Wonderful people who make this blog worth updating

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Pacifier Queen. . .

A pic from the same trip as the sleepless wedding
I definitely didn't plan to have a daughter who still uses a pacifier at almost 3. In fact, I didn't want to give her a pacifier at all.

Basically the problem started when she wanted to nurse literally almost every 30 min. all night long, and I couldn't get any sleep. The pacifier bought me at least a couple hours of sleep at a time, which made the difference for me in those early months.

Over the months, it became something we used to allow my husband to put Layla to bed and a convenience for me at night and in the car.

I realized how severely addicted she was to the thing when I took her to a Somali friend's wedding in Dec. 2008. She was a little over a year old at the time. I forgot the pacifier at the family's house, so she went without it until 5 am. Somali weddings are very late affairs! She would normally go to sleep around 9pm, but on this night, she literally stayed awake until 5am. I tried nursing her to sleep in one of the girls' rooms at the hotel. It didn't work. I tried walking with her in the Moby wrap, it didn't work. I tried getting her to suck her thumb, it didn't work. She didn't cry much that night as long as I held her, she just wouldn't go to sleep.

We've tried taking the paci away a few times. All of them resulted in her being awake way past her bedtime and me eventually giving up.

Fast forward to today: I bought Layla a Dora comforter for a birthday gift to give her next week. We planned to give it to her and have her trade the pacifier for it. We started talking to her about it tonight to start preparing her mind. She immediately ran upstairs and said, "I want to throw my binky away, I want a Dora blanket." I couldn't convince her otherwise, so I decided to do the switch tonight.
I think the husband wanted to wait until last week to do the switch, so I'm not sure he'll be a lot of help during the night.

So far its 1hr past the time I put her to bed, and she is still awake. She has gone to the bathroom once and asked for cuddles and water twice. She also asked to nurse even though she has been weaned for a few months now. There wasn't any milk, so that didn't last long :-)

Pray that I at least get a little sleep tonight!

At least I don't have anywhere to be early tomorrow morning.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Speak Babylonian?

I saw an article on BBC today about a new online poetry archive that is bringing ancient Babylonian writings to the public. The language is known in academia as Akkadian, and it ceased to be a living language about 2000 years ago. As a student of Hebrew and Arabic, related Semitic languages, this was obviously of huge interest to me. The article also links to the archive of the poetry, and if you speak Arabic or Hebrew you will recognize some of the words and forms.

The Professor in the interview about the archive has also released a book designed to a person to teach himself Akkadian. I might pick this up since I'll eventually study other Semitic languages if I go on to Ph.D. studies someday.

The product has only been released in the U.K. so far, but it will be out worldwide sometime soon.
Complete Babylonian: A Teach Yourself Guide

For some reason, I just love learning dead languages!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A real Interfaith Moment

A friend posted this on Facebook and I just had to share. In my opinion, this is how all Christians should be living out the teachings of Jesus. The saying "love your neighbor" comes from the story of the Good Samaritan.

25On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

26"What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?"

27He answered: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'[c]; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'[d]"

28"You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."

29But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"

30In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35The next day he took out two silver coins[e] and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'

36"Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"

37The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him."
Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."

-Luke 10:25-37

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Pray for Pakistan

As you are praying today, don't forget about the whole country of Pakistan, which has been devastated by monsoon flooding. I read today that close to 900,000 homes have been destroyed, which means that millions are now homeless. About 1/5 of the entire country is currently flooded.

This means that there will be huge risks of waterborne disease, as well as people lacking food, clothing and other basic necessities.

I'll let you guys know if I see any links for organizations that are going over there to help. In the meantime, send your dua's. They need it!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Travel, moving, and Friends, Oh my!

Hello everyone! I feel like it's been entirely too long since I posted. There have been a lot of things in the news and such that I've wanted to comment upon, but I've just been too preoccupied as of late.

The trip to Minnesota went great. Even though we didn't have the cord to the mini DVD player for the car, Layla was awesome and behaved almost perfectly for those long days of driving. It was 28 hrs. each way. We took 2 days to drive on the way there, and 2 and 1/2 on the way back.

Layla got a lot of time with her grandma, aunt, and uncle. We also got to hang with old friends, walk around near where we used to live, and eat a lot of yummy food. I definitely got my Somali fix while we were there!

I got to visit my friend Idil who moved to Grand Forks, ND and hang out with her and the family for a few days. Her sweet brother Abdisalaan offered to drive 5hrs to Minneapolis to pick us up! Her son is the little boy Layla is throwing rocks with in the picture. Their family basically adopted me quite a few years ago.

There was so much scenery on the drive there and back, but the drive is brutal. You lose your appreciation for beauty once you're in the car for a few hrs.

Once we got back, we had one day to relax before we had to start moving to our new place. It took 3 days to move, but now we're living in the best possible place for us and Layla too.

We are living in family housing townhomes for the school that I will be attending in the fall for my MA program. There are tons of  kids near Layla's age, and the houses have a fenced courtyard in the center where kids can play. It has been really easy to meet people and start making friends. I will also be able to walk to my classes, and it will be super easy to find babysitters on campus to watch Layla.

