American Muslim Women Literary Anthology

An anthology of non-fiction stories of courtship and dating by American Muslim women is being put together by Baraka. Go visit her blog for submission information.

Baraka is working on a literary anthology of non-fiction, personal stories by American Muslim women on courtship and/or dating.

Announcing a call for non-fiction, personal stories by American Muslim women on courtship and/or dating to be published in an anthology.

We are looking for talented writers to pitch well-written, surprising and compelling anecdotes for a book on loving and looking for love while Muslim.


There is a stereotype about Muslim women out there that does not show them as the thinking, feeling, lively people with loving hearts and independent minds that we know them to be. Partially, this is because there just aren’t enough real-life stories about Muslim women being told by Muslim women themselves.

The purpose of this collection is to take control of our narrative by telling our own stories, emphasizing the humanity we all share and celebrating the quirks that make us unique. We hope to do that through stories about courtship/dating because these rituals exist in every societal context; the search for a partner is universal.

We’re excited at the prospect of amplifying the voices of American Muslim women. If you think such perspectives need to be heard too, we invite you to contribute your story!

The deadline to send in a 300-500 word pitch describing the highlights of your story is January 15. Go read the details on Baraka’s blog.


Since the Kid is three now, she’s enjoying Christmas and so are we. Merry Christmas, everyone!

It’s Christmas Eve.

We have had Christmas lights outside our home since December 4. Michelle had demanded lights as she saw them in the neighborhood. So I told her we would decorate for Hanukkah, and so we did on the first day of Hanukkah.

Michelle has also asked that she get candies from Santa Klaus on Christmas. Every day at her preschool, she stopped at the Christmas tree and spent some time looking at all the decorations.

In short, this is our first fun Christmas, despite the long discussion the lady who cut my hair had with me a couple of weeks ago in favor of Merry Christmas and against Happy Holidays. Personally, I prefer Merry Christmas.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

حج مبارک

آپ سب کو حج اور عید مبارک ہو۔ آج ہم دیکھتے ہیں کہ امریکہ سے حج یا عمرہ کرنے کی شرائط میں کیا کیا شامل ہے۔

آج عرفات کے میدان میں حج ہے۔ حج مبارک!

چاہے آپ آج عید منا رہے ہیں یا 21 تاریخ کو آپ سب کو عید مبارک ہو۔

امریکہ سے حج کے متعلق معلومات حاصل کرتے ہوئے یہاں کی ایک مسجد سے کچھ عجیب باتیں پتہ چلیں۔

If you are not carrying a Muslim name, a certificate from the Imam of your mosques indicating that you are a Muslim is required.

یہ مسلمان نام کیا ہوتا ہے؟ اس بارے میں میں پہلے ہی لکھ چکا ہوں۔ اور اگر ان عقلمندوں کے نزدیک آپ کا نام مسلمان والا نہیں ہے تو پھر آپ کو مسجد سے اپنے مسلمان ہونے کا سرٹیفیکیٹ لانا ہو گا۔ واہ کیا بات ہے!! کیا واقعی لاکھوں غیرمسلم حج اور عمرے پر جانے کے لئے اتنے بےتاب ہیں کہ ان اقدامات کی ضرورت پیش آئی؟ مسجد والے آپ کو کیسے سرٹیفکیٹ دیں گے؟ کیا آپ کا اسلام کے متعلق ٹیسٹ ہو گا؟ یا ضروری ہے کہ آپ سال بھر اس مسجد میں جاتے رہے ہوں؟ اگر ایک شخص کہتا ہے کہ میں مسلمان ہوں اور حج کرنے جانا چاہتا ہوں تو ہم اس کا یقین کیوں نہیں کر لیتے؟ کیا یہ امریکہ اور مغرب کے مسلمانوں کے ساتھ زیادتی نہیں ہے کہ پاکستان اور دوسرے مسلمان ممالک میں تو ایسی کوئی شرائط نہیں؟

اس شرط پر تو ہم بھی پورے نہیں اترتے کہ مشیل کے لئے مسلمان ہونے کا سرٹیفکیٹ لینا پڑے گا اور میں مسجد سے ایسا سرٹیفکیٹ تو کبھی نہیں لوں گا۔

Women traveling alone without husband, brother or adolescent son, a NOTARIZED permission letter is required from the husband, brother, or adolescent son, indicating that he has no objection and permits her to travel for (Hajj/Umra) .

خواتین کے اکیلے سفر پر جو قدغن ہے اس کی ہم آج بات نہیں کرتے۔ نہ ہی ہم حقوقِ نسواں کی بات کریں گے۔ مگر اوپر کی شرط پر غور کریں۔ باپ، شوہر یا بھائی کی اجازت کی بات بھی مان لیتے ہیں۔ جوان بیٹے پر کچھ اعتراض ہے مگر اسے بھی جانے دیتے ہیں۔ مگر یہاں تو ٹین‌ایجر بیٹے کی بھی اجازت درکار ہے! خیال رہے کہ یہ وہی ٹین‌ایجر بیٹا ہے جو معاشرے میں کچھ بھی خود سے نہیں کر سکتا اور اسے اپنے والدین کی اجازت کی ضرورت قدم قدم پر ہوتی ہے۔ اس ٹین‌ایجر بیٹے کی اجازت لینا عورت کے لئے ضروری قرار دیا گیا ہے۔ یعنی عورت کی حیثیت ایک ٹین‌ایجر لڑکے سے بھی گئی گزری ہے۔

god is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything

Christopher Hitchens is a good polemicist and it shows in his book. This is not a book presenting research or theological discussion, but it does present forceful arguments against religion and the religious.

