Beliefnet
City of Brass

I’m sure that was the pessimsitic sentiment in some circles. Such naysayers were proven wrong, of course – or at least, mostly wrong:

WASHINGTON, Jan. 15 (UPI) —
Portions of the frostbitten United States are feeling the coldest air
so far this winter and forecasters predict the cold snap could extend
into the weekend.

Frigid conditions were expected for Inauguration Day Tuesday in Washington, CNN reported Thursday.

Raw, subzero surface temperatures and winds driving wind chill
readings to the minus-40 range settled in along a path from the
Canadian border to the lower Midwest, with some cities posting record
overnight lows. 

An Alberta Clipper preceding
a numbing shot of Arctic air was expected to leave 1-3 inches of
powdery snow along the Interstate 95 corridor from New York City to
Boston Thursday, AccuWeather.com reported.

Orrison said most temperatures Thursday would be below zero in the
Upper Midwest through the Great Lakes and into the Northeast — and the
cold snap isn’t over.

The coldest air of the season was expected to blast through the
Upper Midwest and settle over the East and South during the next two
days and last through the weekend before a warm-up begins, he said.

It’s difficult to leave Africa – literally, our flight kept getting delayed and we barely made our connection to Amsterdam. But also in a philosophical sense, it is hard to leave, because some piece of Africa stays with you. This was a fantastic, if grueling, trip, and it definitely affected my perspectives with regards to my blogging and my political priorities. I will have much more to say about Africa later, and I also have some photos to organize and share as well.

I’d like to extend a sincere thanks and express my deep gratitude to all my guest bloggers, especially Willow and Hesham for keeping things moving. I am glad that City of Brass was in such capable hands while I was gone; I actually enjoyed reading my own blog for a change!

So, I am back. Let’s get started.

As I discussed in an earlier post, free media and unbiased media are not the same thing. Current coverage of the situation in Gaza by American press is a perfect example of this discrepancy. But an op-ed by Professor Rashid Khalidi in the New York Times yesterday provided a refreshingly frank look at the crisis. If you’re sketchy on the roots of this conflict, it’s a good place to start. Read here.

If you’d like more in-depth coverage, try watching Al Jazeera English on Live Station. It’s free to download and the image quality is excellent. AJE boasts some wonderful British and American journalists, including Sir David Frost. You’ll find it an educational alternative to media outlets like CNN, in which hard news and opinion are becoming so entangled that it is difficult to tell them apart.

When most Americans hear ‘Al Jazeera’, they think of terrorists. Watch and form your own opinion. You might be surprised.

Typically, it is quite difficult for me to fast outside of the month of Ramadan…I love my coffee WAY too much (it’s now decaffeinated, though). But, there are a few days during which I am happy to do so. Two of those days are here.

They are the ninth and tenth day of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar. The tenth day, Ashura (which is tomorrow), is a very special day, especially for Shi’i Muslims, as they commemorate the assassination of Imam Hussein, the son of Imam Ali and grandson of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). That event is a very sad one for me, also, as I am very much in love with the family of the Prophet (pbuh).

Yet, it is also a special time because of the event which it commemorates: the Exodus of the Children of Israel out of Egypt. During the time of the Prophet (pbuh), he encouraged us to fast the 9th and 10th day of Muharram to mark the victory of the people of God over the cruelty of Pharoah. Thus, I am fasting to mark that event, and that is why our beloved Aziz went on vacation (honoring me and Willow with guest posting for a while). 

The fact that Muslims fast for the Exodus may come as a surprise to many, but it should not. We are wholly part of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and we honor and adore all of the Hebrew Prophets (pbut). Yet, this year’s Ashura is an especially painful one, because of the carnage of Gaza.

As Muslims the world over fast for Moses, why can’t the peoples of the Holy Land come to grips that we are more alike than we are different, that we have lived together in peace and can do so again, that our blood is equal and should not be spilled on the holy soil of the Holy Land?

As I fast, I send this prayer to the Lord: that He makes the killing stop and that both sides can once and for all enjoy peace, security, and prosperity. Amen.