Friday, April 29, 2011

Family Planning in Islam

The Muslim Observer

In every bed, there is a promise. – Nathaniel Hawthorne

Politicians like to talk about “freedom of choice.” They are talking about abortion. The assumption is that if a woman chooses not to have an abortion, then the blame, and thus, the financial and emotional responsibility for the child, rests squarely on her shoulders.

Yet, others take another approach. I’ll never forget my Italian teacher in college giving us undergrads a lecture on morals. She said something I’ve never heard anyone say out loud. “When you choose to have sex, you have made that choice.” God bless her for her audacity to speak out in the face of the victimization of women and children!

Does anyone have any idea how many poor yet honest men all over the world are living without love for months and years at a time, often going to another city for work so they can send money home to their families?

Can you imagine the terrified lifestyle of a typical Afghani woman existing on a couple bags of rice, taking care of her children alone, in the middle of a violent war, waiting for her husband to come back with some groceries in a few months?

Many families who are blessed to be together are very much together. As in, living in one room. Sharing a house with their siblings and their spouses and their children. Many families, even in Europe, live in a one room apartment. During the night, the living room becomes the bedroom.

If you have never witnessed childbirth, let me explain something to you. It really hurts. It turns your body inside out. For a woman to choose to let a man put his “gushing fluid” inside her is the voluntary personal choice to go through an experience that feels about as pleasant as having a bus roll over your body very, very slowly.

Pregnancy is a time of such sickness that if she were a man, he would choose not to work that day. Childbirth can last for days. It takes a woman three years to get back the full use of her body after having a baby, if she exercises daily. No matter what, she permanently loses the strength of her eyesight and teeth. What an unthinking man might have thought was simply a beautiful moment, for her it was a life investment. There is no such thing as “accidentally” getting someone pregnant.

In Islam, men are the maintainers of women. There is none of this weird American marital squabbling about who pays what. Motherhood is a full time job. A loving woman carries the child in her womb for nine months and then nurses the child for two years, sacrificing her calories, her strength, and her free time. A mother cannot come and go as she pleases. She cannot fall asleep whenever she feels tired. And it’s not a question of whether she wants to do it or not. Women are biologically programmed to suddenly wake up on emergency alert if her baby so much as coughs in his sleep.

Full responsibility for a baby deprives the caretaker of REM sleep.

People who are deprived of sleep for a prolonged period of time spend a lot of energy merely “coping.” But somebody has to get the bills paid while someone maintains the living standard of the home. That is why parenting is a shared responsibility. There should be no burden on the woman in addition to the full time job of raising a child in a clean and safe environment. The least a man can do is pay all her expenses.

If he cannot afford to buy his family a house, his wife and the kids can share one mattress like the majority of people in the world. Even if a man is sleeping outside, he can put a tarp over his family’s head.

Because every soul born is someone that God commanded to be born and a man must take full responsibility for his family. Anything a woman spends on household expenses is rewarded by God like donating to charity, while anything a man does to help in the home is rewarded by God as charity.

In Islam, even if the marriage does not work out, the children are still the man’s full financial responsibility. He has to keep them alive and well – not just send their mother a “donation” per month.
Women have to start taking themselves more seriously. Motherhood is a full time career worthy of a six digit income. Find a man who will do everything he can to find a way to love the mother of his children, provide them with food and a roof over their heads, and if they cannot work things out he would be aware of what it costs to raise a child.

This is what you need to be thinking about on your first date. Does the man value his future offspring? Does he have a sense of personal honor?

A man must provide for his children, not only out of some ambiguous and fluctuating emotional attachment but because they are his flesh and blood, part of his lineage. A good man is looking for a good woman who has the qualities he wants in his descendants. He is always thinking long term about how to put his DNA to proper use. The sure sign of a no good man is a man who just lets things happen. Some men think that a crime is less criminal if it’s done in the heat of passion. Yet, the act is still a deliberate act. Don’t do it without getting married first.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Imam Yassin Aref Transferred from CMU

The Muslim Observer
April 21, 2011

In a surprise move by the Bureau of Prisons (BOP), Albany, New York's Imam Yassin Aref, who was serving a ten year sentence inside the Communications Management Unit (CMU) in Marion, Illionois, has been moved to the general prison population. Aref stated in an email to his friends dated April 13, 2011:

"Finally and thankfully they accepted my request and agreed for me to come out of CMU. Now I am just a regular human – I mean regular prisoner! I am no longer in CMU, so if any of you come and visit me I promise I am going to hug him! Hopefully after six months they will transfer me to somewhere close to my family so I can see my children but as for why and how? Believe me I don't know anything more than you! They just told me to pack up. 25 days before that I had a team review. I asked for transfer as usual and they told me they would do the recommendation for me but the decision its not theirs. When I called my son Salah, he told me, "Daddy how is it they let you out?

What has changed?" I told him I am still Yassin and they did not tell me anything. However, I am very thankful they allowed me to be in the regular general population."

Aref was inside the CMU in Terre Haute, Indiana from May 2007 until March 2009,
when he was transferred to the Marion CMU. As of April 10, 2011, Aref is in the same prison building but in a different unit. Now he has more space to walk and more recreational activities. He has more lenient social, visitor and phone call rights. There are some African American Muslim brothers in his new unit and they pray the Friday prayer together. Whenever he leaves his unit to dine, go to the yard or library, and to visit the chaplain, he walks by the door of the CMU. Imam Yassin describes his past experience:

"After spending about 20 Months in total solitary confinement at a county jail,
I arrived at CMU Terra Haute, Indiana to find a small Middle Eastern community
where inmates from Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, Egypt and Yemen among others were already there. In CMU, most inmates are Arab or Arabic speakers.

"We are separated because of our nationality and religion. Of course they deny that, but the reality in the CMU proves this segregation is the whole point of a CMU. Otherwise what did I do? Why am I classified as a high risk inmate? How can it be dangerous if they allow me to hug my children? Why do they need to limit my communication? Who I am going to call besides my family?

"All my life in Iraq I was treated as a second degree citizen and half human because I was Kurdish. I left my country to regain my humanity and live free, not to be targeted, imprisoned and placed in a CMU.

When I learned CMU prisoners don't have the same rights like other prisoners in the BOP, and I found that 65 to 75 percent of the inmates in CMU are Muslim and another 8 to 15 percent are Spanish speakers, I became sad and it seemed like this country is going backward to the dark days of its history when Black people were slaves or treated like slaves. Many inmates in CMU are not criminals. They are political prisoners and victims who were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Some like me never committed any crime. Yet they treat us as the highest risk inmates!

"My youngest daughter is still a child and she was born while I was in jail. I never carried her or kissed her and I could never buy a candy for her. She doesn't have any memory with me. Until she was four years old she used to think `daddy' means the phone! That's because whenever I used to call home, her brothers and sister would run to the phone saying "Daddy, daddy!" So, she thought daddy means phone! Whenever anyone asks her, `Where is your daddy?' she would point or run to the phone and say, `That is my daddy!' It's heart breaking but I am laughing. In Arabic they say the worst trial is the one which makes you laugh!

"Thank God with all of these unjustices still my heart is full of peace and Love. My faith saved me from hate. I believe God allowed this to happen and that is why it happened. I look for His reward for all my pain and all of what my family going through."

Aref is involved with a civil rights lawsuit which questions why Muslim prisoners who are considered a low security risk are being put under high security communication restrictions without any legal recourse.

Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) Attorney Alexis Agathocleous told NPR, "Our clients were designated to the CMUs without due process or oversight, even though they have no significant history of disciplinary infractions."

However, Aref does not believe that his transfer has anything to do with the lawsuit.