Sunday, 19 September 2010

The Problem of Suffering: Muslim Theological Reflections

Hi everyone!

Apologies for the EXTREME delay... And unfortunately I haven't come back with a post of my own but rather an article of an outstanding professor I thought I'd like to share with you all, it might as well be the beginning of a stronger come-back from me to the world of blogging!

It's quite a heavy piece of writing and I had to read it a few time to grasp its complete meaning, but Professor Sherman A. Jackson couldn't have said it better on the Huffington Post:

"M: "Glorified be God who is above committing evil."
A: "No, glorified be God in whose dominion nothing occurs without God's permission."
M: "Does God will that God be disobeyed?"
A: "Could God be disobeyed against God's will?"
M: "If God denies me guidance and decrees my perdition, does God commit a good or an evil act?"
A: "If God denies you something that belongs to you, then God commits an evil act. But if God denies you something that belongs to God, then God simply singles out for God's mercy whomever God pleases."

The problem of evil, especially human suffering, exercised classical Muslim theologians as much it does Western philosophers, theologians and scientists today. The issue then was basically the same as it is now: If God is All-Good and All-Powerful, how do we explain the existence of evil? The theological school known as Mu'tazilism emphasized God's all-goodness and argued that since God is All-Good, God cannot be the source of evil. Rather, it is humans who inflict suffering on other humans, entirely on their own. In fact, the Mu'tazilites argued, beyond the original act of creation, humans are not at all dependent on God to do what they do but actually create their own acts! By contrast, the Ash'arite school emphasized God's All-Powerfulness and argued that if God did not control all the affairs of the universe, something other than God could bring about things that went against God's will. For them, whatever occurs had to occur because God willed it. Otherwise, God would be neither All-Powerful, in complete control, nor, ultimately, God.

Both schools sought to absolve God of responsibility for evil. The Mu'tazilites did this by placing evil human acts entirely outside God's power and wholly in the hands of humans (which left them to explain things like earthquakes, floods and cancer). The Ash'arites, meanwhile, argued that if God is truly the All-Powerful Owner of the universe, God must be able to do with creation as God pleases, and no one can sit in judgment over what God does with God's own "property." In fact, the Ash'arites accused the Mu'tazilites of fudging the issue by falsely privileging the human perspective on what actually constitutes good and evil. They denied that humans were the center of some objective moral universe and pointed out that every moral judgment that humans might make could be matched by an opposite judgment by other humans. In this context, human suffering might be evil from the perspective of humans. But this would be no more an objective basis for indicting God than would be the argument of plants and animals against humans for eating them!

Of course, such arguments did not satisfy everyone. The founder of the Traditionalist school once asked rhetorically: If God is wholly unconnected to evil, what role can God play in lifting it? The Maturidite school, meanwhile, went even further. Not only did its founder accept that God could create evil, he actually turned evil's existence into a proof of God's existence! According to him, had the universe come into being on its own, it would have produced nothing that jeopardized its integrity or well-being. Thus, the very existence of evil implies autonomous choice on the part of something that stands outside the system -- God. Yet, while God can, according to the Maturidites, create evil and human suffering, God cannot and does not create evil that does not ultimately serve a wise purpose.

In all of this, Muslim theologians never isolated a single attribute of God (All-Powerful, All-Good, All-Wise, All-Merciful) as the sole basis of God's actions. While Mu'tazilites privileged God's all-goodness, this was tempered by their recognition of God's wisdom, power, autonomy, patience and other attributes. Ash'arites appear stoic in privileging God's all-powerfulness, but only if they are seen as negating God's goodness, mercy, justice and other attributes. In fact, when Ash'arites speak of God's ability to do whatever God pleases, they are only speaking of what God can do. What God actually does will be based not solely on God's brute power but on the total composite of God's attributes. The same applies to Traditionalists and Maturidites.

This strikes me to be perhaps among the most important differences between classical Muslim and many modern, non-Muslim Western discussions on evil and suffering. While the latter seem to isolate a single attribute -- all-goodness, all-lovingness, all-powerfulness -- and decide the issue on that basis alone, the former simply emphasize a single attribute but cling to a more complex composite of divine "character." In this light, the mere existence of evil and suffering could not dispose of the God question. For even if every instance of human suffering could tell us something about the existence and nature of God, every instance of human happiness and well-being must tell us something of equal proof-value about the nature and existence of a complex, multifaceted Creator.

Muslim theologians summed up this dual reality in the notion of living life between the two poles of hope and fear -- hope that the irresistible choices of an all-powerful God would be ultimately tempered by mercy, compassion and love, and fear that they might not. Of course, the very notion of fear is a major problem for religious discourse today, as "organized religion" has so notoriously used it to exploit and subjugate believers. But just because one is paranoid does not mean that one is not being followed. In the end, we are all afraid, if not of God, death, and eternal damnation then of the earthly Hell of loveless objectification, disrespect and nobodyness, a fear that can subject us to régimes of fantasy and exploitation no less debilitating, and no less blasphemous, than religious tyranny and treachery.

