
Baran: A Stunning Film Rating: 4 stars Main Roles Latif: Hossein Abedini Rahmat/Baran: Zahra Bahrami Memar: Mohammad Reza Naji Najaf: Gholam Ali Bakhsi By Wais Hassan Baran, by director Majid Majidi (Children of Heaven), won a great deal of acclaim in 2001 and even took home a couple of awards including best picture from the Montreal Film Festival. This fictional drama focuses on the plight of Najaf and his daughter Baran, two Afghan refugees who occupy the margins of Iranian society. In the beginning of the film, Najaf, a construction worker, suffers an accident and is forced to make his oldest daughter, Baran, the family breadwinner. Of course, Baran cannot openly work with men on the construction site due to Iran’s segregation policies. Therefore, her father dresses her up as a boy and gives her the alias, Rahmat. Many film critics, including Roger Ebert, praised the film for poignancy and honesty but neglected to mention in their reviews how hilarious the film is during its beginning moments. Baran’s brilliant premise lends itself to sparkling comedic moments, which often involve clashes between
Rahmat and her rival Latif. Latif, a 17 year-old worker at a construction site, becomes bitter when his job is handed to Rahmat who he mistakenly assumes is a boy. After Latif’s reassignment, comedy ensues as the mischievous Latif constantly plots to sabotage Rahmat’s work. Latif’s hostility towards Rahmat dissolves when he accidentally discovers that she is a woman. Ironically, he becomes quite enamored with her and she also begins to develop feelings for him. Unfortunately, before either character is able to make their feelings explicit, Baran and the other Afghan immigrants working on the construction site are driven away by immigration officials. The rest of the film takes on a darker tone as Latif desperately searches Tehran for Baran. As his search unfolds, viewers are offered a disturbing glimpse of the hopeless, barren living conditions Afghan refugees are forced to endure in Iran. Thus, the film is not only a love story and a comedy, but also an insightful look at the plight of refugees.
Latif’s hostility towards Rahmat dissolves when he discovers she is a woman.
“Iranian boy meets Afghan girl in a Middle Eastern film that might make it out of the arthouse... Baran boasts the most achingly beautiful closing moments of any movie in recent memory.” Roger Ebert, film critic
What Did You Think? By Yasmine Khan I’ve seen them all: The puzzled looks, The furtive gazes, The passing end Of a sweeping glance. You didn’t think I noticed, did you? My own face remained Serene and composed, Until you had passed. Want to know a secret? It’s a mask. And whenever you pass by me, As I sit cross-legged on a park bench Or stroll through the mall Or let my eyes fall back on The textbook lying open before me, My head remains held high with pride, But inwardly my thoughts are whirling, Mirroring the myriad questions Racing through your own head, Because I know what you were wondering During the second it took for your eyes To sweep over me: Who is that girl? Where does she come from? What is she doing here? How does she fit into this picture? Striding past me, You leave in your wake An unvoiced thought, The most insulting dismissal of all— (Did you really think You kept your own face so very blank After all?)— “Why, I bet she doesn’t even speak A word of English!” My lips curve in a smile. Laughter bubbles up in my throat. I cover my mouth with both hands In an effort to silence An outburst of hilarity. It isn’t your fault, I suppose. You couldn’t know That I probably speak Better English than you do, That my grammar is more precise, My sentences (sometimes) more concise, My sarcasm more biting, My articulated anger more hurtful
Than you could ever imagine. It isn’t your fault, I suppose. You couldn’t know That I’ve squandered away Precious minutes spent Racing against the clock In an effort to correct the grammatical errors That my chemistry professor managed to Pepper his midterm exams with, Instead of calculating rates of reactions And industriously bubbling in Correct answers on my scantron. (Is the answer really always “C”?) No wonder I’ve had so much trouble Trying to remember What a spectator ion is, And what a buffer solution does. And, by the way, Why exactly do they call it The “plum pudding theory” Anyway? It isn’t your fault, I suppose. You couldn’t know That I frantically wave my hand In bio lecture To correct the professor as he Endeavors to scrawl tonguetwisting terms across the blackboard. But please don’t ask me to define What platyhelminthes are, Or to explain what good Comes from possessing A hollow dorsal nerve cord. Will it truly surprise you to learn that Semicolons are my friends, And my favorite color is red? Am I in the wrong major? Perhaps. No one seems to understand What exactly “NPB” Stands for anyway, Least of all myself. Yet I’ve mastered the art Of rattling it off my tongue with ease, And learned to accept The questioning glances that follow, As a matter of course. But did you really think That you skillfully hid Your complete surprise !Continued on page 10
kabul: a visual approac A man asks for dry bread crumbs in exchange for hand cream. Children and elderly alike often look through piles of trash for pieces of food and aluminum cans.