We have a week or so to relax now, then my parents and brother are coming to visit!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Road Trip!

Should I be excited about the prospect of driving 28 hrs. in 2 days? My husband and I are driving all the way back to Minneapolis to visit our family there. Are we crazy?

We wanted to fly, buy tickets are insanely expensive. Has anyone else run into that problem this summer? We also looked at taking a train, but the price was even higher than flying!

Looks like we will be stuck driving 2 days straight with this lovely little lady in the car.

If you remember correctly, this is the same drive we did last year, but this time we will have a much less-crowded car. I also think that Layla will be a little better since she is older now. I hope!

Any tips for occupying a little kid for an insanely long drive?

I will definitely bring books and the laptop for DVDs. We also plan on making her run for  15min when we stop for bathroom and gas breaks.

I'm trying to psych myself out and pretend that I'm really excited for the drive itself, when in reality, I'm not!

I am, however, looking forward to seeing my husband's family and all our friends back in Minneapolis, as well as my dear friend Idil who moved all the way to North Dakota. Yes, there are Somalis everywhere!

I am really looking forward to getting Sambusa at my favorite spot, The Cairo grill, as well as getting a couple new skirts at the Somali mall!

I'll post pics of the trip, maybe not until we get back, but I promise to share!

Monday, June 7, 2010

2010 best blog award!

سلام שלום and may Peace be with all my lovely readers:

It hasn't been that long since female Muslim bloggers were a minority in the blogging realm. I think that many of the blogs I read are so inspiring, motivating, and also speak against some of the negative stereotypes against Muslim women.

Sisterswhoblog network and magazine
are in the process of creating an award that will reward some ladies for their hard work, and give them the recognition that they deserve.

Check out the award link and give some feedback to the creators of the award. Before any blogs are awarded, they are looking for feedback as to what categories will be included and what kinds of prizes will be awarded.

Sisterswhoblog Magazine: 2010 Best Blog Award

Don't let your favorite bloggers miss out on a chance to win!

P.S. sorry for the lack of significant updates and comments on everyone's blog! The keyboard on my laptop is still fried, so I am in read-only mode.
Things are going well on my front though :-)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A little piece of Heaven

Layla and I found this amazing little place near our home. We live near Powell Butte, which is an extinct cinder cone volcano. Most of Powell Butte is set aside as a park but there are private homes all around it. On the east and south sides of the butte there is an area of small hobby farms and old houses that looks like it has been untouched in the last 50 years. I have been taking Layla back here to see the horses and look for bugs. It reminds me of how I spent a lot of my own childhood. I would love to live in a place like this someday. I would rather have a little house with a huge overgrown yard full of trees, than to live in a perfectly manicured suburban home.
Look at this huge maple leaf!

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Week of Wearing Skirts and Dresses-Day 5

I just added text because my keyboard is fried! Layla was sick yesterday and threw up on it! Lovely, I know.
Thank God, she is feeling much better today.
So, I only have one more skirt that you guys haven't seen.
When I don't know what to wear or it's hot, I'll usually use a sarong like this one to cover up. I have 3 of them, but this is my favorite by far.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

In Honor of Mothers' Day-Layla's Birth Story

My Pregnancy with Layla was truly uneventful. I never had morning sickness (Thank you God!), didn't look pregnant until 6 mos., and worked up until 3 days before the birth. All of my prenatal care was done at the HCMC Midwife Clinic in Minneapolis. I planned to give birth in their Birth Center, which is attached to the hospital. I originally wanted a home birth, but my husband wasn't comfortable with the idea. I chose this location because they offered the option of a waterbirth. I also used a doula, who is a non-medical support person for labor. She is there to offer support by helping you find comfortable positions and strategies so you can avoid unnecessary interventions.

My last day of work was Thursday, Oct 12th. On Friday I got invited to go to the Mall of America with my friend Fatima and her family. For some reason, I just didn't feel like going. Dave and I went to bed fairly early that night, just because we didn't feel like doing anything.

Saturday, Oct 13th

I woke up around 3:00am and thought I felt a little trickle of water run down my leg.  I got up and went to the bathroom, but didn't feel any more water. I thought, "I'm ok, I'm just being paranoid." I went back to bed and just tried to get back to sleep, but I just felt funny. Suddenly, I felt a bigger trickle running down my leg. Dave was still asleep next to me. I tried to get up and go to the bathroom again. As I had one leg on the floor and the other on the bed, about 1/2 gallon of water came gushing out! I screamed "baby, baby, my water just broke!"

 4:00 am-8:00am
I called the midwife clinic and talked to one of my favorite staff midwifes. She told me to wait until I was really in labor to come to the Birth Center. I tried to get back to sleep, but I was just too excited. I wasn't having any contractions yet, but Layla was moving around just fine.
I wasted time online until it was late enough to call my mom and Amanda to let them know my water had broken.

We finally left the house around this time. I was having contractions, but they were somewhat erratic and not too intense. I remember Dave wanted McDonalds and that he ate Chicken Nuggets in the car. The thought of that nasty fried food just made me sick. We picked Amanda up at her place and headed for HCMC.

