Eid Gifts for Needy Children at Granada school

A good friend asked me to distribute this worthy cause in honor of her mother Madeha Lashin (Allah Yarhumha), for the needy children at Granada school. Because I was asked to forward this on to friends and family and I consider you all friends, I decided to pass this on:

Asalam Alaykum

Ramadan Kareem
Hope this letter finds you and your loved ones in good eman and health.
An email was just sent out for the children abroad. Hope you have a little more generosity left. Many of you have been so helpful in aiding us to provide eid gifts, clothing, and supplies for needy children at Granada. They have kindly asked us to carry on. Hope you have it in your heart to give a little for these community kids. This is a tradition that my mother has passed on and we’d like to keep it going.

Ramadan is moving fast and I’m sure we all hope for forgiveness and mercy. It’s always a good time to give saddaqa especially now in this blessed month. Please send your contributions. We all know that finances are tight for most people now. May our eman and bank accounts all be expanded for the better by helping others who are in need. Honestly, even $5 can help. Everybit counts.
You can send your contributions to 315 Bagshaw Ct, San Jose, Ca 95123. Barak Allah feekom. May Allah be pleased with your efforts and multiply your rewards. Please distribute to your friends and family.

The American Muslim community has made tremendous inroads by the tireless work and dedication of people like Madeha Lashin. So many of us were saddened by her long illness. But she has contributed to an important legacy. In this short time, I really cannot convey the impact that she and her family has made in my life. I owe Madeha Lashin for giving me the chance to find myself. Years ago, I used to substitute teach at Granada school and served as a teaching assistant volunteer while attending Santa Clara University. It was in this environment that I discovered my love for teaching.

Madeha Lashin: Pharmaceutical degree from Cairo, Egypt. She worked at Granada Islamic School for ten years, first as a substitute teacher and then teaching Arabic and Biology. She went on to serve as principal for four years providing the strong leadership that helped the school advance and achieve a new professionalism, team spirit among the staff, and a love of Islam and learning among the students.

As stated in the email, one of the traditions Madeha passed on was collecting funds to help needy children with gifts and supplies. May Allah have mercy on Madeha, bless and reward her for her efforts and contributions to the Muslim community and humanity in general. She was like so many women in our community, the very backbone that helped it hold its head up straight. Please honor the mothers, daughter, aunts, sisters, cousins, and friends who volunteer and work so hard to egive our children a solid foundation and ensure a bright future. You can make it a little brighter and put a smile on a young child’s face. It is not too late to give, please consider doing so as Ramadan comes to a close and you celebrate Eid al-Fitr.

African-American/Muslim-American Dialogue: Building an Interfaith Movement

Over at the I Love Dar al Hijrah site, there are some great pics of the first ever national forum focusing on Muslim and African Americans (hat tip to Tariq Nelson). Yesterday, the Congressional Black Caucus held a panel titled, “African-American/Muslim-American Dialogue: Building an Interfaith Movement.” Representative Keith Ellison sponsored and moderated the panel and the panelists included Representative Andre Carson, Mahdi Bray, Reverend Jesse Jackson, and Dawud Walid. I am very pleased to hear about this type of dialog and we need more of this on a local, state, and national level. It is especially pertinent with this upcoming election.

Here’s some information about the Congressional Black Caucus foundation

In January 1969, newly elected African American representatives of the 77th Congress joined six incumbents to form the “Democratic Select Committee. The Committee was renamed the Congressional Black Caucus and the CBC was born in 1971. Founding Members were Representatives Shirley Chisholm, William Clay, George Collins, John Conyers, Ronald Dellums, Charles Diggs, Augustus Hawkins, Ralph Metcalfe, Parren Mitchell, Robert Nix, Charles Rangel, Louis Stokes, and DC Delegate Walter Fauntroy. Their goals were to positively influence the course of events pertinent to African Americans and others of similar experience and situation, and to achieve greater equity for persons of African descent in the design and content of domestic and international programs and services. While the CBC has been primarily focused on the concerns of African Americans, the Caucus has also been at the forefront of legislative campaigns for human and civil rights for all citizens.

For more information visit the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. I encourage every to visit Dawud Walid’s blog for the audio of this timely panel. I was only able to listen to a portion of it, but I’d love to hear back from participants, commentators, and audience members. What are your thoughts? What are some of the ideas and plans going forward? How are we going to make sure that this country moves in a more positive direction for the next four years.

