Category Archives: News & Current Affairs

Home is Where the Fires Are

Bismillahi ir-rahman ir-rahim – In the name of Allah, most gracious, most mercifu

A few days ago I woke up to the news of the bush fires in Victoria. Hour by hour I heard of the growing death toll and I read of the death and destruction. It is difficult for me to comprehend that such a peaceful place is currently facing so much devastation. It feels strange for me to be away at this time, almost like being away from your family at their time of need. It has forced me to realise that no matter what happens, Australia is, and always will be the place I call home.

I know for most this would go without saying – the country where you were born and lived your entire life, would naturally be the country you would call home. For the vast majority of my life I would have agreed. However, after September 11th that all changed. Its difficult to truly feel at home when you don’t feel welcome. When your government seems to go against everything you believe in, when you are regularly told to go back to where you came from, and when you constantly hear stories of those like you, Muslimah’s in hijab, being abused, both verbally and physically, merely for their attempts to live their lives modestly and piously.

I have always known that some people hate Muslims, that has never been in doubt. But occasionally, when I hear or read the opinions of not only one or two people, but sometimes that of the majority…I am truly in shock. I sometimes find myself walking in the streets and shopping centres, looking around and wondering how many passers by despise me just because I am Muslim.

Its not that I ever stopped thinking of Australia as my home, but it wasn’t quite the same. Like many other thousands of other Muslims in Australia, whether we are migrants, born here, or our families have been here for generations – we have all been made to feel unwelcome.

However, news of the bush fires, and the desire to return home in our hour of need has made me realise that despite everything, despite what anybody thinks and feels about me, Australia will always be the place I call home.

Beyond the ashes there is hope. Hope that we can put our differences aside and try to make life that little bit easier for those mourning the loss of loved ones. Hope that we can put our differences aside and unite to help the thousands left homeless. And hope that we can unite to do everything in our power to plan and prepare to try to avoid this scale of destruction from ever occuring again.

Let not the deaths be in vain. Not only do we need to review our fire procedures and learn from what has occured, but also this is an opportunity to become a pivotal moment in our history and to learn to put our difference aside to work together for a greater cause.

I hope that through this ordeal, others who may have previously viewed us with disdain, will come to realise that we are humans, and like them we have also shed a tear for those who have lost their lives and those who have lost their homes. We have been just as affected and touched by the current events as the next person, and just as both individuals and community groups in Australia have pulled together to donate and help in whatever way they can, so too has the Muslim community within Australia.

The Prophet (may Allah’s peace & blessings be upon him) said, “The most beloved people to Allah are those who are most beneficial to the people.” Let us be among those who are the most beloved to Allah, and hopefully our attempts to fulfil our Islamic obligations will help the wider community realise that Islam and Muslims are not the enemy.

Has the world gone mad?

Bismillahi ir-rahman ir-rahim – In the name of Allah, most gracious, most merciful

When I was a little girl I had a Barbie doll.  I think she was the only genuine Barbie I ever had and oh how I loved her!  I had to beg and beg my parents to make the purchase.  I still remember the day they finally caved in, I must have been the happiest girl in the world. I spent countless hours with my new prized possession, trying her out in her various pink outfits, her high heels, and her diamond earrings.  I longed for her beautiful blue eyes and long blonde hair, but that is not all I longed for.

Barbie had become everything I wanted to be.  She was a role model that instilled in me a desire to possess nothing more than empty beauty.  No dreams, no aspirations, no goals – all I wanted to achieve was to be beautiful like Barbie.  It mattered little to me whether she was good or bad.  Inside beauty meant nothing – outside beauty was everything.  And of course I could never live up to that goal, after all I did not have the blonde hair and blue eyes that not only my Barbie possessed, but that almost every doll in my possession had. It is not something that I thought day and night about at a conscious level, but I do remember feeling sadness as a little girl with the knowledge that I could never be what I aspired to be.

I now have two little girls of my own, the older one is almost 4, and our baby is one.  They are blessed with everything that little girl wanted to be – they are blonde haired, blue eyed, and beautiful.  It has been many years since that little girl grew up, and I have since developed many different goals, but I am sadly conscious of a small part of me that is happy for them that they are naturally what I so desired to be.

As a result of the effect that dolls had on me as a child, I have become weary of the role and influence dolls have on little girls.  I am very careful with the dolls I purchase for them.  I do not want them growing up thinking that this is the only form of beauty there is.  Not only are other different shapes and colours equally (and sometimes even more) beautiful, but I also want my girls knowing that superficial beauty means little, and that what is important is that they are beautiful on the inside.

