Zakaria, Zachary, Zachariah and More

I was wondering about my name which by virtue of being in the Bible and the Quran has spread into many languages. So I tried to find the original Hebrew version. This is how it is written I think…

I was wondering about my name which by virtue of being in the Bible and the Quran has spread into many languages. So I tried to find the original Hebrew version. This is how it is written I think.


If I have made a mistake, please let me know. These Hebrew characters look too similar to each other to my untrained, wary of new languages eye. I do, however, recognize some of the letter names (Alef, He, Vav, Kaf, Mem, Nun, Ayin, Pe, Fe, Qof, Shin) as similar to Urdu ones (Alif, Hay, Vow, Kaf, Meem, Noon, Ayin, Pay, Fay, Qaf, Sheen).

From Hebrew to Greek:


And on to English with Zechariah, Zachariah, Zachary, Zachery, Zackary, Zackery, Zach, Zack, Zak, and other variants.

It also passed from Hebrew to Arabic and is mentioned in the Quran as the father of John the Baptist. My name in Arabic and Urdu is written as follows:


There are multiple English transliterations of that, but I use “Zakaria.”

One interesting thing about the Hebrew name is that its root words are zakar (זכר), which means “to remember or mention” or “to make remembrance”, and Yah (יה), which is the shortened version of Jehovah (God). Arabic probably got the word “zikr” (ذکر) from the same root. However, notice that in Arabic, zikr (ذکر) and Zakaria (زکریا) have different first letters.

I know this post is lame and not of any interest to anyone but me, but I am on the road to Atlanta right now. You’ll have to wait until I get to Atlanta for more blogging.

Drive to Atlanta

I have driven between Jersey and Atlanta a number of times, taken the outer route (NJ Turnpike to I-95 to I-85 through Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina), the inner route (I-287 to I-78 to I-81 to I-77 to I-85 through Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina), and the scenic route (Atlanta to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, then taking the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive, going East to Colonial Williamsburg and taking the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel to the eastern shores of Virginia and Maryland and then to Delaware and finally Jersey).

We liked the scenic route the best obviously, but it is much longer than the others and hence not practical for our drive to Atlanta this time. Among the other options, I prefer the inner route as it is more scenic and less crowded. My favorite part of the journey is the Shenandoah valley and crossing the Blue ridge. The inner and outer routes are about equal in length, but the inner one usually takes less time.

Except for real scenic driving, I drive from Jersey to Georgia, or vice versa, in a day. It usually takes me 13-14 hours. However, this is our first trip with Michelle. Driving with a 2.5 month old kid should be fun. We’ll definitely be stopping a lot more often, probably every 2 hours or so.

While Michelle does get in the car every so often, the longest trip she has taken so far has been the 45 minutes to New York City. Let’s see how she handles a 2 day trip by car. She is generally good in the car. She enjoys sitting in her car seat and often tries to look out the window. There are exceptions, like when she is hungry or when the car is stopped at a red light or stuck in traffic.

One of us always sits in the back with Michelle. The main reason for that is obviously to take care of Michelle. The secondary reason is that with the car seat behind it, the front passenger seat has to be moved forward a lot. That makes it impossible for me to sit in the front passenger seat. Amber also feels more comfortable in the back seat where there is more room than the front.

Blogging will continue while I am driving down to Atlanta because of the “Future Posting” feature of Movable Type. But I don’t blog about news events as they happen.

After we move into our new apartment in Atlanta, regular blogging will resume. That might happen election day (Nov 2) or a couple of days later. When we were planning this move, I forgot that I might not have access to TV or Internet to watch the election coverage. That will not be good since I am an election coverage junkie. I’ll get a free dialup connection as a backup in case my DSL isn’t working on election day.

Presidential Election Polls

I am a kind of data junkie. I follow lots of polls and watch (or follow on the net) election night coverage for quite a few countries. I used to stay up all night to watch election results trickle in during the elections in Pakistan in 1988, 1990, 1993 and 1997. I watched all the coverage of the 2000 Presidential election and looked at vote counting results and exit polls wherever I could find them.

That is why I have collected together quite a few websites which collect state-by-state polls and/or make electoral vote predictions in the sidebar on the right on the main page.

If I have missed any, please let me know. I am looking for the state-by-state data rather than the popular vote.

