Dunkin’ Donuts, Allah, and Quantum Physics


So, I’ve been speaking to some of my friends about quantum physics lately (by the way, isn’t the picture above amazing?) and how our thoughts carry vibrations that affect the world around us. As a result, I’ve been thinking deeper about the connections we make with other human beings as well as the world. I have a book called “The Sense of Being Stared At” by Rupert Sheldrake and it argues that our experiences with “coincidences” and “unexplained phenomena” (such as sensing who’s on the phone before answering it) are rooted in our biology. It’s really fascinating because he grounds a lot of his theories in scientific research. These experiences are so common and yet they’re rarely studied or taken seriously. We tend to overlook them too and dismiss them as mere “coincidences.”

I’m sure all of us have had experiences that we can’t explain. I know those who delve into spirituality/mysticism talk a lot about how everything happens for a reason. As the Qur’an says: “And with Allah are the keys of the unseen, no one knows them except Allah. He knows all that is in the ocean and on the land. No leaf falls without His knowledge, nor any particle in the dark recesses of the earth, nor anything green and fresh or dry and withered but that it is in a clear book.” (6:59)

I don’t believe in “coincidences” and I’ve always believed them to be signs. Even with my friends or when I meet new people, I know there is some greater purpose and significance there. We meet people for a reason, we go to certain places for a reason, we experience joy and sorrow for a reason, and so on. Talking about energy, morphic fields, and vibrations is so fascinating because, as a friend put it, it’s “science affirming mystic thought!”

Yesterday, I had one of those experiences. The weather was absolutely beautiful, so my friends and I made plans to play roller hockey. Prior to our game, I oddly felt in the mood for one of those supreme omelet croissants at Dunkin’ Donuts. Yeah, I know. Dunkin’ Donuts, not healthy, not good for you, lol. But I went through the drive thru and, as expected, there was a nice Indian woman who took my order. I drove up to the window and said, “No bacon or meat on it, right?” She shook her head and said, “no.” Then she asked, “From where you are from?” I replied, “Lahore, Pakistan.” She smiled and asked, “Hindi nahi aati?” (You don’t speak Hindi?) I smiled back and replied, “Tori se aati hain” (I know a little bit).

I laughed because I tried to carry a conversation with her in Urdu/Hindi. She asked if I was born here, and I was like, “Nahi, Lahore mein peda howa” (No, I was born in Lahore — I don’t know if I said it right, lol, so feel free to correct me!) She responded, “And you still don’t know how to speak it?” (She said that in Urdu/Hindi, but if I try to transliterate what she said, I’ll butcher it!) Then I had to drop the Urdu/Hindi and tell her that I was born there but never lived in Pakistan since my parents moved us to the United States. “I’m learning though,” I added. “Yeah, you should!” she replied.

When she went to get my food, I said “sobhan’Allah” out loud and laughed. Whenever I go to Dunkin’ Donuts or other stores, the South Asian clerks rarely speak to me in Urdu/Hindi, let alone ask me about where I’m from. Of course it’s happened before, but it’s been a while. I couldn’t help but think about my most recent note, “Searching for My Pakistani Identity,” and how I mentioned feeling bad for not speaking Urdu/Hindi with South Asians. And yesterday, a day after I wrote the note, there I was talking to a South Asian in Urdu/Hindi.

Coincidence? I don’t think so. There is Beauty in these precious moments and experiences we have. They’re filled with so much meaning and, as Shah Nimatullah Wali puts it, “everything throughout the world, everywhere, end to end, is but a reflection of a ray cast from the Face of the Friend.”

After she handed me my food, I said “shukriya” (thank you) and drove away with a smile. I couldn’t help but think Allah was smiling at me 🙂

Ya Haqq! (Hail the Truth!)

~Broken Mystic~


South Asian Unity: A Priority for India and Pakistan


Like everyone, Muslims are saddened and horrified by the recent Mumbai attacks. However, unlike everyone else, Muslims find themselves defending their religion from stereotypes, misconceptions, and bigoted accusations. It’s not an easy burden to live with — especially in Western countries like the United States — when the media not only scrutinizes and vilifies your religion, but also criticizes you for “not doing enough” to speak out against radicalism.