So I’m sure you can imagine how I feel about Bratz dolls.  I don’t think hate is a strong enough word to describe how I feel about them, I totally loathe them!!  Perhaps I am reading a little too much into this, perhaps their promiscuous clothing are not as obvious to little girls.  But then I remember when I was a little girl, how people underestimated me, how people dismissed me, how they didn’t realise I understood what they were saying, and how I sensed things beyond my comprehension despite not really understanding them fully.  Children are very smart, much smarter than most give them credit for.  They are like little sponges, absorbing everything around them.  Although they will not immediately look at a Bratz doll and interpret it like an adult, they may think that dressing like that is more fun, they may even notice that those who dress like that will attract more attention, and most likely they will want to dress like them…they will want to be like them in every way, just like I wanted to be everything that Barbie was.

Sadly, however, it doesn’t end there.  There is now a Bratz doll with the word “enter” on her belt.  Apparently a representative explained it as being like a seat belt, an explanation you might swallow if you were dealing in a cute innocent doll with pink frills.  A picture of the doll (as well as the story) can be viewed here, and I think most would agree that you would have to be a little more than naive to buy that explanation.

So where will this end?  Perhaps in the future we will have little girls playing with dolls dressed in lingerie ?  Where do we draw the line? And when will doll manufacturers take responsibility for something beyond the number of dolls they selll??  Little girls need to play innocently with dolls without the pressure to be something they are not, and certainly without sexually suggestive messages.  Childhood should be a time of innocence, let them play innocently without these adult concepts that will change their worlds forever.  It seems that with each passing day its getting more and more difficult for children to retain this innocence, but I for one will be doing everything in my power to let my children just enjoy being children for as long as I possibly can.

One body?

Bismillahi ir-rahman ir-rahim – In the name of Allah, most gracious, most merciful

There’s a hadith that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.  Day and night – I cant stop thinking about it.  I wish I could say otherwise, but the thought of it pains me.  Not because of the hadith itself –  on the contrary, it is a beautiful hadith that shows the special bond between believers, the love we have for eachother, the dedication to one another, and the unity of purpose.  The real reason behind my sadness is because as an ummah today we fall so very short of this ideal.

The similitude of believers in regard to mutual love, affection, fellow-feeling is that of one body; when any limb of it aches, the whole body aches, because of sleeplessness and fever. (Muslim)

I can’t help but ask me self over and over again…how many of us are aching..truly aching??  How many of us feel pain??  And more importantly, as an ummah, what are we doing about it?

Its with a heavy heart that I sit here, in the country that once boasted of its military might, still calls itself the “mother of the world” and yet I see nothing but apathy.  Yes, most people are not happy about the situation in Gaza…many are making dua, many are donating, and some are striving in the cause in whichever way they can.  But where is the so called mighty Egyptian army?  Not only do they not help their brothers and sisters, but they are actually policing the border to ensure that no Palestinians can escape the massacre, and no goods can be brought in to help their brothers and sisters.  I honestly don’t know how they can sleep at night.

People aren’t happy…but really feeling pain would entail the willingness to make some sacrifices to eliminate the pain, but that’s just not happening here.  I speak to people, and I hear the same sentiments.  ‘If the other Arab nations think that opening the border is such a great idea, why don’t they open their borders??’  ‘Its just the excuse that Israel is looking for to attack Egypt.’  Although they are not saying it directly, I keep reading the same words between the lines  “better them than us”.  

My Arabic teacher was telling me an interesting story the other day.  I can’t remember it exactly word for word, but it goes something like this.

There was a wolf and three sheep; a red sheep, a black sheep, and a white sheep.  The wolf naturally desired to devour the sheep, but as they were three and he was one, he was powerless to do so.

One day when the black and white sheep were grazing alone, he approached them.  “The red sheep is so bright, he will attract the attention of preditors…he is putting your lives at risk!  Why don’t you let me help you and get rid of him for you?”  The black and white sheep thought about it, he was right, the red sheep was rather bright, and it was possible that he would bring them danger.  And so they agreed.

The next week the white sheep was grazing on his own when the wolf approached him:  “You know that black sheep is a bit eye catching as well, you’d do much better if you were on your own without having to worry about any attention he may attract.  How about you let me take care of him for you?”   Fearing for himself the white sheep thought he may have had a point.  And so he agreed.

