Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Late Night Orwellian Thoughts

(a) do our thoughts determine our language? Or,
(b) does our language determine our thoughts?

if (a),
do those with limited thoughts, construct a limited language?

if (b),
do those who control our language, control our thoughts?

Monday, October 30, 2006

old thoughts

I found these old thoughts written down somewhere...

We are all looking for that something...

That something big,

That thing that will change our lives,

Our entire prespective on life itself.

It will make us become something big,

Something that will live on after us.

For a long time I thought those who inspired for immortality are foolish in their quest.
Little was I aware of the deepest desires of souls.
Indeed, this is one of our darkest passions that lay hidden in hearts of us all.

I was thinking about how I was a point in my life where I too had succum to this desire.

Thinking about what I written a while back, I wonder if that still exists within me ... can we ever let it go?

Saturday, October 28, 2006

"Wear a Hijab to Work Day" - Show Solidarity for Shaheed Sister

I was sent this email...

You may or may not have heard about the murder of Alia Ansari. She was recently gunned down while walking with her three year old daughter in a residential area in Fremont, California. Her family believes she was targeted as a result of her religious beliefs worn on her sleeve in the form of Hijab ( e.g. headscarf and modest dress as prescribed in Islam). This article provides insight into who Alia Ansari was, and still is, to those who knew her – an immigrant, a mother, a wife, a helper. The incident, which is clearly disturbing on many levels, speaks to the sometimes irreversible effects of irresponsible rhetoric, misconceptions and stereotypes stemming from ignorance and misunderstanding surrounding Muslims, immigrants (or those perceived to be) and Islam and … of course, hate.

In response to this incident, women leaders in the Freemont community decided to organize an event to show their support. November 13th has been declared “Wear a Hijab to Work Day. Hopefully other people can spread this message around.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

To My Brothers

In my life, I have come across some brothers with beautiful souls that have given me happiness. I wrote this for two of them. I want to share it with you all. Let this be my gift to you all for Eid - lets focus on the good stuff this one day.

Have I Ever Told You

Have I ever told you that I love you for the sake of Allah.
"If a man loves his brother in faith, he should tell him that he loves
him."[Abu Dawud]

Have I ever told you that you have helped me taste the sweetness of emaan.
"There are three things, that whoever attains, will find the sweetness
of faith: If Allah and his messenger are dearer to him than anyone
else; if he loves a person solely for the sake of Allah; and if he
would hate to return to disbelief (kufr) after Allah has rescued him
from it, as much as he would hate to be thrown into fire."[Agreed

Have I ever told you that if you need someone to lean on, you can count on me.
"The relationship between believers is like a wall, parts of which
support other parts."[Muslim]

Have I ever told you that I want to stand with you under the shade of Allah on
the Day of Resurrection.
Abu Hurairah (RA) reported: Messenger of Allah (SAW) said, "On the Day
of Resurrection, Allah, the Exalted, will say: `Where are those who
have mutual love for the sake of My Glory? Today I shall shelter them
in My Shade when there will be no shade except Mine"[Muslim]

Have I ever told you that I hope to sit on the pulpits of light on that
Day of Resurrection, as we are the envy of the Prophets and Martyrs.
On one occasion the Prophet(SAW) finished the prayer and turned toward
the people and said, "O people, listen and understand. Allah has
slaves who are neither prophets nor martyrs, but both the prophets and
martyrs envy them for their closeness to Allah." A bedouin stepped
forward, pointed to the Messenger of Allah and said, "O Messenger of
Allah, tell us about these people." The Prophet was pleased with the
bedouin's request and said, "They are from various peoples and tribes
who have no ties of relationship between them. They love each other
purely for the sake of Allah. On the Day of Resurrection, Allah will
present them pulpits of light for them to sit on. Their faces will be
light and their clothes will be light. The people will be scared on
the Day of Resurrection, but they will not be scared. They are the
friends of Allah who will not have any fear upon them nor will they
grieve. [Ahmad and Abu Ya'la with a hassan chain]

Have I ever told you that I have wanted to tell you this in my own
hope that may Allah love me, for whose sake I love you.
Anas bin Malik (RA) reported: A man was with the Prophet (SAW) when
another man passed by and the former said: "O Messenger of Allah! I
love this man (for Allah's sake)". Messenger of Allah (SAW) asked,
"Have you informed him?'' He said, "No". Messenger of Allah (SAW) then
said, "Tell him (that you love him)". So he went up to the man and
said to him, "I love you for the sake of Allah;'' and the other
replied, "May Allah, for Whose sake you love me, love you.'' [Abu

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Bell Hooks on 'Crash'

When I first saw the film Crash. I thought it was really nicely done and had a positive impression of it. I mentioned it to my African American literature professor and he didn't think it was worth it. I didnt understand intially until I thought about it more. I recently read this piece by Bell Hooks and I think I got a feeling for what was going through my professor's mind when he probably saw it as well. I've read Bell Hooks previous works and I must say that she is one of the most compelling critics of culture I've ever come across.

