Feeling the Hate in Jerusalem

Wow, and I thought I was harsh on Obama.  Isn’t it interesting that there are people on the Left who think Obama is just another Bush, while there are others on the Right who absolutely abhor him because they think he’s a “secret Muslim” (laugh) or the, ahem, “anti-Christ”?  I wouldn’t go as far as saying that Obama is exactly like Bush, but I’m not overly enthusiastic about him either.  Yes, his speech was brilliant and beautiful, but let’s see how he follows up on his words before we start leaping for joy, shall we?

Anyway, I found this clip almost immediately after I watched Obama’s speech in Cairo.   Before you watch it, just be warned that it contains excessive profanity, offensive racial slurs, and homophobic remarks.  It’s also very important to keep in mind that these individuals do not represent the opinions of all Jews.  The people in this clip are obviously ignorant, childish, and poorly educated, so it would be foolish and counter-productive to associate them with Judaism.

At the same time, this video is important to share because it shows the kind of tension and animosity that exists concerning diplomacy with Muslim nations.  Remember when the mainstream western media showed video clips of Palestinians dancing in the streets after the 9/11 attacks?  It created the perception that all Muslims and Arabs rejoice whenever Americans and/or Jews suffer.  It told us that non-Muslim Americans and Jews were innocent and morally superior to Muslims.  Why do we only see Palestinians doing horrible things in the news?  Why don’t we see things like this video clip of American Jews and Israelis making racist comments?  Will that hurt the “good guy/bad guy” image it’s been trying to promote for the past 8 years?

Don’t count on seeing this clip on CNN.

Open Discussion: President Obama’s Speech in Cairo

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Also published on Islam on My Side.

President Obama delivered a very moving and powerful speech in Cairo on June 4th, 2009.  The speech focused primarily on improving American and Muslim relations, but also addressed issues such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as well as the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

I admit that it was heartening and emotional to hear Obama cite so many verses from the Holy Qur’an, as well as referring to the miracle of al-Isra, the Night Journey, in which the Prophet Muhammad journeyed to the seven heavens and met with Jesus, Moses, and Abraham, peace be upon them all.  When Obama said “peace be upon them” after mentioning these Prophets, there was enormous applause from the audience because the attendees, as well as Muslims all around the world, knew exactly what it meant:  Respect.

It was also nice to hear Obama stress on the importance of Islam being part of America.  He acknowledged the contributions of Islamic civilization, particularly in mathematics, science, poetry, architecture, and music.  When he spoke of Israel and Palestine, he emphasized on a two-state solution and recognized the struggles that both Israelis and Palestinians face.  For many Muslims, the Israeli-Palestinian crisis is crucial simply because U.S. foreign policy has been overwhelmingly supportive (politically, militarily, and economically) of Israel while vilifying and ignoring the plights of Palestinians.

Although there were many times during the speech where it seemed like Obama was hesitant to acknowledge certain atrocities, such as Israel’s recent airstrike on Gaza, it was at least refreshing to hear a U.S. president recognize the Palestinian humanitarian crisis.  I really liked when he said “children of Abraham,” because that kind of language speaks to the hearts of inter-faith communities around the world.

While citing the Qur’an and reaching out to Muslim majority countries displays the President’s desire to improve relations, it’s important to stay mindful that actions speak louder than words.  As Tariq Ramadan mentions in his recent article, “Obama’s speech to Muslims will mean little if its symbolism is not followed up by concrete measures to restore trust.”  In no way am I trying to deny Obama’s efforts, but rather I’m simply pointing out that I truly hope he follows up on his words.

What are your thoughts?  If you missed the President’s speech, you can watch it below (it’s divided into 6 parts):

Watch Part 2
Watch Part 3
Watch Part 4
Watch Part 5
Watch Part 6

Checkpoint

checkpoint
You watch me closely
With your sniper rifle
A weapon you call security
An instrument I call fear

I show that I am weaponless
As I pass through your checkpoint
Spinning like a whirling dervish
Fearless in this worldly separation

I want to open your eyes
So you can see the unjust persecution
I want you to look into my soul
And listen to the endless cries of desperation

I want you to watch my heart bleed
Every time I pray for Abraham’s children
I want you to hear me gasp for air
Every time a face and name is forgotten

Why are we, brothers and sisters, so torn apart?
Here I cross again, spinning in my Sufi dance
And dancing to the song of yearning
That plays forever in my heart

Like planets dancing around the sun
This is the dance of the celestial heavens
Where even the gunman is invited
No uniforms, no flags, no bombs, no guns

As you watch, I want you to listen:

My Beloved is Here
My Love is Here

My Home is Here

~Broken Mystic~

Why Are You Silent?

tears__ben_heine_

It is in this direction you refuse to look
As if doing so would alter your faith in “hope” and “change”
As if standing up for the oppressed is something as simple as “choosing sides”
As if speaking up for the murdered would threaten your “political outlook”

It is here, amidst these ruins of dead children
You dare to even shed a tear
As if mourning for Arab blood were forbidden
As if flags could dictate what hearts should feel

It is here, where blood is on the inside and outside
You sit at your desks and dinner tables
Arguing and debating like a bunch of fools and cowards
Over the meaning of “genocide.”