Is it Me

…or is this year’s Ramadan kicking a lot of people’s butts? Is it the heat? I mean, I fasted in 115 degree Fahrenheit. But that doesn’t count, I was doing that with a much more relaxed pace while I was in Kuwait. We had lots of air conditioning too. I was excited that I’d spend a few days of Ramadan in Egypt. But I had I had no idea what I was in for during those first few days. I first moved across town in Cairo, then across the world. You wouldn’t believe how much stuff you collect in 7 months. I got rid of most of my stuff and some of the stuff was apartment stuff that I hope helped my roommate settle in comfortably in the new pad. Then I headed off hauling a giant dufflebag and broken suitcase thousands of miles. Within hours of arriving in California, I was working. I hit the ground running, school, work, catching up, and of course, Ramadaning. I fasted on top of the most extreme case of jet lag and ridiculous sleeping schedule. Then there was the culture shock. No Ramadan lights and no special Ramadan hours (well those can be annoying if you need to get anything done because everything is closed). Nothing slows down for us during Ramadan in the U.S.

Sometimes it is hard to feel the magic in the US when the people you love aren’t sharing the hunger and anticipation of eating with you. I have one of those grueling schedules that makes it near impossible to go iftar hopping, go to taraweh prayers at the mosque, go to any talks, let alone increase worship and self reflection. I guess for me it was hard because I felt the loneliness of being a Muslim convert, especially one that has not been embraced by a community. I’m not saying I don’t have friends, I have lots of them. But we are all now pretty dispersed and immersed in our own lives. My roommate threw a welcome back dinner during my first weekend back, and two of my Muslim friends showed up. But the tone of the event wasn’t very iftar-like. With transportation issues, I didn’t get to break fast with Muslims until dang near the last ten days. It made me kind of sad. I even teared up a bit, wondering where was the Ramadan spirit. This wasn’t just the Grinch who stole Ramadan! I landed in Who-ville where if you say Muslim, they’ll say, “Who?”

Ramadan during the heat was kind of hard. In San Jose, it was 106 the first weekend I got back. I thought I left Cairo’s heat behind. After the first week, Ramadan began to slowly run me down. It was that waking up at 4 for suhoor, the long parched days with your throat feeling like sandpaper, stomach gnawing itself into knots. I get light headed, forgetful, short tempered, fatigued… I spend all day walking around like a zombie, only to become comatose after eating. And then the indigestion! But still through all that, I realize I have it good. There are people who have nothing, they are breaking fast on some on contaminated water, on stale moldy bread, no meat for days…No I don’t think I should be complaining at all. People are really suffering and I’ve seen it, I walked past it, trying to numb myself to my own guilt, my inability or unwillingness to do something to help someone poor and begging, my own inadequacies.

As this Ramadan comes to a close, I have a bunch of resolutions brought on by some serious self reflection over this past long year. If all the shayatin are locked up, all we have is ourselves. We are exposed raw, to the shortcomings we have, our own frailties, our own foibles, our own limitations. As Ramadan comes to a close I am always filled with regret, wishing I had done more, hoping that Allah will accept my meager attempts at stepping up. This is such a pitiful offer, my days of hunger and thirst, in exchange for His bounty. Ramadan this year has not been easy for me, but there are many blessings, many lessons, many self discoveries. I wish I was much stronger to take it all on and knock at all those extra sunnah prayers, all those make-up prayers, all those readings, all that dhikr, all those hours in the masjid, etc. Instead, I feel like I’ve been given a good roughing up this Ramadan. But I can’t really look back with regret about how I fail short or look to the future with too much worry wondering if I will fall short. I hope next Ramadan I will have the strength to offer more to serve my Lord and His creation much better than I have done in the past. I know I have a long way to go, but I keep looking at each step in front of me. For me, that is the best way to travel down this road. I’m in no place to feel like I have anything on lock. No self righteousness here. Ramadan kicked my butt and handed me a big serving of humble pie. And that checking of the ego, no doubt, is a good thing.

Shameless Plug: Muslims in Love

Sorry for the late post, but I still wanted to squeeze in a shameless plug for an article I wrote for The Western Muslim, titled “Muslims in Love: Muslim women balance tradition and romance in their search for spouses”

For over 1400 years, love has lived on in Muslim societies, as evidenced by the large body of poetry and belles lettres. These works have always been popular because they resonate with so many of us who experienced love and heartbreak and long for fulfilling lifelong relationships. While the roles and expectations in marriage have changed over time, many Muslims in the West aim to balance their Islamic traditions with their Western sensibilities.

Read more here.


Sunset during my birthday on a Nile River Cruise
Aswan, Egypt 2008

I’ve enjoyed being back home in the California sunshine. While tomorrow is the official last day of Summer, there are still many warm sunny days to enjoy in the seasons to come. On average California experiences 30 days of rainfall. Each year, during February there is at least one week when the temperature reaches the upper 70s to mid 80s. While in other parts of the country hibernate or freeze over, things here continue to grow, blossom and bloom.

We experience seasons here in California, just more subtle. That doesn’t mean that things don’t get cold. I’ve felt the weather change already, cool mornings with that sharp chill only to turn into warm sunny afternoons.  I’ve seen traces of the season as I’ve driven through campus , passing by neatly piled mounds of orange and brown leaves. Bowidin Avenue reminded me of my one Autumn in New England. Mounds of autumn leaves like that are a rare site in California. Part of me wanted to run out and jump into them. But the fact that I wasn’t driving checked my child-like impulse. 