2:00 pm
We got to HCMC and checked in. Once we were checked in we weren't supposed to leave the premises, so we wandered around to stimulate contractions and spent some time in the cafeteria.

My contractions were still pretty weak, but I called my doula, Rae, to let her know what was going on. She was at a birthday party, but I told her to take her time. I didn't end up having her come in until around midnight if I remember correctly. 

 During the rest of the evening I spent lots of time on a birth ball (like the exercise balls), ate enchiladas, and walked around a lot to try to speed things up. I only had to be externally monitored once an hour, so I was free to do what I wanted the rest of the time. I also declined to have an IV, or to be augmented with Pitocin. Pitocin induction greatly increases the chance that you will need an epidural or eventual C-section due to fetal distress.

Sunday, Oct. 14th Layla's B-day!

12:00 am.
Rae is finally here and shows Dave some massage techniques to help the pain in my hips. My hips seriously felt like they were going to shatter as they opened up! We walked the halls a lot more, and at some point I remember throwing up in a hallway trash can. I hate throwing up more than almost anything!

I can't remember at what times I had my dialation checked. I do know that the first time I was only at a 3 and was not progressing very quickly. I didn't get checked for a long time after that, but they wanted me to be at 6 before I could get in the tub.

I also remember Dave and Amanda sleeping on mats during the night and feeling jealous that they got to sleep while I was stuck awake. I had probably been up for almost 24hrs straight by that time!

Early morning

I got checked again and was finally almost at 6! The water tub was almost ready for me, and I think I got in it around 8am.

Transition is usually the most difficult part of Labor. It definitely was for me. I can't lie and say that it wasn't painful. It was.

However, I knew that I was finally getting close to seeing my little girl. I just had to stay with it and hold on.
During transition I was more vocal during contractions. They were so intense that I would almost fall asleep between them. This is because so much of the body's oxygen is being used during the contractions that there is nothing for the body in between them.

I didn't feel like giving up during this stage, I just kind of went into myself to cope. Everyone kept asking if I needed or wanted anything. I finally told them yes, don't talk to me, and don't touch me!

I knew transition was over because of two things. I felt an urge to push, and my contractions slowed down again. My midwife asked if I wanted to get out of the tub and be checked again. I got out because I was curious, and also because I felt like I needed to poop! That's usually a sure sign that you're ready to push.
She checked, said I was really close to 10cm, and could either choose to go back into the tub or not.

I decided to go to the bathroom first. I definitely had enough control of my body to not poop in the water! That's another reason to not get an epidural, for sure.
I took care of my business, cleaned up, and pushed as I wanted to with the contractions.
The sensations during the early part of pushing were interesting to say the least. I could feel Layla descending through my hips and getting close to crowning. I think part of why I stayed in the bathroom so long was that I
enjoyed the privacy.

I finally came out and told my midwife that I had felt her head, but it felt funny, like a raisin. I couldn't tell if it was the top of her head or her face! She reassured me that it was the top of her head, but that the skin just gets squished up as it comes down the birth canal. I think she was more shocked that I got to her to crowning by myself.

My midwife and nurse put on long gloves as I got back into the water. I had told them before that I wanted to deliver her myself if possible. They would help get me and Layla out of the water once she was born.At this point Amanda asked the nurse how much longer it might be, they told her probably about another hour. It actually ended up only being a few minutes. She barely had time to get  a few pictures!

I told myself that it was almost over, once I got her head out it would be easy. I almost pushed her head out through a couple contractions, but would hold back when I felt a burning sensation. Finally, I just told myself, do it, and pushed her head out. I screamed, "her head is out!" Now, I just needed another contraction or two to get her out.

 A baby actually turns as it descends to accommodate its own shoulders. Layla's shoulders turned as I pushed into the next contraction. Surprisingly, her whole body came out with that push.
I brought her out of the water and held her to my chest as she let out her first cry.
I had done it!

 Layla Jade
Oct 14, 2007


After that, I was bleeding quite a bit, so the nurse and midwife helped me get out of the tub with Layla.
The placenta was delivered with a little help from my midwife, and I got to hold Layla and nurse her for the first hour after she was born.

It is hard to explain in writing how transformative and powerful the experience of giving birth was. I was able to consciously and tangibly see and feel another human being coming into the world. This little girl is today the center of our family and the source of so much joy for me, my husband, and countless others. My love for her is beyond words.

On this Mothers' Day I am thankful for the experience of Layla's birth and also for every minute that God gives me with her on this earth.


Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Week of Wearing Skirts and Dresses-Day 4

Brown Skirt with a green shirt and multi-striped scarf.

I put the sweater over later because the green shirt is kind of tight.

Layla in her yellow dress that Grandma Linda sent her.

Friday, May 7, 2010

A Week of Wearing Skirts and Dresses- Day 3

Today you get 3 variations.
Loose scarf.


