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Single Muslim Mother: My Autistic Son

Single Muslim Mums - 29 April, 2015 - 12:24

Single Muslim Mums:

When judgement enters wisdom leaves

When my son was born by cesarean section after what was an anxious but uneventful pregnancy, he screamed. It was a piercing scream as he entered the world and I was amazed at how such a tiny bundle could emit that many decibels. The surgeon delivering him commented “Good luck to his parents” as a flippant remark in response to the shrieks – and though I was in that post-labour exhaustion, compounded with the emotional highs and lows of having the emergency c-section, those words stuck with me.

The early days were fraught. This tiny baby didn’t know how to suckle and I was clueless myself. Eventually we got there and after a few weeks, he fed well, so much so that at three or four months he was labelled the Sumo wrestler by his uncle. Friends would joke about my super strength breast milk. In fact his nursing-fests were probably a response to his being in this busy, noisy and confusing world. My tiny son only ever seemed to relax when he was suckling in my arms.

Fast forward to today where he is a lean little boy of five and still, there is a tension in him. It seems to be surrounding him all day in every situation until he is lying next to me, at the end of the day, in bed. In a darkened room, offering him no distractions and the time and space to chat with me about whatever is on his mind, he finally relaxes. My son has an intense fascination with disasters, both natural and man-made, with God and the super-natural, with the Crossy Road app and with his buddy at school.  He loves London, particularly London travel news, the M25 and its junctions, the tube map and real-time bus route information. It’s been two years and those fascinations continue. He is keenly interested in professional cycling. Peleton was a word he understood at age 4. He taught himself to read and can sometimes do mental maths faster than me. He is obsessed with being first, the fastest at things – and gets excited by hundredths of a second on stopwatches. As he dozes off to sleep he will first want to talk about all or any of these things, before asking me to pray to God that scary thoughts don’t come in his head. He will ask me to let him know when I have started the prayer and when I have finished it. Occasionally he will begin a late night confession, admitting to things he did during the day that perhaps he should not have done. Much like other boys of his age, the temptation for mischief is often too much to refute. And in the middle of all this: his intense interests, his desperate need for safety, routine and security, his anxiety about the future and about the unknowns of life, lives a thoughtful, gentle soul. A soul who sees and feels so much that it’s often overwhelming. A soul who is so curious about this confusing world that his experimenting can often go beyond the limits of what is socially acceptable. A soul who is so desparate to identify and to belong but who doesn’t know how to. A soul who might unconsciously save up his wrath and frustration from events at school and physically take them out on me when he gets home. Right now he is five and too small to hurt me too much but it does cross my mind what will happen once he is bigger in size than me. That is not too far off. As much as I try every technique I can find to help him to regulate his emotions, success is limited. My son has autism. He has always behaved a little – or  sometimes quite a lot – differently than others. I used to think he was just extra sensitive, sometimes naughty, often shy, and perhaps tired or hungry when he was inconsolable after reacting to an every day situation.  As he grew from a toddler to a young boy, he struggled with his peers at nursery, he began inexplicably repeating what he had heard parrot-fashion, he started to lick toys, the slide in the playground, me and even the walls.  His desperate need for routine yielded louder and longer outbursts when things were unexpectedly different.  He became dejected and heartbroken about having to leave nursery at the end of the year and move on to a different school.  The demands of life were like a tsunami washing over him everyday. After encouragement from a dear friend, I consulted with a private specialist who confirmed he had an autism spectrum condition and his very high-level functioning brain concealed the level of his social and emotional support needs. When a four year old can conceptually understand times tables, fractions and pie charts, it’s easy to assume that they will understand simple real-world logic too. It comes as a shock that they might not have the capacity to comprehend how a simple thing such as a bit of extra traffic on the way to school could cause you to be five minutes later than normal for pick-up. For an anxious, autistic child exhausted by the overload of the school day, a late pick-up may be more likely to be interpreted as a deliberate abandonment and yield an extreme reaction. On the one occasion that this happened to me, a late pick-up was followed by five hours of emotional upset and bouts of physical aggression. That incident demonstrates the challenge with this condition – the intensity of reaction to the everyday events of life. Constantly living with the fear of what might go wrong next, having to make excuses for behaviour that may appall or offend others, being conscious of trying to protect those around you from the fallout of events not going your child’s way; all of these can easily become exhausting. Please, if you see a child who looks normal, is able to chat away about grown-up topics suddenly behave impulsively or even aggressively, be careful not to judge this as bad parenting.It might just be there is more to it than that.

Reposted by SingleMuslimMums

Original Post at: https://oceanripples.wordpress.com/2015/03/06/when-judgement-enters-wisdom-leaves/

Originally posted on oceanripples:

When my son was born by cesarean section after what was an anxious but uneventful pregnancy, he screamed. It was a piercing scream as he entered the world and I was amazed at how such a tiny bundle could emit that many decibels. The surgeon delivering him commented “Good luck to his parents” as a flippant remark in response to the shrieks – and though I was in that post-labour exhaustion, compounded with the emotional highs and lows of having the emergency c-section, those words stuck with me.

The early days were fraught. This tiny baby didn’t know how to suckle and I was clueless myself. Eventually we got there and after a few weeks, he fed well, so much so that at three or four months he was labelled the Sumo wrestler by his uncle. Friends would joke about my super strength breast milk. In fact his nursing-fests were probably a response to his being in this…

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Another Man’s Daughter

Single Muslim Mums - 29 April, 2015 - 12:10

There is a huge stigma in the Muslim community regarding the remarriage of widows and divorcees, especially those with children. Many Muslim men, whether they themselves are divorced/widowed or not, will shy away from considering remarriage with a woman who has been previously married, and more so when there are children involved. There is a sense that these women aren’t ‘good enough’ and that marrying them is somehow inferior to marrying a woman who has never been married before.

When Abu Salamah (radhiAllahu ‘anhu) passed away, Umm Salamah (radhiAllahu ‘anha) already had several children – Salamah and ‘Umar, and was pregnant with yet another. For most Muslim men today, considering a previously married woman with one child for marriage is seen as alarming, never mind three or more! There appears to be some sort of revulsion at the idea of caring for “another man’s children.” However, neither Rasool Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) nor his Sahabah ever expressed this type of attitude.

When Umm Salamah’s ‘iddah ended by giving birth to her daughter, Zaynab bint Abi Salamah, Rasool Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) – fully aware of her situation – proposed to her. When Umm Salamah pointed out that she had several children to take care of, Rasool Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa salam) reassured her with the simple words: “Your children are my children.” (Narrated by an-Nasa’i)

Those words were not spoken meaninglessly. While Zaynab bint Abi Salamah never grew up with her biological father, she was raised by a man who was her father in every other way – Rasool Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). It isnarrated that whenever Rasool Allah r came to visit Umm Salamah, one of the first things he would do is ask, “Where is our Zinaab?” (‘Zinaab’ was an endearment for the name ‘Zaynab’).