An amputee begs for food on the streets of Kabul. He lost his leg in a land mine accident while working in the fields.
Children help storeowners rebuild what is left of their shops after a rainstorm last March damaged many homes and shops in the local bazaar. A homeless widow and her children beg for food. Many women lost their husbands during the military attacks.
A young boy stands in front of his house. Many children, however, have been left homeless and roam the streets of Kabul with other children, asking for food.
Two young boys collect empty soda cans in a junkyard and look for any remnants of food.
AFGHANISTAN a look at the events that have brought Agfhanistan to where it is today, and what lies in the nation’s future. By Munira Syeda
or numerous years, the only image among Americans of the brave Afghan warriors was a photo of a hazel-eyed, worn out woman on the cover of National Geographic magazine. That was the imprint of the Cold War on Afghanistan — a fierce battle that raged between two ideologies, capitalism and communism, stoked by the superpowers, the United States and the USSR. Spanning several decades, that war would alter the international scene forever. An extension of that war was the invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. About 100,000 Soviet troops occupied and held posts in major towns and cities following a coup staged by a communist Afghan political party in 1978. The occupation not only mobilized the Afghan mujahideen but also men from other Islamic countries, supported by American dollars and intelligence. The Soviets withdrew in 1989. Over the years, as the war between the United States and the USSR turned cold, the tenderness and financial aid for the Afghans, who had shed blood and tears fighting for their occupied country, dried up. After feeding the Afghan warriors ammunition and propaganda against the USSR for a long period, the U.S. made a clean departure from the Afghan region to tend to new affairs in the Arab world, such as the emerging oil crisis in Iraq and its intentions of attacking Kuwait. Afghanistan and its people were left to fend for themselves and sort out tribal disagreements that arose as a civil war in the aftermath of the Cold War, not to mention an economic void that On one hand, we began to plague the country. can’t just let these The world’s attention turned to Afpeople loose into society. ghanistan in 1996 when an extremOn the other hand, we ist, yet powerful group called the Taliban took form there. “They escan’t keep them in these poused a myopic, self-contained milimilitary formations fortant worldview in which Islam is used ever. Omar Samad, to legitimate their tribal customs and Afghan Foreign Ministry preferences…They imposed their strict Wahhabi-like brand of Islam on Afghan society. They banned women from school and the workplace, required that men wear beards and women chadors, banned music, photography, and television and imposed strict physical punishments on deviators,” wrote John L. Esposito in his 2002 book “Unholy War: Terror in the Name of Islam.” Such was the climate of economic uncertainty and newly unleashed energy Afghan and other Muslim men experienced during and after the Cold War that made a man called Osama bin Laden. The U.S. intelligence linked bin Laden to masterminding the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and went hunting for him in the caves of Afghanistan. Fast forward two years later, and the Congress is nearly done approving an $87 billion request made by President George W. Bush for reconstruction efforts
in Afghanistan and Iraq. More than $21 billion are designated for civilian projects and approximately $65 billion are reserved for military functions. That’s the easy part – finding dollars to finance reconstruction efforts. The hard part is figuring out how and where to start off with such efforts. For instance, the mountainous terrain is replete with arms and warring tribal factions. The Afghanistan Defense Ministry estimates that there are 600,000 militiamen who need to be disarmed and reintroduced to the civilian lifestyle. “What we’re trying to do is undo a part of this country’s history that does not fit with today’s nation-building goals,” Omar Samad, spokesman for the Afghan Foreign Ministry, The U.N. installed manual water pumps on Kabul streets told the Christian Sciin an effort to provide drinking water during a drought. ence Monitor. “But it has to be a gradual process. On one hand, we can’t just let these people loose into society. On the other hand, we can’t keep them in these military formations forever. Where do you start, and how do you keep from tilting the balance of power from one region to the other?” Another key area is rebuilding the country’s infrastructure. A mix of problems hampers Afghanistan’s economy, still very