No hijab

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Week of Wearing Skirts and Dresses- Day 2

Here is basically what I wore to ESL classes today. I didn't have the hijab on all day, but it was meant to be part of the outfit. Wearing a long shayla and teaching preschoolers doesn't work so well. If I was practical, a purple Al-Amira hijab would have worked better.

I got the skirt at an Indian imports store last year. Its a wrap skirt, so one size fits (almost) all. I have a purple long-sleeved tee and tank top that you can see the bottoms of, and a black hoodie over top.

Its been pretty chilly here, so I haven't had to deal with the dilemma of modest summer clothes quite yet.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A Week of Wearing Skirts and Dresses

I don't know if I'll post each day for the rest of the week, but I got this idea from Michelle, aka Coffee Catholic's blog. 

The original idea was put out by another blogger:

Host: Emily @ Do Not Conform

Information: The challenge is to wear only skirts/dresses for an entire week of seven days, and then post a photo of your outfits (head to toe) on your blog…. read more.

Date: Tuesday, May 4th through Monday, May 10th

Here is my outfit for today:

I got the skirt last year at the Somali mall in Minneapolis. I really haven't bought many clothes since last year.

As you can see, I'm a big fan of layering. I typically wear a tanktop under everything, regardless of the weather. I will usually wear another shirt and a hoodie if the weather isn't hot. I love long skirts, but I think they only look long enough if they're basically dragging the ground. That doesn't work so well here in rainy Portland, so I've also picked up a few tunics and longer tops to wear with jeans. As you can see, no hijab today, perhaps I'll add one tomorrow.

And not to leave Layla out,

Friday, April 23, 2010

This Stuff is Great!

I've been having fun during Layla's nap practicing my harquus art. If you saw my post yesterday, I just got a product from Mehandi.com called Harquus platinum. It is a skin-safe paint that can be used to re-create the Harquus artwork that is done in North Africa. It also works well for creating body art similar to Somali henna designs. It is used with a paintbrush rather than a cone, but the results are amazing and it is pretty easy. The dye that Somali shops use is actually hair dye, and it can cause life-threatening allergic reactions in some cases.

Read more about PPD Black Henna injury here.

These pictures are from my 2nd time trying the product:

The designs were done over a previous henna design near the wrist and gold Temptu paint was used to accent the inside of shapes.

This paint can last up to around a week, but can also be removed with isopropyl alcohol or baby oil if you get tired of it.

I can't wait to try this on some Somali friends so I can see how it turns out on darker skin!

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Not exactly a wordless Wednesday, but maybe we can call it tongue-tied Thursday.

A random collection of recent pics:

A henna flower

Look how dark this is!

Temptu harquus used to accent henna. Not the best design (1st try ever), but I love this stuff!
It is black, but 100% safe for your skin.
The henna design underneath has been on for about a week. 

Layla pretending to read Hebrew!

Getting creative to make a fort :-)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Triplets are Here!

Remember my Somali friend who has kidney failure and was pregnant with triplets?

She was hospitalized at 26 weeks into the pregnancy so she could receive dialysis 7 days a week. Her doctor's original hope was that she would make it to 30 weeks so that the babies would have a fighting chance.

She defied all statistics and expectations and amazed all the doctors and medical staff. The three boys were born Thursday morning at 32 weeks gestation. The biggest was 3lb 8oz. and the smallest was 3lb 2oz. They have some breathing problems, but should only need to be hospitalized about a month.

I don't have pictures, but InshaAllah I will get some up soon. Laila is doing better now that she is no longer pregnant, but keep up the prayers for her complete healing!

MashaAllah! Haleluyah! I am just amazed at how this has turned out.

The boys' names are Zakariyah, Yahya, and Ayub :-)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

What is Passover?

Its Passover time! So, what is Passover and why is is celebrated?

Passover is a holiday about freedom from slavery and ultimate redemption. It is based upon the story of the Ancient Israelites' redemption from slavery in Egypt through Moses.

Today Passover is celebrated by observant Jews, and an increasing number of Christians, who are trying to return to the roots of their faith. If you read the Gospel accounts, Passover is the holiday during which Jesus was crucified. To Christians, Passover is the celebration of ultimate redemption from slavery to your own sin.

How is Passover celebrated?
The central focal point of Passover is the Seder, a dinner during which the story of redemption from Egypt is told. This is very important to Jews, as it assures continuation of the story to the next generation. According to tradition, the Hagaddah (book used to tell the story) uses "we" because each generation is to view itself in the story.

During the week of Passover, called the Feast of Unleavened bread, only bread made without yeast, called Matzah, is eaten. This is because the Israelites fled so fast that they only had flour, and could not make the usual fermented bread products. Part of preparing for Passover includes removing all yeast and bread products from the house. This outward cleansing also serves to remind us of introspection, and removing sins and negative influences from our own lives.

Even if you don't celebrate Passover, there is still a lot that can be learned from this story. 

Hag SameaH!

Monday, March 22, 2010

If at first you don't succeed. . .

So, I've been trying to learn to do henna for awhile now. My first attempts were hideous! No really, they were.I have provided no pictures to document the disastrous results.

