Category Archives: justice

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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The Quran in Context

3696176326_e1fe5d8d04_thumb[1]The Quran is a guide to social progress established in a time when there was little freedom of choice, equality or social justice in the ancient Arabian world. The terms by which many of the ideas of justice are based are very much established beliefs within Islam and throughout the progressive world. Early Muslims were problem solvers. To Muslims, the Quran is considered a revelation from God and historically a great piece of literature.

Over time dogma, culture and traditions have over taken the progressive nature of the Quranic experience in the time of  Prophet Muhammad and his contemporaries. Whereas it once resolved social, political and economic  issues; dogma , contrary to the Islamic teaching has changed the direction of  contemporary  Islam .  It has become the tool of regressive and conservative mindsets in portraying the teachings as expressions of force and contempt.

Early Muslims following the teachings of Islam were explorer and problem solvers.  They expanded their world through knowledge as well as conquest, spreading the message, not through forced conversations but through the experience of Islam and social justice.  They endeavored to explore and obtain knowledge through early proto scientific concepts and the progressive nature of the insatiable need to understand their world. It was through that experience that early leaders supported the collection, preservation and expansion of knowledge.

In modern times those ideas have been set aside  in the service of political and dogmatic applications . In essence it has stifled the Muslim world and set its progressive nature back 1500 years.

The Quran is clear in its direction to the degree of establishing the need for independent ideas, questions and applications of that knowledge and understanding.  Any challenge beyond dogma is met with traditional and cultural popular expectations and understanding that those  customs of well known interpretations should never be questioned or reassessed; this in total is a  contradiction to the guidance of the Quran itself.

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The Quran encourages people to think for themselves.

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

“And do not pursue that of which you have no knowledge. Indeed, the hearing, the sight and the heart – about all those [one] will be questioned.” (Quran 17:36)

cc54fcea97e9_thumbA thinking population is always dangerous to the status quo, and hence these surahs were set aside and forgotten, replaced instead by unusual sentiment of blindly following those in power [religious or political].  Add to that the notion of a non Arabic speakers unable to read the Quran in Arabic, instead recited by the clergy, and you’ve got a largely ignorant population at the whims of what religious figures teach them about Islam.

The Quran discourages blindly following of the ancestral ways and religious preachers.

“O you who have believed, indeed many of the scholars and the monks devour the wealth of people unjustly and avert [them] from the way of Allah . And those who hoard gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah – give them tidings of a painful punishment.” (Quran 9:34)

“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)

“And if you obey most of those upon the earth, they will mislead you from the way of Allah . They follow not except assumption, and they are not but falsifying.” (Quran 6:116)

It might surprise anyone who has never read the Quran, even some Muslims that the Quran discourages blind following and the dubious nature of religious preachers.  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, As Mark Twain also once said, “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”

The Quran promotes pluralism and explains that there are multiples paths to God. We walk our paths as we endeavor to reach the same destination.

“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)

“And those who strive for Us – We will surely guide them 38cb0829fab92565bbf4d9dd17ec62eb_thumbto Our ways. And indeed, Allah is with the doers of good.” (Quran 29:69)

Sectarianism thrives in the belief that there is only one way and that way is the only way to reach God. But, By acknowledging that there are multiple paths, the Quran disavows the very belief of only “one right way” to God.

The Quran supports freedom of conscious, choice and speech.

“And had your Lord willed, those on earth would have believed – all of them entirely. Then, [O Muhammad], would you compel the people in order that they become believers?” (Quran 10:99)

In other words, if God had willed us all to believe, we would. Instead he gave us free will, to think for ourselves and make our own choices.

“There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong. So whoever disbelieves in Taghut and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold with no break in it. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing.” (Quran 2:256)

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Despite laws of apostasy and blasphemy, the Quran supports total freedom of speech and expression. Otherwise, there would be no need for insistence of thinkers and and the process of free will.

The Quran asks Muslims to be socially aware and to be activist for the rights which should be assessed as for all humans.

“O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah , even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of both. So follow not [personal] inclination, lest you not be just. And if you distort [your testimony] or refuse [to give it], then indeed Allah is ever, with what you do, Acquainted.” (Quran 4:135)

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.

“Do the people think that they will be left to say, “We believe” and they will not be tried?” (Quran 29:2)

One’s actions are relevant. Thus, the things we do today and in this life, matter. Surah 29:2 is very specific. So many religious individual (Muslims as well) put all their energy in a list of “things to images_thumbdo” or “to believe.” While putting no action behind those thoughts. For many religion has become just a list to enter “paradise” without any genuine effect.

Believing in values of truth, justice and honesty are not enough. One must live those values and put them into action.