much in its infancy. Electricity, clean water and phone lines are a rarity. Improvement of a major highway from Kabul to Kandahar is planned. Foreign investors are excited about the business prospects in the country. But other than that, if any gains have been made, they are in the small business area, fueled primarily by those Afghans’ passion who want to remake Afghanistan. Items such as marble, bathroom and electronic equipment, wares, and household items abound the streets of Kabul, despite various hindrances. “All we need is a spark and then a year from now, you won’t believe it’s the same Afghanistan,” Commerce Minister Seyyed Mustafa Kazemi said in an interview with The Washington Post. The pro-American, United Nations-supported government of President Hamid Karzai estimates that about $4 billion in projects have been lined up. He has promised incentives for foreign investors but areas such as communications and manufacturing, which can bring in big bucks, are tightly controlled. On another front, Afghans are embracing the democratic political process slowly. According to UN guidelines, Afghanistan is is currently drafting a written constitution and is set to have elections next year, as steps towards democracy. Karzai and his coalition government, made up of different militia groups, ! Continued on page 10
Think! C r By Latifat Apatira For those who didn’t attend the Islam Networks Group fundraiser dinner on Sunday, October 4th, you missed out. Located at the Chandni Restaurant in Newark, California, the ING fundraiser was a huge hit, attracting hundreds of people from all over the Bay Area. The point of the event was to raise funds for the Islam Networks Group, a vital organization within the Islamic community based in San Jose. ING is dedicated to correcting misconceptions about Islam, teaching Islamic beliefs and practices, and providing tailored inform a t i o n about Muslims as it relates to the needs of public institutions. The event was successful, with a wonderful meal provided by Chandni, the great scholar Imam Zaid Shaker, breathtaking entertainment with performances from the Calligraphy of Thought, and the hilarious comedian Azhar Usman. The event as a whole was wonderful, but the part that really grabbed my interest was an abridged videotaped lecture by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, demonstrating one of the many different types of seminars ING gives to the Muslim and non-Muslim community. Although I didn’t catch the title of the presentation, it was about the different and numerous Islamic influences around the world. I was fascinated with the history of Islam and its contribution to the foods, drinks, music, medicines, sciences, languages, mathematics, politics, education, architecture, arts and more, that people commonly used today in the West and around the globe. I was especially surprised at the extensiveness of the Muslim heritage in something as simple and as ordinary as the things we eat and indulge in every day. I decided to do a little research about what I consider a glorious Islamic presence in
something that most of us living in the United States take for granted-FOOD! Many people think that Muslim foods and cuisines are confined to curry, kabobs, humus, and baklawa and are not aware of the abundant number of other foods and drinks that are supposedly Western, but might actually have Muslim origins. A prominent example is coffee-a beverage that is in every American household. There are disputes as to where coffee originated-Yemen or Ethiopia-but it was through travelers and traders that coffee s p r e a d throughout the Muslim world, reaching Saudi Arabia and Turkey sometime in the late 15 th century and Egypt in the 16th century. The word “coffee” is derived from the Arabic word “al-qahwa” and it was through the Muslims that coffee arrived in Europe through trade between the Italians and the North Africans. The Islamic influences on the agricultural revolution also amazed me. The Romans, for example, imported rice but never cultivated it on a large scale. It was the Muslims who started to grow rice in Sicily and Spain. The Muslims also shared a vast number of new plants, fruits, and vegetables that we all use today, which include, but are not limited to citrus fruits, bananas, sugar cane, and cotton. Citrus fruits- lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruitsare believed to have originally grown in the area between India and present-day Iraq. The citron was cultivated by the Arabs for their beauty and aroma. The banana is mentioned in Buddhist texts as far back as 600 BC and it’s believed that Alexander the Great tasted bananas for the first time from the Indian valleys in 327 BC. The existence of an organized banana plantation could be found in China ! Continued on page 12
PPuzzle, uzzle, YYo! o!