One narration states that when she was young, her mother asked her to attend to Rasool Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) while he was making wudhu. When she entered, Rasool Allah sprinkled her face with the water from his ablutions, and for the rest of her life, she remained looking youthful, barely revealing any signs of aging.

Zaynab’s bond with Rasool Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was evident to others as well. Her uncle ‘Ammar used to pick her in his arms and say: “She is the one who has come between the Prophet r and his family.” (i.e. She was distracting him and keeping him busy as he used to give her a lot of attention.)

Once, RasulAllah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was playing with his grandsons Hassan and Husayn (radhiAllahu ‘anhum) in the house of Umm Salamah, while Umm Salamah and Zaynab were present. Overcome with love, he held them and made the following du’a: “May Allah exalt you, yaa Ahlul Bayt!”
Umm Salamah began to cry, and RasulAllah asked her what was wrong. “O Messenger of Allah, what about us?” she exclaimed. Understanding what she meant, RasulAllah gathered Umm Salamah and Zaynab in his arms and said, “You are part of my family, you are part of Ahlul Bayt!”

Imagine growing up in an environment knowing not only that your mother was the wife of the Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), but to have him in your life as a father-figure, someone who was there literally from the first moments of your life, someone who cared for you as his own child, of whom your first memory is the endearing nickname he gave you? Rasool Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was much more than just a stepfather to Zaynab bint Abi Salamah – In the true sense of the word, he was her father.

The effect that Rasool Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) had on Zaynab bint Abi Salamah was an incredible one. Not only did he impact her emotionally by being a loving father-figure and providing a stable family environment, but she was also affected spiritually. How could she not when she grew up witnessing the Wahy (revelation) being revealed, when he would wake up his entire household to pray Qiyaam al-Layl in Ramadhan, when she heard his Divinely inspired words straight from his lips?

Zaynab bint Abi Salamah grew up to be a direct reflection of the environment she grew up in. She narrated seven ahadith directly from Rasool Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), and she also narrated from others amongst the sahabah, in particular, her stepmothers, the other wives of Rasool Allah, such as ‘A;ishah (radhiAllahu ‘anha), Umm Habibah (radhiAllahu ‘anha) and others.

Zaynab quickly grew to become known as an incredible scholar of Madinah, particularly in the field of fiqh. The famous Imam among the Tabi’un, Abu Rafi’ al-Sa’igh, referred to her as the most knowledgeable woman of her time on many occasions. Amongst her students were her son Abu ‘Ubaydah, Muhammad bin ‘Amr bin ‘Ata, ‘Irak bin Malik, Humaid bin Nafi’, her foster-brother ‘Urwah bin al-Zubayr, Imam Zain-ul-‘Abidin ‘Ali bin al-Hussain, ‘Amr bin Shu’ayb, al-Qasim bin Muhammad, Abu Qilabah, Salamah bin Abdur Rahman and others.

One particular incident demonstrated the true breadth of her patience as well as her wisdom. During the Hurrah (a rebellion against the governor of Madinah) in the reign of Yazid bin Mu’awiyah, she lost two of her sons in battle. On hearing the news, she proved herself to be a mountain in sabr as well as a true faqihah (scholar of fiqh). Holding her dead son before her, Zainab said: “To God we belong and to Him we return! As for the first, he didn’t fight anyone but was ambushed and killed in his home. For him I am hopeful of Jannah. But the other one fought, and I am not aware what his intention was in fighting, and so the travesty for me is even greater in his loss (as I don’t know in what condition he met His Lord).”

Truly, Zaynab bint Abi Salamah was a heroine not only in her time, but for all time.
SubhanAllah, all of this was because Rasool Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) chose to marry Umm Salamah (radhiAllahu ‘anha), a widow with several young children.

Nor was Rasool Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) alone in his practice of welcoming the children of previously married women into his family and raising them with as much love and affection as his own children. When Ja’far ibn Abi Talib (radhiAllahu ‘anhu) was martyred, he had a number of young children with his wife, Asmaa’ bint ‘Umays (radhiAllahu ‘anha). Rasool Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) himself assured Asmaa’ of her children’s safety and security. As an answer to the promise of Rasool Allah, Abu Bakr (radhiAllahu ‘anhu) proposed to Asmaa’, and the sons of Ja’far ibn Abi Talib were thus raised in the household of Abu Bakr.

Not only was Abu Bakr willing to care for them as his own children, but he was also in fact honoured to do so. The children of Ja’far were granted the double blessing of not only having a martyr, beloved to Allah and His Messenger (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), as their biological father, but to also have the greatest of the sahabah as their stepfather.

While blended families are becoming more and more common in society in general, they are still relatively rare and even taboo in Muslim communities. Even if both a man and woman agree to such a marriage, the family pressure and community scepticism can be overwhelming.
The idea of a man raising another man’s children is looked down upon and criticised, yet it is precisely those men who had the courage to do so, men such as Rasool Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and Abu Bakr (radhiAllahu ‘anhu), who were responsible for raising these children to become some of the greatest heroes and heroines of Islamic history.

It is high time that we embrace this Sunnah, not only acknowledging the challenges that inevitably accompany it, but the incredible rewards and payoff for doing so, in both this world and the Hereafter. Who knows? It could likely be the children raised in such a way are the very thing to bring us to the gates of Jannah.

Sources
Usud al-Ghabah fi Ma’rifat as-Sahabah
al-Istiy’ab
al-Isabah
Tabaqat Ibn Sa’d
(With special thanks to a generous brother – who wishes to remain anonymous – for translating the original biographies.)

 

 

AnotherMansDaughter

 

 

Reposted by SingleMuslimMums

Original post: http://thesalafifeminist.blogspot.ca/2015/04/another-mans-daughter.html?m=1


The Lutfur Rahman verdict and the spectre of ‘undue spiritual influence’ | Giles Fraser

The Guardian World news: Islam - 29 April, 2015 - 11:09
The legislation by which the mayor of Tower Hamlets was unseated was introduced in the 19th century to keep Irish Catholics in their place. The religion being discriminated against has changed, but the sentiment hasn’t

Last week a single judge unseated the mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, for fixing his re-election in May 2014. Among the reasons presented by deputy high court judge Richard Mawrey QC for removing Rahman from office, was that, in cahoots with local imams, the mayor exerted “undue spiritual influence” on some sections of the electorate, specifically voters from the Muslim Bangladeshi community. The former mayor has now said he will appeal against the judgment. But in order properly to understand this extraordinary and highly politicised piece of law one has to rewind to the middle of the 19th century when it was first introduced as a response to the fear of the Irish, specifically of Irish Roman Catholicism.

