City of Brass

City of Brass

a case study for paternalism and good intentions

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Reflections On Praying

This is a true anecdote:

A hijabi chooses the bottom platform of a quiet staircase in her college’s library to pray. While she is deep in prayer, a white, male classmate walks by and stops to console her by putting his arm around her shoulders because she looked upset.

Though succinct, there’s a lot to unpack here. The good intentions of the classmate are obvious, but there’s an implicit paternalistic attitude here that I think many males, including myself, may not realize they are perpetuating. This is a more subtle bias than men lecturing women about how evil/noble the veil is, or the Femen group parading nude in “solidarity” with muslim women. There’s an implicit assumption in most male-female interactions that the woman is in need of “saving” and that assumption leads to an infantilization. That is certainly better than objectification, but it still falls far short of treating another human being as an equal.

Food for thought.

PROOF that Santa Claus is a Muslim

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

As we suspected all along!

It’s not just Secret Santa anymore – it’s Secret Shari’a Santa. Ho, Ho, Ho…

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Merry Christmas, Isa Nabi milad mubarak!

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

christinchristmas

It is Christmas Eve, and it is time to put the Christ back in Christmas.

The title “Christ” is derived from a greek word, Khristos, which means “to anoint” – anointing being the process of pouring perfume, oil or water over a person to signify their spiritual elevation, and is common to many religions. Christians believe that Jesus was anointed with the Spirit of God, rather than oil, which (the obvious theologic differences aside) is analogous to the Islamic idea of being a Prophet.

For Muslims, love of the Prophets, especially the Messengers of God who brought new revelations to mankind (including the Torah, the Bible, and of course the Qur’an) comes naturally. In about a month, we will be celebrating Milad al-Nabi as well, after all. Therefore as a Muslim I find the “put Christ back in Christmas” message to be an appealing one – to remember and honor of the greatest human beings who ever lived, and be thankful for the message of God to humanity over the centuries.

Personally, I also think that having a merry Christmas is more meaningful than having a merely happy holiday. You can have a happy holiday at the beach, but there’s no deeper meaning in it. Being merry on Christmas requires finding and acknowledging the joy of spirituality, and accepting the responsibility of the message of God. The first and foremost message of Jesus was love and forgiveness, and that is something that is in short supply in American civil discourse. Honoring Jesus during Christmas means more than just words about putting Christ back, it requires action in charity and forgiveness. I think that cancelling unemployment benefits and blocking immigration reform runs deeply counter to that Christmas spirit.

Let’s hope that we all find the strength to remember that Jesus is indeed the reason for the season – but to uphold the values that the Prophet Issa AS espoused all year long rather than just paying lip service to them for two weeks a year.

Halal Turkeys for Thanksgiving

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

valley farms turkey

Thanksgiving is the singularly American tradition of family, friends, and food – and the mighty turkey reigns supreme. In fact, founding father Benjamin Franklin thought the turkey was a better candidate for our nation’s National Bird than the bald eagle:

“For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly. … For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America… He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on.”

We Muslim Americans, being experts in food and family ourselves, have embraced Thanksgiving as emblematic of the values that drew us as immigrants to this nation. Of course, we do it our way – with halal turkeys. Halal in this context means that the turkey must be hand-slaughtered according to zabihah rules, which are quite simple and not incompatible with how farm-raised turkeys are slaughtered anyway. As a result, halal-certified turkeys are much easier to find nowadays than in years past. If you can’t find a halal turkey at your local muslim grocer (see zabihah.com for finding groceries near you), you can also order turkeys online: Midamar Halal and Taaza2u.com. There are a number of farms nationwide that sell their own brand, halal-certified turkeys to grocers, including Turkey Valley Farms, Mary’s Turkeys, Stony Brook Valley Farms, JD Farms (Canada), and Fulton Valley Farms. Visit their websites and call their contact number to see if they sell their halal turkeys in your market. Please share other sources of halal turkeys in comments!

Amusingly, Butterball turkeys used to be halal, resulting in outcry from hysterical Islamophobes like Pamela Geller about “creeping Shari’a” and having “halal turkey forced upon [non-Muslims] without their knowledge or consent.” Butterball did the safe corporate thing and stopped certifying their turkeys as halal; so it is possible that now Butterball turkeys are truly “stealth halal“, which would be hilariously fitting.

Since zabihah halal is actually a more humane method of slaughter than most industry practices, it is not surprising that halal turkey is increasingly available. At some point I expect that halal certification will be just as widespread as organic and kosher – in fact there is no reason that a single turkey can’t have all three certifications and be eligible for a wider market. The good news for Muslim families celebrating thanksgiving is that we don’t need to compromise on our American tradition or our religious values.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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