Since then, I've practiced sporadically and I'm actually getting better.
Some of my first designs were not so great. Take a look here if you want to see what I'm talking about.

I recently ordered a Moroccan henna syringe and some better quality henna from FreeHandMehndi.  
The syringe is a little tricky to figure out at first, but I think I like it better than rolling cones. Its easy to clean and pretty easy to draw with once you get the hang of it. The only downside is that seems to accumulate pressure occasionally and the henna just keeps flowing out. I like it better than cones though, because I always seem to get leaks in my cone at the top.

So, here are the designs that I did this weekend:

I did these on Friday, then used some of the extra henna to shade parts of it on Saturday. Overall, I am pretty happy with the results. I wasn't able to leave the paste on all night, but this was the color I got after about 4 hrs. Oh, and if you're wondering how I hennaed the tops of both hands, I am somewhat ambidextrous.

Saturday night I got invited to a Somali wedding party for a girl in our ESL program. I got to dress some of the other teachers up in dirac and show them off to the Somali community. I was surprised by how many people I already know in the community here. There were also some girls who recognized me from the You Tube video and had me take pictures with them :-)

The only downside to the night was that I was stuck with Layla because my husband was working at 6am on Sunday. They didn't even serve the food until 12:30 a.m. and we took off immediately after.
I consider myself a night person, but I fail miserably by Somali standards!

Layla was causing me issues, but I was still able to get a few pics during the wedding. Here are me and some of the other teachers with a couple of our ESL student friends

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mommy Visit

Wow, I haven't updated in a long time! I've just been lazy since my mom was here and left.
We had the best weather most of the time she was here, so we got to take advantage of being outside a lot.
I am trying to convince my parents to move here when my dad retires, so part of my job is to make Portland very appealing when compared to where they live now. It doesn't take much!

Layla enjoyed a lot of time in the stroller while we did mini-hikes around the city and various buttes (small extinct volcanoes). While we were up on Mt. Tabor Layla walked straight uphill for probably a whole mile herself. She took a great nap that afternoon!

Layla got really used to having her grandma around, and it was hard for all of us when she left. Layla still goes in her room and asks why grandma isn't there anymore. Then she will say "Grandma, far away." I really hope that changes someday and she is able to come live with us.

We also had some great Ethiopian food at a place called Bete Lukas. The food was great, and I actually got to enjoy it because Layla was good for almost the entire time. I used to hate going to restaurants with her because she would never let me eat. My mom also got to meet some of my Somali friends, and even got some henna done by one of them the night before she left.

In other news, I am actually going to apply with an agency to do Somali medical interpreting part-time. I have a friend who does it, and she is convinced that my Somali is good enough.

I'll write more about that later.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful week!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Fatwa Against Terrorism?

From the Jerusalem Post:
(no ad-hominem attacks based upon where I got the article will be tolerated in the comments. Be mature, and stick to the content of the article)

The Pakistani-born Dr. Qadri has authored an unprecedented, 600-page fatwa on why suicide bombings and terrorism are un-Islamic and scripturally forbidden. The ruling is the most comprehensive theological refutation of Islamist terrorism to date.

The fatwa will also be posted on the Internet and in English, making it readily accessible. It will also set an important precedent and allow other scholars to similarly condemn the ideas behind terrorism.

Dr. Qadri has used texts in the Koran and other Islamic writings to argue that suicide and other terrorist attacks are “absolutely against the teachings ofIslam” and that “Islam does not permit such acts on any excuse, reason or pretext.”

The fatwa condemns suicide bombers as destined for hell, refuting the claim used by Islamists that such terrorists will earn paradise after death."

So what do you guys think? Can such a fatwa be an effective step to eliminating suicide attacks in the name of Islam? 
I am somewhat skeptical of their effectiveness since there are still shiekhs that openly support suicide bombing.

I think it is important to support Sh. Qadri and others like him because they are trying to do something tangible to educate Muslims and change the face of Islam. We also need to support organizations that are providing education and support to Muslims in desperate economic situations. These people are the most likely to be indoctrinated to join extremist movements. 

Sunday, February 28, 2010

My Mommy is Coming!

I am so excited! Did February seem to go by fast for anyone else?

My mom is coming to stay with us for 10 days starting tomorrow night.
She works, but my dad's pay takes care of all the bills, so she decided to save it for a good cause: Seeing her granddaughter :-)

My mom and Layla last August

We don't have any huge plans for the time she is here. We're kinda broke, so most of our ideas are things that are either cheap or free. We would like to do a little hiking and stuff outside if the weather holds out. Some other ideas I had were to get henna done, eat Ethiopian food,and go to the Zoo. She'll also be accompanying us to tutoring day to help with the ESL students' kids.

My long term plan is to get my mom to totally fall in love with it here and get her and my dad out of the Midwest as soon as he retires. I think he has at least 5 more years though :-(

Any other suggestions of fun things to do with my mom and Layla?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Israeli Ambassador at UC Irvine

The following blog post is from garyfouse.blogspot.com

There were several hundred people in the audience, most of whom were from the local Jewish community. They were mostly older folks. The speech was sponsored by the local Jewish Federation, Hillel and several other organizations. As expected the Muslim Student Union also showed up. It was obvious even before the start of the speech that they were going to stage some sort of protest. Half of them sat on the left and half on the right.