Related: Ex-Tower Hamlets mayor to challenge charges of corrupt and illegal practices

The judge is unashamed to use a law developed to subdue Irish Roman Catholics and apply it to a religious minority today

Related: How the Conservatives orchestrated the letter from business leaders - and got it wrong

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It’s still right to honour Charlie Hebdo | Nesrine Malik

The Guardian World news: Islam - 29 April, 2015 - 08:00
Yes, Charlie Hebdo has published offensive cartoons. But its freedom of expression award for courage from the PEN writers’ association is surely merited

If you thought that the debate following the Charlie Hebdo killings had exhausted the media and literary world’s reserves of feverish self-examination, brace yourself for another round. Since the American wing of PEN, the international writers’ association, decided to honour Charlie Hebdo with a Freedom of Expression Courage award, six high-profile writers – including Peter Carey, Michael Ondaatje and Francine Prose – have decided not to attend next month’s PEN gala in New York in protest. The organisation, they said, had “stepped outside of its traditional role” in honouring a magazine they believe is guilty of “cultural intolerance”.

It is hard to understand how PEN, an organisation that defends freedom of expression, is somehow departing exotically into uncharted territory by honouring a magazine with a freedom of expression award. The satirical weekly has indeed published racist, sexist or offensive cartoons, but 12 people died when it was attacked on 7 January for depicting the prophet. It is surely within PEN’s remit to decide if Charlie Hebdo’s commitment to the images (racist or not) constitutes courage.

Related: Salman Rushdie slams critics of PEN’s Charlie Hebdo tribute

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Operation Guinea Pig

Single Muslim Mums - 28 April, 2015 - 23:22

Parenting is a struggle for most of us; I hate those parents who smugly boast about how perfect little Junior is (even though I saw him kick his little brother and try to push him into oncoming traffic!); and how it’s thanks to their amazing parenting skills and the fact that they have an amazingly stable family unit consisting of two parents. Parenting to me as a single mum is like playing Call Of Duty; you think you are part of a squad and go out with your team: glorious; with guns blazing; only to find out it’s a them Vs. you match where they show you no mercy and consequently you are annihilated within the first 5 minutes. My kids know how to push my buttons and they push them well. I may be the only one out there who has little evil geniuses dressed up as kids but I can’t let that stop me anymore; I’ve got to regain control! I’m sick of whingeing on Facebook and Whatsapp asking people how they successfully parent their kids and to give me advice – now is the time to stand and fight and quit acting like a man (did you like what I did there?! Women are the true fighters, come on give me an almighty roar!). It is with that goal in mind that I have decided, as I have high-spirited children, to test a variety of parenting techniques out on them. In sha Allah I’ll list a technique and where I got it from, I’ll try it out for a week and then give it a verdict out of 10. I think it’s a great way to make disciplining fun and if you’re lucky I’ll even try to take some snaps too! Lovely Jubbly!

 

Some great ideas can be found on my Pinterest board! If you have any parenting techniques you want me to road test then leave me a reply and I’ll do my best to comply!


French Muslim student banned from school for wearing long black skirt

The Guardian World news: Islam - 28 April, 2015 - 20:36

Headteacher of school in north-east France felt the long skirt ‘conspicuously’ showed religious affiliation, flouting rules of secularity

A 15-year-old Muslim girl has been banned from class twice for wearing a long black skirt seen as too openly religious for secular France, in a casethat has sparked an outcry.

The girl was stopped from going to class earlier this month by the headteacher who reportedly felt the long skirt “conspicuously” showed religious affiliation, which is banned in schools by France’s strict secularity laws.

Related: Secular separation in France

Trop long Elsa ! #JePorteMaJupeCommeJeVeux pic.twitter.com/a9WuFUyjXt

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Lib Dems must understand why they are hated

Indigo Jo Blogs - 28 April, 2015 - 08:29

Picture of Ed Davey, a middle-aged white man wearing a white-ish shirt, a patterned tie and a dark jacket.As I think I’ve said here in the past, I live in a Lib Dem constituency — specifically, Ed Davey’s constituency, Kingston and Surbiton, a constituency where the only main challenger is a Tory and Lib Dem publicity threatens us that Labour “cannot win here” (a tactic they have been using in their fiefdoms for decades — I recall seeing it while on holiday in Somerset in the mid-90s). I’ve seen quite a few of the standard Lib Dem yellow diamond signs with his name on it around, and nobody else’s that I’ve noticed. A couple of weeks ago Ed Davey (right) came to our house while I was at work and my mother spoke to him at length. He came on his own, without any minders or other help, which Mum said made her respect him a bit more, and she told him that she felt betrayed by his party’s coalition with the Tories (she and my Dad were Labour voters their whole adult lives until we moved to New Malden in 2001), and at the end of the conversation, she told him that she would consider voting for him again but could not guarantee it. Personally, I probably will vote for him as the Labour party have not put much effort in around here and so a vote for them probably is a vote for the Tories, but I can see a lot of his 2010 vote melting away, something the local party should have taken into account in good time for this election.

The attitude of the political classes and the media since the 2010 election has been generally contemptuous of Lib Dem voters. It caricatures us as protest voters, or the far left that did not want to vote Labour because of Tony Blair or the war. The standard line has been that the Lib Dems had to evolve, to grow up, from a “party of protest” to a “party of government” and that their enormous compromises to form the coalition are part of operating in the “real world”. Although the Tories blame the Lib Dems for not being able to do quite all they wanted, such as leave the EU, scrap the Human Rights Act and trample over civil liberties entirely, Tory commentators praise them for ‘robustly’ defending their record against the people who actually voted for them, as in this anecdote from the Daily Telegraph:

One Lib Dem MP recently recounted a story that has become a mini-legend in party circles. At a public meeting, a woman began assailing Clegg with the standard list of betrayals. When she had finished she received warm applause. Clegg’s adviser expected him try to placate her. Instead, he launched into an aggressive defence of his record.

By the end, those sitting either side of Clegg’s accuser were physically edging away. Watching the spectacle was the deputy prime minister’s personal protection officer. Turning to one of Clegg’s aides, the man who earns his living being prepared to take a bullet for other people, whistled, “wow, that was brutal”.

Nick Clegg’s campaign is set to be brutal, ruthless and single-minded. It has to be. His is in a fight to the death.

Some Tories, like Tim Montgomerie, have also expressed concern about the prospect of Nick Clegg losing his seat — you will notice the language of maturity: “hard choices”, rather than straightforward compromises so as to play at being in government:

If Nick Clegg loses — and high-ups in the Tory command fear he will — it’s hard to see the Lib Dems keeping Cameron in office. That would mean goodbye deficit reduction, goodbye welfare reform, goodbye schools reform. Clegg’s re-election might be the only thing between this country enjoying stable government and the Lib Dems entering a disastrous period of self-obsession in which they opted out from the hard choice they’ve so valiantly made since 2010.

(However, the Tories are still fielding a candidate in his constituency.)