The surahs are the concepts in which many Muslims throughout history established their societies and resolved their social,political and economic issues. These are the reasons which guide everyday life, beyond the expectations of social pressures. These values and ideas go beyond dogma alone. They are defining factors in history and the social progress by which Muslims have based their expectations and their human experience.

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Media Blackout as Southern Churches Burn

Via A.N. Bayaton Jul 3, 2015

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American media focuses its attention on the Confederate flag conflict and other Confederate symbols while giving limited, if any, consideration as the south burns once again and eight southern churches are destroyed.

June has been the deadliest month for the black community since the 1963 Birmingham, Alabama burnings.

As news outlets across the world focus on history in the making, with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage throughout the nation and the U.S. debate to remove confederate associated symbols from government facilities, Americans have also turned their attention to these historical events.

Our social conscious is proving to have limits, however, as after a long string of burnings, the eighth American church burns this week without the media attention or public outrage it deserves.

As of June 30, Mount Zion Ame Church in South Carolina is the seventh church to be set ablaze. All this in the wake of the killings of nine worshippers at Emanuel Ame Church in South Carolina on June 17 by self-proclaimed white supremacist Dylann Roof.

Within a week of that deadly massacre in Charleston, six southern churches had been set ablaze.

While the country debates the fate of the Confederate battle flag, its predecessors and any form of government representation of the long fallen confederacy, these atrocious burnings are but a slight mention in the current lexicon of political debate.

read more

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2015/07/media-blackout-as-southern-churches-burn/

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Days Like This

I’m like a ball of yarn that unravels itself, becomes tangled in its own mental mess, then sits quietly to untangle itself; and in the process finds small knots, snags and discolorations.

It’s all part of me and I’m good with it. But, I get lost in the discovery. I become fascinated with the ways I change from bit to bit. I smile at those bits which contain you. I see all the negative but try to see it as much as possible as good parts too. Because, it’s all me, even the frayed bits.

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-March 31, 2015

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How to Claim Back Our Power from People Who Piss Us Off: The Aftermath.

Via on Mar 27, 2014

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Warning: naughty language ahead.

Three years ago I wrote an article detailing how I’d used a frustrating situation with my ex-partner to claim back my power.

In a nutshell, he didn’t keep contact arrangements, which threw my entire day out and disappointed our son. Instead of focusing my energy in my ex and what he’d done and not done, I shifted my awareness to my internal state.

I discovered that by completely accepting the situation as it was, I could move out of anger and frustration and just deal with the day as it was.

This felt enormously liberating to me at the time. it felt like I was no longer a victim of my ex’s behaviour, but standing back in my power.

What I didn’t write about in this article was what happens after we take control of our internal state. What happens after we completely accept a situation as it is, or a person as they are? Do we just keep covering for them, or accepting them the way they are as being all cool with us?

No, you don’t.

You accept the situation as it is but you also have a clear idea of what it is that you want to experience—you just stop relying on the other person to make that happen for you.

You realise that they are not going to change (in this moment). They are who they are. They will keep doing what they’ve always done (until they don’t anymore).

Given this, given the reality of the situation, what are you going to do? Because in tricky and difficult situations that continually repeat in our lives, it is we who are being asked to change. Not the other, but us. 

In my situation, (without giving too many details to respect the privacy of my son and his father), I learned that I needed to set clearer and stronger boundaries.

I learned that I needed to ask for support and help in enforcing those boundaries.

It was really difficult to do this because I was afraid of upsetting my ex. I was afraid of creating a difficult situation. I was afraid full stop. But I realised that until I stepped into my power fully and took action, I would keep experiencing the same situation over and over and over again.

So I took action, and I took it all the way. I made the boundaries as strong and as clear as they needed to be and in the process fully stepped into my power.

That’s the second part of claiming back your power from people who piss you off—you have to take action.

It’s not all about you and what you’re feeling and what you’re experiencing, although that it a huge part of it. The other question is, what needs to change in this situation to create the experience you want? And how can you facilitate that change? What action do you need to take?

We usually know what we have to do—but we’re afraid. We also know that taking that strong action is going to lead to more difficulties. We have to be strong enough to face into those difficulties. But that’s the whole point—as a result of taking action, we are forced to change and grow as a person. I certainly was.

The danger is in only doing the internal work—and not taking external action. This is like a spiritual bypass: we internally come to terms with a difficult situation but then let it continue, because we’re now okay with it.

In my particular situation, this would have meant that I continued to allow my ex-partner to constantly change contact arrangements at the drop of a hat regardless of the impact on his son and me. And my internal work would have meant I didn’t mind, because I was all accepting and peace’d out.

No—that’s bullshit.