First of all, I like the title god is not Great which alludes to the Arabic Allahu Akbar (God is Great).

Secondly, Christopher Hitchens is a polemicist by his own admission and one should keep that in mind while reading this book. This is not an analysis of religion (going over its evolutionary origins for example) or even a high-minded atheist response to religion like The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins.

Keeping that in mind, I actually liked god is not Great. Hitchens is a good writer. He knows how to turn a phrase and his allusions to literature references were also clever and interesting.

His case against religion is flawed but not completely wrong. There are lots of bad and evil things the religious and organized religion have done or condoned. Despite all those issues, I think we can only say that religion does not make one better or worse. This in itself is a major indictment of religion.

However, as discussed in Religion Explained, religion and religious beliefs have natural evolutionary origins and arise out of how our mind works. So religion is here to stay. Even people who do not consider themselves religious usually have beliefs that can be classified as religion.

You can read some excerpts from the book on Slate.

When I was reading god is not Great, I decided to live-blog (or live-forum) it at UrduWeb.

عید مبارک

آپ سب کو عید مبارک۔

کہیں کل عید تھی۔ کچھ جگہوں پر آج عید ہے۔ کہیں کل ہو گی اور کہیں شاید اتوار کو بھی ہو۔ اس ساری کنفیوژن میں میں یہ بھول ہی گیا ہوں کہ ہم عید کب منا رہے ہیں۔ خیر عید اسی ویک‌اینڈ پر ہے۔ سو آپ سب کو عید مبارک۔

اس بار عنبر نے عید پر مشیل کے لئے غرارہ بنایا ہے اور اسے مہندی بھی لگائی ہے۔ میشل نے چوڑیاں بھی لی ہیں اپنے فیورٹ جامنی رنگ کی۔

اتوار کو ہم نے دوست یاروں کو دعوت پر بلایا ہوا ہے۔ امید ہے اچھا شغل رہے گا۔

کچھ روابط: اسلامی کیلنڈر اور چاند دیکھنا ، چاند نظر آنے سے متعلق دنیا کا نقشہ ، چاند نظر آنے سے متعلق ایک اور سائٹ ۔

It’s Eid today in some areas while others will celebrate it tomorrow. There might even be Eid on Sunday somewhere while Nigeria celebrated Eid yesterday. In all this confusion, I have forgotten when we are celebrating it. Anyway, it’s this weekend. So, a Happy Eid to everyone!

For the occasion, Amber has sewn a gharara for Michelle and done some henna designs on her hands. Michelle also bought some bangles, in purple of course since that’s her favorite color.

On Sunday, we are having some friends over for an Eid dinner.

UPDATE: Some links related to the Islamic calendar and moonsighting: US Naval Observatory’s page on the topic, Moonsighting curves on world map and another moonsighting calculation site. Also, see Robert Van Gent’s page on lunar visibility.

رمضان اور روش ہشانا مبارک

آج سے روزے شروع ہو گئے ہیں۔ رمضان مبارک۔ اور روش ہشانا یعنی نیا سال بھی مبارک۔

آج یہاں پہلا روزہ تھا۔ آپ سب کو رمضان مبارک ہو۔

ساتھ ہی آج عبرانی کیلنڈر کے نئے سال کا آغاز ہوا۔ آپ کو روش ہشانا بھی مبارک ہو۔ Shana Tova!

Angry Arab in Pakistan

The Angry Arab visits Pakistan and writes about lizards in his inimitable style. All his posts about Pakistan are worth reading.

The Angry Arab went to Pakistan a couple of months ago as a speaker at the International Islamic University. His blog posts about the visit were amusing and interesting. His experience of running scared from the lizards so common in Pakistan was especially funny.

Here is a list of his posts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38.

Here are some of his concluding remarks about Pakistan:

Prior to my departure to Islamabad, my kind host called me from Pakistan and strongly urged me (for my own safety) to refrain from ever using the words “atheist” or “secular” or “communist.” Just to make sure I get the point, he always wrote to me making the same point. The political climate there was more liberalized than I expected: it is not that I met people who were critical of Musharraf. I did not meet any one who was NOT critical of Musharraf. But the liberalized political climate did not extend to the Islam question. I strongly felt that there was excessive obsession with Islam in a country that is overwhelmingly Islamic in religious affiliation. The term of reference was so Islamic in conversations and media that I was ready to embrace the secularism of the Turkish generals. It was always assumed that everybody was Islamic. After one talk, which coincided with the prayer time, my host quickly whisked me away because he did want the audience to notice that I don’t pray. I was quite bothered with the too many headlines and news items in Urdu newspapers about Salman Rushdie. Is this really the urgent matter of the day with the country suffering from extreme poverty and a military government? And in my Arabic talk at the Usul Ad-Din College, I made a side mocking remark against Ayman Adh-Dhawahiri, and I noticed in people’s faces that they were not pleased with that one remark, although they were quite pleased with my talk about the study of Islam. And I once was pissed. I am VERY bothered when somebody—anybody—tries to suggest that Palestine is an Islamic cause or question. One member of the audience in one talk said just that. I had to tell him: Islamic matter? You think that Palestinian Christians care less about Palestine than Palestine Muslims? I had to tell him that I knew Palestinian Christians who gave their lives for Palestine. George Habash cares less about Palestine that Mr. Muhammad Dahlan? That angers me when I hear it. I did not understand why a majority Muslim country can’t relax a bit about the Islam factor.

Mostly on the mark I would say, though of course the Angry Arab did not get to see the Westernized elite much, who are also making inroads into the middle classes.