It is here, where Palestine is crying and bleeding
She asks: What have my children done to you
To cause this reclusive silence?
How much louder do they need to keep screaming?

What did they do to you to make you shut your mouth?!
What did they do to you to make you close your eyes?!
What did they do to you to make you cover your ears?!
What did they do to you to make you ignore their desperate cries?!

What did they do to you to make you get so offended
When all someone did was beg you to speak for them?!
What did they do to you to make you so blind
From realizing this atrocity needs to be condemned?!

Yes, with all this blood and death
I see you look the other way
With all this murder and madness
I see you turn and walk away

Not your concern, not your child
Carry on with your everyday life
Someone else’s problem, someone else’s job
Not your war, not your strife

Yes, with all this terror, all this wailing
All you can say is “I’m not educated enough”
Or “I don’t know the history”
As if that had anything to do with human empathy

Yes, with all this bloodshed and slaughter
You remain oblivious to how many lives it took
With all this horror and mayhem
It is in this direction you refuse to look

~Broken Mystic~

Sky Garden

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SEEKER LOOKED out her window
Only to see the world crumbling around her
Watching those luminous colors drain to monochrome
And those joy-filled smiles fade into the shadows

Tears rolling down your heavenly-crafted faces
As sweet memories are torn away
Like history altered by a tainted pen
We cannot hear the music begging for that old kingdom to stay

Rage and madness pounding in your head
Screaming so loud that the earth shatters
And yet drowned out by the hate-bombs falling
Only apathy blackens the heart when it sees blood splatter

O’ Palestine, we hear you
You are not alone
O’ Palestine, we mourn with you
With your Soul’s endless cry for home

Seeker shut her windows and wept
Feeling so weak and powerless; forgetting how to smile
A mystic in black robes knocks at the door
He says, “Friend, retreat from the world for a while.”

Know that God does not burden you beyond your means
Travel — Deep within yourself where secrets await
Discover — You are a Flower plucked out from His Garden
Be — The Gift that you are in this world, sent from the Unseen

She shook her head in doubt and uncertainty
She looked at the children she gave refuge to
Sitting in her house; helpless and hungry
“I’m not doing enough” she says

The mystic replies, “Darkness has overwhelmed you”
“And blinded you from seeing all the Love that you share”
“The helpless need you to be strong for them”
“They cannot see you fall into the abyss of despair”

Come to where the Romantics gather
Where the Lovers leap off the highest mountain
And spread their multi-colored wings
To journey into their Elysium sky

Come to where magic is Real
Where children run through the fields
And paint Om Shanti in the clouds
Where beautiful stallions emerge from the Sun
And ride us all to His Jerusalem

Come to where Beauty is heard
Where you can hear recitation of the Qur’an
The Psalms of the Torah, the chant of Christian monks
Spiritual voices from every nation of the world

Come to where revolution marches onward
Never lose hope, even in the heart of a hurricane
Defy the storm of division, your destiny is unity
When you sail on His ship, there is no fear, no pain

Come to where secrets no longer wish to remain hidden
You are a planet kept in balance
By a Sun that will never let you go
Your orbit is your Way to Divine Radiance

Come to where thorns will become roses
Mourning will soon become joyous laughter
The dead will be raised again and carried into His arms
Recite the Great Name and witness wonders

O’ Seeker of Truth
Heavens says: Hand me your tears
And I will show you what Ocean they belong to

Unchain yourself from these worries and fears

O’ Seeker, as you gaze upon those helpless faces
Know that your contributions are never without meaning
You are their House, you are their Sky Garden
You are their Immortal Flame, burning through the darkness

Embrace the wind, breathe in the fragrance of Divine Romance
Throw yourself at the Beloved’s feet — the Friend of the Heart
Become wrapped in this painted cloak of Love
Turning and ascending, the Way of Beauty’s eternal dance

Turning and ascending…
To where my heart calls me…

~Broken Mystic~

Tears for Gaza, Tears for Husayn

husayn

The free world turns a blind eye
The modern-day Yazids laugh in their palaces
The Holy Land bleeds and weeps
When the sons and daughters of Abraham die

Selfish kings are drunk with their riches
Cowards flee at every opportunity to protect
The everyman worries about his daily bread
Peace plans of so-called democracies are in reject

Only those who listen to their inner calling
Will rise for the defenseless and oppressed
Only those learned in the ways of Peace and Love
Can bring Unity to this world so terrifying

Jews, Christians, and Muslims
Are we not of the same family?
O humankind, are we not all human?
Is it so hard to see this truth and beauty?