What’s worse is the division I’m seeing within the South Asian community, Indians and Pakistanis in particular. I was shocked and appalled at the excessive amount of anti-Islamic and anti-Pakistani bigotry written in discussion boards of South Asian internet forums and group pages on Facebook. Not only are fingers being pointed at Pakistan, but also at the religion of Islam, which has been accused continuously for teaching “hatred” and “waging war” on non-Muslims.

First, why is Pakistan being blamed when there is hardly any evidence? As we have seen in the last eight years, jumping to conclusions has resulted in foolish and deadly consequences. The fact that Indian authorities almost immediately accused Pakistan of being behind the attacks indicates that they deny and dismiss the possibility of homegrown terrorism. Tariq Ali, who is a Pakistani novelist, historian, and political campaigner, recently pointed out that the Deccan Mujahedeen — an extremist militant group based in India — made a claim to the Mumbai attacks. In his article on “Counter Punch,” Mr. Ali writes:

“The Deccan Mujahedeen, which claimed the outrage in an e-mail press release, is certainly a new name probably chosen for this single act. But speculation is rife. A senior Indian naval officer has claimed that the attackers (who arrived in a ship, the M V Alpha) were linked to Somali pirates, implying that this was a revenge attack for the Indian Navy’s successful if bloody action against pirates in the Arabian Gulf that led to heavy casualties some weeks ago.”

When I looked at my local newspaper, the article on the Mumbai attacks used the following words to describe Pakistan: “volatile,” “rival,” and “archrival.” And I’m sure many of us remember President-elect Barack Obama warning Pakistan that if they are “unable or unwilling” to fight terrorism, then the U.S. will invade the region (which they already have under the Bush administration).

This hostility and antagonism towards Pakistan is irresponsible. For one, Pakistan has been fighting Taliban militants in North-Western Pakistan since 2004, and according to “Times Online” Pakistan has lost about “1,000 soldiers fighting militants in border mountains that have never come under the control of any government.” Thomas Houlahan wrote a brilliant piece for “The Middle-East Times” titled “Pakistan: Separating the Facts from the Myths” where he criticizes the media for reporting a lot of misinformation about Pakistan. He writes:

“Pakistan has lost more civilians in the war on terror than the United States; Pakistan has lost more troops killed in fighting insurgents than every foreign contingent in Afghanistan combined. These facts fly in the face of the misinformation bandied about that Pakistan is soft on terror.”

Houlahan has also pointed out that “more than one in four insurgents killed in the Afghanistan/Pakistan insurgency (4,500 of 16,500) has been killed by Pakistani security forces.” Last night, Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Asif Zardari, appeared on Larry King Live and stated that Pakistan had no involvement with the Mumbai attacks. Furthermore, Zardari insisted that he looked forward to building peaceful relations with their Indian neighbors. Despite these facts and condemnations by Pakistani officials, one must question why the media and even the newly elected President of the United States are skeptical about Pakistan’s commitment to the “War on Terror.” Pakistan has been doing America’s dirty work since September 11th, 2001, and has suffered on several occasions for it. We seem to have forgotten about the recent Marriott Hotel bombing in Pakistan on September 20th, 2008.

To see this kind of division and hostility take shape among every day Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Jews, and others is discouraging and unsettling. None of us are responsible for what happened in Mumbai and none of us are trying to justify what happened, but when the media starts to influence our fellow South Asians into thinking that “Islamofascisim” or “Islamic Jihad” is simply about killing non-Muslims, particularly Hindus and Jews, then it is imperative for us to engage in mature and civilized dialogue. Because of the fact that a Jewish Center was attacked in India, many perceive this attack to be an “attack on the West,” but what’s so problematic about this assertion is that it completely ignores and overlooks the real factors involved.