By Alya Hameed and Tehniat Cheema Across 5. Nazish Ekram, Farah Khalid, and Bushra Ahmad’s De-Cal is about what important topic? 7. Muslim photographer __________ Rocamora. 10. She took her LSAT and finally straightened her hair. 11. This sister made Julie’s famous through her picture in the S.F. Chronicle. 12. How many chapters in the Quran are named after animals? 13. Everyone will be rushing to see “The Last ________” in December. 15. This mosque was the largest in the world when it was built in 1986. Down 1. The first “Tommy movie night” was held on this side of campus. 2. Gibralatar is named after this famous Muslim conqueror. 3. He is Alya’s favorite “Friends” character. 4. What is the name for Muslim Spain? 6. The only person who hasn’t read a Harry Potter book. 8. He was one of the performers for Generation M in Berkeley. 9. What tribe did Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) belong to? 10. The most populated Muslim country. 14. What is the longest chapter of the Holy Quran? ! Answers are on page 12
Humor “Hahahaha.....Oh, but its Bad Dawaa” By Kiren Rizvi Background: Dawaa: To invite non-Muslims to accept the truth of Islam through both our words and our actions. Humor: An absurd or comical quality causing amusement Attempted humor: Joke #1: Did you ever hear of the Imam who couldn’t remember…errrrrr scratch that. That may lead to a case of bad dawaa.
Political jokes were too offensive, and eventually it seemed as though humor for a broad spectrum of Muslims became next to impossible to accomplish. Humor, in essence, is a mockery of the truth, an exaggeration, or a form of sarcasm. It stems from a comical, usually absurd or incongruous quality that causes amusement. Humor, in that respect, is already walking on a tight rope, although it is the most popular form of entertainment. Humor, when used appropriately, lightens up situations, creates an avenue to release stress, and can even be politically ben-
It seems almost impossible to find a topic that allows for religiously ‘clean’ and amusing humor.
Joke #2: Have you read the Top Ten You Know You are a Muslim Redneck if list…hmmm…I sense some bad dawaa-ness approaching. Joke#3: What about that Muslim man who was waiting for his wife at the masjid…Okay, STOP this one has bad dawaa potential as well. Result: extreme failure at “Islam-compliant ” humor Conlusion: After hours of frustration… Is there any topic I can joke about without it becoming an issue of bad dawaa? Can dawaa and humor ever reach oneness? Or, are we attempting something impossible? Sometimes I feel as though we are so caught up in trying to portray a good image of ourselves (i.e. Ummah) that we forget to loosen up along on the way. We are so paranoid of every action that we lose any sense of humor within us. As I began writing a so-called “humorous” piece for Al-Bayan I was really excited. Finding essentially anything funny, I figured this piece would be a breeze to write. I came up with tons of ideas – humorous horoscopes predicting each man gets 4 wives in 2 days, or each “sister” will get a shopping spree at the Gap store for headgear but each time I began a joke, I would catch myself and feel like the humor would offend somebody, or reflect badly on our Ummah. I even considered some ethnic jokes, but these had a strong racist streak.
eficial. This art form has many layers and shapes that are often overlooked, and sometimes misunderstood. A sense of humor is important to have. It can be used as good dawaa if practiced appropriately. Humor can spark communication. An effectively funny individual can gage the attention of others around himself/herself easily. If used properly, this humor can aid in breaking social, political, ethnic, and religious barriers, and in doing so bring a larger community together. By displacing such alluring qualities, Muslims can fulfill their pursuit of bringing others closer towards Islam. A major aspect of dawaa is to be amicable, and humor can aid in making Muslims more approachable not only to teach about Islam, but to clear misconceptions as well. With all that said and done, I find that our community as a whole needs to work on its self-understanding and identity. Although there may be certain individuals who possess the art of hu mor and wit within our community, I would argue that the Ummah as a whole does not possess enough humor within it. The problem may lie in the diversity and history of the Muslim society. Being a huge conglomerate of people that include different races, ethnicities, schools of thought, communities, and mosques, we may not all share the same religious or cul-
! Continued on page 10
This Comedian Is All Halal By Adeel Iqbal Two seconds before going on stage, he’s still prepping. The delivery has to be flawless. Azhar Usman, a Chicago-based comedian, practices an art almost unheard of in the United States – Muslim comedy. Yes, that’s Muslim and comedy in the same phrase. Most think the two can’t go together. But, Usman thinks otherwise. And he has the word of Allah and the example of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to prove it. “It is He Who grants man Laughter and Tears” (53:43), Allah says in the Holy Qur’an. Allah instilled that equilibrium in the human body, Usman says. These faculties were given by God.The Prophet (peace be upon him) laughed and joked as well, he says. In fact, he was a great fan of his light-hearted companion, Nu’ayman Ibn Amr, a perpetual prankster.