Then there was only the white sheep.  The wolf approached him one day, ready to devour him. Alone and vulnerable the white sheep realised that he would be powerless against the wolf.  “But we had a deal!” he cried.  The wolf replied “You made this possible the day you allowed me to kill the red sheep”.

Let us not be like the white sheep, plotting with our enemies, and sitting idly while our enemy devours and slaughters our brothers and sisters.  All the while we take comfort in the fact that it is not us that they are after.  But we need to ask ourselves…who do you think they’ll come for next?

It reminds me of a famous quote, ironically written about Nazi Germany:

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak out for me.

They have successfully divided us through artificial borders, nationalism, sects, and petty differences.  Each group focuses on themselves and disassociates themselves from one another in order to acheive some imaginary benefit, and thus we become  weaker and weaker.

I don’t care what colour you are, where you’re from, or if you have a differences of opinions – we need to stand together and unite.  We have a common book, a common belief, and a common cause. We need to once again remember the words of our beloved prophet, we are but one body, now how about we start acting like it?

Petrol Prices

Bismillahi ir-rahman ir-rahim – In the name of Allah, most gracious, most merciful

Much has been said in the media recently about petrol prices, it is an issue that effects us all.  If not directly through the  ever increasing cost of filling up our cars, it also effects us indirectly through its inflationary effects.  The cost of transporting goods has increased and as a result costs are passed on to the consumer.

The question that is always asked is ‘why does the price of petrol continue to reach record highs?’  The main explanation I hear is quite inadequate.  The media and government in Australia have chosen to focus on  OPEC and Arab countries, demand exceeds supply, they refuse to supply more and so the prices go up. The Arabs deny being at fault saying that it is not a supply issue.  Although they do not spell it out, they are drawing on the stereotype of the rich greedy Arab sheikhs, naturally they must be to blame.  Arabs are already public enemy #1 with their terrorist tendencies, they are an easy target, a target that the general public are often more than willing to blame.  Much easier than trying to actually do something proactive or actually face the truth.

Now I’m no economist, in fact I find economics quite boring, but I don’t think you need to be an expert in the field to realise the bulk of the blame lies.  Lets look at some facts, I think they speak for themselves.

  • ExxonMobil turned out the largest net profit ever made by a publicly listed US company of US$40.7 billion in 2007
  • Shell posted a profit of almost $27.5 billion for 2007, the highest earnings ever made by a British company.
  • Looking at the first quarter of 2008, BP reported a 63% surge in net profit, while Shell reported a 25% rise.
  • The profits of US oil companies have quadrupled since 2002.
  • The five largest US oil companies have earned $36 billion during the first quarter of 2008.

While failing to acknowledge what would appear to be the blatant truth, the US have searched for blame elsewhere, pointing the fingers at countries such as China and India for their increasing oil consumption.  Quite ironic coming from the nation that utilises 25% of the worlds oil supplies.  On the subject of irony,  the war on Iraq which was supposed to help ‘protect’ the oil in the region and result in keeping oil costs down has had quite the opposite effect.  Since the US control of the worlds oil become more concentrated we have seen a constant increase in the price of oil.  And they thought that ‘Arab sheikhs’ were greedy?

Furthermore, the very same nation pointing the fingers at others for their oil consumption and its apparent subsequent effect on oil prices seem to have no qualms about the 340,000 barrels of oil its military depletes each day.  It would seem that increasing oil consumption for the purpose of development and increasing economic prosperity to be unacceptable.  However, oil consumption used to wage immoral and unlawful wars, based on lies and false pretenses, resulting in the deaths of over a million people seems to be perfectly acceptable.

Like vultures, the oil companies have benefited tremendously from the war.  The link between the Bush administration and these companies is no secret, and to believe it to be mere coincidence is nothing short of foolish naivety.   Many now accept that the war on Iraq was for oil, and the knowledge that the world was misled by claims of weapons of mass destruction only serves to strengthen this view.

If the US are seriousabout addressing the oil issue they need to look in  their own backyards.  Realistically however, there are some very powerful people who are profiting from this all, so I think we need to brace ourselves, its unlikely the situation will be getting any better soon.  In the meantime I think we need to stop beating around the ‘Bush’ (excuse the pun) and call a spade a spade.  Until we acknowledge the real source of the problem any attempts to address it will be futile.