Friday, December 23, 2011

Occupy Boston Dismantled

At 5am, Saturday, December 10, 2011, police swept through Occupy Boston’s encampment at Dewey Square. Protesters first erected the encampment on September 30. As the officers moved in, about two dozen demonstrators linked arms and sat down in nonviolent protest and police soon began arresting them, according to the Boston Globe. The protesters were “very accommodating” to the officers, Police Chief Driscoll said. Forty-six people were arrested on charges of trespassing and disorderly conduct, but no injuries were reported. Protesters estimate that 100 to 150 activists lived in the Boston encampment. Boston is the latest in a string of cities where officials have moved to oust protesters demonstrating against corporate greed and economic injustice. Demonstrators were also forcibly removed from similar encampments in New York City, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and San Francisco.

“A few days back, Boston Mayor Menino told the media/public (and indirectly the court considering an injunction) that he had no immediate plans to evict the Occupy Boston folks from Dewey Park. He just wanted the ability to do so if necessary for health/safety reasons. He was lying, of course, or we’ve just witnessed the fastest landscape planning and permitting exercise in the history of Boston,” comments local blogger Scarecrow.

By 10am, a large crew employed by the City arrived with dump trucks and new soil, a back hoe with grader and air-driven soil aerators to re-do the landscaping at the former protest site.

The main role of this parkway is to separate the dual auto expressways. Dewey Square has never been a park where people normally walk. Once the protesters set up camp in the middle of the Financial District in this island between expressways, many hopeless and homeless people joined them.

Scarecrow explains: “So it was no surprise that the mostly young, idealistic and courageous occupiers were forced from day 1 to recreate government, to develop mechanisms to deal, face to face with drug abuse, violent/uncontrolled behavior, unemployment, homelessness, hunger and poor health. It wasn’t all just marches and demonstrations and rallies and teach-ins; it was also a daily struggle for human and humane survival.”

Even though this public strip of grass is now “cleaned up,” the problem of poverty has not gone away. Reports indicate that the homeless people were crying as the police cleared out the area.

Acacia Brewer from the Occupy Boston movement told Iran’s Press TV, “A few days ago we were at the Dewey Square encampment, and since then we’ve been having general assemblies down at the Boston Common which was where we first started.”

Just hours after a 5 am police raid cleared Dewey’s tent city, Occupiers braved the cold at Boston Common to plan a new strategy: Occupy Everywhere. Occupy Boston even has its own live radio link now.

Meanwhile, onlookers nationwide have been rethinking their positions regarding the use of public space. Rev. Dr. Donna Schaper is Senior Minister of Judson Memorial Church in New York City says there is already evidence that chronically homeless people are finding great inspiration in the Occupy Kitchen and work.

“We clergy were all somewhat skeptical of the demand for public space… But the occupiers edged toward the theological as they articulated a need for communal, inspirational, face-to-face contact in which they could “appear” to one another…

“…they spoke of a new monasticism, in which people have given up everything to jump to a future they can only imagine. In the most recent newsletter posted by Occupy Theory, occupiers describe how sad they were about their lives, both present and future, until they found each other. If you were worried about “young people today” before, you will be terrified after you read about the emptiness, the bought-and-soldness, the futility, the lack of any place to be or person to be.”

Will all this community result in a just economy?

Some skepticism is warranted, given the past three decades of American politics. Anyone demonstrating for any cause has typically been marginalized and isolated. It has been the norm for there to be only a handful of protesters, sometimes even only only one lone protester, against any serious issue such as AIPAC lobbying, imprisonment of random Muslims, or escalation of US wars. So why, all of a sudden, is there a nationwide movement of protest? And why is the TV News even mentioning them? It’s unusual.

Michel Chossudovsky states in his article, Occupy Wall Street and “The American Autumn”: Is It a “Colored Revolution”? that “the elites will promote a ‘ritual of dissent’ with a high media profile, with the support of network TV, the corporate news as well as the internet.”

According to Chossudovsky, several key organizations currently involved in The Occupy Wall Street movement played a significant role in “The Arab Spring”.

The involvement of corporate funding of the anti-capitalist movement probably cannot be denied. TV News stations such as FOX have not indulged in such around-the-clock coverage since the Gulf War, even though typically, any meaningful protest would be ignored by the media.

Yet, the atmosphere of the Occupy movement has been described by participants as “electrifying.” Real human concerns are being addressed here. Only time will tell if this protest movement was just orchestrated to let off steam, or if it will result in any improvements in the political system.

Karin Friedemann is a Boston-based freelance writer. See

Friday, December 09, 2011

Boston Police Confiscate Sink From Protest Camp

After a four day court battle, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Frances McIntyre ruled to extend a restraining order blocking the City of Boston from clearing out the tent city at Dewey Square. She will make a final ruling by Dec. 15. Until then, city officials can’t kick out the Occupy Boston protesters.

Occupy Boston started in Dewey Square on September 30, 2011. It was directly inspired by Occupy Wall Street in New York City. The continued occupation of Dewey Square—located in the heart of Boston’s Financial District—is one of more than 120 Occupy encampments in cities across the nation.

The protesters want elected officials to address the economic needs of the people and want to end the influence of corporate lobbyists. Mayor Thomas Menino states that he essentially agrees with these viewpoints, but feels that the park should be available for everyone, and that these issues would be best brought up with Washington. Fire Marshalls say the protest site is a fire hazard, while the Board of Health has pointed out health hazards related to lack of sanitation.

Occupy Boston attempted to address some of these concerns by bringing in a donated sink that was equipped for both hand-washing and dish-washing using bottled water. They also tried to bring in fireproof, winterized tents as well as wooden pallets to make the walkways safer. All these items have been confiscated by the police, who labeled them “contraband.”
On December 1, a struggle took place between protesters and police hauling away the donated sink from the food tent, which resulted in three arrests as people blocked the streets to prevent removal of the sink. The Occupy Boston website reads:

“Since the restraining order from Judge McIntyre prevents the Boston Police from dismantling our camp except in the case of a fire, violence, or other emergency, we are puzzled by this police action.”
Authorities have banned protesters from bringing material that could be used to convert the encampment into a permanent dwelling. Mayor Menino stated: “We’re not going to have them build a new town there.”

The City of Boston finds itself in a contradictory position. On one hand, the Mayor has frequently supported the right of protesters to voice their opinions while expressing concerns about safety, but on the other hand, the City is removing items essential for improving the health and safety of the protesters.

Protesters insist: “You cannot evict an idea. Occupy Boston will continue to improve our community in Dewey Square. We ask that the BPD uphold their stated commitment to protecting public safety by allowing Occupy Boston to properly maintain and equip our encampment for the cold weather.”

Karin Friedemann is a Boston-based freelance writer.

Friday, December 02, 2011

The Importance of Breastfeeding to the Muslim Child

“The mothers shall give suck to their offspring for two whole years, if the father desires to complete the term. But he shall bear the cost of their food and clothing on equitable terms…If they both decide on weaning, by mutual consent, and after due consultation, there is no blame on them. If ye decide on a foster-mother for your offspring there is no blame on you, provided ye pay (her) what ye offered, on equitable terms. But fear Allah and know that Allah sees well what ye do.” (Quran 2:233)

Given the importance of breastfeeding in the Islamic religion, the relatively low rates of compliance among Muslim women in North America are puzzling. There are small pockets of “fundamentalist” Muslim women who are well educated and adamant about nursing their children under their chadors, and who often practice natural childbirth. However, those mothers who nurse their babies past the age of one year are the exception rather than the rule. There seems to be a lighthearted attitude among the general Muslim populace towards the bottle-feeding of infants. It is sometimes even thought of as more modest to bottle-feed! Perhaps it is a lack of education about the benefits of breastfeeding, combined with an absence of a support network to assist the new mother.

Transferring the child to animal and vegetable foods before he even had any teeth was not done by the early Muslims. The most likely option, if a mother declined to breastfeed her infant, was the employment of a wet-nurse for the child. For the newborn Muslim child, the intimate breastfeeding relationship is a right. It is beyond dispute that two full years of breast-milk provide a baby with long-term health benefits such as the prevention of ear infections and allergies, as well as providing a foundation of trust between mother and child. Scientific studies show that a bottle-fed baby will be a weaker child.

“Weaning” is the gradual transfer from feeding the baby exclusively breast-milk to table foods only. This happens sometime during the toddler period of life, usually between the ages of 1 and 3.

In Islamic terms, weaning is a process that is administered by mutual consent between parents. But in my conversations with sisters in various states who had given up nursing in favor of bottle-feeding, there is a sense of powerlessness over the situation. These mothers often wanted very much to nurse their child. But somehow, they lost their chance. This tragedy is largely caused by a hospital system that does little to promote exclusive breastfeeding of newborns. In most hospitals, the new mothers receive free samples of formula to take home, as a result of multi-million dollar deals with pharmaceutical companies who pay the doctors to promote their products. This practice is highly unethical because little or no education about the dangers of bottle-feeding the infant is given to the new mothers. Many Muslim mothers, especially those who don’t speak English well, come home with their babies already addicted to the bottle. Although at this point, all is not yet beyond hope, coaxing a small baby to breastfeed, after he has been bottle-fed even just once or twice, can be a big struggle. It may not succeed without the aid of a lactation counselor, because unfortunately, even the older generation of mothers and mothers-in-law often lack the knowledge of how to breastfeed. Thus, the likelihood of bottle-feeding is very high among immigrant and minority women in the U.S.

When women have given up nursing out of a feeling of powerlessness to get the baby to nurse, this is not a mutual parental decision to wean, but rather the result of lack of adequate help. Something is terribly wrong when Muslim women are giving up breastfeeding due to lack of education, counseling, and support. It reveals a stripping away at the postnatal rights of the Muslim woman to be in a state of rest for 40 days after childbirth.