A few moments into Ambassador Oren's speech, an MSU protester stood up and began shouting insults at the ambassador. He was removed by campus police. And so it continued. After the first interruption, the moderator, a UCI political science professor, took the microphone to admonish the disruptors. Yet, it did not stop. After about the 5th such disruption and removal, the ambassador left the room and Chancellor Michael Drake addressed the audience pleading for civility.

When the ambassador returned, the disruptions continued. Each time, a protester was removed, the audience become increasingly angry and voiced their displeasure at the disruptors. They also voiced their displeasure at Chancellor Drake and demanded to know what was going to be done to the disrupting students. (Of course, at this point, there is a question as to whether the disruptors were actually students who could be disciplined.) The audience was clearly not pleased with Chancellor Drake's pleas for civility. Cries of "what are you going to do about it?" were heard in the audience.

After the 10th such interruption, the MSU got up as a group and left the hall, screaming insults at the ambassador, who nevertheless managed to complete his speech as the MSU gathered out on the street outside and continued their protest, their chants barely audible inside the hall. The disruptions and delays precluded any hope of having a Q&A, which was the original plan.

Here is my reaction to the speech. First of all, the performance of the Muslim Student Union was despicable. To disrupt a speech by an ambassador of any nation is a diplomatic incident in and of itself. That this happened on the UCI campus is a major embarrassment for the university. One can only hope that criminal charges will be filed, which I understand will be the case. If any of the individual protesters are UCI students, I can only hope they will be expelled. (Don't hold your breath.)

Secondly, the Muslim Student Union not only did a disservice to their (pro-Palestinian) cause, but they did a disservice to themselves as Muslims. What they projected to the audience was not only that they did not respect free speech, but they projected a negative image of themselves as Muslims. In that respect, they did a disservice to those Muslims who are trying to live peacefully and assimilate into American society. This bunch, however, sent a message that they are apart from American society.

In addition, they refused to accord the right of free speech and the right of the audience to hear a message because they don't like it. I have been attending MSU-sponsored events for several years now at UCI and listened to a lot of hate speech-words that Ambassador Oren never engaged in. I have never interrupted or disrupted a speech no matter how offensive it was, nor have I witnessed anyone else do so. If the MSU had differences with the Israeli ambassador, they could have asked him their questions during the Q&A, as I always do. Instead, they acted like barbarians and cemented an unfortunate stereotype that hurts all Muslims. (As I write, the OC Register on-line report is burning up with comments, and they are not very complimentary to the protestors.)

Perhaps, the biggest mistake the MSU committed was showing a local audience that there really IS a problem at UCI, in spite of all the denials by the administration and unfortunately, even some Jewish groups like the local Orange County Jewish Federation, who sponsored the event. The audience members will take this experience home and tell others what is really going on at UCI. Tonight, the truth came out.
-Repost from garyfouse.blogspot.com

My own thoughts? I agree with the portions of Mr. Fouse's article that I have highlighted. Free speech does not mean screaming at the top of your lungs to prevent someone else from having the same right. These protesters could have staged a peaceful protest outside and handed out informational pamphlets to demonstrate their viewpoint.

Yes, there is a lot of suffering among the Palestinians, but heckeling a speaker from Israel is not the way to help them. Go give to a charity that provides education and humanitarian aid instead.

If the MSU had a pro-Palestinian speaker come to the school, I doubt that Hillel would have reacted so venomously.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Grandmas are the Best!

Layla and I found a surprise when we went out to check the mail.
A package, just for her.

From her grandma Linda
What could it be?
Her very own laptop!

If you lived with us, you'd understand why this is the perfect gift. We don't own a TV, and are on our laptops a lot. Layla is always taking mine so she can push keys and see what happens.

Thanks Grandma! She loves it!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Surah Al-Ma'idah 51

In a recent blog comment, a Quranic verse has been brought up that always bothered me. I thought that rather than discuss in the comments, I would open the conversation here.
I will provide links to fatwas that interpret the verse and leave it for readers to discuss, as well as provide my own opinion on the matter.

All I ask is that we refrain from personal attacks in the comments and try to treat others in a kind manner, even when we disagree.

This is the verse in question:
Surah Al-Mai'dah, 51 Yusuf Ali translation:

O' You who believe, take not the Jews and Christians for your friends and protectors: they are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is one of them. Verily Allah guides not a people unjust. 

يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ لَا تَتَّخِذُواْ ٱلۡيَہُودَ وَٱلنَّصَـٰرَىٰٓ أَوۡلِيَآءَ‌ۘ بَعۡضُہُمۡ أَوۡلِيَآءُ بَعۡضٍ۬‌ۚ وَمَن يَتَوَلَّهُم مِّنكُمۡ فَإِنَّهُ ۥ مِنۡہُمۡ‌ۗ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ لَا يَهۡدِى ٱلۡقَوۡمَ ٱلظَّـٰلِمِينَ 

Here are a fatwa on the subject from supposedly reliable Islamic sources.
I think that their response is absolutely hideous.

