Oprah en route to “Israel”

This is a really rushed post so forgive me:

Last year, Elie Wiesel traveled to Auschwitz with Oprah Winfrey, a visit which was broadcast as part of The Oprah Winfrey Show on May 24, 2006.

This week, Oprah
accepted Wiesel’s invitation to come to the land “where the major war against terror is currently taking place”. Winfrey was honored by the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity for her advocacy of humanitarian issues. In her acceptance speech, Oprah said she sympathized with the suffering of the people of Israel. Does that include all the people living there? Does that include all the people who once lived there?

When I heard about her proposed trip I wanted to gather more details about her current position on the crisis in the holy land. In surfing the net I found nothing about it in the mainstream news. Perhaps there is a fear of an extreme reaction from the Muslims.

How will we react? Will we express outrage that she should show solidarity with the Israelis and turn her back on the suffering Palestinians. If so, how would such a reaction further our cause?

Will we send emails to Oprah en masse, in an effort to “educate” her about the plight of the Palestinians Christia
ns and Muslims?

I am not a fan of Oprah at all but I do recognize the position she holds. She reaches the homes of millions, not just in the US. She is considered to be one of the world’s most powerful women. Israel's UN Ambassador Danny Gillerman, is quoted to have said that “a visit of a figure with such influence on the international media could help bring an end to the indifference towards the terror threat faced by Israelis.”

What is our position as Muslims in this situation, before she leaves for the holy land?

What will each of us do?

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Be Careful What You Ask For (Part 2)

“Baby Emilio” was on a respirator for six months, suffering from a progressive illness which destroys brain functions. Though his doctors saw no hope of recovery, he smiled and turned his head when he heard voice. These were signs of life to his mother, a life she could not let go of.
Soon she found herself in a legal battle with the hospital. She fought to continue his medical care. Her opposition was the hospital that had diagnosed him to be “medically futile”. Their objective was to remove him from “the machines (that were) keeping him alive”.

This weekend, while still on life support, Emilio died in his mother’s arms.

The medical authorities did not take his life. His mother did not end his 19 month old life. Allah, in his divine measurement, carried out what only Allah has the power to do.

Those times when we realize just how powerless we are, we can feel frustrated, stomp our feet, punch a wall, break down in tears, but in the end we simply have to let go of all our false ideas of security and power. What do we really have control over in this life? More importantly, what do we have some control over in regards to the akhira? We have to stand “naked” before Allah and actually beg him to use us as his servants.

That sms was not “bad news”. It was simply news. That text message contained information from Allah that served to build up the muscles of my iman. Without such challenges, how could I ever expect to become stronger and more sincere in my faith?

Have I asked him to make me humble before him? Yes, I have. I believe that each time he humbles me I grow closer to him and that is all I truly want in the world. I wondered how he would answer this prayer. Under what circumstances would I find myself humbled before him. I was a bit scared, but still I prayed for that humility. So through that simple text message, he has simply answered my own prayers. That short message served to remind me of Allah’s omnipotence.

Thinking a bit further, I remind myself that I have also asked him to provide for my needs. So as for those four walls closing in on me I need only blink and they are gone. They become what I choose to see around me. They become four arms around me embracing me with loving mercy.

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Be Careful What You Ask For (Part 1)

It was truly a long day yesterday…
I met people I was surely destined to meet
I had conversations I was destined to have,
to express feelings I needed to share
to obtain valuable advice
Then Allah sent me solutions to two very urgent ridiculous problems,
Through two kind souls Allah solved those two problems, just in the nick of time.

I went to bed too sleepy to really take it all in
but thankful for this strangely wonderful mercy from Allah.

Then, this morning I woke to the sound of an incoming text message. It was from overseas.

It was both unexpected and devastating. Someone I trusted had really let me down. The information in that text message had far reaching ramifications.

My first reaction was anger towards that person. How could they have put me in this position? Why weren’t they more honest about the details from the beginning? Why didn’t’ they keep me informed when all along my situation here was growing worse and worse. They lead me into a disaster that could have been avoided. The extent of the disaster spread itself before me similar to the way your life flashes before your eyes during a trauma,
…and the tears began to fall.

My second impulse was to turn the anger towards myself. How could I have allowed myself to be put into this position. Even if I had no reason to doubt that person, why did I take that chance. What a fool. How clear it was that I should not have trusted that person.

I then found myself overwhelmed with panic and I began to sob. I thought ‘what a mess I am in, what am I going to do?’