A Survey About Muslim Americans

Zogby has done a survey of American Muslims for Project MAPS. Here are some poll results I found interesting:

  • 82% of American Muslims are registered to vote this year. The top reason for not registering is not being a citizen (59%).
  • Some vocal, conservative Muslims have the view that voting in a Western country is un-Islamic. Only 2% of the American Muslims who have not registered to vote have done so because they consider it un-Islamic. Combined with the high voter registration, this completely rejects the “voting is un-Islamic” viewpoint.
  • American Muslims are enthusiastic about voting in the Presidential elections this year. 88% of those registered are very likely to vote while 7% are somewhat likely.
  • In terms of partisan affiliation, half are Democrats while only 12% are Republican. This has changed from 40%-23% Democratic advantage in 2001.
  • With respect to political ideology, 11% classify themselves as Progressive/very liberal, 19% as liberal, 40% as moderate, 16% as conservative, 2% as very conservative, and 2% as libertarian. [This doesn’t seem different from the general US population. Does anyone have a link to such data?]
  • The Muslim American vote is very lopsided this year with 76% favoring Senator Kerry and only 7% for President Bush.
  • What is even more interesting is that even among Republicans, Kerry/Edwards lead by a near two-to-one margin, 50% to 28%.
  • The group in which Bush does best is those who are very conservative. They support Bush 27% versus 52% for Kerry.
  • For American Muslims, the most important factor in deciding who to vote for is domestic policy (44%) followed by foreign policy (34%).
  • Eighty-six percent of Muslims say it is important for them to participate in politics.
  • Like most voters, Muslim voters also have the tendency to view their 2000 vote differently than the reality. In the 2004 survey, 38% say they voted for Gore and 27% for Bush. However, in the 2001 poll, Bush voters were 42% compared to 31% for Gore.
  • A majority (64%) of American Muslims were born abroad.
  • Four-fifths (79%) of American Muslims were raised Muslim, but one-fifth (20%) are converts. More women than men are converts (25% versus 17%).
  • South Asians are the largest group among American Muslims at 34%, followed by Arabs (26%), African American (20%) and African (7%). A majority of the South Asians are of Pakistani origin.
  • 59% of those surveyed have at least a college degree. The figure for all US adults 25 years or older with at least a Bachelor’s degree is 24.4%.
  • Similarly, a third have income of $75,000 or more.
  • 10% of the American Muslims surveyed have a spouse who is not Muslim.
  • Islamic financial institutions have taken off in recent years in the Middle East and the UK (among other places). However, it seems they are not very popular among American Muslims as only 4% have stocks in such institutions.
  • Vast majorities of Muslims agree that:
    • Muslims should donate to non-Muslim social service programs like aid for the homeless.
    • Muslims should participate in the political process.
    • Muslims should participate in interfaith activities.
    • Muslims should financially support worthy non-Muslim political candidates.
    • The influence of religion and moral values in American public life should increase.
  • A majority (51%) of American Muslims say this is a good time to be a Muslim in America. Slightly more than a third (36%) say it is a bad time.
  • Muslim Americans are more likely to support the war in Afghanistan than the war in Iraq, with 35% supporting the former and 13% supporting the latter. In both cases, opposition outweighs support.
  • Nearly four-in-five (78%) American Muslims believe that the war in Iraq could lead to more terrorism aimed at the United States.
  • American Muslims overwhelmingly believe that the Iraq war could lead to more instability in the Mideast (82%). But 28% also believe the war could lead to more democracy in the Arab world.
  • 66% think that the U.S. should reduce its support of undemocratic regimes in the Muslim world.
  • 69% support stronger laws to fight terrorism.
  • 60% favor stem cell research.
  • 55% support making abortion more difficult to obtain.
  • 62% oppose human cloning research.
  • 52% support forcing every American citizen to speak English fluently.
  • 51% favor allowing public schools to display the 10 Commandments.
  • 79% oppose gay marriage.
  • 29% of American Muslims say they attend mosque more than once a week. 25% attend it once a week for the Friday prayers. 10% attend once or twice a month. 16% attend a few times a year usually on Eid. 9% seldom attend a mosque and 10% never do.
  • The group most likely to attend mosque is African Americans. The least likely: Arabs.
  • Three-fifths of Muslims rate the religious leadership of their mosque positively, and a third rate it excellent. Slightly more than a quarter rate the religious leadership of their mosque negatively.
  • Like all people, Muslims also try to sound better at following their religion than they actually do. The figures for praying seem exaggerated to me since almost half say they prayer five times a day. 22% do some of the 5 prayers daily. 15% pray occasionally while 5% pray only for Eid and 7% never pray.
  • Only a quarter of Muslims watch media targeted to ethnic groups.

