Once Upon a Time

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They say perception is reality. If that is so, then there is beauty in everything.
There is beauty in the darkness as well as in the light.

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All of You

by A.N. Bayat

I remember the exact moment I fell for you. I already liked you.

Angels-fallen-angels-10622317-800-504_thumb.jpgI was sitting against a counter shirking my duties and friends, messaging with you and talking to you on the phone at the same time. You were deployed as usual. You began joking about being with me. I tried to play it off and change the subject. You wouldn’t let me. You wanted me to back up and talk about it. You saw that moment, that opportunity and you weren’t going to let it pass. You pushed and you wanted. The asking left me speechless and afraid to move in any direction. 

You are so stubborn when you want me. You don’t take no for an answer. You don’t let me run, hide or disappear . Every time you ever do that, you make my heart beat faster…fear? Excitement? Frustration? Either way you do.

…I love that about you. 

I looked up that day, that moment and  I suddenly didn’t know what to do. There you were all stubborn and determined. Letting me know what you wanted. 

I didn’t fall for the words or promises. I didn’t fall for nice language…

You gave me this very open and sincere request to know what I wanted, because you already knew what you wanted and you wanted to hear in words, that I  wanted what you wanted. You wanted an assurance that we were on the same page…the tone of your voice wanting to know…holding me to listen not to run or back track, letting me know how you felt…waiting for my response. I could almost feel you holding your breath as I held mine. I didn’t know if I wanted to cry, make a joke-anything to break that hold. You held me with your silence…waiting for an answer.

All I could think was that silly way you said hello every time I answered the phone, or the sound of your voice when you called me the strangest things and it still made my day. I thought about your silliness with an undercurrent of mischief, even the meanness that made me mad at times and brought me to tears…I wanted

walllartsexyIt wasn’t pretty words or promises; I fell in love with that stubborn, determined man that refused to take no for an answer, that can hold me with his very presence, that takes no shit from me, but does it in the most careful way; moves me, handles me in such a way that lets me see without wanting to control anything. I fell in love with that strength and stubbornness in you that makes me feel safe…that ability to confound me, confuse me, annoy me and all of the above; I have learned to love, like and accept over the years.

Through all the craziness and frustrations of adjusting to the comings and goings, the misunderstandings, good, bad, easy, difficult and last minute changes…in my life; it’s been that man with the determination , stubbornness and unwillingness to let me fall, that keeps me going.

You my dear, get better with age in every way. You are sexier than the day I met you. I love all of you, even the pain in the ass part.

… I now have a new favourite image of you in my head-Sexy.

You scare me, thrill me and make me so mad sometimes…but ya know…

– A 

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The Preamble to the Constitution and its Meaning

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

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Establish justice: The reasons why there was Revolution against England were still important to the American citizens, so they wanted to make sure that they would have justice under the Constitution.

Insure domestic tranquility: One of the main reasons why the Constitutional Convention was held was because of Shays’ Rebellion. This was an uprising of farmers in Massachusetts against the state for having to repay war debts. Citizens were worried with the keeping peace within the country’s borders.

Provide for the common defense: There was still a change of being attacked by other countries. No individual state had the power to defend itself against attacks. Because of this, the Framers knew that it was important for the states to defend the nation together.

Promote the general welfare: This phrase meant that the well-being of the citizens would be taken care of as well as possible by the Federal government.

Secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity: The point of this phrase in the Preamble, and the constitution as a whole was to help protect the country’s hard-earned rights for liberty, unjust laws, and freedom from a tyrannical government.

Ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America: This last phrase of the Preamble is a powerful statement saying that the people made this document, and the people give the country its power.

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Islam, The Female Scholar and Tradition

 

ramadan_2012_17-350x245There are prevailing misconceptions within Christian communities that Muslims hate Christians and that women are oppressed by Islamic teachings. It is widely reinforced by many Christian leaders. The most profound revelation was the reality of their limited interest in understanding beyond their perceptions and preconceived notions.