Why should I have believed I had any amount of security?
Did I really think that person I trusted had total control of their ability to keep their promise?

This was no longer a question of blaming and person or any thing. It had become a time to recognize and pay my respect to the true director of this drama.

I sent this reply to the sender of the bad news:
This is quite serious. I can’t begin to tell you how much trouble I am in now. I feel like four walls are closing in on me. I have absolutely no faith in anything or anyone but Allah. I have no choice but to surrender.

Finally the humility began to take over my body…..

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Sabr-Shush-Self Inspection-Sabr

Ever get the feeling that your prayers are not being answered?
Of course, you can’t equate making dua with ordering fries at McDonalds. For some, people it feels more like…sending a letter to Santa Claus. You know, the way kids do. They actually address and mail letters. (I wonder what the post office does with them. My daughter says that she read once that the postal service simply shreds them).

Allah has blessed me with greater sabr in the past few years but I’ll be the first to admit that whispers don’t go unheard. While I’m working on waiting patiently, “you know who” is on standby, also waiting patiently. He waits till just the right moment and says….

”hey, what are you waiting for? when are you gonna wake up and smell the coffee? you’re going down the wrong road…can’t you see that—“

Before I get carried off in his lies, I turn and tell him “hey! why don’t you get from behind me. Stop whispering in my ear. From the stench of your breath, I’d say that you can’t even begin to offer me what I’m truly looking for.”

And then he just looks at me with a smirk on his face, and just as fast as I wish him away he’s gone.

Next, I know I’ve got to clean up shop. I’ve got to look at my deen. Am I on track? How am I living my life. I don’t believe that Allah will answer my prayers unless I am sincerely working towards improving my inner and outer practice of Islam. Just looking at myself that way humbles me and I can more easily go back to the business of being patient, waiting patiently for what only Allah can give me, by his divine measurement.

I read the story below at a forum I belong to. It reminded me of the inner struggle I describe above. I don’t’ know the origin of the story, but I hope you find it inspirational.

Just Push

A man was sleeping one night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled
with light, and God appeared. The Lord told the man he had work for him to do, and showed him a large rock in front of his cabin. The Lord explained that the man was to Push against the rock with all his might...

So, this the man did, day after day. For many years he toiled from sunup to sundown, his shoulders set squarely against the cold, massive surface
of the unmoving rock, pushing with all his might!

Each night the man returned to his cabin sore and worn out, Feeling that
his whole day had been spent in vain. Since the man was showing discouragement, the Adversary (Satan) decided to enter the picture by
placing thoughts into the weary mind: (He will do it every time)!

You have been pushing against that rock for a long time and it hasn't
moved." Thus, he gave the man the impression that the task was impossible and that he was a failure. These thoughts discouraged and
disheartened the man.

Satan said, "Why kill yourself over this? Just put in your time, giving just the minimum effort; and that will be good enough."

That's what the weary man planned to do, but decided to make it a matter of Prayer and to take his troubled thoughts to The Lord.

"Lord," he said, "I have labored long and hard in Your Service, putting
all my strength to do that which you have asked. Yet, after all this time, I have not even budged that rock by half a millimeter. What is wrong? Why am I failing?"

The Lord responded compassionately, "My friend, when I asked you to
serve Me and you accepted, I told you that your task was to push against
the rock with all of your strength, which you have done.

Never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. Your task was to push. And now you come to Me with your strength spent, thinking that you have failed.

But, is that really so? Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled, your back shiny and brown; your hands are callused from constant pressure, your legs have become massive and hard.

Through opposition you have grown much, and your abilities now surpass
that which you used to have. True, you haven't moved the rock. But your
calling was to be Obedient and to push and to exercise your Faith and
trust in My Wisdom. That you have done. Now I, my friend, will move the

At times, when we hear a word from God, we tend to use our own intellect to decipher what He Wants, when actually what God wants is just simple obedience and faith in Him.

By all means, exercise the Faith that moves mountains, but know that it
is still God Who moves The Mountains.

When everything seems to go wrong

Just P.U.S.H.

When the job gets you down

Just P.U.S.H.

When people don't do as you think they should

Just P.U.S.H.

When your money is "gone" and the bills are due

Just P.U.S.H.

When people just don't understand you

Just P.U.S.H.