When I woke up this morning and heard my mom playing this song, I thought about all Springs and Summers of my childhood. I didn’t feel like it was the end of Summer. Instead, in my own seasons of life, I’m experiencing my own Spring. So many spiritual and emotional elements in my life have begun reawaken. They had been lying dormant for so long. You really enjoy Spring after a long hard winter.  I sat back listening enjoying this celebration of nature and life and appreciated all the light that shines on me and through the people people I love. Things weren’t so bad and I knew I wanted to take a moment and enjoy the sunshine.

Roy Ayers
Everybody Loves the Sunshine
Ubiquity, 1976

My life, my life, my life, my life
In the sunshine…

Everybody loves the sunshine, sunshine
Everybody loves the sunshine, sunshine
Folk’s get down in the sunshine, sunshine
Folk’s get brown in the sunshine

Just bee’s and thangs and flowers
Just bee’s and thangs and flowers
Just bee’s and thangs and flowers
Just bee’s and thangs and flowers

My life, my life, my life, my life
In the sunshine…

Everybody loves the sunshine, sunshine
Everybody loves the sunshine, sunshine
Folks get down in the sunshine, sunshine
Folks get brown in the sunshine

Feel what I feel, what I feel, what I feel what I’m feelin
In the sunshine
Feel what I feel, what I feel, what I feel, what I’m feelin
In the sunshine
Do what I do what I do what I do what I’m doing
In the sunshine
Do what I do what I do what I do what I’m doing
In the sunshine

Everybody loves the sunshine

Newlywed Yemeni American and her husband killed in terrorist attack

Someone just passed on this sad news, Lackawanna High student is killed in attack on U.S. Embassy in Yemen

A Lackawanna High School student who traveled to Yemen to be married last month was one of the victims of a terrorist bombing Wednesday at the U. S. Embassy in Yemen, the woman’s school principal said.

Attackers armed with automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenades and at least one suicide car bomb assaulted the compound in the Yemeni capital of Sana.

Officials listed the 16 people killed as six assailants, six guards and four civilians.

Susan Elbaneh, 18, was killed, along with her Yemeni husband, as they stood outside the embassy, family members said Wednesday. They were apparently there to do paperwork for the husband’s move to the U. S. when the attackers struck, said Elbaneh’s brother, Ahmed.

I am still in shock about this. I know I may be preaching to the choir here, but terrorists pose the biggest threat to Muslims trying to live decent lives. What did this young woman ever do to anybody? I’ve had to go to US embassies or meet someone near a Western embassy while in the Middle East. I’ve passed through heightened security, metal detectors, police dog searchers in egypt hoping to protect innocent shoppers or restaurant goers from a terrorist attack. This stuff is real folks. You could be living your life, and somebody with a political point by exploding shards of shrapnel, bolts, and screws to destroy himself and the bodies of those around him. My heart goes out to this young woman, who like so many, was murdered in such a senseless manner. The constant fear that shadows the lives of people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, Yemen, Algeria, and Palestine, is the worst kind of oppression. I don’t think I’m stretching too far to say that she died a martyr, a witness to how terrible terrorism is.

The article goes on to point out the ironies of our linkages and connections with those who would support terrorism.

School officials said Elbaneh was the daughter of Ali T. Elbaneh and the niece of Mohamed T. Albanna, two Yemeni-American community leaders who took plea deals in a case involving an unlicensed money-transmitting company that illegally sent at least $5.5 million to Yemen. Authorities never have alleged that the money was used for terrorist purposes.

In November 2006, U. S. District Judge William M. Skretny sentenced Ali T. Elbaneh to six months of home confinement for playing what federal prosecutors called a very minor role in the illegal business. Albanna received a five-year prison term.

Authorities said the dead woman also was related to Jaber Elbaneh, Mohamed Albanna’s nephew, a fugitive accused of traveling to a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan with the “Lackawanna Six.”

The United States was angered when Jaber Elbaneh, 42, convicted in Yemen for planning attacks on oil installations, was allowed to go free while appealing his 10-year prison sentence.

He has since been taken back in custody, Yemeni officials say, but Yemen has refused U. S. requests that he be handed over for trial on charges of providing material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization. He is listed by the FBI as one of the world’s most wanted terrorists.

Would Jabar Elbanah witnessed against those who murdered his relative? Would he have saved her and her husband’s lives. Or would that no snitch rule prevailed and maybe he would have seen that loss as collateral damage. My question for any of us is: what would we do if we knew someone would commit these actions? What we we do if she was our daughter, sister, cousin, or wife?

My thoughts and prayers are going out for her family and loved ones. Please pray for the Elbanah family and all countless unnamed victims of terrorism, whether it is state sanctioned or committed by organizations who justify the murder and maiming of civilians to achieve their purposes.