Before I continue, it is important to understand that I am not justifying what happened in Mumbai or anywhere else. It’s not about justification, it’s about understanding, and only through understanding can we find the root cause of the problem and develop real strategies to solve them. Rather than chanting war slogans like “Bomb Pakistan!” why don’t we ask intelligent questions as to why an atrocity like this happened? If there is anything that I expect the West and other nations to learn, it’s this: Bombing another nation will only make matters worse; it radicalizes people and creates more violence. This is evidenced clearly in the Iraq war.

Has anyone bothered to ask, “who were the militants” or “who was in that hotel” or “what drives such people to attack innocent people?” Many right-wing pundits will simply say these militants are driven by the teachings of Islam. This kind of ignorance generates mythologies. Mythologies such as “Hindus and Muslims have been fighting for centuries.” Really? Since when? Widespread violence between Hindus and Muslims didn’t start until the 19th century. Prior to that, Muslims, Hindus, and others enjoyed coexistence in multi-cultural and multi-religious societies. This is not to say there wasn’t any violence – of course there were under particular Muslim rulers – but for the most part, large scale violence between the communities occurred after British colonialism. Other mythologies formulate, such as “Jews and Muslims have been fighting forever.” Again, since when? Much of the antagonism and wars between Muslims and Jews started during and after the creation of Israel. Prior to that, Muslims and Jews coexisted for centuries, especially in Jerusalem. Before Muslims ruled the city, Jews were exiled out of Jerusalem. Muslim leaders like Umar ibn al-Khattab and Salah Al-Din invited the Jews back into the city (may God be pleased with them).

Without understanding the struggles of Muslims in regions like Palestine, Kashmir, Iraq, Afghanistan, and even India, we won’t be about to solve the problems. But what’s frustrating for many Muslims is that the media only uses the word “terrorism” for one group of people: Muslims. In 2002, over 2,000 Muslims were massacred in the Indian State of Gujarat, while hundreds of Muslim women were gang raped. The worst part is that the government was complicit in these horrible crimes and many of the victims have yet to receive justice. Where was the mainstream western media when those atrocities were committed? Did we hear the media call the assailants “Hindu extremists?” Over 200,000 Muslims were butchered in the Serbian genocide against Muslims in Kosovo, but the Serbians were never called “Christian terrorists.” When over 700,000 indigenous Palestinians were forcefully evicted out of their homes by the Israeli military, the Israeli soldiers were never called “Jewish terrorists.” When Timothy McVeigh blew up a federal building in Oklahoma City, the media neglected to report that he was a member of the extremist “Christian Identity Movement.” The Columbine and Virginia Tech school shootings never provoked people to point fingers at a religion or even use the word “terrorist” to describe the shooters, but if the perpetrators were Muslim, you could count on the media to label them “Muslim terrorists.”

So why does the media ignore horrible acts of violence when they are committed against Muslims? Why does our government refuse to make efforts to understand why terrorism occurs in the first place? What is probably more disturbing than anything else is government-sponsored terrorism because it hides behind the guise of “freedom,” “liberty,” and “justice.” When things are made more systematic and acceptable, the more chances it has of being unnoticed.

Lastly, more than anything, Indians and Pakistanis have to stop pointing fingers and blaming each other. We can’t allow that kind of hatred and prejudice to present itself in our communities. We have to stand together, ask the right questions, and find the root cause of the problems. Only then will we be able to effectively prevent horrible atrocities – committed by all groups of people – from happening again.

Salaam, Namaste, Sat Sri Akal, Peace.

~Broken Mystic~


UPON the lonely minaret
She sat and watched as the moon wept in sorrow
Cowardly armies marching on her beautiful fields
Colonizing her land, frightening her people
Brandishing their swords, pounding their shields
Beheading sweetly scented tulips
Ignorant to the ancient history beneath their feet
They are deceived by the mission
The agenda of modern-century Crusaders

Blessed is the poetess
Who lived her joyous years
With the company of romantics and storytellers
Sharing the smiles and easing the fears
Giving peace and displaying wisdom
Like Shabistari’s Rose Garden
Radiating and shining with timeless Beauty
She brings light upon the lonely faces,
And like petals dancing in the wind
Her words gently float and glide
Landing upon even the darkest of places
Where a cold-hearted stranger runs into the street
And becomes maddened with song and dance

But war erupted one night
And mayhem surrounded our innocent friend
She saw the army roam through the land
And soar through the sky
She feared for her Loved ones
Frightened by the thought of never seeing them again
She ran from village to village just to stay alive
But nothing in her power would stop the invasion

She will never forget the day
When she heard the explosion
When olive trees and peaceful cities were blown to pieces
When she held her murdered father in her arms
What does this army know about her story?
What do they know about her family?

