Sunday, June 24, 2007

Varzesh Bahstaani

Hamed gave me this tape a while back to transfer digitally. This is the style of music used in the Zurkhane, House of Strength, a place where a traditional form of Iranian exercise is practiced. This art always has interested me and it's one thing I am really looking forward to seeing when I go to Iran again. For more information visit the above link. Also check out this video from German TV.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Muslims in the US military

This topic has always been a sensitive one in the American Muslim community. It seems that quite a few members of the US military are Muslims. I had not really given much thought to the issue until I saw a brother (fellow Muslim) at the Islamic Center of Tucson wearing full desert fatigues. The site was quite jarring considering I had never seen anything like it before. I ate lunch with the brother as many in the mosque looked on at him as if he was wearing a clown suit. We talked about his background and his recent tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. I attempted to subdue my feelings for telling this brother that he was fighting an unjust and illegal war and that his participation in these campaigns is against the principles of Islam. Some other brothers joined our conversation eventually. One of the brothers politely asked the question that was on everyones mind.
"Did you kill anyone?"
Whoa. I was shocked that he asked the question so bluntly. The answer was a silent one but we all saw the look on his face. The answer was there. The brother quietly finished eating and excused himself from the table which we were all sitting. That was that.
I recalled this story today after reading this article on the BBC about a Muslim chaplain in the US Marines. (read more here)
As Muslims, we live by a few principles and guidelines. One of those is the accountability for one's actions, especially in acts of war.

مِنْ أَجْلِ ذَلِكَ كَتَبْنَا عَلَى بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ أَنَّهُ مَن قَتَلَ نَفْسًا بِغَيْرِ نَفْسٍ أَوْ فَسَادٍ فِي الأَرْضِ فَكَأَنَّمَا قَتَلَ النَّاسَ جَمِيعًا وَمَنْ أَحْيَاهَا فَكَأَنَّمَا أَحْيَا النَّاسَ جَمِيعًا

The Quran 5:32 On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person - unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land - it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.

There is no "I was only doing my job" defense in this case. Even if you are serving in the military, you are not exempt from the above verse. If a commanding officer, boss, President, orders one to commit injustice one is very liable for his or her decision. Wars are not only fought by governments, they are fought by individual soldiers who make conscious decisions to follow orders.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Summer Reading

Collective hours on the subway have me reading more than I have since my non production classes. The more I read of Dr. Shahid Alam's book Challenging the New Orientalism, the more I feel it necessary to recommend. I was told about the book through Abbas, who interviewed him on Hot Coals.
The book is a collection of Dr Alam's essays regarding Orientalism and a practical look at criticizing its simplistic conclusions. He really breaks down the events that shaped the Islamic world and Europe and how things are in their current state.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Fear Eats the Soul

I've been raiding my cousin's collection of films.

This one stood out and was one of the strangest stories I have ever seen. It is part of the Criterion Collection and the English title is Ali: Fear Eats the Soul. It is about an older German widow who randomly meets a Moroccan man at a bar and ends up marrying him. She is discriminated by her friends and family for her decision to marry an Arab and Ali gets very upset that his new wife cannot make, nor does she enjoy cous cous. I think it was an interesting look on interracial marriages in a post Nazi Germany but it comes off as oddly simplistic, makes Arab men look really stupid, and Arab women crazy jealous. My favorite part of the movie was when Ali's old fling literally spits at the site of him with the old German woman. There are a couple other classically awkward moments in this and they alone make it worth seeing.


Monday, June 11, 2007

Visual updates

Interesting statue outside of St John the Divine Cathedral

Martin Luther King Jr, Albert Einstein, Susan B Anthony, and Gandhi depicted in parapet in the cathedral.
Jesus... Now that's some good stained glass.

New York is so awesome that Anca gets her magazines pre read and partially destroyed in the mail.

One of the better photos I've taken during the trip.

Missed a button....