But is theology in the end really a match for the brutalities and disappointments of life -- an earthquake, the death of a child, 9/11, the betrayal of a friend, spouse or sibling, the seemingly schizophrenic turning of one's entire society against one? In these moments, it seems to matter little whether one is a Mu'tazilite, Ash'arite, Maturidite or Traditionalist. For, while good theological answers may empower one to understand catastrophe, understanding alone is rarely enough to neutralize the pain of loss or regret. What I need here is solace and reconciliation with the fact of my creatureliness; the courage, honesty and dignity to acknowledge that I am not in control; yet the insight and fullness of soul to see in the enormity of what has happened that I am just as eligible for enormous good as I am for enormous tragedy. Here my reach is ultimately for something "outside the system," something capable of breaking all the rules, of defying the laws of probability and chance -- for me! This is the beginning of the theological impulse.

Yet, while, the theological impulse, however crude, may be the beginning of my relationship with God, it is only the beginning. And I must be careful not to mistake the menu for the meal. Whether I emphasize God's goodness or justice, God's power or wisdom, these mental abstractions will only take on concrete meaning for me in the context of my actual relationship with God. Ultimately, if the real goal of theology is to promote a living relationship with God and not simply to paint a pretty picture of God, perhaps the real value of what it has to say about evil and suffering resides not so much in how it mars or enhances idealized images of God but in how it enriches or impoverishes the human relationship with God."

Friday, 30 April 2010

4th Mensiversary

I know, I'm sorry, I've been a disappointing blogger... It's just that life can really force you to live it sometimes!

I promise May's gonna be much better, I've got a lot on my mind that needs blogging...

In the meantime, April's the month my love story was born... and hence I thought this clip just says it all, it's just absolutely hilarious! Enjoy :)

P.S. Thanks guys for the last post's comments, I'll be back to it :)

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Independence - Is It Really Good?

Once upon a time my great grandfather was a very rich man. He owned numerous lands and farms. He didn’t want his children to go to school – anything not related to farming was a waste of time. One day, due to uncontrollable circumstances, he had to leave the country he was so rich in, and come to Oman. He lost all his lands. Because he was pretty much hopeless in anything else, and barely had any friends around to help him out, he worked as a truck driver. His older kids got similar jobs – construction, driving, garbage collectors etc. while his younger kids went to school. He was married to 2 wives with 15+ kids in total, and they all had to live in a 2 bedroom apartment. That was all they could afford. Did his independence help? I don’t think so.

Taking a nation-wide example, look at Iraq. Before the war in 2003, Iraq was pretty much independent in terms of infrastructure – roads, electricity, water, telecoms. Leaving aside all the political issues, Iraq was actually doing quite well in terms of quality of service –better than the GCC at the time. The war came, and 7 years later the country’s infrastructure is still in chaos! You can say it’s America’s fault; they’re not really putting an effort. However, if Iraq wasn’t INDEPENDENTLY providing these services through its ministries – if the providers were actually international companies – America’s interference in Iraq would’ve at least respected those companies (to keep their own international relationships at peace) and the current state of infrastructure services in Iraq wouldn’t have been this hectic. Hell, it could’ve prevented the war in the first place – by way of strong opposition from the other countries (them having their stakes in Iraq at risk). So while being independent was great for a certain period of time, it made Iraq exposed to greater risks in the long run which are now materializing.
In the situations above, risks were inevitable, and being independent didn’t help – it was actually a risk in itself. And this could apply to all of you, dearest readers. Leaving aside financials, let’s look at the effects of independence from family: a major difference between the civilized world and third world countries (e.g. Oman). Individualism VS Collectivism.

For a civilised family, once the kids become adults they have to learn how to be “independent” – live alone, pay their own expenses, and simply learn life the difficult way. And they do. They grow up, get married, create their own families, and eventually become really independent from their parents – it’s OK to dump them in an elderly home (I know I’m generalizing, but I talk about the majority here). Their independence transfers to their own kids, who also put them in an elderly home when their time comes. For “civilized” parents, it’s so important to have a pension fund, to “secure” their future by financial means.

On the other hand, not too long ago a whole Omani family would live in the same house, or on the same piece of land, for 3 or more generations (i.e. with the grandparents and aunts and uncles). Knowing you’re mother’s 3rd cousin’s in-laws’ grandfather was normal (maybe because it was your own grandfather, but you know what I mean). The interesting bit is not only knowing distant relatives, but actually being able to help them out, or get some sort of support from them, when either party falls into trouble. A “sabla” – a big living room open for all men – was essential in every city. The sablaat (plural) and/or mosques provided means of communication, discussion, raising issues in society, and opportunities for INTERDEPENDENCE – not independence.

Speaking from a Muscat-raised point of view, the current situation is quite different. A married man still living in his parents’ house could be deemed a disgrace. The importance of each individual is getting highlighted (as I explained earlier) – and consequently we’re investing more of our time and money on establishing ourselves, furthering our careers, building our future to be independent rather than building stronger relationships with family members, staying in touch, and having a wider circle of friends/family (although I must admit Facebook is helping A LOT). Nevertheless, visits have become cumbersome. Slowly we’re becoming, apparently, “civilized”.

Are we sure we want to? Do we actually realize what’s going on, or are we just blindly imitating the majority? Do we believe that if we work harder and strengthen ourselves to be independent then we’d be able to overcome the major stumbling blocks in life?