Usman desires to follow in these footsteps of laughter. “Our culture has lots of comedy,” he says. American Muslims have just not developed it yet. Usman feels that it’s just a matter of time. “It’s something valuable that people need.” Although Usman earned a degree in law from the University of Minnesota
Law School in 1999, and started his own tech company, XOLIA, in the same year, his heart lies in telling jokes. “My passion is definitely comedy,” he says. His professionalism all began with “knock-knock” jokes at a young age. Usman would always be the guy in the group with the joke of the week. “I always loved jokes,” says Usman. And, he still does. But, sharing those jokes on a professional level carries a price tag: time. It’s tough juggling a full-time day job, comedy, family, and all of his o t h e r commitments, he says. Usman is actively involved in advocacy projects for A m e r i c a n Muslims and is a member of various social and religious groups. He serves as a co-founding Board Member of The Nawawi Foundation, an educational non-profit foundation created for the support of American Muslim social and cultural creativity. He also serves on the Strategic Advisory Board of The Starlatch Press, a publisher and vendor of translated traditional Islamic texts, and is an authorized spokesperson for the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, an umbrella group representing the various Islamic groups of the Chicago area. However, due to his comedy, he has very regrettably been forced to scale back on his community involvement, he says. “Comedy is very sporadic and unpredictable,” he says. But, it forces him to always stay on the ball. He has a notebook where he is always writing down new ideas. “That is one of the rules of comedy,” he says. Even the great ones, like Chris Rock, have a notebook.
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Reconstructing Afghanistan !
were supposed to have a charter discussed and approved but the procedure has been delayed. A major factor in the discussion is the type of government, presidential or parliamentary, that Afghans would like to have. This also has been moved back. But a group of strong women didn’t let the slow pace of events deter them from playing their part in rebuilding the country. They met in Kandahar last September, to help draft a women’s bill of rights. In the meeting, they called for mandatory education of all women, a protected right under the Sharia’. Additionally, the participants demanded freedom of speech, the right to vote and run during an election, seats on the Parliament and judicial branch, equal pay, and ownership of property, most of which are granted in Islam but suspended under the Taliban regime. The slow progress to democracy has slowed international donations as well. Several countries met in Tokyo in 2002 to put up funds to rebuild Afghanistan. These included a
At hearing me pronounce Such words as “Neurobiology” And “otolaryngology” With remarkable enunciation? Oh, I’m sorry— I left my accent at home today. Is that so very disappointing For you to hear? “What? You want to be A pediatric audiologist When you grow up?” It’s sad that I decided on My career goal when I was eight, While many of you Are yet scratching your heads, Trying to decipher What the prefix “audio-” Means. Is my inherent sarcasm Starting to shine through? Let me tell you: Words, when used wisely, Can sting far more effectively Than any concentration of Hydrochloric acid you spill on yourself While carrying out Titration experiments in chemistry lab.
Continued from page 7
number of Islamic countries such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran and the United Arab Emirates, plus the European Union, Japan and the United States. According to the Christian Science Monitor, New York University’s Center on International Cooperation reports that only one-third of the some $15 billion Afghan officials say they need has been committed by various countries. Of those, a mere $2 billion have been distributed for reconstruction projects as of May 2003. These projects include irrigation systems, road improvement, education, healthcare, resettlement of refugees, and other humanitarian aid. In summary, Afghans are making larger strides than Afghanistan, as a nation, is. A look at the bustling corners of Kabul may fortify faith in one’s heart but an inspection of the warring factions may release a sigh of sadness and despair. Patience, persistence and commitment to Islam followed by hard work are the ingredients that can help propel the reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan. ! Continued from page 5 Don’t insult me by labeling My English skills As nonexistent. Call me, The wannabe English major. Call me a rebel child. Call me the girl with the funky, Original style. Call me a speed-demon, Or a bookworm. Call me by name. (But whatever you do, Don’t ever call me “Jasmin”!) Lean over And ask me for the time, Or for my personal thoughts on The meaning of life If you wish to hear My articulate, unaccented Speech patterns. If you squirmed with embarrassment At recognizing yourself here— Don’t worry, I don’t hold grudges for very long. But next time, Whatever you decide to do, Don’t walk past me and Silently dismiss me with, “Why, I bet she doesn’t even speak A word of English!” Because if you were to suddenly turn back, You would see me shaking With gleeful, barely suppressed laughter. It isn’t your fault, I suppose. You couldn’t know.
It’s isn’t your fault, I suppose. You couldn’t know.