If the child is rejecting the breast, the most common reaction is to try for a while, and then give up and give him a bottle, but this teaches him that all he has to do is fuss and refuse to nurse, and he will be rewarded by a free-flowing bottle of formula. The only solution to this power struggle is for the mother to refuse to give the baby a bottle, even if it takes several days for the baby to nurse willingly. (If the baby gets dehydrated, he can take water with a cup or medicine dropper). My eldest son was a sleepy baby, born a couple weeks early. I had to set my alarm for every three hours, take off his clothes and wipe him down with water to get him screaming mad, in order for him to just stay awake for a couple minutes to nurse before he would blissfully fall asleep in my arms. The first few days were terrifying and the emotional pressure was intense. After two weeks he finally opened his eyes, and he and I enjoyed a nursing relationship that lasted over two years. Nursing can be a strenuous effort that truly requires the full support and help of the father, neighbors and other family members, to allow the mother and child to be together undisturbed as much as possible for the first 40 days of the baby’s life.

Help is available. The ability to feed your child the best that nature has to offer is your choice. Only after a successful and long-lasting breastfeeding relationship can weaning the baby truly be done by mutual and conscious consent.

To locate a free breastfeeding consultant in your area, call 1-800-LA-LECHE

Karin Friedemann is a Boston-based freelance writer. This article was previously published under the pseudonym Maria Hussain. See also

Friday, November 25, 2011

Overcoming Negativity

There is a saying, “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean somebody isn’t out to get you.”

Sometimes when we feel deeply uncomfortable, or even subtly uncomfortable, instead of trying to push these feelings away, it might help to look at them in the light of day. God gave us feelings for a reason. A peaceful person cannot be ruled by emotions, but also cannot ignore them.

Recently I complained to my doctor of panic attacks and she prescribed me Xanex. I found that it didn’t do anything for my panic, but just made me feel sluggish. I wondered if this sluggishness might actually inhibit me from an appropriate reaction to a real and present danger. I did some research about Xanex and found that it is a medication for the treatment of unpredictable and inexplicable panic attacks. It occurred to me that this was not an accurate description of my condition. I have every reason to feel anxious! I’m a woman with four children going through the last stages of my second divorce. Of course I’m a nervous wreck! I got rid of the Xanex and started making some new friends. A lot of times the negativity in our lives is best cured by finding some new positive things to do:

On the authority of Abu Dharr Jundub ibn Junaadah, and Abu ‘Abd-ir-Rahmaan Mu’aadh bin Jabal (r) that the Messenger of Allaah (s) said:

“Have Taqwa (Fear) of Allah wherever you may be, and follow up a bad deed with a good deed which will wipe it out, and behave well towards the people.”

(related by at-Tirmidhee)

Another feeling that sometimes rules me is rage, even though I know the Prophet (s) said, “Do not become angry.” But when you think about US drones killing children in Pakistan, or the Black American political activists from the 70’s dying in prison one by one, or you think about someone who borrowed money from you and refused to pay you back, how can you not be angry?

I once heard a wise Jewish criminal defense lawyer say, “If I judged other people’s actions by what I would do, I would go crazy.” We may not agree with injustice, but we do have to develop a certain emotional detachment in order to effectively fight the injustices day after day, decade after decade. We have to develop strategies for getting the results that we want. Sometimes that requires making a clear statement. Other times the goal requires keeping silent and letting the other party come to the conclusion you want. You don’t always have to tell people everything that you are thinking.

One thing that I have learned from reading pop psychology books is that whatever condition you are ruled by on a conscious level is usually not the true issue. Especially if you are obsessing within a certain mental state, most likely this is a cover-up of your true emotion. For example, grief is a genuine emotion but depression is a mental condition. Fear can be a legitimate emotion, but anxiety is a mental condition. Usually we cling to a mental condition to avoid confronting our true emotion. Very often, the truth is exactly the opposite of our mental condition! It is useful to meditate occasionally when we are feeling overpowered by a mental condition, to determine the actual emotion we are afraid of respecting.

It’s easy to find examples of this from everyday life: a juvenile delinquent sets fires out of a constant feeling of anger, but in therapy he admits that he is in truth deeply sad that his father abandoned him. In order to heal, he may need to go through a grieving period where he could mourn his loss and forgive his father.

A housewife is debilitated by depression to the extent that she can no longer eat. But deep down she is truly angry at her husband for not desiring her, and she is doing this hunger strike to see if he would notice or care. She is suppressing her desires because she is unable to own her personal anger at feeling rejected. By remaining depressed, she mutes the healthy part of her brain that wants and desires good for herself. Whether it’s a sandwich or a man’s affection, she will eventually have to learn how to visualize what she wants and then learn to do what she has to do to attain her goals.

“…Allah guides him who seeks His good pleasure to paths of peace and safety. He brings them out of darkness unto light by His decree, and guides them unto a straight path.”

(Quran 5:016)

A lot of the Muslim world as well as a greater part of the entire world seems to be trapped in various negative mental conditions that are paralyzing progress. There is a tendency to react predictably, protesting each affront as it occurs, rather than addressing patterns of events effectively. Albert Einstein said that you can never solve a problem on the same level as it occurs. Problem solving requires some intuitive leaps. On a global level, Muslims and all people who care about promoting the Good in this world probably need to work through a psychological process of coming to terms with grief, anger, depression, low self-esteem and anxiety, before they can truly succeed in righting wrongs. We need to learn a sense of detachment to worldly affairs that will enable us to have a vision. Once we have a vision, other things start will start falling into place and our path will become clear.

Karin Friedemann is a Boston-based freelance writer.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Kindness in Marriage and Divorce

Live with them in kindness; even if you dislike them, perhaps you dislike something in which God has placed much good. (Quran 4:19)

marriage1There is almost nothing more damaging to the human psyche than trying hard to please someone who is trying hard to tolerate you. Whether it’s a child-parent relationship or a wife-husband relationship, conditional love creates a type of emotional violence which involves spiritual enslavement of the weaker party. The essential cause is dehumanization of the Other; when one person doesn’t view the other person as fully human. In the classic set-up, the weaker party is striving to be what the other person needs him or her to be, while the stronger party judges whether the other is good enough to merit approval. There are countless personality and relationship disorders that get passed down in this way from generation to generation; it’s like farming pain.

While laying down the financial groundwork for a marriage is important, once this is behind us, it becomes important to explore the hopes and dreams of each party involved, as well as their past. If a new spouse shows no interest in looking at the other’s old school yearbooks or handwritten poetry from days gone by, how can a couple face the future as one? Each party will come to the table with their own set of baggage. Some of this baggage contains real treasures. If the couple cannot discuss the past and explore why the other feels and reacts as they do, how will they ever relate?

In both arranged marriages and love marriages, there often comes a time when one or both partners may come to dislike one another. It is probably impossible to truly get to know anyone on earth without disliking something about them. A friendship or marriage must be sustained on the good will and trust about the intentions of the other party. There may be psychological or neurological reasons for their behavior. But as long as one party is actively disliking the other, there is no way for them to connect on a level of mutual respect and understanding. It is tragic how many cases of personal insecurity could get in the way of truly appreciating another human being.

One man married a certain woman in order to please his mother. She gave him a son, whom he truly loved, but he did not love his wife – perhaps because she was not beautiful enough, or perhaps just because he had not chosen her himself. But he had agreed to the marriage! So he is walking around feeling sorry for himself because he has no feelings for this woman who gave him a son, even though she had never showed him any unpleasantness nor gave him any reason for complaint. Even if they had not ever exchanged any words of tenderness by this point, which must have been at least two years, that woman already proved her dedication to the marriage by willingly and voluntarily subjecting herself to physical pain in order to provide offspring to his family!

What could cause a man to willingly and voluntarily subject himself to physical pain for someone else? Only the most heart-felt, deepest emotion. Even if those emotions were not available at the time, she went through the motions. She made the sacrifice for him. Is that not enough for her husband to feel deep gratitude and friendship? How would he feel towards a man who took a bullet for him? Would he not feel obligated to love and protect him for life?

The ability to find beauty in someone else should not be a huge task. We could easily find something to love about a stranger. Perhaps the angle between her eyes and her nose is very interesting. Perhaps he has a cute way of mispronouncing words. One thing I have come to realize is that the attributes that other people find most frustrating or annoying about me are my best qualities. It is harmful to me to constantly be around people who devalue or demean what I have to offer the world.

A divorce is only permissible twice: after that, the parties should either hold together on equitable terms, or separate with kindness. (Quran 2:229)

A lot of psychological research is being done these days on the effect of personality disorders on the spouse. A person who truly cannot see any good in a spouse who has done him or her no wrong, who blames excessively, who doesn’t live in the present but lives somewhere else, probably has some kind of personality disorder. Trying to merge lives with someone who has only their own interest in mind is not only frustrating but can be debilitating, especially in old age.

If you don’t like your spouse, and you cannot address your own personal issues that keep you from being able to like someone who is trying hard to be your life partner, it may be most merciful to let them go so they can find someone else. You should never stay married to someone out of pity or a sense of unwanted obligation, because this deprives your spouse of their humanity.

It is easier for a woman to raise children alone than to raise children while buffering extreme emotional negativity in her home. That point being made, if you leave a woman with children, financial support must be provided. While the state mandated child support amount is a must, it is more merciful to calculate the actual costs associated with raising a child. If you cannot imagine paying your ex-wife a check each week for her efforts, it is truly in your best interest to find something about her to like.

Karin Friedemann is a Boston-based freelance writer.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Mastering Home Economics Key to Personal Freedom

The best time for teaching basic home economics is when children are young. Yet many of us reach adulthood lacking some of the essential skills for comfortable living. In a well-run household, people’s basic needs are taken care of, so that thoughts and conversations can dwell on higher things. When people experience a sense of calm and security in their homes, they can focus on their work better, and enjoy their leisure more completely. When a person embarks upon the adventure of living away from their parents, whether it’s because they got married, went off to college, found their dream job, or simply needed to “find themselves,” some challenges always arise. In order to wear that new-found freedom gracefully, one needs to attain competence in the realms of finances, cleanliness, and health.

Financial Organization

People who become delinquent in paying their bills very often had the money to pay them, but they became disorganized. Keeping order in your financial life is essential to the smooth transition into adulthood. Some people become obsessed with increasing their income, not realizing that budgeting your money is far more essential to living within your means. Many millionaires fall into debt, while many poorer folk lead simple yet debt-free lives.