Excerpt from an Islam QA.com fatwa on the subject:
"I have questions about Islam; can you explain them to me? Is it permissible for a Muslim to be a sincere friend to a person who is not Muslim?.

Praise be to Allaah.  
It is not permissible for a Muslim to make friends with a mushrik or to take him as a close friend, because Islam calls on us to forsake the kaafirs and to disavow them, because they worship someone other than Allaah. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): 
“O you who believe! Take not as friends the people who incurred the Wrath of Allaah (i.e. the Jews). Surely, they have despaired of (receiving any good in) the Hereafter, just as the disbelievers have despaired of those (buried) in graves (that they will not be resurrected on the Day of Resurrection)”
[al-Mumtahanah 60:13] 
This was also the teaching of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). 
1 – It was narrated from Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri (may Allaah be pleased with him) that he heard the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say, “Do not keep company with anyone but a believer and do not let anyone eat your food but one who is pious.” (Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 2395; Abu Dawood, 4832. Abu ‘Eesa al-Tirmidhi said: this hadeeth is hasan. It was also classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi, 2519)". 

What? So why then does the Quran in other places state,

There is no compulsion in religion...2:256
To you be your way, and to me mine 109:6

Those who believe (in the Quran). Those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Sabians and the Christians, -any who believe in Allah and the last day, and work righteousness, on them shall be no fear, neither shall they grieve. 5:69.

I read this other verse on the topic and can only think of the words from the Gospel that teach the exact opposite:

O' you who believe! Take not my enemies and yours as friends (or protectors),- offering them (your) love, even though they have rejected the truth that has come to you.. . Al MumtaHinah 60:1a

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be the sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust. Matthew 5:44-45

So where does this leave us?

For me personally,  I believe that loving one's enemies is a much higher calling of philosophical jihad (if one wants to use that term), because it is more difficult to forgive rather than retaliate.

I will continue to love all regardless of faith or lack thereof, because I believe we are all created in the image of God.

I will be looking forward to everyone's opinions on this subject.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Update: Somali Family

So, Leila and her family have been blessed by a lot of new friends and things for their house so far. My Layla and I have been over a few times bringing things for the kids and the kitchen and trying to help them get organized. I sincerely appreciate everyone's prayers and offers for more tangible help.

Last week I thought they might be getting overwhelmed with all the attention, so I left them alone for a few days. At this point Abdi, the dad, is trying to hold it all together himself. He doesn't seem super keen to have anyone come into his home and care for the kids, but they will definitely need some extra hands once the triplets come. They have most of the essentials they need for the kitchen, and that was the most immediate need with 6 kids in the house. The three older kids have been working hard to make things easier for their poor dad.

I am still trying to get them a nice vaccuum that doesn't cost too much, which is harder than I imagined. They also want some carpet protectors for the kids rooms, so they are easier to keep clean. Its basically a vinyl floorcovering like the pads people put under then computer chairs. We're not sure even where to buy them, so I need to do a little research this week.

Leila also told me to today that some other ladies were bringing some clothes for the kids tomorrow. I think that its one of the ESL volunteers who was going to ask for donations from her church friends. I also got some clothes for her husband and brother from another friend of mine.

And the good news?

She is 22 weeks into her pregnancy. Yep, she is a little further along that I was first told, which means that the babies are more likely to be viable with each day that passes. She seems to have a little more energy the past few days too! I am so excited and scared for her at the same time.

I will let everyone know about continuing needs as the babies' birth date gets closer and we see what is provided for them locally. They have nothing for the triplets so far, so that will be another big area of need once they're ready to be discharged from the hospital.

We are going to see them again tomorrow afternoon, so I'll post again if there are any exciting developments.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The World's Strongest Man?

Only in Egypt could someone get away with this sort of brazen lying. This man supposedly bends coins with his eyes and has the strength of 30,000 ordinary men. He is forbidden from working because he may injure someone without being aware of it. He also eats raw lamb and drinks melted butter for strength so that he can have sex with his wives 15 times a day.

I'm not even sure how I found the video initally, but take a look if you need a laugh.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Friends in Need

I have the privilege of working with a Somali family that was referred to the refugee organization I volunteer for. Their situation has helped me realize how truly blessed I am in this life.

The family is a husband and wife and their 6 children who came to the U.S. after spending 12 years in a Kenyan refugee camp. The wife was diagnosed with kidney failure shortly after coming here. She was advised to not become pregnant, but ended up not only pregnant, but is having triplets.

She and her husband have very minimal English skills, and now that she has become sick, neither one of them can attend ESL classes. The wife, Leila, is 5 months along in her pregnancy. Many of her days are spent in the hospital, where she receives dialysis.

Now that she is ill, her husband must stay home and take care of the children. The oldest daughter is 13, the youngest child is 16 mos. They are no longer receiving refugee resettlement assistance, and live on welfare payments and food stamps. Their welfare barely covers the rent, and their electricity is being paid by another charity organization. They have hardly any furniture, few kitchen utensils, and no money left over to even begin purchasing these things. It would be easier if they had family in the city, but they seem disconnected from the Somali community at large.