And I may be deaf, But I can clearly hear The unsaid thoughts That flit across your face. So next time you pass by me And wonder how I fit Into the grand scheme of things,
“Hahahaha.....Oh, but its Bad Dawaa”
! Continued from page 9
tural backgrounds. By cracking a joke about specific mosques, an Imam may be offended. By commenting on Osama bin Laden old tensions would definitely arise. Saying humorous remarks on specific sects, would open a whole new can of worms. Joking about pathetic experiences man faces on a day-to-day basis would make me laugh, but I am skeptical to share even that. Point being: it seems almost impossible to find a topic that allows for religiously “clean” and amusing humor. Frankly, I don’t know if there is any room for it in our Muslim communities today. Where has our humor gone? Or is just the case that we never had or gave importance to humor to begin with? Are we ready for “Muslim humor?” Are we, as an entity in its entirety capable of laughing at ourselves? A mockery of the trials and tribulations that we have to face in this world on a day-to-day basis should make us laugh but, personally, I don’t think we can at the present state. As a community we have so many insecurities and divisions, that we often find it difficult to not only disregard our differences but to laugh at them. The lack of self-understanding between our communities creates an even greater setback for Muslims. We are often so segregated amongst our own groups, that we fail to venture out and attempt to understand the remainder of our Ummah. A Pakistani may make fun of an Indian, a Muslim may joke about other religious stereotypes, or a person my laugh at the plight of mankind, but can a Muslim joke about another Muslim and get away with it? Where do we draw the lines? How can we establish an understanding amongst ourselves as an entire Ummah, so that we can laugh at ourselves too? I pray that we fight to break barriers amongst ourselves and that we feel comfortable enough about our identities, no matter how diverse they may be, so that we can find the humor within us. Humor is an essential art for success in society. It is also something healthy to have and acquire. They say a laugh is contagious and increases an average person’s lifespan, so let’s come to terms with ourselves and let loose the contagious smiles! J J J (see you’re laughing already…I know you are!) Since I promised a humorous contribution to Al-Bayan, and not fulfilling a promise is “bad dawaa” too, here are some jokes I came across surfing the net, created myself, or have heard of before. I present these with a disclaimer that these jokes are purely meant to entertain the readers and in no way should be taken offensively or seriously. All persons who don’t mind a laugh or two, please proceed. And for the rest of you, please refer back to the statements mentioned above and do not continue until you are ready. You know you’re a Muslim when: 1) You arrive two hours late for every occasion – muslim standard time 2) You’re parent’s named you after the five prayers 3) You say “like” mashallah and inshallah all the time 4) The prayer time you always make is Juma’a 5) All of a sudden Gap scarves become dupattas/head scarfs 6) When every guy lowers his gaze just by sensing a Muslim girl a mile away 7) When “brothers” and “sisters” stand on opposite ends in an elevator pretending to not know each other 8) When you get a 98% on an exam and your parents ask you what happened to the other 2%? 9) You call an older person you have never met before “uncle” 10) You fight over the dinner bill 11) You are always taking off and putting on your shoes wherever you go 12) You have a watering can in your bathroom, and your non-Muslim friends ask you where the plants are? 13) No one ever seems to call ahead of time when they are coming over for a visit 14) Everyone is a “brother” or a “sister” 15) Your relatives alone could populate their own city And for those of you who witnessed the Thomas Cleary event, here is a Mullah Nasrudin joke to refresh your memory or, if you missed the event, here is one of the famous Mullah Nasrudin jokes: The Sweet Roll: While passing in front of a pastry shop, Mullah felt an intense desire to eat a sweet roll. Even though he didn’t have so much as a penny in his pocket, he went in and began to eat. After a brief moment, the baker gave him the check, but Nasrudin didn’t pay him any attention at all. The baker pulled out his rolling pin and began to beat Mullah without stopping. As he was receiving his clubbing, Mullah kept on having his fill of the sweet rolls. Smiling, he said: “What a kind city! Its people are so affable! They beat you to make you keep eating sweet rolls!”
What is Zionism?