Managing finances effectively only requires a basic knowledge of addition and subtraction. But first things first: you need a place, such as a special drawer, where you keep unpaid bills and you need a place where you keep paid bills. Ideally you should keep a set of files separated by topic such as cable bills, utility bills, medical records, pay stubs, etc.

When money comes in, before you start withdrawing cash or buying the latest computer software, pay your bills in order of importance. Don’t delay. Always pay your bills first. Some people avoid the “pain” by refusing to know how much money they have compared with how much they spend. This bad habit needs to end immediately, to avoid lifetime enslavement to creditors. You may need good credit someday, if you ever plan to buy a home or car or have a serious emergency.

As soon as your paycheck clears, sit down and make your payments. Start with your rent or mortgage. Next, pay anything that charges a late fee such as credit card statements, and anything that is a legal requirement such as insurance. Utilities usually do not charge late fees but are essential to normal life so pay those next. After that, fill up your car’s gas tank. Now, check your balance: Do you have enough money left for food and supplies? If you cannot catch up in a month’s time, you need to find a cheaper place to live, get a roommate or find a second job, because you are not earning enough to survive.

Hopefully, you do have something left over, so whether it’s $15 or $150, that is your spending money. A single person can survive on amazingly little money, as long as they never leave home. Once they start going out, there is no limit to what they can spend on clothes, restaurants and entertainment. So, with the spending money you have left over after bills, stock up on groceries and whatever supplies you need to get by. If there is anything left after that, this is your money to do with what you like, whether it’s going to the mall or taking a weekend trip to the next Islamic conference. If you don’t have anything left after buying shampoo, stay home. It seems simple, but it’s not for many of us.


Many young people use their new freedom to stop picking up after themselves. However, living in disorder not only creates health hazards and invites mice, but the Prophet (s) advised us that even looking at filth is demoralizing. These are my basic priority guidelines for home cleanliness.

First, clean up anything that is considered filth in Islam: Feces and urine should be laundered with hot water, while blood or sexual excretions should be washed in cold water. Cleaning the toilet should be done as soon as it becomes necessary.

Second, clean up anything that smells bad: take out the garbage, launder rancid towels. Open all the windows at least once a day to let out the old cooking smells, smoke, and germs lingering in the air. If it’s winter, it’s best to air out the house when you leave, so you don’t freeze.

Third, clean up the clothes laying on the floor, hang up coats, fold blankets. Textile messes tend to take up a lot of space, and while not being hazardous, cleaning them up makes a big difference to the look of a room.

Fourth, pick up and put away or throw away whatever garbage or other objects remain on the floor, then vacuum and/or mop.

Fifth, clear off tabletops and dust them because the sight of clean surfaces calms the mind, and enables you to actually use the tables and counters. If you have a lot of time, it makes more sense to dust first and then clean the floors, but if time is an issue then clean floors are more important.


Many young adults express their new independence by ignoring their bodily needs. If you cannot be bothered to cook, at least eat a salad every day because living on bread and coffee alone will cause your health to deteriorate fast. Living within your means also means living within your energy level. You may have to place limits on yourself in order to stay strong enough to maintain your independence. Get enough sleep.

There are limits to freedom. Those who are able to limit themselves to what is halal – meaning, you can afford it and it is beneficial, will maximize their comfort in this life.

Karin Friedemann is a Boston-based freelance writer.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Feeding Your Family: an Art and a Science

More and more Americans are facing financial hardship and even food insecurity. Saving money on everyday expenses has sure become a primary focus in my life. I now spend half of what I used to spend on groceries 10 years ago, even though food prices have gone up and I have four instead of two children to feed. There is practically no limit to how much a family can spend on food, but as long as you have something, you can nearly always get by on what you have, especially with a little creativity.

Meeting your family’s basic needs on a limited budget is an art and a science. Not only does it generally involve cooking from scratch, but careful shopping.

One of the hardest thing about being an adult is the incredible burden of knowing that if you don’t make the effort, the little people will not eat. If you don’t feel like shopping, they will run out of milk. If their only protein source is milk they will become anemic. Every doctor’s visit is like a parental report card. Is my child within the normal weight range?

My first advice for new brides is to have patience with yourself. It probably takes a full decade for most homemakers to get used to being the family cook. Before I married, I used to dream of all the wonderful family warmth and togetherness I was going to create with my womanly talents.

Well, cooking with children underfoot is a totally different experience than cooking while single. I used to find the smell of sauce cooking for hours while I slowly stirred in the herbs very relaxing in my youth. Cooking is rarely relaxing with small children underfoot, in fact it can be downright infuriating sometimes. When they get older they will be able to help with many things though, including keeping the younger ones out of the veggie chopping zone and even sometimes helping with the chopping. Ready-made foods that you warm in the oven are something children can prepare themselves, and has the pleasant side effect of heating the home. When my eldest turned 11, I finally pulled out my dream chest of recipes I had copied down and saved, starting when I was 11. As soon as children acquire basic math and reading skills, they really enjoy following recipes together with their mother and alone.

Yet when scarcity strikes, how do we make sure our kids have enough good food? Lentils and dried split peas are the cheapest iron, protein and fiber sources you can buy. Varying carbohydrates like bread, rice, pasta and couscous makes the same old things seem different. When cooking meat, mix it with other things like beans and vegetables. Homemade soups can be a meal in themselves. Ice cream is absolutely the cheapest source of healthy calories, containing both calcium and protein. When things are discounted, stock up. Try to reserve money for this because you never know when paper goods will be on sale, which are some of the more expensive items on the list. Frequent dollar stores. Their inventory often fluctuates, but they nearly always have things you need. Asian groceries often have the best prices for produce and spices.

Learn from people who have lived in war-torn countries. I knew a Palestinian woman who had dedicated an entire room in her home for shelves filled with canned and dried goods. By combining coupons with sale prices, she was often able to fill up her grocery cart for a fraction of the normal cost.

Plan ahead for emergencies. There will be times when you are too tired or stressed to cook, or you are having a hypoglycemic attack. These situations might cause you to order take out food. One restaurant meal could equal an entire week’s worth of the cost of groceries. So don’t get too crazy in your cost-saving at the supermarket, and if you do go to a restaurant, go alone. Make sure you have some frozen pizzas, chicken nuggets, mozzarella sticks, hot dogs, mixed nuts or hommos on hand when possible. Even though these things can cost $5 or more an item, that is still less than what you would pay at a restaurant after you have run out of food at home and everyone is crying. Dinner entrees can be frozen for later use like lasagna, pesto or haleem. Many working mothers have a day in the week set aside for cooking and freezing food.

The Lipton/Knorr broccoli alfredo mix, which is always under $2, is my family’s favorite default food. You can add some fresh broccoli and a toddler will actually eat it. Not only that but you can teach an 8 year old to make it. I also try to add dried parsley to nearly everything, as it is a ready source of protein and vitamin C that little kids don’t notice. Incorporating the cheaper vegetables and fruits into ones diet on a regular basis like chopped celery, carrots and potatoes can add bulk to nearly every dish. Radishes and apples can be added to salads. Don’t skimp on fruit juice despite the cost, because the lack of it nearly always leads to colds and flu in my home.

When we are facing scarcity, we often need to try to live our lives completely within a circle nearby. We can save a lot of money on gas when we do our business and socialize locally. Whenever people are getting run down, it’s time to slow down on the activities. We have to make sure we are well rested and wearing lots of layers so we don’t get sick in the winter cold, despite the food situation.
Most of these things I have mentioned are pretty intuitive to most people, but probably the most important thing is to remind ourselves of what we already know. All the requirements for basic human living is ingrained in our true nature.

Karin Friedemann is a Boston-based freelance writer. Visit

Monday, October 24, 2011

US Persecution of Muslims Continues

Yet another “library terrorist” is being prosecuted in Boston. The Feds zeroed in on Tariq Mehanna, pointing to English translations of ancient Arabic Islamic texts on his website, aimed at new Muslims. The authorities said the pharmacist had conspired to attack civilians at a shopping mall, American soldiers abroad and two members of the executive branch of the federal government. The conspiracy occurred from 2001 to 2008, the acting United States attorney, Michael K. Loucks, said.

Mehanna comes from Sudbury, Massachussetts, an affluent suburb. He became acquainted with Daniel Maldonado, a Muslim convert who was arrested in Somalia, through his local mosque. According to the details from the Boston Globe, Tariq Mehanna was arrested for allegedly lying to the FBI in December 2006 regarding the whereabouts and activities of Daniel Maldonado. Mehanna is said to have spoken on the phone to Maldonado back in 2006 and then lied about doing so to the FBI which was investigating Maldonado for the “crime” of going to Somalia and receiving “terrorist training”.

Maldonado is said to have traveled to Africa where he joined up with the popular Islamic Courts Union and received military training and planned to fight with them against US backed warlords. He never even got a chance to fight as he contracted malaria. During this time his wife also contracted malaria, and by the grace of God some strangers brought his children back to Massachusetts in a tragic drama of epic proportions. Maldonado's terrified children watched their mother die in a vehicle attempting to flee the war-torn country. Meanwhile, they await the release of their father from a CMU prison.

Mehanna was accused of many alarming things, but his only confirmed action was to travel to Yemen for religious study, and some other travel on the African continent. The FBI asked Mehanna to become an informant. When he refused, his troubles began. He accepted a job in Saudi Arabia as a pharmacist, and was arrested while trying to board the airplane. Agents from the NYPD traveled to Boston in an attempt to entrap him but Mehanna refused to partake in the “terrorist act” he was presented with. He has not been charged with any act of terrorism.

Tariq is described by those who know him well as humble, reserved, warm, compassionate, intelligent, charismatic, well-read, and dedicated. He has spent time delivering Friday sermons and directing youth study circles, speaking out against injustice and advocating for Muslim prisoners, teaching grade school students and helping those in need. Tarek is described as a man who is always giving.

“I have known him to be one of the most gracious, kind, caring, thoughtful, and respectable people I have ever known... I have seen him go above and beyond what most others would do to help others in need,” writes Ahmad AlFarsi in Tariq's defense.