P = Pray

U = Until

S = Something

H = Happens

To this I’d like to add
PRAISE HIM before and after “something happens”
PRAISE HIM whether “something happens” or not
only he knows what is in our best interest

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Prince Abdul Majeed bin Abdulaziz

I’ve got mixed feelings about the scale and type of “development” that has occurred in the birthplace of our prophet (sal allahu aleihi wa salaam), but

when I heard of the death of our brother who was responsible for much of that development, my only thought was ‘May Allah have Mercy Upon Him’.

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What is so irresistible about the smell of paradise?

“…The Islamic revival has taken many forms, from Hezbollah in the Lebanon to Bhumiputra in Malaysia. Most of it is a peaceful and genuine search for a new balance between religion and secularization, between local traditions and the ongoing march of globalization.”
Two polish filmmakers ask:
“What inspires the Osama’s of this world? What drives people to fight against (the) Western world with the Qur’an in one hand and a rifle in the other, with Truth as their only argument? What drives people who are prepared to sacrifice their life utterly convinced that this is the only way to save or create the world as they want it to be? “
Marcin Mamon and Mariusz Pilis travel around the world for a decade meeting with “warlords, clan-leaders, emirs and mullahs” along the way. On this journey with starts in Chechnya in 1995, and ends in Waziristan, along the Afghan-Pakistan border, in the summer of 2004, they encounter for the most part “common believers of Dar al-Islam, the abode of Islam.”
(The above quotes are from the filmmaker’s website)
For a much closer look at the film

, here’s Neil Seiling’s review, which I received in the Mosaic Intelligence Report newsletter dated May 1, 2007.
“The Smell of Paradise is a very up close and personal look at a variety of Muslim mujahidin, generally fighting against the Russians or Americans. It's a road adventure, with no great structure or story arcs. Rather, it's more a procession of people who open up to the camera and present a face of the Muslim resistance that people in the West almost never see. The filmmakers had amazing access in risky situations and the result is a solid look from the point of view of the mujahidin. Some audiences might see the film as being too cozy with alleged terrorists and it's true that the filmmakers aren't hard on the subjects of the film.
The film begins with an introduction from the Polish filmmakers and their desire to engage with the leaders of various mujahidin groups and to enter "their world and their thinking." The filmmakers don't challenge what is said and use language in the narration that is supportive of the subjects, or at least they don't frame the subjects in a negative way. The evocative music, often slow and haunting, is also very respectful to the presentation of the people and the issues.
The harrowing nature of the doc, and the real risk taken on by the filmmakers, is shown by the fact that the first three people interviewed died soon after the interviews were conducted. For example, Chechen resistance leader Yandarbiev was interviewed in Qatar and soon thereafter died in car bombing instigated by Russian agents who were then tried in Russia, found guilty, and then released right away to public acclaim in Russia.
The film goes into the historical context on Chechen/Russian battles over centuries. Contrary to assumption that guerrilla resistance by religious 'jihadists' is a recent occurrence, the speakers invoke religion as having been key to Chechen/Russian conflicts going back hundreds of years and they say no wars were ever fought by a secular Chechen state against the various Czarist/Russian/USSR state forces.
A later speaker lays out the motivation of the resistance and cites the comforts of knowing that Paradise waits for people "of truth and faith" and who lead a "dignified earthly life." He concludes with invoking "the smell of paradise" that is the title of the film. His comments are a telling contrast with Western assumptions that what the mujahidin consider to be Paradise is a place where the main motivation is "70 virgins" et al.
The film moves from interviews with Chechen rebels to following them to Afghanistan when the Taliban was still in power. What follows are interesting stories of encounters with Mullah Omar, but also several intense anecdotes of bad behavior by the Taliban, critiques that sting all the more coming from people who would also be considered fundamentalists.
The film then moves to encountering Ismail Khan in Herat, but unfortunately does very little on the context on Khan's life as a major Afghan warlord and political power player before and after the Taliban's rule.
The road trip ends on the Afghan/Pakistani border where a local tribe feels squeezed by exiled leaders like Mullah Omar and Osama Bin Laden and their sympathizers, and also by the Americans who they feel acted badly and didn't keep their word.
A recurring theme through out the doc is on the incommensurate world views of the mujahidin and other fundamentalists with the political philosophy and world view of Western democracies. The mujahidin reject democracy out of hand as being too tied to the world of people and not conscious enough of the dominant position of God. There isn't room for compromise and The Smell of Paradise certainly points to continued conflicts between these positions.”

To watch the film, catch it on Mosaic Link TV
Or download here

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