I don’t. No matter how much time, money, and effort is spent on becoming better, it’ll never be sustainable – look at my rich great grandfather, powerful Iraq, or the civilized parents – although independent; they all couldn’t carry on being wealthy, powerful and satisfied. It’s worth more to spend that time, money and effort on helping family, friends and strangers. What we call, “التكافل الاجتماعي” – social solidarity.So I don’t think independence is all that, what do YOU think? Agree? Disagree? Give it to me, I want a debate!

Monday, 29 March 2010

3rd Mensiversary

So I just figured out that a monthly-anniversary is actually called a "Mensiversary"!

And it's time for my 3rd one ;)

As usual, I have these mensiversaries in order to fulfill my duties as a blogger to the bestest audience, to thank you all, entertain you and draw a smile on your faces every now and then...

This month is actually Maz Jobrani's month in Oman, so I thought putting a video of his would be suitable to raise the level of anticipation of those going to his show. So here you go! (I suggest forwarding the first minute as it's just an intro)


P.S. A mini survey: do you guys think I should continue with the "mensiversaries" or are they getting lame? Just wondering! You're opinion would be much appreciated :)

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Reminder - Earth Hour Again!

Sorry to post about the same subject again, but just a reminder that in one hour and a few minutes Earth Hour will begin... It's quite exciting and seems like Oman's government will actually join the cause (appears so from the local newspapers).

Just one hour, go on, switch it off!

Here's how 2nd Cup is participating, I thought it was a cute initiative...


Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Earth Hour

Dear all,

Saturday, 27th of March 2010, from 8.30 p.m. to 9.30 p.m. will be....

Help the world for one hour by switching off as many electrical appliances as possible. This includes lights, laptops/computers, televisions, barely-used refrigerators ;), water heaters, modems, fans, and everything that works using a switch! It's your chance to help the world, save some energy, reduce the load on those poor continuous electricity generators, and save some of the diminishing gas reserves we luckily still have... prepare yourself with some candles, chocolates, and good friends or family to have long chats with for just an hour...

I understand that if you're in Oman it could be dark, and you might feel bored and hot. However, what do people in the dark, feeling bored and hot usually do? *wink wink*

Ehem, the above does not apply to single gents/ladies...

It's only one hour out of the 8760 in a year. Try it out, it's fun!

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Closing Your Mind to Reality


She’s a Muslim who wears the scarf, but not the abaya (black cloak worn in the GCC). Her clothing, while conservative, is always colourful and stylish. She gets married. Her husband asks her to wear the abaya. She accepts, and while her personality doesn’t change, her dress-code does. She gets divorced (for unrelated reasons). She sees no reason for wearing the abaya anymore, and takes it off. Her clothing returns to being conservative yet colourful.

Her family:

Look at her. She’s a lively stylish young woman who knows how to dress up. That marriage created a siege on her personality, and constrained her freedom. Thanks to Allah she got divorced.

Her ex’s family:

Look at her. That marriage taught her to be a good Muslim, with proper ethics and decent shy behaviour – which is highly encouraged in Islam. Divorce put her back to zero, and may Allah guide her to the true path now.


The company was facing a financial crisis. If they didn’t do anything urgently, it could’ve gotten liquidated immediately. They held an abrupt meeting to discuss the problem. The 1st attendee suggested a solution. They all agreed. The 2nd attendee suggested how this solution may be implemented. They all agreed. Everyone went home with a smile on their faces.

1st attendee’s thoughts:

If it wasn’t for me, that company would’ve lost everything. I should force them to give me a promotion when this mess is cleaned up.

2nd attendee’s thoughts:

If it wasn’t for me, that solution would’ve been executed all wrong. It could’ve been a disaster. I should force them to give me a promotion when this mess is cleaned up.

A few weeks later, the company goes bankrupt.


She was beautiful and she was a star. She took good care of herself (exercise, healthy food, make-up) and she was extremely successful at work. She and her husband decided to get a baby. They got one, and she resigned from work. 2 years later, the baby is chubby, cute, and smilingly looking at his exhausted, fat, messy mother. She smiles back weakly.

Her 1st friend:

Dear God what happened to her? I feel so sorry for her. She’s lonely now; her husband is always out at work and she’s got no time to see family or friends. Plus all her previous beauty has gone away, and her successful career is forgotten. May Allah ease her pains.

Her 2nd friend:

Oh look at that adorable child she’s got. Lucky her. Her life was empty before, just a routine like any other Omani citizen. Now it’s full of love and plentiful cuteness. I wish Allah engulfs me with blessings just as her’s.

Dearest readers,

Things aren’t always what they seem. Sometimes you need a reality check to confirm your thoughts. Sometimes your thoughts seem to match the story, and the conclusion seems accurate. The biggest problem is to act upon your conclusion without ensuring that it is correct.

P.S. Apologies for posting a bit late, I’m too busy and will be even busier within the next few days! Bear with me, and soon this blog will be updated more regularly :)

Thursday, 4 March 2010

If I Just Wasn't Human...

If I just wasn't human... If I just didn't have all these limitations... If I just could, then I definitely would...

I wish my sight wasn't limited, so I can see you on the other end of the globe...

I wish my height wasn't limited, so I can look over you, and after you, all day long...

I wish my time wasn't limited, so I can give more of it to you...

I wish my life wasn't limited, so I can ensure my decease doesn't hurt you...

I wish my understanding wasn't limited, so I can accept your wishes without discussion...

I wish my imagination wasn't limited, so I can go on and on forever...