Mehanna has since been detained in pre-trial solitary confinement at Plymouth County Correction Facility in 23-hour isolation and denied bail twice. He now awaits trial, facing charges of “false statements,” “conspiracy" and "material support for terrorism” and a life sentence if wrongfully convicted. The trial has been set to begin next week. Supporters plan a protest march to the courthouse on Thursday.

Mehanna wrote in a letter to his supporters: “I cannot speak in detail about the charges and accusations against me, but suffice to say that nobody who truly knows me would for a second believe the utter lies and sensationalist garbage that has been peddled around in the media since my arrest. I am not the first person the government has played this game with, and I certainly won't be the last. Regardless, that's OK because, 'Indeed, Allah defends those who believe...' And the Prophets themselves were targets of slander and lies by their opponents. So, who am I to be spared?”

While in prison, Mehanna has done his best to keep a positive attitude and to support fellow prisoners, while keeping his prayers. “No matter how bad things may be going for a given person, there is always someone worse off. There is always that one person you meet who gives you a reality check that reminds you that even though you are in prison going through hardship, etc., there are still things that you can take for granted.” He was referring to the unconditional support of his mother and family.

As usual the typical Zionist lobbyists including the David Project aka “Citizens for Peace and Tolerance,” who are connected with long-discredited Steve Emerson, seem to be complicit in a conspiracy against the Constitutional rights of this individual. Pro-Israel lobbyists are connecting Mehanna to the Roxbury Mosque, which was not his regular prayer venue, in an attempt to smear the local Muslim community in the press. It would be wise for those defending Mehanna to uncover the conspiracy between extremist Zionist groups like the David Project and the FBI in targeting this individual through a well-coordinated legal and media campaign. Until they are stopped, unlawful prosecutions will continue.

In a letter to supporters, Mehanna wrote about something a fellow prisoner said:

“'When I was free, I saw your story on TV. However, it meant nothing to me, because I never thought it could happen to me. So, I did nothing for you. Now that I am in prison and it has happened to me, there are people who heard about my story and will think nothing of it, thinking it will never happen to them. Once it happens to them, others will think nothing of it and do nothing, etc...' So, if you feel that you can just sit back and read about all these cases and do nothing to repel this injustice and that it can never happen to you, think again.”

Karin Friedemann is a Boston-based freelance writer.

Occupy Boston Confronts Police

“The people united will never be defeated,” chanted the Occupy Boston protesters who had expanded their peaceful encampment beyond the original campsite to accommodateadditional participants. Veterans for Peace took a front line position as protesters were arrested.

From the beginning, protesters had worked tirelessly to maintain a positive working relationship with city officials. Actions by the Boston Police Department represent a sudden shift away from that dialogue.

“We have a purpose. It’s called the Constitution,” chanted the crowd as police removed campers from the park and trampled the veterans’ flags into the mud. The given reasonfor forcibly removing the protesters at 1:30am was a newly planted flower garden, but the police trampled these flowers in their zeal to curb public enthusiasm for Occupy Boston.

“The whole world is watching”repeated the protesters, with the same hope that has accompanied the Palestinian or Lebanese populations as they have been repelled by“the authorities,” awaiting some kind of angelic or global intervention.

“This is what democracy looks like”was the final word of the crowd as the protesters were arrested.

Official postings from the Occupy Boston newsfeed read:

“As Occupy Boston has grown, the initial area of the occupation has become overcrowded with tents and people. The original encampment is in Dewey Square Park, the southernmost end of the Rose Kennedy Greenway, the ribbon of parks created when Boston’s expressway was put underground by the Big Dig. In a spontaneous, autonomous action,a large number of occupiers moved into the next section of the Greenway… A subsequent proposal to officially ratify the expanded presence was adopted by consensus at a General Assembly held in the new space.”

“Boston police arrested 141 people during recent Occupy Boston demonstrations. The early morning arrests were made for trespassing and unlawful assembly. After almost 15 hours in custody, finally all of the peaceful demonstrators the Boston Police Department arrested have been released as of 6:00pm October 11th. Occupy Boston has many eye witness accounts and video evidence of police misconduct.”

Protesters have continued holding a daily “General Assembly” for making group decisions. Occupy Boston ratified a statement of solidarity with indigenous peoples at the Saturday October 8thGeneral Assembly, “recognizing that ‘we are guests upon stolen indigenous land.’” Boston thus became the first city in the broader“Occupation movement” to clearly declare its solidarity with indigenous peoples. This is important for all Americans who have been supporting freedom for Palestine.

“United American Indians of New England (UAINE) supports Occupy/Decolonize Boston and the Occupy/Decolonize Wall Street movement generally. We are deeply moved and encouraged that Occupy/Decolonize Boston, as one of its very first actions, issued a memorandum in solidarity with Indigenous peoples.

“We have been the victims of corporate greed for centuries. If you seek to reimagine a new society free of corporate greed, then we would ask that you learn all you can about the past that has carried us to this place.

“We fully support the right of the Occupy/Decolonize Boston encampment to expand from Dewey Square to other parks and open spaces in the city,without the necessity of permits and without fear of police reprisals.”

Occupy Boston has maintained that it will non-violently resist any attempt to end the protest before achieving the change they seek. The protesters have not yet united on any clear aim for their protest other than insisting on their right to continue to protest.

Those of us watching from the sidelines can only speculate as to what importance these protests might have on America’s present and future,or how this relates to struggles in other parts of the world. Without doubt, the emotional enthusiasm of these protesters is real, even raw. Even if we don’t quite understand their goals, a visit to one’s local protest site is sure to invigorate the apathetic. First generation Americans should take note of their personal responsibility to defend US democracy in action.

Shays Rebellion of 1786-87 in Western Massachusetts, was the first populist uprising after the American Revolution. Daniel Shays organized poor farmers from the Connecticut River Valley to shut down the courts that were sending them to debtors prison on behalf of big Boston banks. Many of the farmers were veterans who had trudged home from the Revolution “with not a single month’s pay”in their pockets. Shays and his followers have always been viewed as a small group of poor farmers and debtors who closed the courts as a protest of local civil authority.

To quote Howard Zinn: “The American colonists, having fought and won the war for independence from England, faced the question of what kind of government to establish. In 1786, three years after the treaty of peace was signed, there was a rebellion of farmers in western Massachusetts, led by Captain Daniel Shays, a veteran of the Revolutionary war. The uprising was crushed, but it put a scare into those leaders who were to become our Founding Fathers.”

After Shays Rebellion, General Henry Knox warned his former commander, George Washington, about the rebels: “They see the weakness of government; they feel at once their own poverty, compared to the opulent, and their own force, and they are determined to make use of the latter in order to remedy the former. Their creed is that the property of the U.S. has been protected from the confiscations of Britain by the joint exertions of all, and therefore should be the common property of all.”

The Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia for 1787 was called to deal with this problem, to set up “big government,” to protect the interests of merchants, slave-holders, and landowners.
The conflict between the original purpose of the Constitution,which was to protect landowners, and the current interpretations protecting the rights of individuals, remains at a standstill. Meanwhile, “We the People” continue to voice general grievances.

Karin Friedemann is a Boston-based freelance writer.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Gaining momentum

Since the end of September, hundreds of protesters under the banner “Occupy Boston” have set up camp in downtown Boston, Massachusetts to support the ongoing “Occupy Wall Street” protests in New York. Their demands are varied, but seem to be focused on unemployment, rising food prices, and the unfairness of billions of dollars of tax money being spent on useless wars and bank bailouts while the American dream of home ownership and “a chicken in every pot” steadily dies, as ordinary citizens lose their financial security.

Tents have filled up a public park while crowds chant slogans such as “Tax the Rich,” hold up hand made signs and fill the air with music and drumming. Celebrities have come to perform, and the homeless have been receiving free food and clothing. Compared to the scene in New York, Occupy Boston is enjoying a festive atmosphere despite the chilly weather, free of tension without any hint of police brutality.

Various people drop by with donations of money, food, blankets and kind words, while the number of campers continues to grow.

The mayor of Boston, Thomas Menino and the governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick have decided that there will be no arrests of protesters and have in fact stated publicly that they support the right of citizens to express their opinions. The protesters have been told they are free to camp out as long as they choose. Media criticism has focused on the cost upon taxpayers to pick up the garbage and provide the tent city with electricity. It is highly probable that the City of Boston has decided to avoid the bad press that comes along with police violence against angry mobs. It is also much cheaper to provide these very basic services to the protesters than to arrest and detain them and then pay for all of them to go to trial and provide them all with court-appointed lawyers. Furthermore, there might be some quiet agreement with the slogan “Tax the Rich” among many in the leadership, for this is one of the principles upon which the State of Massachusetts operates, as the only state in the US that provides free health insurance to the lower middle class.

Massachusetts is already well-known as the US state which takes the best care of its poorer citizens out of its wealthy tax base, providing government-subsidised child care starting from the age of one month, after school and summer programmes for teens, nearly free sports programmes, food and cash aid and reduced housing prices for the poor. Yet it is still not enough for everyone to feel secure. The working middle class is hardest hit by the economy since they do not qualify for most of these programmes and often go into debt trying to provide for their families due to medical bills, childcare or the high price of gasoline. Occupy Boston is not your usual group of punks and hippies with nothing else to do but complain. The movement has been joined by college students, nurses, pilots, and other workers. As I drove on the highway today past the electrical workers’ union I saw a fancy electrical sign reading “We the People Occupy Boston.”

America’s largest labour union, the AFL-CIO with 11 million members has backed the growing movement, stating: “The Wall Street banks and the largest corporations refuse to pay their fair share of taxes while our infrastructure crumbles. They sit on record profits while the rest of the country suffers, and they still refuse to put people back to work.” The Boston Herald reports that many of the elderly are showing their support. A retired 71-year-old gentleman, who ran his own corporate headhunting firm, visited the tent village yesterday afternoon to advise the young people to focus on making clearer demands. “I’d like to see the group more focused on applying pressure to specific areas,” he stated.