They march over the blood stained hills
Obedient to the orders of their leaders
Hunting for labels
They once said “Saracen” and “Barbarian”
They say “Towel-head” and “Terrorist” now
Ya Insaan (O People!) when will you tear down the flags?
So-called Muslims, Jews, and Christians
When will you start believing?
When will you have the courage to journey within
And listen to the Soul that sings: Human Being?
When will you have the courage
To burn down the walls of separation?

Behold, the courage to believe:
She kisses her father’s grave farewell
And marches to the front lines
She says: I am not a knight in shining armor!
They won’t allow me on the battlefield
With my Persian drums and flowers
So I will charge into the crossfire
And bring with me an orchestra
One like that of a mystic song

Enigmatic horns, passion drums, Arabian strings
Gregorian chant, wailing of Souls, ancient tongues
A symphony of Angels, fantasia bells, cinematic splendor
Words like shooting stars and exploding into musical rapture!

And when she stood before a thousand soldiers
She was unarmed and fearless
Snipers cannot fire upon such a display of Love
Bullets cannot kill what cannot be seen
Leaders cannot defeat such devotion to ideas

“Who are you?” they ask
And she responds:

I am Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan
I am Kashmir, Chechnya, and Bosnia
I am Lebanon, Palestine, and Pakistan

Point your rifles at me as long as you want
I don’t care

Because I know, and God knows:
You have no right

You have no right

~ Broken Mystic ~

You Cannot Believe Without Questioning

There is no doubt that Barack Obama dominated the first Presidential debate against John McCain. Obama was confident in his responses and he completely hammered McCain with a solid plan for improving the U.S. economy, while McCain looked tense and countered with unsubstantial responses. Most notably, perhaps, was how McCain didn’t make eye contact with Obama once, which I interpret as being incredibly disrespectful and immature. As other political commentators and analysts have pointed out, McCain’s debating style personalizes the differences between both candidates. In other words, by not making eye contact or addressing Obama directly, McCain reaffirms his self-perceived dominance over Obama, but he also alludes to Obama being his “opponent” (or even “enemy” according to the Bush Doctrine’s your-either-with-me-or-against-me sermon). Obama, on the other hand, looked at McCain directly and even addressed him by his first name, “John.” Obama even looked into the camera to address the viewers, which I believe earned him a significant boost in the debate.

But there are issues to discuss and question, especially for the Muslim community. There can be no argument that Muslim-Americans have been stigmatized ever since September 11th, but even more so after the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. When both candidates talk about the “spirit of national unity” after September 11th, this may be true for most Americans, but it is certainly not true for the Muslim community. There have been over 3,000 reported incidents regarding discriminatory acts, hate crimes, and prejudice towards Muslim-Americans, and neither of the candidates have spoken about it. Obama seemed to allude to it during the debate when he mentioned the world’s perception of American has changed significantly as a result of the wars, but he didn’t mention the repercussions Muslim-Americans have experienced and still endure.