This time, Clegg has said he would prefer a coalition with the Tories to one involving Labour and the SNP, and has called such a deal a “coalition of the losers” as if coming third was a greater victory than coming second, and as if coming first without a majority in Parliament constitutes winning (it does not). The Lib Dems are fond of explaining to people what they achieved in the Coalition, in terms of preventing an EU exit referendum and preserving the Human Rights Act. However, for this election, they refuse to rule the EU referendum out, and in a debate tonight (Monday) in Tottenham, north London, the host Eddie Nestor asked Tom Brake, a south London Lib Dem MP who is deputy leader of the Commons, what “red lines” the Lib Dems had for any coalition after this election, and the MP refused to name any. In other words, a Lib Dem coalition this time will not restrain the Tories from dragging us into isolation and destroying ordinary people’s rights before the State — so, what is the point of voting for them? When asked why they backed down over student tuition fees, they reply that this was one concession they could not wring out of the Tories, despite it having been a “red line” in their last Manifesto. However, what would the Tories have done to get the increase through the Commons had they not received Lib Dem support?

The Lib Dems, and all their cheerleaders in the media, remain convinced that the climbdown on university tuition fees is the sole, or at least biggest, thing that made voters feel betrayed and put them off, rather than all the other things they have enabled the Tories to do: the Bedroom Tax, the Legal Aid reforms, the disability benefit reforms, Universal Credit, the housing benefit caps which price poor people out of London, the local authority funding cuts — all things that could only have been motivated by upper-class spite and contempt on the Tories’ part, and which betray the fact that they do not care for justice or equality, even equality before the law. And perhaps this shared background explains Clegg’s preferred choice of coalition partner. I often can’t tell apart senior Lib Dems from senior Tories, having as they do the same accents, and much the same can be said for most BBC presenters, including the ones recently criticised for interrupting and talking over politicians on programmes like Today. It sounds like they all regard real-life politics as an extension of the Oxford or Cambridge debating society, whether it’s on Radio 4, where loaded political jargon like “wealth creators” is used unchallenged, or in the Commons, where Iain Duncan Smith responds to Labour pledging to end the Bedroom Tax by simply informing him, “that is a spending commitment”, and sniggers when a local MP tells of the suffering and hardship caused by the government’s policies.

Many of us do not believe for a moment that any of these things were necessary compromises. Many of us believe that the Lib Dems were eager to sit at the top table and were tempted by ministerial salaries and privileges, which they received in far greater proportion to Conservative MPs. There is no other reason why they would throw away decades of hard work building up their support base around the country, cultivating an image as a principled party which supported civil liberties and opposed pointless wars, of MPs that were well-liked locally and served their constituents, to support policies that nobody had voted for that principally target poor and vulnerable people, from a party that people had voted against when voting for them and which needed a coalition partner precisely because they didn’t win the election. They sold the trust of their voters for a miserable price, they have had their fun for five years, and they now deserve to lose this election comprehensively.

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FearBusters: Fear of Change

Muslim Matters - 28 April, 2015 - 05:33

See Previous parts: FearBusters: Conquering our Fears, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

Part 5: Fear of Change

Have you ever asked yourself why you do what you do every day? What I'm specifically referring to are your habits. I'm willing to bet that you sleep on the same side of the bed every night. I'm willing to bet that you eat a similar breakfast every morning, drive the same route to work or school, listen to the same stations on the way there, start your work day or school day in the same way, eat the same lunch or at the same restaurants every few days and so on and so forth. Have you ever asked yourself why you do things the way you do?

Well, if you haven't yet, I'm about to tell you why; you do them because you've always done them. They're simply actions that have been repeated over and over again to the extent that they become a part of your subconscious and you do these things without even thinking. You see most of our lives are run on autopilot. We simply don't think about most of the things that we do. Think about when you drive your car now as compared to the first time you tried to drive your car. The first time you drove a car, everything was foreign to you so you had to consciously check all the mirrors, change the seat position, try to mentally manage your feet on the pedals and choosing which pedal to push when; where to shift the gears; keep track of your speed and so many other things. Do you still have to consciously do these things? Of course not! After some time, it becomes second nature to you.

In order to understand people's fear of change, one must first understand the difference between the subconscious mind and the conscious mind. The conscious mind is the one we use very seldomly in comparison to the subconscious mind. The conscious mind is when we make conscious decisions and are fully aware of our decisions while we're making them. This often occurs when we are faced with a new or unique situation. Let me give you an example: On the days in which our daily schedule is disrupted, we have to consciously redesign our days. For instance, if you have children and one of them gets sick and has to miss school, you or your spouse's day has to be consciously reworked and re-planned. The conscious mind has to do that. The subconscious mind is the one created by repeated actions over time. It's exemplified by the things you do without thinking, which is most of what we do.

So why am I mentioning all of this?

I am saying this simply to state that people fear change most often not because of what that specific change will cause in their life, but for the simple fact that it's something uncomfortable; something they're not used to. In other words, change forces us to make conscious decisions that may disrupt our subconscious patterns, which always leads to a feeling of unease and discomfort.

I want you to really think about this, because it requires thought and leads to a deeper understanding of human nature itself.

Do you have a bad habit or an addiction that you know you shouldn't have, but can't seem to get rid of it? It's because you haven't understood or mastered the art of rewiring your subconscious. I will discuss this in more detail at the end of the article.

The fear of change like all other fears can be completely debilitating, causing you to get 'stuck in your ways' and not progressing in life. This fear causes many people to stay in miserable jobs, unhealthy relationships, keep poor friends despite the fact that we know they're not good to be around, stay in a place or city that's not conducive to growth and progress, or even stick to careers that we neither care about nor enjoy. We simply do not change, because we are comfortable with what's familiar and we are afraid of the unknown that comes with change and risk. The problem with having this fear, I hope, is quite obvious by now.

For many of us, change is necessary in order to improve our lives. Some of us need to go through a physical change in order to improve our health, while others need to undergo a spiritual change in order to improve our faith. Being comfortable with change is a critical factor to living out our best lives possible. I don't know a single successful person who hasn't taken risks and been forced to change themselves and some of their bad habits in order to achieve their goals.

The fear of change, is always worse than the change itself.

 Principles to Overcome this Fear:
  1. Understand and accept the fact that change is always occurring, whether you're aware of it or not.

Take a moment to think back on the past 5 years. Have you changed within the past 5 years? Has your body changed? Do you think differently now than 5 years ago? How about spiritually? Of course you have, because we all have and we will all continue to change day in and day out. Our hair and nails get longer by the day; the climate and weather changes daily; even the friends and family that we have around us changes often. Change is generally a constant state in our lives and in our world, so it's best to accept it and adopt its inevitability.

  1. Until you make what is subconscious conscious, you will get the same results you've always gotten and you'll call it fate.