Personally I agree. It makes no sense using so much personal energy to speak out against such a vague term as “Corporate Greed” without actually naming names of bankers or lobbyists who should go to jail, for example, or demanding some specific reforms of the process of electing public officials.

It is a bizarre situation, where banks and financial corporations have opened their doors to the hundreds of anti-bank anti-corporation protesters to let them use the toilet. The unrest seems to be good for local capitalism, since all these people have to eat.

One of America’s leading pro-Israel advocates Rabbi Michael Lerner has been actively recruiting Jews to participate in the protests — perhaps to steer the conversation away from cutting US aid to Israel, which would be an obvious way to quickly make more money available to the masses of disgruntled Americans.

Even more contradictory are the conflicting views of the people involved. Right-wing Libertarian protesters demand an end to the credit-based economy and want to return to the Gold Standard, while the Leftists and Liberals simply want to steer more borrowed government money into improving and expanding welfare programmes. But most are in agreement that jobs are more important than foreign wars and that the government needs to focus more on its citizens not the demands of corporate lobbyists.

Karin Friedemann is a Boston-based freelance writer

Friday, October 07, 2011

Dealing with Hypocrites

In this world, there are many people who do not speak the truth. Even more alarming, there are people who speak in half-truths, using linguistic details to mislead, while not technically lying. Just as the Disbelievers read the Quran looking for corruption within it, certain people make agreements in bad faith, seeking loopholes. Like the Quranic description of Satan, this person makes a promise, but then when you ask him about it, he claims he never promised that thing! Such people can make us want to beat our heads against the wall.

The Prophet (s) said: “Most of man’s mistakes and sins are committed by his tongue, and the worst sin is to lie!”

How can we navigate ourselves safely in a world where things are often not as they are explained? One thing we must do is give less space in our minds to the hypocrites. “Hanging onto resentment is letting someone you despise live rent-free in your head,” as the saying goes. It is important to let go of the fantasy that we can control others. All we can do is control how we react to them, and make sure we don’t fall into their trap.

“Because hypocrisy stinks in the nostrils one is likely to rate it as a more powerful agent for destruction than it is.” wrote Rebecca West in 1928.

Promise-breakers generally have a pattern of behavior. At a certain point, nobody believes what they say. The Quran states in Surat al-Nur:

And of mankind, there are some who say: “We believe in Allah and the Last Day’’ while in fact they do not believe. They try to deceive Allah and those who believe, while they only deceive themselves, and perceive (it) not!

There are some people who are outwardly religious, but you still cannot trust them because they have developed an internal dialogue that justifies their transgressions against other people. A terrible example I can give is an outwardly devout Muslim man who married three wives without clearly explaining his marital status to his brides. When I asked him why he did not inform his third wife of his other two wives, his reply was, “She did not ask!”

In light of this admission I feel obliged to advise those seeking to enter into a marriage with anyone to do three things:

1. Ask questions! Never trust someone blindly or withhold questions in fear of offending.

2. Talk to people who know this person and ask very specific questions about their past.

3. Ask for the person’s credit report

In this day and age where we arrange marriages with near strangers from other parts of the world, it important to check out anyone we plan to marry. A credit report will tell you a lot about a person, in particular: does this person honor his or her agreements? If a bank would not loan money to this person, it would be wise for you not to invest too much trust in this person.

On the authority of Abdullah ibn ‘Amr, the Prophet (s) said: “There are four traits which, whoever possesses them is a hypocrite and whoever possesses some of them has an element of hypocrisy until he leaves it: the one who when he speaks he lies, when he promises he breaks his promise, when he disputes he transgresses and when he makes an agreement he violates it.”

Nobody is perfect. Some innocent people break promises just because they have personal weaknesses, not because they were intending to deceive. A friend of mine who was going to Germany asked me what I wanted as a gift so I asked her to bring me some marzipan. She faithfully bought the marzipan, but during the journey could not control her sweet tooth and ate it all! I was disappointed of course but I did not hate her for this because she did the honorable thing: She admitted she had made the promise, admitted she broke the promise, and felt genuinely sorry.

There is a huge difference between this and those who purposely trick people, who backbite, cheat, or bluff their way through life, and when you confront them they become hostile to avoid further discussion. One woman found out shortly after marriage that her fiance had lied about his ethnic background, his financial status, and even his source of livelihood! When she asked him why, he said, “If I had told you the truth, you would not have married me.”

A true liar lies in order to seek personal gain. It is not just a reflexive action like that of a teenager whose father asked her, “Have you been smoking?” Real hypocrites actually enjoy torturing truthful people with confusion, considering themselves above others.

Imam Ali stated about the hypocrites: “They are jealous of other people’s prosperity, interested in other people’s misery and are a source of hopelessness and stress.”

I have learned as I have grown older to trust others less and myself more. I have learned that my body never lies. If a certain person causes me to have headaches and stomachaches, or causes my heart rate to increase, that person is probably unhealthy for me as company. I should even refrain from arguing with such a person because they only respond with lies to my attempts to appeal to their higher self.

Karin Friedemann is a Boston-based freelance writer.

Monday, October 03, 2011

How to avoid some pitfalls in marriage

How to avoid some pitfalls in marriage
Karin Friedemann

Recently I was talking to my old friend Lily from Wayne State and she mentioned to me that she and her boyfriend were breaking up. In hearing her story, I was so impressed by how US law protected her as a non-married woman. In their final argument, her now ex took her cell phone from her and smashed it, then he took her laptop and smashed it. When she called the police, he was immediately arrested and put in jail, charged with two counts of destruction of private property. He was facing ten years in prison. She took pity on him and dropped the charges on the condition that he leave the country. She was the owner of the house where they both lived, so earlier on, when he had started becoming violent with her, the police simply removed him from her house like an unwelcome guest.

What if they had been married co-owners of the house? It would be upon the wife to prove to the police that her husband had been intimidating or hurting her. If she was hysterical and he was acting calm, or if he claimed that she was the one attacking him, the police might even side with him. Unless she was gushing blood, the police probably wouldn't do much of anything. At best, they might offer to give the wife a ride to a women's shelter, whereupon she would give up her practical use of the house if she didn't return to her husband. That is so frightening.

My other friend Anya's husband never beat her but he did have a habit of using her credit card without her permission, running up thousands of dollars in debt and promising to pay her back someday. She was stuck with all his credit card charges in the divorce as it was considered “marital debt.” Her lawyer told her that legally, she was responsible for having married the guy and therefore could not demand repayment. In fact, she could be held responsible for paying half of all his debts, even though she was a destitute housewife!

Essentially, Anya was taken for over $10,000 by her man and because he was her husband he got away with it. But Lily's boyfriend faced ten years in prison for putting her out of less than $1000. In fact, the computer company took pity on her situation and replaced her computer for free! Even a year after Anya paid $15,000 to divorce her husband, he's still living in the house that she was forced out of, whose mortgage is in her name and she cannot get him to move out because he is co-owner.

So what's the answer? Don't get married? Legally, a man is required to pay child support whether he was married legally to the mother or not. The only practical reasons that I can think of to get legally married is for immigration purposes, because the cost of marriage far outweighs the personal cost of health insurance or any savings due to jointly filed taxes for most individuals.

A lot of Muslims actually do choose to skip the civil marriage document and have a religious marriage instead. Given the reality of the inadequacy of married women's rights in this country, how can Muslim women protect themselves using Shariah when they get married, especially with the many examples of abuse of Shariah in some countries?

One Islamic law that works well for women in the west is that the wife's money is kept separate. She is free to contribute to the household, but her husband is not free to access her money or her accounts. I would take that a step further and advise married couples never, ever to co-sign on a loan.

For her dowry, the bride can require her husband to buy her a house and put it entirely in her name. But be wise: a divorced housewife doesn't necessarily want to be stuck with suddenly having to pay a mortgage. Think this through in advance. Some Muslim brides ask for a car. Either of these purchases would give a future abused wife the practical and legal power to physically separate herself from her husband while minimizing court battles. In the event of a happy marriage, there is no harm done.

A very important thing no bride to be should overlook is the power of the prenuptial agreement. If it were my daughter, the one thing I would definitely want included would be the right of the wife to initiate divorce for any reason just like a man. Islam gives this right to women if they would ask for it. Marriage is ideally a mutual agreement based on the free will of both parties. There should be no coercion involved. Both parties should want to be together. No woman should be put in the position of having to “prove” that her husband is impotent or that he has a mental illness he refuses to get help for.

If a couple has signed a prenuptial agreement, that contract can be enforced under US law. Not because it is Shariah but because it is a legally binding contract. Unfortunately, a married woman in the US has to separate from her husband before she can take him to court for support as she should be able to under Shariah law (in theory) while remaining with him. It would be interesting to find out if an Islamically married woman has ever forced her husband to pay the dowry he promised her using any western legal system. If anyone has any examples please let me know, I would be fascinated.

Karin Friedemann is a Boston-based freelance writer. Please feel free to comment at

Friday, September 23, 2011

For a child, a hug is a magic circle

Another year of school has begun! Life goes on in this curious American tradition based on the past. Children always got summers off school so they could help till the soil on the family farm —school began again after the harvest.

At this point in history not only does this make no sense, since hardly anyone even lives on a family farm anymore, but it inconveniences working families, who are stuck paying for day care all summer long for their children. The government would save so much money if children got three months in winter off instead of summers. The cost of plowing the streets for the school buses and keeping the buses running under winter conditions not to mention heating all those buildings must be enormous. Yet, few Americans would willingly give up their summer break.

As a mother of four I am exhausted. Why am I the one who is exhausted when it’s my children who are setting forth out of my home? I couldn’t sleep because I was so nervous for my children, even while they slept like little angels. Well, besides all the stress of buying school supplies and school clothes, I worry about them because I know what it was like for me when the school year began. I recall that I did not sleep a wink the night before my first day of kindergarten, afraid of the unknown. It was most of the way through the year before I made my first friend, I was so shy. My daughter just started kindergarten on Monday and already made a friend on the first day, thank goodness. She was blessed with a certain radiance and the assumption that everyone loves her in advance. Her main complaint, and she was really mad, was that the teacher didn’t give her any homework!