Remember those black banners in Kerbala
Those blood-soaked flags of dearest Husayn
The endless teardrops in the sand
The Earth that mourned for the Beloved’s name

Ya Husayn, Mountain of Forbearance
Shadow of the Divine, Pearl of Radiance
In the footsteps of the Prophet
You stood boldly in the face of a thousand spears

Ya Husayn, Garden of Truth
Master of the Spirit, Beautiful Friend of God
O’ how your blood was massacred across the lonely hills
Within your immortal sacrifice streams the fountain of youth

Ya Husayn, Martyr of Elysium
Illumination of Mystics, Second Petal of Fatima’s Rose
You forgot about self and bled for union
Fearless you became, a secret blossom for those who reflect

I weep for you, Husayn
I mourn for you, Gaza
In this cruel world that we live in
Your faces will never be forgotten

Remember how Husayn left Medina
In pursuit of uniting the Ummah
He left that material world behind
And entered the abode of selflessness

Free yourself from the chains that bind you
Emerge, peacemakers
Like a new being blooming into color
And like Husayn, say:

“I HAVE RISEN
As I seek to reform
The community of my grandfather
I wish to enjoin the good
And forbid the evil”

~Broken Mystic~

A Few Words On Those Who Have Passed On…



Salaam everyone,

I just wanted to briefly share some thoughts that I’ve been having lately. This is not an entry exclusively about the death of Hollywood star Heath Ledger (pictured above) who passed away last week; it’s actually more about reflecting upon the loss of all human beings.

The other day, I was standing in line at my local Border’s bookstore and a particular magazine cover caught my eye. I’m not sure if it was People or Time magazine, but the headline read something like: STARS GONE TOO SOON. And there was a collage of pictures of young celebrities who passed away too soon. Actors and celebrities like River Phoenix, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, etc. I was standing there and immediately thought about how we don’t know these people personally, yet we grieve for them as if we do. We see their faces on television and silver screens, we admire their talents, their good looks, their performances, and although do not know them, we’re strangely able to make a personal connection. Then I thought about the countless number of Iraqis, Afghanis, Kashmiris, Chechens, and Palestinians who have been either bombed, shot, stabbed, poisoned, or God knows what other kind of horrible death they experienced. My thoughts continued; I thought about how some old man in Japan could be passing away right now in his hospital bed, or some old grandmother kissing her children goodbye as the hour of death comes near. I thought about that beautiful young Kurdish girl who was brutally stoned to death by heartless extremists, and then about the poor children who starve to death in Somalia. I thought about the children in Gaza who are without food and electricity. I thought about downtown Philadelphia where some desperate thieves rob a store and accidentally shoot the clerk behind the counter. I thought about the Indian Sikh who was mistaken for an Arab Muslim and murdered by an ignorant bigot. I thought of those who are murdered and forgotten by humanity itself. Who are these faceless people? Who are their families? Who are their loved ones?

Then it was time for me to pay for my book, but I couldn’t stop thinking. As I drove home, I looked at the cars driving by and just meditated on the thought that each and every individual has a story, each person has value, each human being has something special to share in this world. What happens when these fellow beings — our fellow travelers in life — pass away? Are their stories broadcasted on the news? Do we ever give them any thought? Their friends, family, and Loved ones would grieve their losses and hold a funeral, but the world just keeps moving. Everyone outside that circle is playing their video games, partying with friends, going out to dinner, buying tickets for a new concert, debating about who should win the election, chatting online, going to school, going to work, and etc. Yet when a celebrity dies tragically like Heath Ledger, the whole nation (or even world) acknowledges it. While we return to the daily functions of life, we begin to discuss his death. We pick up the phone and call our friend or our brother or sister, “Oh my God, did you hear what happened?” What about your neighbor who just lost his/her mother, or that little boy who died of cancer? I’m sure their families, friends, and Loved ones would Love for the rest of the world to know how special those people were/are to them. I’m sure they would Love to tell us how righteous, friendly, or compassionate those people were, or tell us how that particular person meant the world to them. Imagine if we all could hear the stories of these people, imagine the teenager who says proudly, “my grandfather built this place,” or the widower who says, “she may not have been on billboards, but she was the woman of my dreams,” or the grieving mother who says, “my son gave his best to the world and I’m very proud of him.”

I once read that the Universe is not filled with stars, but with stories. Everyone has a story. Mr. Ledger was one of my favorite actors and I believe he has shared an enormous talent with the world, and may have touched the lives of many people. I also believe that the countless other human beings who have died should not be forgotten either, even though we’ll never know their names, their stories, or their faces. They, along with Heath, can be remembered through prayer, through meditation, or even through a mere thought.I just thought it would be nice if we could remember all those people who have passed away the next time we pray or the next time we hold a moment of silence. Think about how so many people in this world mean so much to another person or another group of people. Think about how special we all are to one another and how precious this life truly is. Let’s make sure no one is forgotten. In Islam, we are taught to never underestimate the power of prayer and that those who have died are not dead, but they actually live on in spirit. I know that there are many of you in this note who devote much of your time to helping people and I honestly cannot think of anything better than that. Many of us help without even knowing it. Even a smile, said Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), can be charity. May God bless you all, keep us happy, and grant peace to those who have passed on.

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi Raje’un
From God do we come, and to Him do we return

Thanks for reading. Salaam/Peace.

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