You MUST read this principle over and over again to really understand its incredible implications. This short statement is the key to understanding how to change any and all of our habits. It all starts in the mind. As I mentioned earlier, our subconscious mind is the one that really leads most of what we do on a daily basis, so in order to change our behavior we must start by rewiring our subconscious mind. The way to do that is to bring our subconscious to the surface and make it conscious. Simply put, we have to re-examine what we do all day every day and make the conscious design to recreate better habits. For example: let's say you have a goal of becoming healthier but you have bad eating habits, so in the morning the first thing you do is grab a quick bowl of sugary goodness in the form of your favorite brand of cereal and then head out to work or school. Knowing that your goal is to become healthier and more physically fit, you have to make the conscious decision of replacing the sugary cereal with healthy fruits, oatmeal or another alternative. By doing that simple step, you are in actuality consciously making a decision to change. If that conscious action is repeated day after day, then that habit of eating fruit or oatmeal becomes part of your subconscious and you have just accomplished what so many people fail at, which is to change a bad habit. This process can only happen when you analyze your subconscious life, bring it to the conscious level and redesign it based on what is best for you.

I've gone into quite a bit of detail in discussing this fear because I feel that it is one of the fears not discussed often enough and requires special attention and focus.

  1. To get the most out of life, you have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, which means that you have to get comfortable with change.

The post FearBusters: Fear of Change appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

The Business Page

Single Muslim Mums - 27 April, 2015 - 23:03

I’m setting up this page to talk about setting up a new business; how to manage one; what you need to bear in mind – problems etc; success stories and as a way for mums to advertise their businesses. If you would like to advertise your business and are willing to share your experience and tips with others then please email me at: singlemuslimmums@gmail.com


What’s in a business…?

Single Muslim Mums - 27 April, 2015 - 22:34

When I started this organisation I had no idea how to run a business and what it entailed. I still don’t, but starting up an organisation has taught me a lot more than I thought it would even though its not technically a business. I knew nothing about how to run a Facebook page, or how to use Twitter and I thought Pinterest was something only for the elite! Interacting and networking with other mums and sisters has taught me a lot and whilst I may still be looking for that je nais se quoi regarding me starting up a business at least I am armed with more knowledge in my arsenal now than I ever thought I would have. If I consider everyone to be as clueless as I am and I think what would I want to know before I started a business I guess some of the following questions come to mind:

  • What ideas can I come up with would be good for a business especially as I’m a stay at home mum?
  • How do I know what my strengths are?
  • How do I know it will work?
  • Do I need money to start up a business?
  • How do I get started?
  • What’s a business plan and do I need one?
  • How long will I need to get my business up and running?
  • How do I find clients?
  • How do I stay motivated?
  • How do I advertise?

There is probably an article out there already that sums this all up but I’ll attempt to do my best to answer all my own questions in a series of articles in sha Allah – bring on the knowledge in sha Allah!!

Ok, to begin with there are probably many business ideas you could do: I found some great articles on Pinterest (my new love!) about small business ideas. Here are a few:

  1. Amazon FBA: Amazon FBA is a program that allows you to send the stuff you want to sell on Amazon directly to an Amazon warehouse. When one of your items is sold Amazon will pick, pack, ship, and deal with customer service for you (for a fee, of course.)
  2. Blogging: This would probably be one of the ones I would be interested in the most. Anyone can blog – you write about stuff that interests or inspires you. I’ll in sha Allah do a separate post about how to make money from it.
  3. Freelance writing: Apparently you can make quick cash by taking this route if you are good!
  4. Software development: The great thing is you don’t have to know all about software, even if you have a great idea for an app you hire someone to do all the hard graft for you!
  5. Online courses: This is quite popular and I have seen many people selling their expertise by way of teaching others.
  6. Selling on Etsy: Ok, I’m not ashamed to say I didn’t even know what Etsy was until… today!! It’s a selling platform like Amazon or Ebay but where everything is handmade from clothes to home furnishings etc.
  7. Affiliate marketing: This is a type of performance based marketing where you work for yourself, selling someone else’s product and make money via commission such as ACN. You sell products directly from OTHER company’s websites through affiliate links. You can recommend the products you love, and explain why you don’t like some other stuff.
  8. Website Management: This covers a multitude of areas such as promoting on social media, selling ads, hiring writers etc.
  9. Multi-level marketing (MLM)/ Independent sales rep: Think Avon or Forever Living. With the  independent sales rep you may throw a party where you sell your products and make commission; and with MLM you sign up people underneath you and receive a percentage of their sales.
  10. Pet sitting: I always thought this was an American thing but who knows!
  11. Hijama/selling home made herbal products for skin/health: This seems to be gaining popularity recently. Hijama or cupping is known to be beneficial and relieve the body of toxins which leave through the blood via little cuts. There are many courses around the country where you can go to learn how to do it.

Please keep an eye out in sha Allah for future articles answering the rest of the questions. Please check the link below for the original article.


PARENTING PINS

Single Muslim Mums - 27 April, 2015 - 20:06

Below is one of my boards on  Pinterest about parenting. Please check it out and follow me to see more boards about topics like Islam; kids’ education; creating a business; lifestyle and how to create a positive outlook. Barakhallahu feekum.


Racism in Israeli Society: Winning Elections, Spewing Hate

When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu played the race card in a final attempt to get out the vote last month, it displayed to all the world how such bigoted rhetoric has deep appeal in Israeli society: The effort was successful and swept him to yet another term as head of state.

As voters were going to the polls, he said on Israeli television that Palestinian citizens of the state (“Arabs” in Israeli terms) were “streaming in droves to the polling stations” and “right-wing rule [was] in danger.” At the time, surveys showed his rival Isaac Herzog leading, but the final tally gave Netanyahu a decisive victory.

Here we have a topic worthy of inquiry: How is it possible that the leader of a democracy can make such an openly racist appeal to voters? And what is it in Israeli society that responds to this kind of incitement?

The New York Times has reported Netanyahu’s words, adding that “opponents accused him of baldfaced racism,” but it has failed to go beyond these brief remarks. Times articles tell us, for instance, that Netanyahu’s remarks “appear racist” or were criticized as being racist, but they stop short of acknowledging that Israeli society has a problem with ethnic bigotry.

Times readers never learn, for instance, that Israeli buses are segregated by ethnicity, that nearly 50 percent of Israelis want Arab citizens of the state transferred to the Palestinian Authority, that Israeli youth recently marched through the Old City of Jerusalem chanting “death to Arabs” (just the latest example of such displays) and that more than 50 Israeli laws discriminate against non-Jews.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz, reporting on a recent Hebrew language book on Israeli school life, notes that “ethnic hatred has become a basic element in the everyday life of Israeli youth.” The book quotes students who boast about their eagerness to kill Palestinians. “I’m ready to kill someone with my hands,” a 10th grade girl says. “I wish them death.”

After more of this kind of example, the article states: “One conclusion that arises from the text is how little the education system is able—or wants—to deal with the racism problem.”

In the Times, however, we find no talk of a “racism problem” in Israel, even though this bigotry goes beyond hatred of Palestinians to encompass other non-Jews. The state has been imprisoning and deporting asylum seekers from Africa, for instance, and Africans in Tel Aviv have faced throngs of violent protesters demanding their expulsion.