Although I'm human, and in many aspects incomplete,

Know that my love is not limited, it goes beyond and above my humanity...

The heart within Stimulus

Monday, 1 March 2010

Are We THAT Important?

A time will come where you feel loved, cherished, appreciated, surrounded by everyone and cared for by many. A few days later, loneliness surprises you, and confusion blinds your sight. What happened? I thought I was doing fine… What did I do wrong?!

A little voice in your head tries to get heard. It tries to tell you something: a small chance that it’s the answers you’re looking for. But you push it away and enjoy living the drama you’ve just created for yourself. I’m so lonely. No one cares about me. I work hard, I try my best, and yet I fail.

Since the story is leading from one chapter to another, you decide to make it more interesting. Egoism. Always an essential ingredient for self-thoughts, due to the fear of “losing one’s self”, whatever that means. No one deserves me. No one really knows how much I’m worth. Well it’s their loss. I didn’t do anything wrong.

Knock knock, who’s there? Arrogance! Oh well, let them be. I’m not going to stoop to their level. I know what I am, who I am, and I love myself. I always try to fix things first – but na’ah, not this time. It’s time I give myself some credit.

But things don’t get fixed. The story either continues to become even bluer, where denial, anger, annoyance, aggressiveness, and finally depression join the drama, or a splash of realization surprises your thoughts and leaves you with utter confusion. You know you’ve got to stop thinking like that, but what are you supposed to do? What’s the “right path” this time?

The thing is, to simply demand the situation to change for the best effortlessly, and ignoring self wrongdoings, will never be the right move. Self-help books’ authors and psychologists persist that under-confidence, a quality implicitly yet widely spread in humans, could be a root cause to many relationship problems. They enforce the importance of loving your self, nurturing it, protecting it, and allowing some time each day to tell yourself that you’re better than what you think.

And this idea is becoming stronger in our daily lives. We have to take “some time to think” before allowing ourselves to ….. our spouses unconditionally. We don’t call back if our missed call wasn’t returned. We don’t excuse friends who haven’t been in touch for a while, because “it’s clear that they’re not interested”. And then we wonder what went wrong!

In contrast with the psychologists, Islam teaches humbleness, loving others and putting their needs before ours. It tells us that if we have a minuscule bit of arrogance then we don’t deserve to go to heaven. Islam warns us of negatively thinking of others without solid proof. And even if proven guilty, we’ve got to forgive to be forgiven.

So yeah, I disagree with modern day psychologists. I think they’re giving out wrong advice (in this aspect). This whole bullshit about self-importance, self-this and self-that, either results in total confusion or complete anger. When you’re deep in negative thoughts and want to get out of them, start with a positive gesture (a smile, a gift, spread some love, revise your last few actions and consider apologizing) to break the negative cycle. Trust me, it’ll work. We’re just humans; we live a short life, better make the best of it rather than dwell on how important and significant we are.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

2nd Month Anniversary

It's time for my 2nd month anniversary!

I know I haven't posted as much this month, but I've been awfully busy with this thing called life! However, the number of readers, followers, stimulators, commentators, and casual passers-by has definitely increased - I'm starting to love the Google Analytics' graphs!

So again, to thank you all, here's a bit of entertainment. What I call educational comedy ;)


Tuesday, 23 February 2010

My Housemaid Beats my Kids up And I’m OK With it

“I’m a single mother to the most adorable two kids in this world. They’re 6 and 2 years old. I love them to death and want them to live the best life possible on Earth. About 6 months ago, my life suddenly became extremely difficult and hectic, that I couldn’t afford any minute of the day at home, let alone giving them any sort of love and attention.

I have a limited number of family members, and each has his own life and family to take care of. Therefore, I only have my housemaid to depend on for taking care of my kids during the day. She’s a great chef, she cleans quite well, and she can protect the house more than any trained guarding dog. She’s a expert in gardening, and has extraordinary sewing skills – she can fix anything up. She’s been with us for quite a while and understands the daily routine, both my children’s and my own needs. Basically, she’s our family’s Superman and I cannot believe my luck to have her. However, my housemaid secretly beats my kids up.

How did I find out? I saw the signs, on their frail bodies, and it couldn’t be anything, or anyone, else. I was completely shocked and couldn’t utter a word or look at her face for nearly 2 days. She was our fairy, our miracle! How was I supposed to react? The immediate thoughts were to get her out of the country. But then I decided to think more about it. It’s not only that I depend on her so much, but my kids ADORE her. Surely this means something? Surely it can’t be that bad; she might just finch them here and there every once in a while. I still don’t know how far she goes though.

But what if it was my sister instead of the housemaid? What if my sister did only half the wonderful things my housemaid does, yet she sometimes beat my kids? I wouldn’t have minded. I would’ve thought, “I’m sure they really got on her nerves that day and needed to be slightly punished...” or “She’s their aunt, she loves them, so she’ll never really be dangerous to them. Sometimes a little beating doesn’t hurt” or “If I were in her place, I’d probably do the same”. What difference does it make if the beating comes from my sister or my housemaid? Is there a difference at all?

So I decided, after weighing all my housemaid’s good qualities against the bad ones, that I’m OK with it. As long as she doesn’t cause them serious injuries. As long as she doesn’t cross the limits. I’m OK with my housemaid beating my kids up.”

What do you think?