They see Muslims as monolithic. We are only Shia or Sunni and if we even divert from their perceived “oppressive,” “hate filled” and “violent,” understanding of Islam, we must be Sufi; completely misunderstanding our schools of thought, diversity within our communities and relevance in modern society. They miss the multitude of complexity and individuality within Islam.

In Islam we have no hierarchy of clergy. There are scholars of different scopes, from social policy, language, history, law and interpretation. There is no governing body of Muslims. There is a tradition of personal responsibility and individual commitment to scholarship. There are schools of thought and their proponents. In that sense, many Muslims will follow a school of thought which closely resembles their scholarship and others also follow proponents of those schools of thought.

The Islamic orthodoxy of law is quite vast and versatile, although there are hindrances to that versatility. There are issues that have led to some scholars blindly following certain fixed schools of thought, and in turn to the subjugation of religious values to popular culture; thus our current dilemma/dichotomy.

“Indeed, the worst of living creatures in the sight of Allah are the deaf and dumb who do not use reason.” (Quran 8:22)

In many patriarchal societies the role of the woman Imam or scholar is limited to preaching and teaching other women, regardless of the core of Islamic teaching that men and women are equal and both are teachers of Islam to each other.

Since immigrants are still the major stakeholders in the Mosques, most mosques have not had a female board member, executive director and have never had a woman scholar or preacher speak to the community.

This perspective of patriarchy does not reflect on the teachings of Islam. It reflects on the cultural factors of a society and within what have become socially acceptable norms.

“The believing men and women are patrons of each other. They command to good, rebuke evil, establish prayers, give alms, obeying God and His messenger. They will have God’s mercy. Indeed God is Mighty and Wise.” (Qur’an, 9:71)

This verse, like many others, puts men and women on equal footing regarding the practice of religion. It is especially significant because its linguistics equates men and women working together in preaching.

Early Islamic leaders recognized the importance of women in society as leaders and reformers in a time when women in the world were seen as of little significance, Islam gave women a voice and rights.

“Back in the days of ignorance before Islam, we didn’t consider women of much significance at all. This all changed with the emergence of Islam in which God mentioned them with respect and gave them new rights then we realized their rights over us.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, 5843)

“Sometimes we the companions of Muhammad would get confused about Islamic teachings. We would then go and ask Aisha about itand we found she always had the knowledge we were seeking in it.” (Jami` at-Tirmidhi, 3883)

“I never saw anyone more knowledgeable of the Qur’an, Islamic Law, poetry, Arab history and lineages than Aisha  (may God be pleased with her).” (Al-Hakim, 4/11)jewelofmedina460

Aisha being a great female scholar of Islam, wife of the prophet and religious leader in her own right even after his death, spoke to, counseled and was the influence to many of the Caliphs which were to follow.

Female scholars were the teachers of the male scholars and leaders of Islam in Islamic history.

The exceptional women of Islam are too numerous to name. Aisha, daughter of Abu Bakr is only one of many. Zainab bint Kamal taught hadiths in the 12th century. Umm al-Darda became a teacher of hadith and fiqh and lectured in the men’s section. One of her students was the caliph of Damascus. The Prophet taught that there is no difference in worth between believers on account of their gender.

The gross violations of women’s rights in the Muslim world today, relegating the Muslim woman only to the role of a mother and housewife is a relatively modern phenomenon. In early Islam women were the driving force in the formation of Islamic history. Fatimah supported the prophet and was his counsel. Aisha Led an Army.

In the religion of Islam, there is no original sin. Men and women bear equal responsibility. Many traditions have grown weak and women have been relegated in patriarchal societies to second class citizens, contrary to the core teachings of Islam, with cultural norms overtaking the religious teachings of Islamic tradition and the female role in Islam in many cultures.

Women scholars spent their lives in pursuit of historical facts. Historical criticism is a fundamental principle in Islam.