But even as the newspaper has been silent in the face of all this, it has promoted discussion of anti-Semitism. In recent weeks, the Times has run two overblown stories about complaints of anti-Semitism on American college campuses (see TimesWarp here and here), a David Brooks column on how to combat the phenomenon internationally and an editorial about soccer fans in Europe. It also made much of the anti-Semitism issue after gunmen took over a Jewish market in Paris and left four dead earlier this year.

The Brooks column ran just as the conversation about the election was at its peak, as Netanyahu was backtracking from his remarks about Arab voters and fudging on a claim that he would never allow a Palestinian state. This was a perfect time to dig more deeply into the troubling signs of racism in Israel.

Instead, readers were offered the Brooks piece, which appears to rely heavily on sources such as hyper-alarmist press releases from the Anti-Defamation League to support evidence of growing anti-Semitism.

When the Times ran an editorial about racist soccer chants in Europe last week, it had nothing to say about a notable example out of Israel—the openly racist Beitar Jerusalem team, which refuses to sign Palestinian players and is noted for its fans’ racist chants and banners. Its supporters also made news when hundreds staged a walkout after a non-Jewish team member (a Chechen Muslim) scored a goal.

Segregated bus lines, the racist chants of Israeli youth and public opinion that favors the transfer of minorities from the state are eminently newsworthy topics, but the newspaper shows little interest in informing readers of such things. The Times would have us believe that Israelis are the victims—but not the perpetrators—of ethnic violence, and it gives short shrift to news that fails to support this script.

Barbara Erickson

[For a full and close-up look at Israeli racism, see Goliath by Max Blumenthal.]


Filed under: Israeli racism Tagged: Anti-Semitism, Beitar Jerusalem, Benjamin Netanyahu, David Brooks, Israeli elections, Israeli racism, New York Times

Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now by Ayaan Hirsi Ali – review

The Guardian World news: Islam - 27 April, 2015 - 09:00

This call for historic reform, by one of Islam’s most divisive critics, only highlights the scale of the task

The Somali-born author and human rights campaigner Ayaan Hirsi Ali is an unequivocal figure. Admired by many secularists for her fearless denunciation of Islamic fundamentalism, she is loathed not just by Islamic fundamentalists but by many western liberals, who find her rejection of Islam almost as objectionable as her embrace of western liberalism.

Confronted by the tribal, patriarchal and religious confines of her upbringing in east Africa, where she suffered female genital mutilation, and the liberty of the Netherlands, where she sought asylum from an arranged marriage, she chose the cultural values of her adopted home over those she had inherited. Not only did she turn her back on her native religion, she became one of its most articulate and vehement critics.

Continue reading...

Parenting Can’t be Outsourced

Muslim Matters - 27 April, 2015 - 05:41

The biggest challenge of parenting is to accept that we are facing a world very different from the one in which we grew up. This is true irrespective of which country you live in, with the additional complexity of a rapid destruction of walls between cultures. The truth is that your solutions don't work today and your children know this better than anyone else. Yet you still have the challenge to inspire, support and teach them. Your challenge is to prepare them for a world that you know nothing about. This can be seen as positive or negative depending on your point of view but one thing is certain, it will not leave you untouched.

The major Global Changes that we face are:

Information Exchange

Thanks mainly to the internet and to global TV channels we are in an information overload age. We don't suffer from lack of information but from a surfeit of it – easily available at the click of a mouse. What is missing is the ability to discern, to sift, to pick the nuggets. What is missing is the ability to know what to do with what we read or see. What is missing is the ability to connect the dots to complete the picture. What is missing is the ability to recognize the reality and to put things in perspective so that we can differentiate between real information and propaganda. What is missing is the ability to respond positively and powerfully to ensure that the dissenting voice is also heard in the cacophony of the dominant discourse.shutterstock_14799520

Easy information exchange has also lowered and, in many cases, wiped out the entry barriers into technologies and business areas. This opens new opportunities for entrepreneurs provided they know how to use them. It is a challenge for parents to guide their children in ways that enable them not only to make sense of what they see and read, but to actually leverage it for themselves and others.

The information exchange also has a darker side with every evil that happens in the world getting instant limelight. The conscious self is bombarded daily with images which at one time would have sent us into depression, but leave us untouched and unmoved today. This desensitization of the heart, the deadening of compassion, making the horrific mundane is the result of constant exposure to cruelty, oppression and bloodshed. Like the nurse in the operating theatre or the butcher in the abattoir, the sight of another's suffering leaves us untouched.

The Salaf used to be very concerned with exposing oneself to things that harden the heart. Imam Al-Ghazali used to say that one should not mention death while eating because if the heart is not deadened then you will not be able to eat. And if you are able to eat then it will become evident to everyone that your heart is dead. I don't think we bother with such niceties anymore because the condition of our hearts is apparently not of any consequence to us.

The challenge that parents have is to guide children such that their hearts don't harden and show them how they can help those in need. Hidden in this is also the real danger of radicalization of youth and their falling into the trap of those who seek to recruit them for cannon fodder. It is our challenge to help them retain perspective, show them how they can positively contribute and stay away from all extremist positions. But to do all that we need to check what state our own hearts are in, for only the seeing can guide the blind.

Technology Empowers and Threatens

shutterstock_156997538

The second challenge we face is that of technology. Like rain, it is a part of our lives. You either get wet or you learn to use an umbrella. The smart phone, the computer, social networking and the ever present Google. Google maps automatically gives me driving directions to the masjid on Fridays whether or not I ask for them. It tells me if a flight that I am booked on is late or not. It even tells me when I need to leave for the airport, even when I have not asked for this information or informed it about my present location. It knows without being told. So how difficult is it to believe that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), who created the creator of Google and his brain, also knows?

Technology takes away the drudgery and monotony. It adds value and makes life easy. But at the same time it increases distraction, creates a false sense of satisfaction and speed. People feel satisfied with posting likes on Facebook and making favorites on Twitter as if they actually accomplished something. They forget that a million likes don't put a piece of bread into the mouth of a starving child or save it from the bullet of a sniper. Instant gratification – the most dominant sign of an immature intellect – is one of the legacies of technology, albeit unintentional. We forget that if you want results you have to work very hard at the right things; not merely click a mouse or tap a touch screen. This results in unjustified frustration and the millennial personality is born: people who are literally disinterested in the future. What can you hope for with respect to creating a legacy from those whose main interest is the next sensation?

We have a mentality that always seeks more and more excitement. Steve Irvin (Crocodile Hunter) is a good example of this and its unwitting result – taking closer and closer chances with dangerous animals until one day the inevitable happened. But the result is that today if you want to make an animal encounter show, until you can put your head into a lion's mouth and obviously come out alive, the producers won't even look at you. The value of doing so? Well, when you measure everything in terms of TRP ratings, that is perfectly clear, isn't it?

The speed of response that technology enables is both a competitive advantage and a threat. Our own response to events has to be hugely faster than our parents' needed to be because every event is instantly global news. The repercussions of the thoughtless words are also serious and, in some cases, severe. But what remains constant is that artificial intelligence is not the same as natural, and technology doesn't replace wisdom. We still need the human intellect to interpret the event and color the picture to see the whole scene.