My son just started 7th grade and I feel so nervous for him because 7th grade was probably the most stressful year of my school-life. I developed headaches then, which I had never experienced before, chest pains, and stomach aches suddenly dealing with huge numbers of students that I didn’t know. Because I was not secure in my inner self, the outer image became very important as a way of connecting with a group, although it took me until 8th grade to even get that far. For the most part I was an invisible, book-carrying, glasses-wearing part of the machine going from class to locker to class. I felt like my life was a prison.

Knowing that the school year with its time consuming routines can turn life into a mundane blur hardly worthy of remembering, it is important to help our children create happy memories and help them ease into social interactions in an emotionally safe environment because school-life is not all fun and games. School is where we learn about the nasty, competitive side of human nature sometimes. Young people are starving for guidance, we just need to make it easy for them to do in a relaxed setting.

With my older ones in school I have my own struggles with my toddler, who is not used to having to entertain herself. The sheer inability to get anything accomplished with her destroying the house as fast as I can clean up will eventually steer me out of doors and bring me to interact with the community more. Once people start recognising your face, they are more likely to greet you and smile at you. But even smiling at a stranger can change the entire mood of a day.

Nobody needs your smile more than your child when he or she comes home from school. Some children go overboard in the attempt to make friends by doing things that are superficial or even harmful in order to gain attention like smoking or idolising a music genre. This is especially the case when kids don’t feel much approval at home. So make sure you give your child a hug every day and tell them something nice. Knowing you care, that you are nervous when they are nervous, and that you are proud of how they are growing up, makes all the difference in the world.

Karin Friedemann is a Boston-based 
freelance writer

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Ode to Mass Murder

Originally, I was not planning on writing a 9/11 article. Why not treat 9/11 the way Americans treat Hiroshima Day? Nobody cares that the US incinerated an entire city in Japan, it was not just one building. Let's be fair. On 9/11, between 2,000 and 3,000 people perished according to varying reports. Only God knows if they were innocent or not. Some of them probably beat their wives or bought lottery tickets. Anyway they were non-combatants, who are protected in war by moral standards. I knew someone who was working in the banking industry in the World Trade Center. He was a Muslim. But I never understood why he would work at a bank, let alone at America's Ribaa Center. I feel horribly for his family. No matter who bombed the World Trade Center in New York, Allah willed it though. He willed all of those people killed, the same way He willed you to lose your wallet one day. Maybe you underestimated your Zakat. Maybe your reaction of alhamdulillah will protect your future losses and gains.

Nobody who ever met Osama bin Laden ever said a bad word about him. Therefore I am inclined to disbelieve ongoing news reports that he was connected to 9/11. Just before the Americans started bombing Afghanistan, the US told the Taliban to hand over bin Laden. The Taliban said if he had committed such a crime, they would be happy to hand him over since according to Islam, the targeting of non-combatants is illegal. What was the evidence that bin Laden had committed the crime, they asked? The US refused to answer. We just mass murdered thousands of starving people for no apparent reason. Same as Iraq. The US just decided that certain people shouldn't have food.

I'm sorry my fellow travelers, but that's just Satanic. An illiterate could see this. The Salafis held the American flag high totally clueless while Shias blamed the Salafis for 9/11, also waving the American flag. Hello? Can we just get something straight? Muslims don't fight like 9/11. The WTC attack was a made-for-TV event. It was seized by all the networks to promote an agenda. They said they knew who did it within 30 seconds of the first report and yet ten years later, they have not produced a shred of evidence. Muslims don't do one-time, glamorous, perfectly photographed at every angle events!

9/11 cannot be considered as part of any jihad right or wrong, for the simple reason that it was clearly a symbolic show of smoke and flames and not an act of an ongoing war. When Muslims fight a war, they don't mess around with one-time events. If there was an Islamic Jihad in America, people would be dying every day. If there was such thing as al-Qaeda declaring war on the US the way the Taliban declared war on the Soviet Union, five to six policemen would die a day. Civilians would rarely be targeted. But the death toll would be steady, small, and relentless. Not a week would go by when the Muslims didn't hurt you so deep by targeting your men in uniform on your own soil. Muslims fight to win.

If Muslims had declared war on the US and they had truly committed 9/11, don't you think they would have capitalized on that event? They would have followed that explosion with another explosion and another one after that, if they had that much money and power. Not. How come there are no car bombs going off every few days in America like in most Muslim countries? How come I got some pizza at Sbarro's no problem? Why is Boston's World Trade Center still standing?

9/11 was not committed by any extremist Muslims on an anti-American Crusade. If they were, we'd have heard about follow up explosions on 9/12, 9/13, and every week including this week just like Palestine or Pakistan just between political parties. Look at every war involving Muslims. It just goes on and on and on with agonizing detail. One person at a time is targeted and the person who shot him may or may not get away unharmed. To say that 9/11 bears any characteristics of Islamic warfare is a JOKE. At no time in history have Muslims ever created one single successful attack staged for television that ruined a nation. They never ever got all TV stations to agree who did it within 30 seconds of their grandiose measure. This is absurdity! If the Muslims could do this, why are they not doing it every week? They would have their own station just for terrorizing skittish Americans with 9/11 footage around the clock. They don't.

9/11 was a mass murder for which no perpetrator has ever been convicted. No one has ever had a fair trial and answered our questions. It has never happened. There are people on Wall Street who know why.

Karin Friedemann is a Boston-based freelance writer.

Friday, September 09, 2011

The Eternal Jihad is Doable

Modern psychology seems to agree with Islam that there are two kinds of people in this world, ultimately: Power Over and Power Within people. Marriages and nations have been destroyed because of the conflict between these two human philosophies. It seems completely impossible that they could ever live in peace, because one viewpoint says that in order for me to win, you must lose. This is the viewpoint of Jahiliyyah (ignorance). The other viewpoint says, “I can never win unless you win also.” In Islam we have learned that if even just a small part of your body hurts, the entire body cannot sleep. It is the classic domination vs. cooperation framework conflict. It is as old as time. It would take a philosopher to really delve into it, but basically, the Prophet (s) told us this struggle will go on until the end of time! This is the eternal jihad.

When the medieval Christian world came into contact with the Arabian and African Muslim world, they did not have a complete code of honor. Because Christ’s teachings involved turning the other cheek, there was no actual Christian law to govern war. Therefore, there were no boundaries. It is very similar to India’s meat industry today. Because eating meat according to Hinduism is a sin, there are no laws or ethics governing the treatment of cows in India. They treat it like an all or nothing situation.

As a result of Europe’s dance with the Muslims during the Anglo-Saxon period, Christians absorbed what they learned from their Islamic enemies and interpreted things in their peculiar ways. Europeans had never before seen women on or near the battlefield. The Muslim women who accompanied their husband “Saracens” on long journeys were described as promiscuous witches in traditional English literature. Yet curiously, indirectly, the Islamic hadith got indirectly written into the tales of King Arthur, who is the fictional equivalent in literature of our Imam Ali.

Ali (sa) is best known for refusing to kill the pagan enemy simply because he didn’t want to kill out of anger or ego, he would only kill for the sake of Allah. The man had spit on Ali’s face. Ali just let him go! Ali is the ultimate historical character across all nations that defined righteous behavior on the battlefield. The Anglo-Saxons after their experience with the Muslim world adopted the creed that war was supposed to be about freeing prisoners, feeding widows and orphans and helping the needy and oppressed, and this wisdom was spread throughout Europe through the tales of King Arthur. Before Christians came into contact with Islam, they thought war was just about killing people for power and commercial products. They didn’t accept Islam directly but they rewrote their own teachings to include the Islamic wisdom indirectly.

There are even earlier teachings in Islam that involve this basic human conflict between ignorance and reason. The Prophet Sulayman (as) when approaching the Queen of Sheba in marriage made it clear that the pagan system of her empire was going to have to submit to Islam if she wanted peace with her neighbors. There truly cannot be any compromise between hedonistic materialism and the prophetic way. They are like night and day.

Margaret Paul, Ph.D writes in an article about Good Self Esteem, “Our society often confuses personal power – “power within” – with “power over,” which is about controlling others. There is a vast difference between personal power and control. Personal power comes from an inner sense of security, from knowing who you are in your soul, from having defined your own intrinsic worth. It is the power that flows through you when you are connected to and feel your oneness with a spiritual source of guidance. It is the power that is the eventual result of doing deep inner emotional and spiritual work to heal the fears and false beliefs acquired in childhood.”

All people on earth are obligated by the promise that they made before time with Adam (as) in front of God to do this work of inner searching towards guidance and ultimate truth, including banishing the false teachings of our childhoods. There are no excuses. According to Islam, nobody has the right to say they didn’t realize they were supposed to do this in their lifetime. We made that promise to God before birth.

Dr. M. Paul continues: “Even if you do manage to have some control through anger, criticism, judgment, or money, this will never give you personal power – When the soul has dominion over the body, you have the power to manifest your dreams, to stay centered in the face of attack, to remain loving in the face of fear. When the soul has dominion over the body, you have tremendous personal power.”

Every person who is serious about their role on this earth is going to have to learn how to control their animalistic impulses especially when feeling wronged. We cannot make rational decisions about how to deal with a situation until we let go of our attachment to knowing we were wronged.

The animal instincts of fight or flight – the instincts of the body – often have dominion over our choices, but these reactions are largely caused by adrenaline. After prolonged periods of adrenaline stimulation without any change in the situation, the immune system begins to shut down. It is a huge journey to learn how to stand up to injustice without losing your center of control within.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The disability of our time

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a psychological problem that can affect people from any part of the globe, and from every social class.

We can all sympathise with someone who lost his mind after his family got swept away by a tsunami. We have all heard stories of war veterans who were no longer the same after they came back home. Yet PTSD can also be triggered by seemingly minor events, such as being punished as a child for a misdeed one didn’t commit.

It is increasingly documented that women involved with men on the autism spectrum are extremely likely to suffer from PTSD due to the constant emotional trauma of caring for a person disabled by a neurological disorder, which prevents him from responding appropriately to the needs of others.