! Continued from page 3 came refugees in 1948. The dispossession and expulsion of a majority of Palestinians was the result of Zionist policies planned over a thirty-year period. Fundamentally, Zionism focused on two needs: 1) To attain a Jewish majority in Palestine 2) To acquire statehood irrespective of the wishes of the indigenous population. Non-recognition of the political and national rights of the Palestinian people. On November 10, 1975 the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 3379, which states as its conclusion: Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination. The resolution also endorsed an August 1975 statement by the Conference of Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Non-Aligned Countries (Lima, Peru), that severely condemned Zionism as a threat to world peace and security and called upon all countries to oppose this racist and imperialist ideology. So why is there a reluctance in
the West to analyze the issue of Zionism? Well, this is primarily due to the consorted effort by Zionists to link their ideology with Judaism. Even though Judaism is a religion and Zionism is a political, secular ideology, the linking strategy between the two has so far been successful and any critique of Zionism is met with accusations of antiSemitism. One has to realize that anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism because there are many Jewish people strongly against the occupation of Palestine. Many orthodox Jews, for example, believe the Jewish state must be established by a supernatural act of God, when the Messiah returns. They have always been opposed to any secular attempt to create a state. Jewish organizations, such as the Neturei Karta, opposed the establishment of and remain opposed to the existence of the State of Israel. Understanding Zionism helps us understand the complexity of the current situation. One should learn from the apartheid in South Africa that a racist ideology achieves nothing but suffering for all people involved.
The Media’s View of Gulf War II ! Continued from page 3 sweet. It did not target just Hussein but encompassed civilians and soldiers – the collateral damage of the war. However, this was too accurate of a picture to set Bush and co. at ease. So a change was in order, to the tune of “War in Iraq.” This is where the media gets savvy. “War on Iraq” implies that Iraq is the enemy. This phrase was used when searches for weapons of mass destruction was the focus of war and the hunt for Saddam Hussein. Iraq was a nuclear threat and Hussein needed to be gunned down. Empathy did not exist for the Iraqis but protection of the U.S. We did not want Iraq to have the nuclear capability to destroy us. The enemy needed to be taken care of to insure our safety. This went on for awhile until it was becoming more and more obvious that weapons of mass destruction did not exist and Hussein was relatively adept at hide-and-seek. The Bush administration realized Americans needed a new lie to soothe their conscience (for those in the pro-war camp) and dreamed this up: this is a war to liberate the Iraqi people! “War in Iraq” became the latest CNN mantra. This suggests something altogether different. Iraq is now not the enemy. It is merely the unfortunate location for the war. A comment on an online blog suggested if America is indeed trying to liberate the Iraqi people, the war
should be called “war for Iraq” (http:/ /www.arielbeery.com/ archives/ 000314.html). This is as ludicrous as it sounds. The U.S. army should then adopt a new slogan: “We’re killing you to save you!” What is most interesting here is who is responsible for the slogan manipulation? Did CNN change the slogans because they have shady behind-the-scenes deals with Bush? Perhaps CNN is just uber-patriotic and sides itself with Bush on its own. Or is CNN merely doing its job by reporting on the Bush administration’s self-perpetuated changes? White House officials publicly state the reasons behind the war and it is only CNN’s duty to report it. This seems most plausible and it holds the Bush administration 100% accountable. Yes, American media like CNN has its faults, but it may be inaccurate to say that it takes on the entire responsibility of changing the perceptions of the American people. Propaganda was first systematically used by the government during World War I to incite enthusiasm for the war and to sell war bonds. Propaganda is a favored tool of the government and not necessarily mainstream media, and this may be what happened here. In any case, wherever the blame falls, the damage is done. Next time, realize the power of prepositions and think hard about what the government is trying to relay through the use of slogans.