The post Parenting Can’t be Outsourced appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

My Top Ten Books of All Time

Inayat's Corner - 26 April, 2015 - 17:41

top10

Everyone enjoys top ten lists, right? So, here it is. My very own list of the Top Ten books that have most influenced me and contributed towards shaping my outlook. I didn’t want it all to look too narcissistic so have decided to limit my comments on each book to a single sentence explaining why I was so taken by the book.

Please do add your own all time favourite book recommendations along with the reasons why in the comments section below!

1. The Beginning of Infinity by David Deutsch

the beginning of infinity
A compellingly argued paean to the scientific method and the Enlightenment as our best means of overcoming the inevitable obstacles that humankind faces and will inevitably continue to face in the future.
2. Finding Darwin’s God by Kenneth R. Miller

finding_darwins_god
Played a key role in convincing me of the truth of evolution and highlighting the ignorance and indeed sheer stupidity of those who are in denial about Darwin’s tremendous achievement.

 

3. The Ascent of Man by Jacob Bronowski

the_ascent_of_man
Accompanying the landmark 1973 BBC television series, this book is an inspiring celebration of the numerous peaks that humankind has crossed on its way to modern civilisation.

 

4. Muhammad at Mecca/Muhammad at Medina by W. Montgomery Watt

muhammad_at_mecca
Many Muslim-authored biographies of the Prophet Muhammad suffer from being too hagiographical, while Watt’s two- volume book appears to be fair and balanced in comparison.

 

5. The Qur’an Translation by Abdullah Yusuf Ali

The_Quran
Abdullah Yusuf Ali’s translation and particularly his extensive and erudite commentary is a continual pleasure to read and learn from. (Note: This refers to the original Abdullah Yusuf Ali translation and commentary, not the “Revised” translation and commentary by the Saudi-financed shit-heads that butchered his work as it offended their Salafi ideology).

 

6. Who Needs An Islamic State? by Abdulwahab el-Affendi

who_needs_an_islamic_state
Convinced me that those movements calling for the establishment of an “Islamic State” would almost certainly set up repressive and authoritarian regimes if they succeeded in gaining power.

7. Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

catch_22
Extremely black comedy about war that helps build up a healthy scepticism towards those wielding power.

 

8. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
the_road
A plausible and deeply haunting look at the apocalyptic future awaiting humankind if we do not come to our senses and refrain from using weapons of mass destruction.

9. The End of Science by John Horgan

the_end_of_science
A sceptical look at some of the latest ideas in the world of science accompanied by a series of searching and amusing interviews with some of its most famous current practitioners.

 

10. Cosmos by Carl Sagan

cosmos
A passionate plea for humankind to turn away from narrow sectarian differences, to reject superstition and instead to fulfil our innate curiosity to learn more about the universe and our place within it.


Don’t go back

Indigo Jo Blogs - 25 April, 2015 - 11:10

Picture of John Major, an elderly white man with white hair, wearing glasses with thin rims, a white shirt, blue tie and dark-coloured jacketLast week the former Prime Minister, John Major (right), popped up to have a go at the Scottish National Party, which opinion polls suggest is likely to get a majority of the seats in Scotland next month and which could all but wipe out the Scottish Labour party. He warned that a minority Labour government would be held to ransom or subjected to “a daily dose of blackmail” by the Nationalists who would nudge them further and further left, which would be “a recipe for mayhem”. Of course, this was aimed at English voters rather than Scottish ones; he knows that Tory voters north of the border are hard to come by nowadays. They have only one MP there, in Dumfries and Galloway in the far south-west.

It’s 18 years since there was last a majority Tory government and John Major was its leader. There are hundreds of thousands of young adult voters now who barely remember John Major’s time in office, so it might do to remind people of why his party then spent 13 years in  opposition. It was a miserable five years dominated by mean-spirited policies, pointless jingoism, moral crusades and sex scandals. I was a first-time voter in 1997 (except perhaps for a local election, I can’t remember) and voted Plaid Cymru as I was studying in Aberystwyth. In that election they lost every seat in Scotland and a number of what were thought to be safe seats in England, including those of cabinet ministers. Here are some of the things I remember about that time.

1. Europe. That was the era of the Maastricht treaty which the Tories fudged by signing without allowing a referendum, which there was widespread demand for, and negotiating an opt-out from the Social  Chapter. Pretty typical of British politicians’ mentality towards Europe; they want the benefits for business but not for ordinary people (the same reason we haven’t signed the Schengen agreement). His stance met with huge opposition from Tory MPs including people in his own cabinet, whom he called bastards. There was also a widely-reported incident in which he  threatened to “f***ing crucify” Tory opponents. Needless to say, this didn’t make them look like a unified or coherent party come 1997, and the Referendum Party cost a large number of Tory MPs, including David Mellor in the previously rock-solid Tory Putney, their seats in 1997.

2. Back to Basics. At the 1993 Conservative party conference, John Major gave a speech in which he claimed that the world “sometimes seems to be changing too fast for comfort”, that “for two generations, too many people have been belittling the things that made this country”, and attacked a series of Tory media devils:

In housing, in the ’50s and ’60s, we pulled down the terraces, destroyed whole communities and replaced them with tower blocks and we built walkways that have become rat runs for muggers. That was the fashionable opinion, fashionable but wrong. In our schools we did away with traditional subjects - grammar, spelling, tables - and also with the old ways of teaching them. Fashionable, but wrong. Some said the family was out of date, far better rely on the council and social workers than family and friends. I passionately believe that was wrong.

Round about the same time, various Cabinet ministers, notably John Redwood, were giving speeches attacking single mothers as women who “have babies with no apparent intention of even trying marriage or a stable relationship with the father of the child”, with Peter Lilley claiming that they do so to secure council houses and benefits, a claim which many people believed as it had been advanced by the Tory tabloids as fact for years. It just so happened that a number of his ministers weren’t satisfied with the traditional family themselves, a number of them being exposed as having extramarital affairs and one of their MPs (and former BBC education correspondent), Stephen Milligan, being found hanged in stockings and suspenders with a black bin liner over his head.

(Incidentally, the decline of some high-rise estates with walkways is also attributed to the decline of council housing in general, as the better properties were sold off under Thatcher’s right to buy scheme and the remaining estates were filled with “needy”, often troublesome, families. When first built, they were neighbourhoods that residents took pride in.)

3. Corruption: Besides the sex scandals, a number of MPs, including ministers, under John Major’s leadership were involved in corruption scandals: Michael Mates found lobbying on behalf of Asil Nadir, Neil Hamilton and two others taking cash to ask questions in Parliament, Jonathan Aitken being jailed for perjury. The term commonly used for this behaviour at the time was “sleaze” and it was a constant theme of political reporting during that time. Hamilton lost his seat in Tatton, Cheshire to the journalist Martin Bell who stood as an anti-corruption candidate, although the now Tory chancellor George Osborne re-took it in 2001.

