Hijab and intellect

19 01 2012

Tawakul Karman, a human rights activist from Yemen, was recently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. When asked about her hijab by journalists and how it is not proportionate with her level of intellect and education, she replied:

“Man in the early times was almost naked, and as his intellect evolved he started wearing clothes. What I am today and what I’m wearing represents the highest level of thought and civilization that man has achieved, and is not regressive. It’s the removal of clothes again that is regressive back to ancient times”


Agnostic Jew Explores the Quran

8 12 2010

Wow! This is one of the best presentations I have heard this year. In this short, but poignant 9 minute talk, Lesley Hazleton explores the Quran and finds that is quite different from what you might hear in the media. Every person with a “flexible mind” should watch this video and share it with others – ESPECIALLY given the ignorant Islamophobia that is prevalent in political America today. Among pearls of wisdom, she answers several questions such as:

  • Is the idea of  72 virgins mentioned in the Quran?
  • How is Paradise described?
  • What is the “hypnotic quality” of the Quran in Arabic?
  • How much of the Quran reprises stories of the Bible/Torah?
  • How is it different from the Bible/Torah?
  • What do so called Muslim extremists and anti-Muslim Islamophobes have in common?

Lesley Hazleton expresses sentiments that resonate with the rational mind. To be honest, I am dismayed at how someone with her depth of understanding could claim to be an agnostic Jew. I found myself nodding my head in agreement with every point she masterfully articulated. I love great talks like this with a strong attention getter, subtle humor, rock solid points, and a conclusion that circles back to the beginning. Five stars!!

From TED: A psychologist by training and Middle East reporter by experience, British-born Lesley Hazleton has spent the last ten years exploring the vast and often terrifying arena in which politics and religion, past and present, intersect. Her most recent book, After the Prophet: the Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split, was a finalist for the 2010 PEN-USA nonfiction award.

She lived and worked in Jerusalem for thirteen years — a city where politics and religion are at their most incendiary — then moved to New York. She came to Seattle to get her pilot’s license in 1992, saw the perfect houseboat, and stayed. By 1994, she’d flown away all of her savings, and has never regretted a single cent of it. Now her raft rides low in the water under the weight of research as she works on her next book, The First Muslim, a new look at the life of Muhammad.

TEDxRainier is an independently organized TED event held in Seattle Washington.

More on Lesley from Wikipedia:

Lesley Hazleton (born 1945) is an award-winning British-American writer whose work focuses on the intersection of politics, religion, and history, especially in the Middle East. She reported from Israel for Time, and has written on the Middle East for numerous publications including The New York TimesThe New York Review of BooksHarper’sThe Nation, andThe New Republic.

Hazleton was born in England, and became a United States citizen in 1994. She was based in Jerusalem from 1966 to 1979 and in New York City from 1979 to 1992, when she moved to her current home in Seattle WA, originally to get her pilot’s license. She has two degrees in psychology (B.A. Manchester University, M.A. Hebrew University of Jerusalem).

She has described herself as “a Jew who once seriously considered becoming a rabbi, a former convent schoolgirl who daydreamed about being a nun, an agnostic with a deep sense of religious mystery though no affinity for organized religion”. ”Everything is paradox,” she has said. “The danger is one-dimensional thinking”.

Inspirational Women

13 11 2010

I just came across these two very remarkable women; both very much driven by their faith in God:

1) Sakeena Yacoobi – Afghan Institute of Learning


2) Catherine Rohr – Prison Entrepreneurship Program


Inspirational Kids

3 10 2010

Email to my fellow teachers at IFSS:

I am constantly amazed at the intelligence and creativity of some young children. Many people think that kids are too young to make a difference. However, there are several examples of kids who discover their element and accomplish extraordinary things, by the will of Allah. As a teacher, I would like to inspire kids by giving them examples of kids their age who dream and work hard to make it a reality. I’ve started creating a list of a few young achievers, both Muslim and non-Muslim, that came to my mind on our wiki. I am certain there are many more and I encourage others to add to the list and spend a minute or two to briefly mention in class as you see fit.


Part of the inspiration for this post was from an excellent book by Sir Ken Robinson. I was first introduced to this talented speaker through one of my favorite TED talks titled “Do schools kill creativity?”


Khan Academy

21 03 2010

It is amazing what one motivated man (or woman) can accomplish by leveraging the power of the internet! This guy quit his job and started full-time on a free online school working from his own home. I started watching some of his videos on Binomial Distribution and, mashAllah, Allah has also blessed him with the ability to explain complex topics in a way that one can easily understand. There are over 100,000 students that use the site every month from around the world. Letters from Khan’s students thank him for literally changing their lives. He says he wants to cover every topic so inshAllah that includes Islam in the near future 🙂

I talked about the Khan Academy in class today to give them a resource to use if they ever needed it for their classes as well as to inspire them with a positive (Muslim) role model. I found it interesting that when I mentioned the name Salman Khan, many of the 5th grade girls suddenly straightened up, alert in their chairs. I quickly followed it by clarifying that he was not to be confused with the Bollywood actor, at which point the girls slouched back down apparently somewhat disappointed.


Colin Powell endorses Obama

21 10 2008

I have always respected Colin Powell even though he was a Republican serving under George W. Bush. As Secretary of State he was the only one who brought some integrity to the administration and often opposed the views of his fellow officials.

However, now I have a new level of respect for Mr.Powell as he not only gave a very thoughtful and convincing endorsement for the Democratic nominee, Barack Obama, but also supported Muslim Americans and our struggle to fight Islamophobia in this country.

“I’m also troubled by, not what Senator McCain says, but what members of the party say. And it is permitted to be said such things as, “Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.” Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian. He’s always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, “He’s a Muslim and he might be associated terrorists.” This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

I feel strongly about this particular point because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay was of a mother in Arlington Cemetery, and she had her head on the headstone of her son’s grave. And as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone. And it gave his awards–Purple Heart, Bronze Star–showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death. He was 20 years old. And then, at the very top of the headstone, it didn’t have a Christian cross, it didn’t have the Star of David, it had crescent and a star of the Islamic faith. And his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, and he was an American. He was born in New Jersey. He was 14 years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he can go serve his country, and he gave his life. Now, we have got to stop polarizing ourself in this way. And John McCain is as nondiscriminatory as anyone I know. But I’m troubled about the fact that, within the party, we have these kinds of expressions.”

– General Colin Powell


Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan

Ryan Allis – Entrepreneur

17 06 2008