Hat tip: Al-Muhajabah.

Handedness and More

Via Political Animal, here are a few tests to check whether you are left-handed or not.

I got the following expected results on the Edinburgh Handedness Inventory.

Using the rating method of Oldfield, Laterality quotients range from 100 (right handed) to -100 (left handed)

This subject’s laterality quotient is: -50.0
Placing this subject in the 2d left decile.

There are a number of tests at World of Handedness to check if you are left-handed, left-footed, left-eyed or left-eared.

I am weakly left-handed, strongly left-footed, strongly right-eyed and ambi-eared.

Here are some statistics about these tests.

Women and Islam

Maryam of A Dervish’s Du`a’ has a Powerpoint presentation titled “Is Your Masjid Sister Friendly?” It is worth viewing as it has photographic evidence of the difference between the facilities for men and women in some mosques.

In another post, Maryam says:

[S]exism in mosques […] is not a new idea, nor is it a particularly hidden one. Mostly Muslims don’t see the sexism because they think it’s the way things should be. But more and more of us are not content to accept the status quo. I just happen to be interested in it, because it’s the topic of my thesis.

That is definitely a very interesting thesis topic. I would very much like to read her thesis when it’s done.

She also provides a list of web resources about gender discrimination in mosques in the same post.

That reminds me: What happened to that survey about women and mosques Hijabman (if permalink not working, try my post about it) was doing? Hijabman, if you are reading, can you please let us know the results of the survey and your analysis of the same?

In other Muslim woman news, A Dervish’s Du`a’ has collected together quite a few recent book covers which have a picture of a veiled woman. Hey, if Armani can use the Muslim veil, why can’t these books?

Electoral College Modifications

I have said before that I am no fan of the electoral college and that statement would stand irrespective of the results of the 2000 presidential election. Unlike Unqualified Offerings, I am more of a small-d democrat than a small-r republican.

One of the most exasperating things about the electoral college is that different states can allocate their electoral votes differently. Nowadays, Maine and Nebraska give 2 electoral votes each to the winner of the popular vote in the state while the other electoral votes in these states are divided based on who wins the individual congressional districts in the state. All the other states have a winner-take-all system in which the winner of the popular vote in the state gets all the electoral votes of the state. This results in a close election (by popular votes) looking lopsided in terms of electoral votes.

This year, there is a ballot initiative in Colorado that will change how Colorado’s 9 electoral votes are allocated. Amendment 36 will allocate the electoral votes in proportion to the popular vote. Given current opinion polls, the passage of the amendment could mean Colorado dividing its electoral votes 5-4 for the two Presidential candidates this year. However, there might be legal issues involved in applying this rule to this year’s election.

I was wondering how previous elections would have turned out if all the states had the same rules as Maine and Nebraska. I found a website which applies the Maine-Nebraska District Plan to all elections since 1968. I decided to do similar calculations to see the results if the proposed Colorado plan had been adopted in all states in 1968. The table below shows the results:

Year Actual Result ME-NE Method CO Method
  R D I R D I R D I
1968 302 191 45 291 190 57 240 226 72
1972 521 17 474 64 337 201
1976 241 297 268 270 265 273
1980 489 49 0 395 143 0 285 224 29
1984 525 13 468 70 320 218
1988 426 112 0 377 161 0 291 247 0
1992 168 370 0 213 325 0 206 235 97
1996 159 379 0 192 346 0 228 273 37
2000 271 267 0 287 251 0 264 269 5

Caveat: I used the voting data tabulated by Jeff Sagarin. If there is any error there, it might have affected my Colorado proportional plan calculations as well.

The details of how the electoral votes would be apportioned in Colorado if the amendment passes can be found in subsections 3 and 4 of Amendment 36.