4. Jingoism: Does anyone remember the party conference in 1995, where Michael Portillo claimed that three letters — ‘SAS’ — “send a chill down the spine of the enemy” and “spell out a clear message: don’t mess with Britain”? The one where he also claimed that Britain’s Tomahawk cruise missiles “can be launched from a submarine 1,000 miles away and guided down a single chimney”? (The latter was inaccurate; they were supposedly accurate to six metres, which means they might hit the right house.) Along with the claim that Britain had thousands of men ready to die for their country, the claims caused widespread offence in the Forces. It also showed that the party really had no fresh ideas, two years before a general election. (An article in the Independent taking apart that speech can be found here.)

Image of rows of coffins each with a green covering, with groups of people, mainly women, on each side and some among the coffins, in a valley5. Bosnia: John Major’s government sat on its hands (along with other European governments of left and right) for three years while a genocide went on under their noses, with women being raped in camps set up for the purpose, TV news showing emaciated men, and finally an outright massacre when the so-called UN safe area of Srebrenica fell to the besieging Serbs (after the UN refused to designate it a “safe haven”). British troops were sent as UN “peacekeepers” with orders to defend themselves, but not local civilians, which along with a similar debacle in Rwanda discredited the whole principle of UN peacekeeping for years to come. Major’s government refused to allow the side whose civilians were being massacred to arm themselves while the perpetrators were getting weapons from Russia, and refused to allow refugees into the country. Their master plan was to force the Bosnian government to “negotiate” the partition of their country.

6. Railway privatisation: Major’s government passed the bill to privatise British Rail in 1994, with the tracks themselves going to one large company, Railtrack, with the service provision being opened to tender. The system has been one of the most inefficient privatisations, the process itself costing hundreds of millions of public money in consultancy fees and huge parts requiring upgrades at public expense first (e.g. the West Coast signalling, the Kent and Thames/Chiltern modernisations). A favourite claim of supporters of privatisation is that British Rail featured decades of under-investment that lasted years after the Beeching closures; in fact, in the 1990s the government found money not only for those upgrades but also to re-open lines, such as the Nottingham-Worksop route.

John Major isn’t responsible for everything that’s wrong with the country today. There have been two governments and three prime ministers since. But he did preside over a catastrophic defeat for his party in 1997 including its wipe-out in Wales and Scotland, and his party’s reactionary wing fought two successive general elections with similar policies to his Back to Basics campaign — appeals to xenophobia, “common sense” and other tabloid standards, complete with the hypocrisy (e.g. Michael Howard appearing tough on illegal immigrants, until it was revealed that his father was one, and that a Labour MP had intervened on his behalf). He still remains the last Tory leader to win an outright majority in the Commons, and that was 23 years ago.

I was a teenager in the mid-90s. If you weren’t around then, you may remember the fall of George W Bush to Barack Obama — getting rid of John Major and his group of rudderless Thatcher functionaries was that much of a joyous occasion, and regardless of the criticisms — the micromanagement, the warmongering, the cowardice in the face of the Tory press and American power — Tony Blair’s first government did things that were far more radical than anything Barack Obama has done. It’s a mystery why anyone thought wheeling out John Major was a good idea; perhaps because he reminds the Tories of a time when they actually ruled the UK, including Scotland, despite having been rejected by most Scots. As Labour said in their 2001 election campaign, “don’t go back”. Those were not the good old days, unless you were a TV satirist, because they were days of meanness, hypocrisy, sleaze, scandal and decline.

Image sources (except the Guardian front page): Wikimedia. Image of John Major supplied by Chatham House under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic Licence. Image of Srebrenica by Juniki San, licenced under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

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Friday Links

Muslimah Media Watch - 25 April, 2015 - 09:18
Warner Bros. Studios officials allegedly told two Muslim women wearing headscarves they could not sit in the front row of ‘The Real’ because they should not be seen on camera. Unveiled is a play that focuses on the struggles of five Muslim women learning to live in the post 9/11 world. It will be presented [Read More...]

AlJazeera: How Arabs reached out to Armenians amid 1915 massacre

Loon Watch - 24 April, 2015 - 21:01

Armenia_Genocide

By Nour Samaha, AlJazeera English

Beirut - As Armenians and Turks mark the centenary of the disputed events of 1915 – what Armenians claim was “genocide” and Turks insist were counterinsurgency measures – a number of events have taken place to commemorate the tragedy and give voice to the families impacted.

But little has been said of the role played by Arabs in addressing the humanitarian disaster that ensued as tens of thousands of refugees and orphans streamed out of Anatolia.

“The Arab role in helping the Armenians during [these events] is very much understudied,” Reverend Paul Haidostian, president of Hagazian University and an Armenian scholar, told Al Jazeera.

“It started with individual Arabs, especially tribal leaders from the Syrian desert, [who] tried to save the Armenians who were forced on their death marches,” he explained. “They tried to help in any way they were able to; either by adopting the orphans or feeding the people – trying to save them somehow.”

After the Turks deported the Armenians in what have been called “death marches” to Deir Ezzor in Syria and the deserts in Iraq, areas considered to be predominantly Muslim-inhabited, many survivor accounts describe how Arabs offered help and shelter.

“When Armenian communities were able to reach cities like Aleppo, one task was to try and reunite with each other, find the orphans and bring them back [into the communities],” Haidostian said. Through contacts and word of mouth, many Arab families who had adopted the orphans returned them to their communities. “This was a very common theme; that the orphans would be ‘lost’ for a few years and then they would find their way back to their families. It happened to thousands of Armenians.”

In the period leading up to the mass killings, the Turks reportedly used religion as a cover to justify committing atrocities against the Armenians. There are reports of preachers urging Turks to attack and drive out Armenians, claiming they were against Muslims. Ethnic minorities, especially non-Muslims, were forced to live as second-class citizens, obliged to pay “jizya” – protection money – for being non-Muslim. This is the same tax being levied today by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant against Christians in the areas they control in Syria and Iraq.

“The Turks wielded religion as an instrument … but it certainly was not a religious issue,” Vera Yacoubian, executive director of the Armenian National Committee in the Middle East, told Al Jazeera. “First off, there were many Arabs who faced the same fate as the Armenians at the time. The Turks were pushing a pan-Turkic agenda, not a Muslim one.”

Arab religious figures condemned the use of religion by the Turks, issuing fatwas and decrees calling on Arabs to help the Armenians. In 1909, a Turkish mufti issued a religious ruling urging Turks to kill Armenians. Sheikh al-Bishri of al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo – one of the world’s leading Islamic institutions – issued a counter-fatwa, calling such acts un-Islamic and urging Muslims to protect minorities.

This was reinforced by another decree issued by the Sharif of Mecca in 1917, calling on Arab Muslims to protect Armenians: “What is requested from you … is to protect everyone who may be staying or living in your quarters or neighbourhood or among your tribes of the Armenian Jacobite community.”

Read the entire article…

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