My heart just breaks for them and the severity of their situation. Yet somehow, they are still hopeful.
I sorted through Layla's books and brought a few of them over for the children. There weren't any toys or books in the room, and each one was looking at a book when I came back downstairs :-)
I also brought some food, kitchen items, and cleaning supplies to get them started. 

The organization I volunteer for is working to get some of the material needs met for the family, but what they truly need is the help of friends and neighbors who care about them. Now that I have met them, I am going to try and cook food for them at least a couple times a week and help care for the children once I have developed that level of trust with them.

What this family needs is a real miracle. If Leila's kidneys could be restored back to full function, she could be the mother that her children need. I am praying earnestly for that miracle.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Visiting a Reform Synagogue

Although I have studied Hebrew and have a pretty good knowledge of Judaism, I had never actually been to a non-Messianic synagogue service until last night.

I attended the synagogue with some Messianic ladies that I am friends with. Two of them attend regularly even though they are believers in Yeshua (Jesus) as the Messiah. The rabbi knows this, but is apparently accepting of it as long as they do not proselytize other Jews.

The service contained a fair amount of liturgy, all done by a female cantor. I was more familiar with the Hebrew liturgy being chanted, but this was all sung. The congregation had a small band consisting of 2 acoustic guitars, a drum, and an upright bass to accompany the cantor. Most of the liturgy is done with the congregation participating. I was able to follow along pretty well.

I felt surprisingly comfortable in the service, it was not so confrontational as a lot of church services tend to be. It was actually a good balance between a church service and a service at a mosque.

Since this was a reform synagogue, seating was not separated by gender. Gender separation is the norm in Orthodox and Chassidic groups, however.

The Rabbi's sermon was on the opening parasha of the book of Exodus. He talked about Moses' experience as a shepherd in Midian and how this prepared him to be the shepherd of the Israelites. (link to sermon at lower right of page)

Another thing that is done regularly at Jewish services is the mourner's kaddish. I thought this was really interesting, as it constantly calls each of us to remember our own mortality, but also that we were each created as eternal beings.

I think that Christianity has lost a lot in leaving its Hebraic roots. If you look at the New Testament, Jesus and the disciples all worshiped at the Temple and synagogue and followed the Torah. Unfortunately, many Jews are distrustful of both Christians and Muslims because of terrible atrocities that have been committed in the past. I pray that we are able to move past this and treat each other as siblings.

The service was ended by a blessing over Challah bread and wine (and grape juice) in the next building. This is the custom that became communion in Christianity. The traditional blessings over these foods are to remind one of the Creator's constant provision, and also to set apart the Sabbath as a time of worship and rest.

Would I attend the synagogue again? Definitely.
While I am not contemplating becoming a reform Jew, I think that there is a lot I can learn from this tradition and their way of living out the Torah.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

How is this ok?

I actually took some time to study Ashura this year and came to appreciate the tradition of remembering the death of Hussein. Then I was reminded of these types of images...

Does anyone really know how widespread these types of self-mutilation ceremonies are?
There are tons of them online from Shia communities worldwide.

So my question is, how does someone justify forcing a child to participate in a bloodletting ceremony?
A baby?

Its just not ok.

Monday, January 4, 2010

I want to live here!

This is a video talking about a traditional Somali nomadic home, called an Aqal. He explains the materials that are used in its construction which are types of grass mats, sticks, and various animal skins. The Aqal is lightweight, keeps out wind and rain, and provides shade. Containers used by the nomadic family are also discussed. The old versions of the haan, a container used for milk or water, were made of grass so tightly woven that it could hold liquid.
He talks about how parts of the material culture are being lost, plastics and metal have replaced many of the traditional materials in construction. He explains about some of the different woods that are used and the individual characteristics of the different trees, and how they are useful..

I love watching this, but I am also heartbroken that so many Somalis in the young generation don't even care about their culture.

Eggnog Pumpkin Pie (Recipe)

A few days ago I got a bunch of organic eggnog really cheap at this place down the road. I love eggnog, but there was no way I was going to finish it before it went bad. That's when I had a genius moment and came up with this recipe idea.


1 Large (29oz.)can of pumpkin or equivalent.
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 ts. each of ground ginger, and cinnamon.
20oz of eggnog
2 pie crusts

Preheat oven to 425F
1. Add sugar and spices together in a bowl, mix well and then add eggs.
2. Beat the eggs well, then add the pumpkin.
3. Gradually add the eggnog and beat all together well.
4. Pour mixture into prepared crusts.
Bake at 425F for 10 minutes then reduce heat to 325 taking between another 45 min to an hour to bake.
Pies are done when a knife or toothpick in the center comes out clean.

It doesn't taste that different from a regular pumpkin pie, but its a good way to use up extra eggnog!

See how the crust is too dark on the edges? Layla decided to turn the oven up to 500F while I wasn't looking!