In reality, what happened was that once I fully accepted the situation and took my power back by not letting him piss me off anymore—that’s just who he is—I found myself asking, okay, if that’s who he is, what am I going to do about it.

And I did something. My deep acceptance of the situation goaded me into taking strong action.

Previously, because I was hung up on blaming him for what was happening, and trying to get him to change, I’d completely given my power away. Now I had my power back, and I had to do something with it.

Those are the two pieces of the puzzle. In any difficult situation where you’re angry and frustrated about how the other person if behaving—how can they keep doing this to me?—here’s what I suggest you do.

1. Completely accept the situation as it is, and let go of the need to control the other person.

Work on this first—and trust me, this takes time. It’s not an intellectual idea of acceptance, it’s a deep embodied sense that this is the situation and the person. I used meditation and pranayama to help me work my way into this one.

2. Once you’ve fully accepted the situation and the person as they are, ask yourself, what do I want to experience?

Get really clear on what the ideal experience would be for you. Don’t focus on the other person’s behaviour, but on what you experience, regardless of their behaviour. What do you want?

3. Once you know what you want, ask yourself what steps you have to take to get what you want.

This is the really hard part. Usually the steps we have to take ask us to step way out of our comfort zone. We usually have to let go of something—maybe a relationship, or a job, or security in some way. This is when our fears come up.

And this is the reason that we often keep blaming the other person, or the circumstance and wanting them or it to change. Because we don’t want to have to go here, to #3. We don’t want to get out of our comfort zone. We don’t want to change. We don’t want to let go. But once you know what you want, and you know what steps you need to get what you want… you can see clearly where you’re afraid, where you’re holding on and what work you’ve got to do.

Now you know the way forward. Now you can take that deep acceptance and turn it into empowered action, but first…

4. Write down all the reasons that come up about why you can’t take these steps to create what you want.

And there will be reasons—lots of them. Write them all down and ask yourself for each one: is this really true?

Discard all the reasons that aren’t true. Now you’ve got just the reasons why you can’t take those steps that are true—these will likely be reasons like I don’t have enough money, I’ve got no where to go.

5. Look at those reasons and find solutions or workarounds.

Because there are always solutions and there are always workarounds. No matter what the reason is that you can’t create what you want, there’s a solution, if you’re willing to find it and implement it.

This is how you really step into your power. This is how you leave an abusive relationship with the father of your four children who says he will kill you if you ever go. You change. You get smart. You get strong. And you get strategic. You accept he’s not going to change. And you ask yourself what you want and then you go after it.

All those reasons: no money, no where to go, no one to help—there’s always a way around them. You know that in your heart you’re strong enough to deal with whatever comes your way. And if you’re not, that’s okay too.

You stay and you work with what you’ve got and you keep looking for those solutions and opportunities until you are strong enough to go, because one day you will be.

That’s claiming back your power, and fully stepping into it.

Full acceptance. Empowered action. Finding the solutions and workarounds. Creating the experience you want.

Anybody can do it. Even you.

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2014/03/how-to-claim-back-our-power-from-people-who-piss-us-off-the-aftermath/

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In My Someday (Published March 27, 2006)

I am rare and special. I’m compassionate, loving, adventurous and passionate. I deserve to hear those things, to know those things, to find comfort in knowing someone feels those things.

If I ever decide to be in a relationship with someone else, be married any of those things, it will be with someone that not only sees those things, but will walk my crazy, freaky journey with me, will love the quiet in me, the freak in me, the crazy and the peace in me.

They’ll look at me and be proud to have me, to know me, and to love me.

Because of him all my wrongs will be right and my right could never be more right. They will look into my eyes with love and obsession, hold me with passionate and loving affection. He will be all mine, his heart, and his soul will be for me. Even when they look and wonder, his heart will only be mine.

I will be the stray of his thoughts no other woman can hold.

His very embrace will lift me and take me to unimaginable heights. His very presence with me will challenge me, affect me and contain me. He will be that beacon that will guide me through every storm. He will be my light and my wings. He will be my hero.

Looking at him, his good and his bad will fill me with pride and with joy for all the perfect imperfections that are he, I and us.

He will know my worth and I will know his special rareness in all his lightness and darkness. Together or apart, we will feel each others presence and love in every moment…in the very air that surrounds us, obtains and contains us.

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Connected

… something…instincts…a connection… drove me to share my thoughts with you that day.

I have never questioned why I was drawn to you and driven to open myself and share with you that confusing moment. It just seemed right.

I can’t fool you. You always seem to instinctively feel and know when I am trying to put up a facade or to sound tougher than I feel.

That always surprises me and It makes me feel naked. That look you give me, instantly makes me stop talking, thinking or even trying to hide.

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