Covering Up Your Rights By Roshanak Jones As Californians, we tend to take our rights for granted. Some of our brothers and sisters around the country are not so fortunate. As Muslims, we must be aware of the travesties being committed to our brethren. On the anniversary of September 11th, Muskogee Public School officials in Okalahoma told Nashala Hearn, a sixth grader at Benjamin Franklin Science Academy, that her hijab violated the dress code. The policy forbids any headwear in school buildings and was enacted to prevent gangrelated activity six years ago, according to Superintendent Eldon Gleichman. Nashala had worn the head scarf since the beginning of the school year, and the school had also allowed her to pray between classes. On September 11th, however, school officials told Nashala she must remove her hijab, and later told her parents the hijab and prayer violated school policies. On October 1 st, Nashala was suspended for three days, and when she returned to school wearing her hijab, she was suspended a second time for five days. Her father commented that, “She’s not going to compromise her religion,” and claimed she was being unfairly singled out because of her religion. The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a civil rights organization, says her religious beliefs are protected by the free exercise clause of the 1st Amendment, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Religious Freedom Restitution Act of 1993. Spokesman, Ibrahim Hooper stated that, “There are thousands of Muslim women all over public schools in America that aren’t having any problems, not allowing this
girl to go to school because of her religious beliefs is un-American.” Nashala returned to school wearing her hijab on October 15, but school officials still have not made an official decision on her right to wear the scarf. School officials met and decided that Nashala should attend school while they determine whether her scarf violates the school dress code. However, Nashala will not be allowed to go to a separate classroom and pray. While she is allowed to pray to herself in class, officials believe going to a separate classroom could create problems for other students. Superintendent Eldon Gleichman asked, “How in the world can you have these different situations in a public school where kids can leave (the classroom) to pray or worship or have some religious experience?” He added, “I don’t want to interfere with religious beliefs but I don’t want religious beliefs to interfere with educational opportunities for kids.” In reality, these actions are clearly violating the free exercise clause of the First Amendment that prohibits school officials from denying the students’ right to freely exercise one’s religion. While the officials are yet to make a final decision about the scarf, the Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit organization that specializes in the defense of religious liberty and human rights, has said that it will pay the Hearn’s law fees if they file a lawsuit. We should support our sister in her battle with the school board by sending letters demanding they comply with her rights. It is our duty to help those in need, so please take the time and send your comments to: 300 Virgil Matthews Drive, Muskogee, Oklahoma 74401.
This Comedian Is All Halal ! Continued from page 9
But, the type of writing that Usman does is much different from the average American comedian. No profanity. No vulgarity. No sexual content. All halal. And he walks out onto stage wearing a kufi, a traditional Islamic cap, and dressed in clothes showing a blend of the east and the west. “That’s what my comedy is. That’s what I am.” And how is his presentation? He walks out with roaring applause from a crowd packing a hall to its limits. But for Usman, one thing is most important of all. “I just pray that Allah accepts it.”
! Continued from page 8 throughout Africa and Europe. The delicious pomegranate fruit is native from Iran to the Himalayas in northern India and was cultivated and naturalized over the entire Mediterranean region since ancient times. The medicinal uses of pomegranate go back to ancient Egypt. It was also well-known in the traditional cultures of Persia and Pakistan. The Arabs had great appreciation for pomegranate and introduced the fruit to Europe via Spain. Sugar was unknown in Europe until it was introduced by the Muslims. It is generally accepted that the giant grass we call sugar cane, was probably first harvested for its flavor as long as 5,000 years ago when it grew only in the Pacific islands. Migrating Polynesian tribes must have taken the sugar cane plant with them to the coastal regions of India where it eventually became established. It was the spread of Islam into the area that aided in the spread of sugar to North Africa and Spain. The advent of trading links between countries established the sugar cane as a crop in many parts of North Africa and the Mediterranean. The word sugar comes from the Arabic word for the grass, “sukkar”. Lastly, is the origin of a drink that has crossed the globe and has generated into a several billion dollar industry- the cola companies. Indigenous to Western Africa, the cola tree is now cultivated today in many tropical climates, including Central and South America, the West Indies, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia. Traditionally, the cola nut was chewed raw or drank in a liquid syrup form. For thousands of years, people in Africa have chewed the seeds to enhance mental alertness and to fight fatigue. I remember my mother (from Nigeria) telling me, that as a child she would grind the cola nut, let the powder soak in water, add sugar, and drink it as cola. Centuries ago Arabs obtained the cola nuts through trade with the Africans and spread it across Europe. Syrup comes from the Arabic word: “sharab”, a drink. Coca wine developed in Italy and Coca-Cola - which included coca and cola (Cola nitida) extracts- was first marketed in 1886 in the United States by Dr. John S. Pemberton. Cola is now consumed daily by millions as one of the main ingredients in cola soft drinks. Shaykh Hamza Yusuf jokes: “If only the Africans had patented this before….” So as it turns out, Europe and later America, owes much of its food to the spread of Islam through much of Asia, Africa, and Europe. And it doesn’t stop here- Muslims have been involved in all aspects of growth, language and technology since “the beginning”. It’s genuinely fascinating to ponder on how truly broad Muslim roots go. Alhamdulillah, praise be to Allah.
Origins of Food
Crossword Puzzle Answers
! Continued from page 8
5. Stereotyping 7. Rick 10. Ilham 11. Arefa 12. Six 13. Samurai 15. Faisal
1. Northside 2. Tariq 3. Ross 4. Andalus 6. Tehniat 8. Kumasi 9. Quresh 10. Indonesia 14. Al-Baqara
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