P.S. Just in case you’re thinking it, the lady in the story is NOT ME. It’s just an imaginary scenario to stimulate some discussion.

P.P.S. Is anyone facing any problems when trying to comment on my blog? If yes, then please send me an email!

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Wedding Leftovers

There are lots of negative aspects of weddings in Oman, but in this post I’ll just focus on food leftovers.

“Ladies, dinner has been served. Please help yourselves”

And this is how it all begins. From 40 tables or so, the glitter-faced skinny-gowned flab-repressed ladies of the Omani community semi-walk semi-jog to the buffet like hungry children. They try to still look pretty, with the masked smiles properly plastered upon their faces, and walk head high, heels high, straight to the crowded queue.

Both the variety and amounts of dishes are astonishing. I wonder; do we really need all this? “Oh of course we do”, says the ladies of our community. Or else others will reckon us rudely stingy. Or else the society will pity the newlyweds, thinking they started off being poor, God only knows how they’ll survive. How will the newlyweds get any respect later on? The buffet, among the other ridiculously priced parts of the wedding, has to be plentiful, eye-catching and extremely inviting. So much so, that invitees would start pouring in food on their plates without thinking, without hesitation, without really being hungry to start with!

And the disaster comes to action. Put a bit of this, a spoonful of that, one of these little bites, and a good serving of this, this, this and yes… There, that one! A really good portion please! Back to their seats and their eyes start to wonder. Why have I put so much? I don’t even like vegetables. And urgh, I don’t want to eat both rice and lasagna today – I’ll just leave the rice aside. Slowly, but effortlessly, they pick out their favourite 5 dishes out of the twenty ones stuffed in their plates, and decide: it’s OK to throw away most of what they’ve just, just, dished up. It’s OK to make this decision. They easily excuse themselves, allowing multiple unreasonable reasons to be temporarily reasonable: Everyone does it, it’s not healthy anyway so I don’t have to eat it, there’s plenty more for everyone else, blah blah blah.

Well I’ve got news for you my dears, IT’S NOT OKAY.

It isn’t! Do you have any idea what the end result looks like?!!! Well I couldn’t resist myself to take the following photos. I’ve been to a few weddings recently and I decided enough is enough. Look at them and tell me what you see:

Ladies, come on. You know you’re better than this. You know that when invited to people’s houses, you wouldn’t leave half your plate as full as weddings. I’m not sure about the men’s side (although I do hear that they have many leftovers as well). But you don’t HAVE to taste every single dish available. You don’t HAVE to put a heavy portion of all the different meals. Try holding yourself! Think for a second or two before pouring those humungous servings. Resist the temptation. If it turns out it wasn’t enough, there’s no shame in adding some more. I’m serious, there’s no shame, even if others tell you that in fact there is. Think with your brain and heart, before your eyes and appetite. And most importantly, TRANSFORM THE TREND.


Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Thanks Sandhya Menon

This post is dedicated to dearest Sandhya, who noticed me out of the crowd, made me stand out, and wrote about me as a blogger, among the other excellent bloggers of Oman. The article appears in the Times of Oman today, February 16th 2010, under the title “For the Love of Change and Blogging”. Part two will be in tomorrow’s paper.

Thanks Sandhya, you definitely made me a follower of your work!

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Facebook = Haram?!!

Imagine swimming and swimming lap after another, searching for a piece of land to rest on, food, water, or anything that could help remind you what it felt like to be human. The swimming tires you, exhausts you, and slowly you begin hallucinating. You see a far away island, one that requires only a few more minutes of moving your restless and weak arms and legs to its direction. You keep moving, and swim even faster to arrive quicker. And it suddenly hits you. Your eyes have betrayed you, and your brain was just teasing. There’s no island. There’s no ending. It’s either the swimming continues with a numb soul, or you give up and let the savage waves take control.

And that’s how I feel every now and then. I love Islam. I feel it’s a beautiful pure religion which always, always, makes sense. It covers everything, and if conducted properly it would make us the happiest people ever. However, (and a big “HOWEVER” this is), Muslims go on and on making their own explanations, creating their own rules, and enforcing their own limited point of views upon it. They either make it ridiculously difficult, because for one reason or another they personally cannot do something allowed in Islam and so they want everyone else to stop doing it. Or, they take it easy – too easy – and try to explain why they personally believe something should be allowed while it clearly isn’t.

And here is where I fit in. I don’t claim to understand every part of this great religion, but I can say that I know the basics. I know how I’m supposed to live, to think, to feel and to “deal” with people/issues according to Islamic teachings. But lately, I feel all I do is defend Islam. Explain why some people did something wrong, and how they linked it to Islam, but it really isn’t Islam – they just misunderstood it. I just wish I could one day stop defending. Stop explaining. I wish Muslims would act as Muslims, rather than act upon their personal beliefs and say those are Islam’s beliefs. I wish there’s an ending to this tiresome battle with the savage waves.

The latest Fatwa is a typical example. According to yesterday’s Muscat Daily, a top Egyptian cleric from Al-Azhar issued a “fatwa forbidding the use of popular social networking site Facebook” !!!!! And why is it forbidden? Because it “encourages spouses to have relations with other people”. Well I guess I’m going to hell then, since I’m very into Facebook and I check it every day!