When it comes to Iran, Obama is right in his approach of strong diplomacy, while McCain wants to paint Iran as an “existential threat” to Israel and the West. While Obama pointed out that Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is not the most powerful man in Iran, he didn’t point out another key fact and that is this: Ahmadinejad never said “wipe Israel off the map.” This is an over-used slogan for war – you repeat it enough times, it becomes true. The Guardian’s article “Lost in Translation” cites four different translations – which include professors, the BBC news network, the New York Times, and even the often anti-Islamic and pro-Israel news station called MEMRI – and none of the translations contain the word for “map.” What Ahmadinejad actually said was, “The regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time.” The Iranian President was clearly referring to the Israeli military occupation of Palestinian lands, which has created a lot of Arab and Muslim bitterness and antagonism towards Israel and the West. This is an extremely important issue that the West needs to understand if they are truly interested in establishing peace in the Muslim world. Obama seems more likely to acknowledge this issue, while McCain seems determined on attacking Iran since its acquisition of Nuclear Weapons is such an “existential threat.” I wonder if McCain bothers to think about how many countries in the world, especially Muslim countries, feel threatened by the U.S. possessing nuclear weapons. I do not support Ahmadinejad or any of his views, but the truth of the matter is that the U.S. has no right to invade or bomb Iran. I feel it would serve a great benefit to both candidates, as well as to the people of the world, if they actually watched Ahmadinejad’s interview with NBC news anchor, Brian Williams.

When the issue of Pakistan came into the picture, McCain accused Obama of wanting to invade the country. “You don’t invade an ally,” McCain said, “You don’t do that.” Obama responded and stated, “No one said anything about invading Pakistan.” This may seem to debunk McCain’s accusation, but Obama continued and said that there needs to be more U.S. presence in Afghanistan and Pakistan since Al-Qaeda forces are “in those mountains.” He also said that if Pakistan was not willing to cooperate, then the U.S. would intervene and take out Al-Qaeda. The problem with this tactic is that it contradicts Obama’s foreign policy with Iran. Obama has stated before that he will hold a congregation of all the Muslim leaders and discuss with them what needs to be done. Communication is essential in building strong alliances, and lack of communication is the reason why there is so much tension between the East and West. And yet, despite his aspirations for strong diplomacy, Obama’s statements towards Pakistan are hostile and accusatory. His tone and choice of words vilify Pakistan, which unnerves Pakistanis and generates suspicions about Obama’s intentions. Pakistan has lost a lot of soldiers while combating extremist factions and doing America’s dirty work. Pakistan has been disrespected by the American press numerous times, including in a political cartoon where a dog was labeled “Pakistan.” Every Pakistani knows how huge of an insult “dog” is.

What troubles me is when I see my fellow Muslims reducing themselves to the exhaustive “terrorism” rhetoric. “Terrorism” is a word used by contemporary politicians and the media to describe only one group of people: Muslims. Consider the Virginia Tech shooting, or the Amish school shooting in 2006, or the Church shooting in Missouri, or the Omaha mall shooting – were the perpetrators ever called “terrorists”? What about Ariel Sharon, who was responsible for massacring thousands of Palestinians in Lebanese refugee camps? What about George W. Bush who is responsible for the deaths of thousands of U.S., Iraqi, and Afghan causalities? Despite how they terrorized people, the answer is “no,” they are not called terrorists. But if they were Muslim, don’t you believe the media would pounce on that and label them “terrorists?” Obama should not be concerned with putting pressure on the Pakistanis or threatening to attack them, but instead, he should be focusing on building an alliance with them and understanding why the extremist factions are opposing Pakistani leadership. These extremist groups identify with the Palestinian and Iraqi struggles, and therefore they oppose any affiliation or cooperation with the United States because the U.S. government funds the Israeli military and also has soldiers stationed in Islamic countries like Iraq and Afghanistan. There are also reports that President Bush secretly approved orders in July of 2008 to permit American Special Operations to carry out ground assaults in Pakistan without approval from the Pakistani government. Without taking these issues into consideration, neither Obama nor McCain will fully understand why violence ensues in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

I agree with most of Obama’s policies, including his policy on cutting taxes for the middle class, and making college and health care affordable for citizens, but this doesn’t mean that I cannot criticize him. I know there are a lot of Muslims who support Obama, but you shouldn’t hesitate to say he is wrong on certain issues like Pakistan. Don’t be afraid to disagree – no one is perfect, and that includes politicians and world leaders. I will not blindly follow someone, and no one else should. For eight years, we have been criticizing the Bush administration and calling those who support him as blind followers, so the last thing we want ourselves to become is blind followers of Obama. Like everything in life, we cannot believe in something unless we ask the right questions first.

“If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” – Malik Al-Shabazz (Malcolm X)


~ Broken Mystic~