PTSD was not labelled as a psychiatric disorder until 1980, but people have suffered from PTSD throughout the history of mankind. During the American Civil War it was called “Soldier’s Heart.” It is possible that the prevalence of PTSD has increased in recent years due to the ability to access graphic news on TV and the Internet.

Humans are now able to see traumatic events all over the world and some people have trouble coping with the images. On the other hand, the general public’s increasing emotional numbness to exposure to painful world events or even violent video games is also worrying and perhaps even more dangerous from a clinical standpoint.

People are best able to cope with negative life experiences when they have a deep emotional reservoir of positive life experiences and trust-based relationships. A person with a solid foundation of self-esteem and love can eventually heal from something as terrible as witnessing a murder while someone with a poor sense of self could fall apart just because his home went into foreclosure.

Some people are simply more sensitive than others. It’s often hard to predict how one will react to traumatic stress until it happens. Having a history of trauma may increase one’s risk of getting PTSD after a recent traumatic event. There is a huge connection between childhood neglect or mistreatment and a person’s inability to process negative emotions.

While traumatic stress is happening, a person tends to block out the pain or reinterpret events in order to deal with the present situation. However, in the weeks, months, and years after the emotional trauma has passed, the person remains unable to cope effectively because of the memory of the pain. PTSD is characterised by periodic disconnect from present reality, where one’s mind relives a past event over and over, fully experiencing the emotions of that event as if it were happening now.

One clue that one is not processing one’s stress effectively is when one feels exhausted during the day and falls asleep on time, yet wakes in the night burdened by repetitive thoughts and cannot go back to sleep for hours. Some people are even afraid to go to sleep due to nightmares or images in their minds.

Other symptoms of PTSD include disinterest in normal everyday activities, avoiding things that remind one of that event, emotional numbness, startling easily, hyper-vigilance, paranoia, erratic heartbeat, fainting, inordinately angry outbursts, intense shame and guilt, and a constant sense of danger. Traumatised children may develop irrational phobias, lose their toilet training, and often relive their trauma in play. Palestinian children whose homes have been destroyed by the Israelis have often been documented building play houses, or wetting themselves when they hear loud noises.

The process of healing from PTSD requires going through a full grieving and healing process so that one can learn and grow from the negative life experience instead of letting it hold one back from truly living. Healing also involves learning to set internal boundaries against past and present abusers in one’s life as well as learning to steer one’s mind away from bad thoughts. It may help to keep a journal of one’s feelings or to make a schedule where one records the time lost daily ruminating about painful past events or conversations.

It is important to understand that PTSD is not a sign of weakness or cowardice but actually points to a strongly developed conscience and higher than average emotional intelligence. The only way to overcome PTSD is to confront what happened to you and learn to accept it as a part of your past while learning how to minimize stress and anxiety in your current life.

Karin Friedemann is a Boston-based freelance writer

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Love of Your Child

There is nothing more intimate than the love between mother and child. Marriage is an interesting learning experience, but it cannot compete with the total human sacrifice it takes to produce a child. After bearing the stress in one’s womb for months and months, feeling the weakness and hunger, and finally the labor which cannot ever be described, a new human being arrives. This being suckles on you until your bones ache so that you cannot sleep at night, and yet you long for another one. This is love. This is true love.

“What is love? Does anybody love anybody anyway?” sang Howard Jones, a UK artist, when I was in Junior High School. I still don’t know the answer to these questions.

“The mothers shall give such to their offspring for two whole years, if the father desires to complete the term. But he shall bear the cost of their food and clothing on equitable terms. No soul shall have a burden laid on it greater than it can bear. No mother shall be treated unfairly on account of her child. Nor father on account of his child, an heir shall be chargeable in the same way. If they both decide on weaning, by mutual consent, and after due consultation, there is no blame on them. If ye decide on a foster-mother for your offspring, there is no blame on you, provided ye pay (the mother) what ye offered, on equitable terms. But fear God and know that God sees well what ye do. (Quran 2:233)”

He shall bear the cost of their food and clothing on equitable terms. No soul shall have a burden laid on it greater than it can bear. No mother shall be treated unfairly on account of her child. These are actually reasonable requests. God laid it down.

So now that we have got that straight, what have we now? A financial exchange. But is there more to life than that? I don’t know yet. But there are people who go through this life never knowing what it was like to fall asleep at their mother’s breast. There are so many of us, especially children of the 70’s, who just never knew that. When we had a nightmare, we had to “understand” that no one was going to cuddle us. We faced this world alone, without any sense of having any rights.

Even the most emotionally detached mother could fall asleep with her child, and this skin contact could even save a child’s life. For life. A scientific study in Brazil showed that mothers who “wore” their premature babies under their clothes with constant skin contact (instead of keeping them in an incubator) were rewarded with higher rates of weight gain and overall health of their babies. Love boosts the immune system. And if you don’t know how to love yet, the first step is lots of long hugs to increase the sense of emotional security, which gives bursts to all the healing hormones your body can release.

Close physical contact is part of Islam. I invited some neighbors to a local iftar and my friend’s husband, who was from Spain, commented that, during the prayer, he had never been so physically close to other men in his entire life. He kind of liked it.

There are so many things we could do wrong in our lives, but if we could at least give our children the emotional security of skin contact at a very early age, we could do well. Even if we are not nursing, how about putting your arm around your child? If you give it a few minutes, he or she might even fall asleep. What’s most important, even more important than the mother’s milk, is knowing that somebody cares. Somebody is there.

We come into this world alone, and we will leave it alone. Nobody will be able to help us. We have only a short time to love one another. Whomever we love, they may be gone tomorrow. We might be gone tomorrow. We need to set boundaries against disrespect, but we must keep an open door policy for those whom we love.

We should never think that our actions will not affect another human being. If we let a child cry himself to sleep, we might think he’ll never remember, but in fact this might be the deciding factor in whether he believes in himself or not. It actually takes someone else to help you realize that you have the right to take up space in this world, when you are new here. No one can do it alone. People who are mistreated or neglected all their lives often curl up and die. In any case their immune system takes a hit.

Christians and Muslims have a dispute because Christians say, “God is Love,” whereas Muslims say, “God is the Lover.” This is a grammatical problem, not a basic issue. There are so many beautiful people out there. Why not love them all?

Love comes from Allah alone. You can never force or will someone to love you back. It is entirely out of your hands. And there is a certain element of comfort in that.

There is somebody who will never refuse your love. That is your child.

Making sense out of Christian Evangelism

There are many Christian missionaries that are trying win souls to Christianity. One of them is Rev. Hicham Chehab, head of the Chicagoland Lutheran Muslim Mission Association (CLMMA). He is based in Chicago and is heading a campaign to convert Muslims in to Christianity. I have not been able to easily uncover any Zionist connections, which are obvious in the case of several other “former Muslim” spokespersons for pro-Israel organizations. In his facebook bio, Chehab does not state the Lebanese militia to which he belonged (or for which he was trained). It is critical information, and its absence could make all his claims dubious. It is certainly profitable to claim to be a former Islamic extremist now taking shelter in Christianity. However, nothing that I can find in the immediately accessible data can prove that his conversion was not sincere. His problems with Islam seem to be a result of upbringing and are very similar to other complaints among Muslims in Muslim cultures throughout the world.

Chehab attended the Islamic and Arab/Lebanese Nationalist Makased school system. His main issue with their approach to religion was this:

“After a few weeks in my Muslim school the teacher started giving us books that today we call political Islam. They said, the world is divided into two parts, the world of Islam and the world of Infidels.”

To be honest, it's kind of hard to argue with this because there is at least one hadith saying as much. The issue of concern is interpretation and context. In my experience with Arab immigrant Muslims, their cultural interpretation of such verses tends to be vastly different than the way a college educated American Muslim would interpret it. It is possible, within the context of his political and educational status, that this type of teaching could have been perceived negatively by a sensitive person seeking higher truths. He may not have realized that there are other ways to interpret Islam.

When we hear about a Jew, who is tired of the “us versus them” mentality of the synagogue, accepts Islam, we rejoice. And yet, when a Muslim, who is tired of the “us versus them” mentality of the mosque, accepts Christianity, we grieve. I am not sure that we are in a position to judge in these matters, in many cases. If the person's personal healing path leads them in a certain way, and inspires them to be a better person, only God truly knows if that is the path most suited to accessing God, given that person's personal peculiarities. Chehab was clearly an emotionally conflicted individual, who made a choice to reject what his parents taught him and embraced a new spiritual path as a conscious choice. Maybe the version of Islam that his parents taught him was worthy of rejection. We can't know. What we can't deny is that Muslim activists study Bible verses to help them approach Christians with the intention of converting them to Islam.

I think every Christian has the right to preach the Gospel to anyone that is willing to listen just as every Jew has the right to preach the Ten Commandments and every Muslim has the right to preach that there is no god but Allah. We argue with the best of arguments, and he who makes the most sense will gain the largest following.

The issue with this Muslim-Turned-Christian-Minister is that he was given a job to train immigration officials and also taught an anti-terrorism course to the Army Reserve. His connection with the government creates questions as to his actual motives. I think, as a majority Christian nation, it probably does help the US understanding when a former Muslim can explain Muslims to Christians using Christian language. But if you truly want to understand Islam, you also have to talk to someone who believes in it. That is where the CAIR complaint comes in. Maybe it's not so much an issue of getting rid of the evangelist but of including more voices in the debate.

Islam is a beautiful religion. Christianity is also a beautiful religion, and they are intertwined. The interesting thing is, when you go to Palestine and observe the oldest Christian community in the world, you don't see these boundaries between Islam and Christianity. Muslims and Christians intermarry, they give each other gifts on their respective holidays. When the Christians parade down the street in honor of the Virgin Mary, their Muslim neighbors join in. The Christians are as happy on Eid as anybody else. There is no conflict. Christianity is a very broad belief spectrum, in fact there are sects of Christianity that believe like Muslims do, that Christ did not die upon the cross. He lives forever, because he taught us that love is so important. Christ is a beautiful figure. He is our Messiah.