Aaaarrrggghhhh!!!! Nothing about the Fatwa makes sense! It just makes Muslims look ridiculous. As if all we think of is having relationships with other people. As if we never knew how to do it before until Facebook, hurray, came to existence. As if we are so weak, so stupid, and so naïve, that we would easily fall for any friend request and the next day betray our spouses because our new “friend’s” profile picture was so gorgeous we couldn’t resist it. How sad.

It’s even Haram in Islam to say something is Haram while it isn’t. Any Fatwa has to have some concrete basis. I don’t see any basis, let alone solid basis, for this Fatwa.

But I suppose I cannot lose hope. Hope for change, and hope for a world where both Muslims and non-Muslims understand Islam better. But I need help in this – and dearest readers do help me out. Let’s erase these misunderstandings, let’s think and analyze and understand better, let’s use common sense rather than traditional viewpoints and ancestors’ beliefs. As Lin Yutang says it:

“Hope is like a road in the country; there was never a road, but when many people walk on it, the road comes into existence.”

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Evolution of Technology

Bill Gates? Steve Jobs? Well they're old news.. it's all about Pranav Mistry now!

I was so excited last week about the iPad, and thought I want one! Until I watched this video. PLEASE PLEASE watch it as well - until the end. Technology has definitely become a different level - there's no difference between reality and the digital world anymore. With his new SixthSense invention, the world is definitely, definitely, becoming another one:

Enjoy! And give me your comments :)


The strangest thing happened to me today. I left work 5 minutes early to finish off some chores that had been hanging around my head for the past month. Just as I left the building heading to my car, I felt something thick and wet get thrown on me! I let out a squeaky scream (quite a girly one, I must admit) and looked around… nothing… looked above… and there it was. Right at the top of the multi-floor building was this arrogant fluffy ass of a bird. BIRD SHIT fell on my head!!!

Aaaaaaaaa! At first I was in denial, and confusion. Then it hit me and I felt angry, frustrated and ever so annoyed. Anger was followed by a shocked giggle – it was such a hilarious situation! Next I felt so paranoid: What do I look like? Is there poo all over my head? I promptly started rummaging through my bag’s contents searching for tissue – Alas, it happened that I didn’t have any today. I quickened my steps to the car, opened the front mirror and started cleaning off the disgustingness. Worst of all, although I wear a headscarf, the poo managed to find its way through it and slowly tickle my hair. Yuck!

On my way home I couldn’t stop thinking: “Why? Why me?” It was such a coincidental occurrence. It’s not like I’m a slow walker. It happened that the exact second my brain ordered my leg to take one more step ahead, the poo decided to be there in time for a warm welcome. It certainly changed my program for the day: chores cancelled, shower immediately. Did Allah want to protect me from something bad that could’ve happened to me at those shops I was heading to, and wanted me safe and sound at home? Or did Allah want to punish me for a misdemeanor I have recently done? Was it protection or punishment? Whatever the case is, I thanked Allah that it wasn’t any worse, asked Him for forgiveness if it was indeed punishment, and hoped this happened for my benefit. (Don’t ask me how!)

When I told mom about the incident she said “Don’t worry, bird poo is Baraka (a blessing), and be positive – something good will happen to you soon”. I asked: “Says who? Our culture, or our prophet? Because if it’s not the latter, then I don’t believe it”. She remained silent. Poor mom, I love her.

Anyway, now I can say a bird once shat on me. What’s your interesting/weird/funny story?

Friday, 29 January 2010

1st Month Anniversary

It's been 1 month since my first real post on this blog! So far, I have 7 posts (8 including this one), several comments and 9 followers!

For that I'd like to thank all my readers, passers-by, commentators, followers, and supporters and would like to share this hilarious stand up comedy I love watching every now and then:


Monday, 25 January 2010

Omani Women - Get a Life!

It’s been a busy week, but glad I’m back to blogging!

So I realized I’m somewhat self-sexist. I don’t know whether the term actually exists, but what I mean is, I’m sexist against women. Not all women, but in particular females of my culture. I’m getting bored of them!

And here’s why: women looooove talking about the following topics:

  • Relationships with their husbands/significant others and the never ending problems (and the solution is always “let it be, he’ll come around”, and honey, he never comes around! He gets a 2nd wife instead)
  • Raising their children – “my kids never study! I don’t know what to do!”
  • Makeup (obviously)
  • How to beautify every single part of their body
  • The “awful” and “horrible” housemaids, whom they depend on 24/7
  • Whether they’re “glowing” today or not – seriously they ask me this every time I see them – and if my answer is yes, then a mini-45-minute-long-lesson will start on what product(s)they’ve been using recently, and how I must use them as well
  • Which shops currently have sales/special offers
  • Cooking (especially new dessert recipes)
  • How to decorate/design their houses
  • And of course, GOSSIP GOSSIP GOSSIP

On the other hand, men (usually, when I’m around) talk about these topics:

  • Business/work
  • Politics
  • New technologies
  • Cars
  • Soccer
  • The news in general

Putting “cars” aside, all men’s topics are interesting! I don’t mind the female topics per se, but I do mind talking about them, and only them, the whole-bloody-time! Seriously women, get a life! The topics are getting boring, repetitive, and basically shallow. Even when women attempt discussing men topics, they make them womanly! For example, when talking about work, it’ll be about the other horrible colleagues, or how hard work is yet they have to get back home and do a 100 other things for the husband and kids, and so on. “Complaining” would always be reflected in every topic, and I really mean every topic, they discuss. Aaaargh!