Well I could paraphrase what she said but nobody can express it better than herself:

James Baldwin was fond of saying that "sentimentality is the
ostentatious parading of excessive and spurious emotion. It is the
mark of dishonesty, the inability to feel."

Many people see Crash as a film which invokes deep pathos
and feelings. Actually, it is a sentimental and melodramatic film in
the classic mode of Hollywood.

In Hero With a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell shows how western
culture really thrives on the classical myth of hero. The classical
hero triumphs over his fellow man. He has strength. His heroism must
be recognized. He takes what he wants by force and dominates others.
In Crash, Matt Dillon's character Ryan is cast as the hero. He is the
only character who rises above personal limitations, personal
prejudices. His willingness to risk his life to save the life of a
black woman he has violated and humiliated springs not from a concern
for her humanity but rather from his desperate need to prove he is
worthy of the status of hero. It is his moment of glory. And like all
Hollywood heroes he steals the limelight. His sins are forgiven and he
is allowed to continue his domination over others.

Viewers may not consciously experience the film as yet
another film in a long line of racialized Hollywood narratives from
Birth of a Nation to the present day, where the theme and plot is
centered on white male triumph over bestial emotions. We may not be
conscious of that narrative, but it is playing itself out in the
unconscious. It is the film narrative they have come to expect.

The film is seductive to audiences at this historical moment, because
many black people feel that our voices and images, our pain, our
suffering caused by white supremacist exploitation and oppression is
being ignored. Black viewers were moved by the fact that someone would
take the time to portray the sense of violation we so often feel when
confronting everyday racism. When the white cop stops the black couple
a symbolic lynching occurs. There is castration. There is public
shaming and emasculation of the black man, not only by the white cop
but also by the black woman. These are the same old stereotypical
images. And ultimately, black women are blamed for black degradation,
for putting the black male down. The one black female who is
"together" is totally allied with whiteness and white male power. In
the late 60's and early 70's, the question was who will be raised to
revere the black woman? Crash tells us no one will ever revere the
black woman because the black woman is not worthy to be revered.
Thandie Newton's character as the biracial beauty epitomizes the
female body that is the meeting place for black and white male desire,
bringing another motif from slavery to the present day. She is the
elegant leading lady, the lady of mutual desire, but she too is

Like the stereotypical mulatto character Sarah Jane in the
film Imitation of Life, her heroic moment comes when she is facing
death. The Thandie Newton character becomes the total tragic mulatto
when she is able to "forgive" her sexual violator and surrenders to
his salvific touch. She begs the white male to save her and clings to

Contrasting Crash as a public narrative about race with
the film The Bodyguard, audiences would be able to see the difference
between public open affirmation of white male regard for black woman
and the dehumanizing rituals that take place in Crash. In The
Bodyguard, there is a scene with a white woman who comes between the
Kevin Costner character and the black woman he desires. He lets this
white woman know: I am not choosing you. He does not degrade the black
female he cares about. Interestingly, in Crash, the Thandie Newton
character must be reduced to this demeaning dehumanized mess, pleading
with the white man to save her. He then becomes the Christ-like
figure. The image of her crying, clinging to the white male, appears
on many posters and advertisements for the film.

Rather than depicting her as an equal as in The Bodyguard,
we get the erasure of that liberating interracial narrative and the
substitution of an interracial narrative where the black woman is
always subordinated, dependent on the white male for her survival. No
matter how beautiful Newton 's character looks at the beginning of the
film, that moment when she is clinging to the white man in her baptism
by fire she looks monstrous. Her features are distorted. Ironically,
it is only this time we wee her being emotionally caring in
relationship to her black husband. Soon after this scene she calls and
says "I love you." We wonder what such love means in the context of
all the betrayals we see in this film. In real life, the bodies of
black females are not saved by heroic white male fascists.

In contemporary culture, the bodies of all those black
women abandoned and lost, disappeared and dead in the wake of
Hurricane Katrina let the world know that the black female body is not
worthy of salvation. It is an image of genocide. A disturbing aspect
of Crash is the fake narrative of white male redemption of black
womanness. In fact, the film overall is about how black womanness is
destroyed and degraded. We see how black men and women are set up to
be the agents of their own and other's destruction while the white
family is completely idealized. Even the Hispanic man is shown as
having tension with his wife. The message conveyed is that she is not
his equal. He is the parenting person, the authority – patriarchy is
intact. Crash offers the image of white men as tolerant and
compassionate and white women as weepy, unhappy, blundering idiots.
She is, in a sense, the continuation of the Victorian idea of the mad
woman in the attic. Yet, she is still worthy of respect, whereas black
people in this film get no respect. I am startled when black people
tell me that Crash talks about race in a new and different way. It
simply does not. One of the greatest films of our time to lead into a
profound discussion about race is Spike Lee's Four Little Girls. This
film has no raw sexuality, no raw contempt,no construction of nigger
as beast. In Crash, the images of black people are poorly executed
clones of the images of blackness depicted in Quentin Tarantino's film
Pulp Fiction and in black exploitation films.

Crash begins with sexuality, and sexuality is always racialized in
America . The white male is portrayed as a voyeur looking into the
bedroom of black man and woman (in this case, the car is the symbolic

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