It is so important for Muslims to embrace Christ. There is no other prophet who can heal your heart like Jesus, the son of Mary. There is no other prophet who never died. He is still alive. That is why he is different than all the other prophets. Muslims have to realize that there is no alternative to Christ. He is the one that is coming back. He is the one we await. He is the one who can cure our world. No one else. We have the guidance from our holy Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) but he's not coming back. Our hope is in Christ. He is our only hope as a nation and as a planet. We should not fight with the Christians.

I write this not to confuse but to get people to see that there is no conflict. We are all working towards the same goal: Paradise.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Fulfilling Our Destiny is Like Surfing the Waves

Every living thing has an ideal destiny, because God created us to grow, learn, enjoy life, and improve our intellect, so that we may understand Reality, just like He wants the flowers to bloom. God made every living being with a blueprint of its true nature within its DNA. Sometimes flowers wilt, sometimes people become depressed, but that is not their true nature. Some kind of deficit has occurred, like lack of rain prevents the flower from living up to its natural potential. Unlike flowers we have choices, and the moral responsibility for those choices. We also have human rights.

In Islam, a woman has the moral responsibility for the spiritual status of herself, and her children. On the Day of Judgment a man will however be asked about the level of his wife's faith. A woman will not be held morally responsible to the same degree if her husband went astray. That is because man has a degree of power over his wife that she doesn't have over him, by nature. A parent only has moral responsibility up to a point. When the child becomes of age, he is responsible for his own choices. Prophet Noah (pbuh) had to go through the heartbreak of enduring a disobedient son and then, he had to live with the knowledge his son had drowned in the Flood. What a terrible burden! But Allah relieved him of that burden. Allah actually told Noah he was acting out of ignorance to pray for his own son to be forgiven and saved.

He (God) said, “O Noah, in fact, he (your son) is not a part of your family. Indeed, he is (a man of) bad deeds. So do not ask Me something of which you have no knowledge. I exhort you not to be among the ignorant.” (Quran 11:46)
Allah said it is ignorance to love and consider as family a man of bad deeds. The most sacred bonds such as between a parent and a child can be destroyed by bad deeds. When we continue to pray for something in a relationship that is not possible, we are living in ignorance. Yet, at other times, when we should be doing something quite possible, but we did not make the effort, we are also living in ignorance. How do we know if a situation is salvageable? How do we know when to give up on a person or whether to try harder to reach them? As long as we are acting from ego, we will never know.

Even a prophet can never be sure if he was acting out of ego or not. Prophet David (pbuh) used to follow his prayers with supplications begging forgiveness for the inadequacy of his previous prayers, in case there was any pride mixed in for having performed them.

Every struggle, whether a relationship problem, cancer, or a war, presents us with opportunities to learn and grow, and to purify our souls. There is a special dwelling place in Paradise for those who are able to praise God in every circumstance no matter what. We will always experience hardship and loss and fear. Our ego can get in the way and make us afraid to take risks or conversely, make us react emotionally and destructively. Real devils will interfere in our lives and zap our ability to understand what's going on.

Everyone has something that they are destined to fulfill in this life. Sometimes we stop the process of our own growth and degrade ourselves; sometimes we allow someone else to degrade us – because we have been allowing our ego to cover up the Truth deep inside that God wants us to be happy and healthy. It's a delicate balance we must maintain, and it has to move with every wave, like a surfer. But if we can maintain that balance within, we can then with a clear head make the best decision for what will help us blossom in our true lives.

The Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) said the struggle will go on until the Day of Judgment, like the ocean waves. There will never be a time when we don't have to face trouble and make decisions about how to deal with these challenges. Until we get our own egos under control, we will face the same trouble over and over and over, regardless of how many times we run away from our problems.

All human beings are in a state of total confusion until we accept Grace. Verily all men are in a state of loss! Except those who accept that sunshine and rain from the sky, and share this Truth with others. They are the ones who can bloom. They are the ones who have learned to collect Power from the universe, circulate it within, and emit Light. They are the glowing ones.

When you see someone who is glowing, you know they are not wasting their day nursing resentments, you know they are keeping their minds clear and clean. They probably have a regular spiritual practice, because glowing takes regular practice. It doesn't just “happen” just like music doesn't just “happen.” Unless a musician regularly exercises the tiny muscles in his fingers, he will not be able to play you a song, let alone put feeling into that song. We must constantly work on perfecting ourselves, but we will never be perfect. We can never give up trying to be the best we can be, because that is the whole point of our life's journey.

Karin Friedemann is a Boston-based freelance writer.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

God’s Word Against Israel

Zionist Judaism claims that the Covenant of God is a real estate deal. An “eternal” real estate deed given to the Jews unconditionally by God. Their claim to the “Land of Israel” is based on one or two verses in the Bible cited out of context, although throughout the many centuries of pre-Zionist history, Jewish scholars never understood those verses to call for a nation state “For Jews Only” in Palestine.

Fortunately, the Zionists are as wrong as the American white slaveowners who justified slavery using the Bible. The Covenant of God is not a real estate deed. It is a contract made between people and God, wherein God says, “I created you, therefore follow My Laws,” and the people reply in fear, “We hear and we obey.” God does not care where you live. He cares how you live.

When making the moral argument for Palestine with Jews, one often reaches a dead end: There is no conceptual framework in Judaism that provides any moral guidance on how to run a nation state.
The Jews by and large understand that Israel was created by ethnic cleansing. They understand that Israel’s existence is dependent on past and future displacement and disenfranchisement of Palestinians. They call this “Redeeming the Land of Israel.” According to the Covenant as Zionists understand it, the property of Palestinians belongs to Jews, and God commanded the Jews to kill the Palestinians.

Zionist Jews imagine themselves as Joshua’s army. Joshua, in the Bible, was an Israelite prophet that commanded a mass execution of all the Canaanites at the behest of God. According to the Bible, the reason was because the Canaanites were idolaters who practiced child sacrifice. Hence, the frequent references by Jewish pseudo-intellectuals to the Palestinian religion as a death cult of child sacrifice; overlooking the obvious fact that it is Israel who has shot thousands of Palestinian youngsters. Palestinians are not murdering their own children. Furthermore, it is simply intellectually dishonest racism to suggest that Muslim and Christian Palestinians are pagans.

The Muslims have always been very clear that they do not approve of child sacrifice. When the Muslims under Caliph Umar came to Egypt, they learned that the Egyptians used to throw a virgin girl into the Nile every year to appease the goddess of the Nile because they thought this would prevent it from flooding too much. The Muslim government applied some pressure and convinced the king of Egypt that next year he should try writing a prayer to Allah on a piece of paper and put that in the Nile instead of a virgin girl. He actually did it, and it worked. And that is the story of how the Egyptians, after so many centuries of paganism, finally gave up idol worship and accepted the religion of Moses!

The Caliph did not use a moral argument, which would have been as ineffective against the Egyptian pagans as with Zionists, who are themselves idolaters worshiping a death cult called Blood and Soil Nationalism. It is most commendable that the traditional Islamic approach to a real, existing culture of idolatrous child murderers was not “Kill them all!” but a process of gradual deprogramming through the use of intellectual reasoning.

Zionism is a racist movement. But Jewish ethnic nationalism was never part of orthodox Judaism, which teaches that God had put the Jews out of Palestine on account of their sins, and therefore they ought to repent and wait for the Messiah in a state of humility. Jewish theology has simply been thrown out of the window as if it were irrelevant to Jewish understanding. Zionism is now championed as the true spirit of Judaism. And perhaps the Zionists are right in this regard.

Throughout the centuries, Jewish thought evolved from a childish conception of “my God is better than your god!” to a spiritual maturity based on universal moral ethics. Much of the moral content in rabbinical Judaism, which was written after the Muslims conquered Jerusalem, is borrowed or learned from Islam. Now, the Zionists, the “true Jews” are rejecting this injection of foreign intellectualism and going back to the true Judaic spirit of tribalism and war. Indeed, Zionists say that their God is a deity other than Allah.

Zionists find it frustrating that Muslims reject the Bible as a final authority and use it more as a cross-reference to the Qur`an. Even if we were to accept the Bible verses they quote as true, Muslims don’t accept the Zionist interpretation of the Covenant. We rely on moral reasoning to analyze the Bible, and come up with a universal ethical principle using the Children of Israel as an example for all nations. For example, when Zionists read the story of Moses they get something out of it like this: Israelites = Good. Egyptians = Bad. In the Islamic reading of the same story we get a warning from Allah to all human beings to remember that Humble Servants of Allah = Good. Haughty Rejecters of Truth = Bad.

Anyone who has opened the Qur`an must agree that Prophet Muhammad (s) is prophet to Jews as he is to all humanity. In the Qur`an, God addresses the Children of Israel directly and confronts them about racist tribalism, employing references from the Torah and Bible to support His arguments. God admonishes the Israelites, accusing them of lying about the Covenant by claiming it applies only to themselves.

“Woe to them for what their hands do write, and for the gain they make thereby… Say: “Have ye taken a promise from Allah for He never breaks His promise? Or is it that ye say of Allah what ye do not know?” (2:79-80).

The religion of Abraham is not something to be bought and sold for a price. The Qur`an is the Book of Allah bearing witness against the Children of Israel. God Himself calls them to give up their ethnic superiority complex and commands them to bow down with those who bow down, to pray side by side with their Arab brothers and sisters in worship of the One God. Allah invites the self-proclaimed Chosen Ones to join the Ummah of Islam.

There are no moral guidelines in Jewish Law, other than genocide and enslavement, for the treatment of conquered peoples, as one would find in Islamic Law. While Islam views Muslims as God’s appointed defenders of religious freedom for people of all religions, Judaism neither proclaims respect for other people’s prophets nor guarantees any respect of other people, except in so far as they are useful to the Jewish community. This fact alone makes it clear that if the principles of individual liberty, majority rule, and world peace are to prevail, then it would make far more sense for the Jews to live as minorities in an Islamic state where they would have legal protection backed up by threats and warnings from God, rather than forcing the Arab majority to live as if they were minorities within a Jewish state which has no legal nor any moral qualms regarding the lives and property of non-Jews.