I’m sorry if I’m insulting anyone, I know lots of girls aren’t like that (and those are the ones I’m closest to), and I noticed the blogosphere is where lots of the exceptions stand out. I also have to admit that guys can be very shallow at times:

However, please ladies, do something more useful will you? If you’re bored, I don’t know – go to dance classes! Try out random things : drive around, cover your faces, and flirt with those penniless guys in Mercedes on the streets (this might change your daily routine a bit); try planting some flowers instead of the endless dusty tiles; watch the news every now and then – they’re not all bloody and devastating stories. We should perhaps have a special Ramadhan in which for one month, instead of boycotting food/drinks/sex during sunlight, we should boycott housemaids! Oh that’ll definitely make the ladies of the house get a life. LOL. And they might understand their children for once.

Anyway, you get my point. Am I the only one feeling this? Does this occur in all cultures, or just Oman/the Gulf? How can I induce a change?

Monday, 11 January 2010

The Whole Jailing System

For thousands of years, jails/prisons (what’s the difference?!) were the main tool used to punish criminals and protect society from their mischief. To protect society, taking a felon’s freedom would seem appropriate. However, as a punishment, jailing is not always the best means. Jails are famous for graduating criminals. Sometimes a rather naive crime (e.g. driving without a licence, using drugs once or twice) would turn the detainee into a criminal, as s/he would interact with other real criminals – and “من عاشر قوماً أربعين يوما صار منهم” (an Arabic saying meaning whoever socializes with a tribe for 40 days becomes one of them).

If you’d like a real idea of what goes on in the Omani jail of Al-Rumais, then read the posts by الملاح التائه here.
    Unfortunately it’s in Arabic, so English readers you can just copy-paste the contents to Google translate, it’ll give you an idea of what the guy is talking about.
Basically he’s an ex-convict great at describing his story within Oman’s 3 jails (1 for serious crimes, 1 for not-so-serious: criminals admitted for 3 yrs or less, and 1 for women only). With all due respect, his story highlights a number of deficiencies in the Omani jailing system, deficiencies that also exist in prisons all over the world, and which consequently generate disturbing scandals (rapes, drugs, rapes again).

In addition to “jails not doing any good”, jails also “steal” a lot of manpower from the country! Those prisoner minds and bodies could be assigned more useful roles than just lying around waiting for their release in 10-15 years. I know prisoners have to sometimes clean, do the gardening, carry stuff etc.; but that’s not really utilizing the “best in them”.

So in your view, what’s the solution? Should governments discard the system all together? Or should they still exist with some major changes? What could these changes be?

It’s strange that we rarely hear about jails during the prophet’s (SAAW) life. I know lots of crimes had certain punishments (e.g. Killing is punishable by execution, committing adultery while married is punishable by stoning till death; stealing is punishable by cutting off the burglar’s hand etc.), but those don’t cover ALL crimes. In my view, jails still must exist. But how?!

Currently, around the globe, some countries do stand out due to their phenomenal treatment of detainees. Take
Dubai as an example. Prisoners enter normal jails, but if a prisoner memorizes the Quran then they’re free to go! In their view, a person who has memorized the Quran means that they’ve read advice and good instructions so many times that it’ll be extremely difficult for them to go back to their crime. It might be a good solution for some, but this doesn’t necessarily always work. Plus, what about non-Muslims? Would you force them to memorize the Quran as well, while they’re not even allowed to touch it (as some say)?

A completely different example is the Philippines. Have a look at this video:

Prisoners are taught to dance together! They call it “Dancing, the non-violent approach to rehabilitation”. I wonder if it really works?

Having said that, What do you think? How can jails become more effective in stopping crimes forever? What strategies can be used inside jails to stop corruption and wasting of human resources? Give me your views!

Saturday, 9 January 2010


It’s outrageous! I cannot tolerate Egypt! It’s not the people I’m against, in fact I think they’re one of the most knowledgeable and positively active cultures among Arabs, but man their government is corrupt. Big time.

George Galloway is a British MP famous for resenting the Western occupation of Afghanistan, Iraq, and most importantly, Palestine. He’s one amazing speaker - watch his speeches on YouTube. On Friday, 8th Jan 2010, he has been DEPORTED from Egypt! Why? Well the news would say that he’s passed the Rafah crossing from Gaza to Egypt, but I would say it’s because he’s an honest man trying to be humane on Egyptian land. What next Egypt? What next Arabs?

Thursday, 7 January 2010

An Ingredient to Success

Now success is a topic that has been discussed by soooooooo many people. Sometimes by rather unsuccessful people (!). However, this post is not a “complete guide on how to be successful” or anything similar. I’m not an expert, nor am I knowledgeable enough to give a deep and critical opinion on this matter.

But I do have an instructions manual. As a matter of fact, it’s the best one ever! I have the Quran, and a role model’s success story – my beloved prophet, Mohamed SAAW. And one specific instruction is the daily dhikr (sayings that “remind” us of Allah).
    NON-MUSLIMS: Before turning away, this could, and perhaps should, apply to you as well if you are a believer in God. And those of you who were believers once upon a time, and not so sure anymore – well try this out, it might stimulate some believing again ;).
Anyway, so why do I think dhikr is an ingredient to success? Well first of all it’s a daily ritual. I believe success does not come as a piece of cake – you’ve got to do things on a daily basis for that wonderful effect to materialize in the end. Dhikr is also done twice a day – once at sunrise, and once at sunset. Different activities (usually) happen at those two time periods (day and night) – hence dhikr ensures activities done during both periods are successful.