The Qur’an requires

“O believers! If any iniquitous person comes to you with a slanderous tale, verify it, lest you hurt people unwittingly…” (49:6)

Many Muslims have strayed from scholarly tradition and have become used to certain ways of dealing; that does not mean that our traditional sources of law are not relevant in modern society. These traditions to include the female scholar are better suited for modern society and helping to identify in regard to social issues.

It is important not to judge Islam by the state of nationalist and conservative mindsets refusing to proceed with the progressive and forward thinking nature of Islam. The religious doctrine does not support the cultural norms of these nationalists. The religion of Islam is much bigger than that. There are generations who laid the foundation of modern civilization.

Islam is more than capable of addressing and resolving many contemporary issues. There is an obligation within Islam to provide the tools and a setting to address issues like racism, misogyny and oppression that have been lost on those who refuse to remain relevant.

To address the question for Christians about where Islam and Muslims stand on Christianity; there is only to look at the Quran, the words and mandates of the prophet Muhammad for answers.

Muhammad saw Christians as part of our community, our people, to be allowed freedom of religion and protection from oppression and religious suppression as evidenced in his writings and promises to Christian communities.

The Quran expresses religious unity between Jews, Muslims and Christians as one community with many paths to the same destinations and refers to Jews, Muslims and Christians as “the believers.”

“Indeed, those who believed and those who were Jews or Christians or Sabeans [before Prophet Muhammad] – those [among them] who believed in Allah and the Last Day and did righteousness – will have their reward with their Lord, and no fear will there be concerning them, nor will they grieve.” (Quran 2:62)

Preachers who teach falsehoods of a dubious nature to subvert pluralism and unity will lead their followers astray and thrive on sectarianism. A thinking population is always dangerous to the status quo. A religion that was only devised to control and cheat people would never expose religious preachers like this, for it would be against their very interests,

“And they (the common people) will say: O our Sustainer! Behold, we paid heed unto our leaders and our great men, and it is they who have led us astray from the right path!” (Quran, 33:67)

Islam teaches Muslims to be free and critical thinkers, to question everything and then question it again.

The Quran tells Muslims to think for themselves, to uphold justice, to speak up and speak out against injustice and oppression.

The Quran expresses the need for social justice and the mandate in fighting oppression. Islam is not a religion that only gives you dogma to follow blindly, in return for some grand reward of paradise. Instead it expects one to use intellect and resourcefulness to help those less fortunate and vulnerable in society and to do all this in the pursuit of justice.

The Quran establishes that faith is only the beginning on the path. It isn’t the end of the journey. And on that journey are men and women on equal stance.

Contrary to popular belief, women are not subjugated by Islam, they are empowered by it. They have played an important part from the beginning, as teachers, preachers, warriors and leaders.

Research can present women with confidence in their role in Islam, while some are confined to their homes because of cultural norms others are vying for and fighting for leadership  throughout the Muslim world.

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I Can’t…

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by A.N. Bayat

I’m angry, you’re angry, everyone’s angry and if you are not angry you will be.

I went for hot chocolate with a friend last night. A lady approached us asking how she could help and how bad it all made her feel and she wanted to do something because she felt helpless. My friend told her we were fine and we appreciate it. She insisted that she felt so bad she had to do something. She offered to pay for our hot chocolate. At first, we said no and she was so distraught, so we allowed it. She said she felt so much better. Her husband pointed out that she wasn’t doing anything to help us, that we were doing more to help her by helping her feel better.

I thought about what he said, and that hit the nail on the head. I had someone message me yesterday to offer their help and support and in the same breath chastise me and judge me for posting what she thought were angry posts.  

It made me realise that so much of this, although it doesn’t affect many directly, it affects so many indirectly.

