Wonderful people who make this blog worth updating

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.