Dhikr doesn’t just remind us of our belief in Allah, it strengthens this belief in ourselves. It reassures us that this belief is correct, that it makes sense, it’s the best one out there and it is suitable and applicable at all circumstances. And once you’ve got that strength then, well, not even Kryptonite would sway you!

Well how does this strength come about? Dhikr is merely a few sayings, either from the Quran or taken from the Prophet (SAAW). But these sayings embrace a few main principles, such as:
  • Thanking Allah: Imagine waking up every morning and thinking of all the different beautiful things you’ve got in life. A family, a house, delicious food, good education, great living standards, health, time, and the list goes on. We usually acknowledge the fact that “we are luckier than many others” but unfortunately the fact gets forgotten 5 minutes later. Saying “Thanks to Allah” (Alhamdulillah) 100 times every day and night carves this into our memory and strengthens our heart – you end up feeling happy, lucky and privileged.
    Think of the consequent effects of starting your day feeling happy and lucky – won’t that day be an easy going bright day? As some say, “thinking positively” is the secret to success. Well only 1 part of Dhikr is sufficient to make you think positively all day long.
  • Glorifying Allah: Deeply reflect on His powers, His wonders and miracles, His strength, and His unlimited abilities. This immediately makes us feel unknowledgeable enough; that there’s a lot more to learn and discover about life. And that’s the greatest force behind motivation: if there’s a lot more left, then let’s get on with it and start our life journey!
    Feeling motivated will definitely make you work hard, and use the maximum brain and body powers you’ve got – I’m sure everyone agrees that this is necessary for success…
  • Depending on Allah: After realizing how much Allah can do, depending on Allah and trusting Him would simply make you feel quite powerful. You’d feel as if you can do anything. ANYTHING. If you’re facing any problems, they can be easily resolved if Allah wishes so. If you’re encountering a difficult task, then completing it should be no problem. Basically, you have the biggest support behind your back, and nothing can stop you (this is conditional upon you doing the right thing - not Haram).
And that, my friends, is dhikr. Of course there are other principles which I haven’t mentioned; simply because I feel these three affect me personally the most. They make me feel so confident and strong each day, and willing to live life to its fullest and ready to face it all. At the same time, I remember Allah is watching and it’s as if a self-governing switch immediately turns on.

Now I know lots of Muslims know about dhikr, or Adhkar (the plural), but they somehow forget to say them – or perhaps lessen their importance. Maybe it’s because when they used to say them, it never went further than their tongues – it never reached their hearts. No matter what the case, go back to them! They are a blessing themselves, a psychological conjuration that magically sets you up for another successful day. Wouldn’t you like to start your day/night feeling soothed, relaxed, happy, strong, and capable? Hell yeah!

Friday, 1 January 2010


Rain started to fall again. Everyone with a loved one, a “significant other”, begins an emotional turmoil of romantic sentiments; while everyone without a loved one feels loneliness pushing harder into their lives. Smiles flash across farmers’ faces – and even bigger smiles on those who trade with the farmers: business will grow. Families squeeze together behind windows to observe the miracle, as it rarely rains in Oman over 5 times a year. And teenagers? Well they just wish the rain would go on and on, so that school would call off the next day, and hopefully the day after that as well.

But those aren’t the thoughts that go through my mind as I look out my car window, and start the wipers going (the wipers which, quite annoyingly, keep “braking” and making ridiculous squeaks because they’ve been too dry for too long). Anyhow, I start thinking of the number of accidents that will happen on this day. I sense the death toll increasing, and remain tensely waiting for the next day’s newspapers to announce the number of accidents/deaths, although it is always a somewhat conservative estimate. I remember the kids, and their excitement to investigate the Wadi’s (large vales), and the parents which allow them to do so – and in some cases actually take them to the wadi’s. Unfortunately, the excitement usually ends disastrously. I think of police stations gearing up for the difficult day and night to come. I remember the policemen and doctors who cancel their holidays when it rains and quickly join their work colleagues. I see hospitals clearing the beds of patients who may survive without a hospital bed – to make way for the predictable and more difficult cases to come.

I see the roads, and anger and frustration knocks on the door. Why are they not equipped for rain? Yes, I understand, rain is rare in Oman – but that does not make the efforts to remove its dangers “not worth it”! Do some simple cost-benefit analysis, and I’ll tell you – the costs of establishing roads which allow rain drainage are way under the costs incurred during rainy days in Oman. Furthermore, a new highway has been built from Al-Athaiba to Al-Qurum which is fabulous, and has reduced traffic tremendously during the past few months. However, were there any road engineers involved? Did they not see the ups-and-downs and the potential disaster(s) due to rain?

Having said that, the rest falls on us, the citizens. So please, please, please, please, please be careful when it rains. Don’t try to be a hero and “investigate” new areas. And for God’s sake, don’t take any kids with you in the car unless it’s EXTREMELY necessary. Finally, I hope those responsible for the roads take a more serious step to keep the country as safe as it is when it’s completely dry.