In the past few days, I’ve come across people who I thought were being insensitive or not empathetic. I felt they were making this situation about themselves while others were hurting, afraid and even uncertain about their futures. They tell me they feel helpless and want to help, want to reach out, how can they help and what can they do? They want to go to mosques and invite people for Thanksgiving and are concerned how that works. That’s thoughtful. Something about all that kept bothering me and I couldn’t pinpoint it until the hot chocolate incident.

It also made me realise that it is still everyone for themselves, even those it affects and those who say they want to help. This isn’t unity. There are enough people out there who really don’t care, who don’t want to help and people who it doesn’t affect directly. The rest of us – empathise.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I appreciate those who care. If you are judging me for how I feel or express my feelings and in the same breath want me to not feel it or express it to make you feel better, what is really happening? If you understand the anger of those of us whose rights and freedoms are on the line, then understand it, but don’t ask me not to feel it to make you feel better.

Don’t tell me, not to be angry, not to speak out, not to make waves, not to…Don’t tell me to help you feel better. I can’t even help myself.

I can’t empathise right now. I’m confused. I can’t lift you up right now. I’m exhausted. I can’t spell it out for you. I’m unfocused. I can’t help you feel better or tell you what to do to not feel helpless about it. I am trying to sort it out. I can’t be strong for you. I can’t be silent or polite for you. I can’t…I can’t…can you?

A part of me knows, I’m not angry. I’m disappointed and determined. You’re safe with me.

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When in This Life

When in this life we find struggles that divide us from each other, my heart will reach for you it will embrace you When in this life we find distance, who will love you when I’m away who wil…

Source: When in This Life

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Show Me

Maybe I don’t understand all you feel or do. I want to. Maybe I only see parts of you. Show me your darkness and your light-I will embrace them just for you.   Maybe I get angry for all …

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The Time Before

  by Allie Bayat

When time has passed and the sun is set

and you’re old and tired from the life before

remember that dream of that day

of love and hope you once thought true

 

How many loved and thought you fair and wise

and adored the look of compassion in your eyes

There was one that loved your chaos

the one who smiled through all the fading moods

 

then he turned and looked away

forgetting all about that day

It was that adoration you thought right

that slipped across the sky and

disappeared into the night.

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Now What?

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When I am sure about something, I have no fear. I am sure about me. I trust me. I know if I say something, decide something, set out to do something, it will happen.

Getting lost on a mountain…alone, it never occurred to me that I could die. It never occurred to me that I would not make it. When I was lost and alone in the rain, I remember thinking, how good it would feel just to lay there for a moment. I reminded myself that laying down, I’d never get up again–keep going.

This is just one of many moments. This one was a turning point. This is the moment that says a lot about me. This is how I fight to survive…I lock out emotions. I claw my way through it.

Some women need a man to lift them and help them get to the top. Sometimes I wish I was that woman. I could use the help and reprieve. But, everyone sees how strong I am and leaves me to do it. After, I was calm. I was quiet. I was in control. I was sick and in pain. I had gashes on my legs and arms, back, belly, shoulders. I looked in the mirror and was bloody and dirty. My hands were almost shredded and hurt to wash from grabbing the roots and clawing at the dirt to move. The water stung my hands. Dirt ground into my skin. My throat felt raw. I didn’t think I could eat…that climb got me past my moments and I looked up and realized “I’m over it.” Whatever I was feeling that I thought I needed or wanted, I no longer needed or wanted.


 

When I think of that  day, I wish it never happened.  You see, I was already strong. I was already tough. I just wanted to be normal, to have the same feelings, wants and needs as any other woman. I wanted to feel comfortable being vulnerable. Others made it look so easy. I wanted to be comfortable needing and just letting someone look out for me. I did not want to be the person that could climb a mountain, fall, become lost and survive. I didn’t want to be the woman who could fall and be so stubborn. I’d tear myself to pieces to get to the top. That time put me into perspective for me.

I am strong. It doesn’t mean I want it tested. That mountain didn’t break me. That fall didn’t stop me. So, now what?

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