Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Don't you ever "brother" me

Yes, seriously. What's up with this brother/sister thing that gets added to your name. Who invented it?!! When did brother become a title?! It is a beautiful word, but when did it become a title?! Sometime during the last century someone introduced this "innovation" to the English language. This is one of my pet peeves. Why is David Dave but Mohamed is Br. Mohamed? Why is Elizabeth Liz but Mariam is Sr. Mariam? Why do I respect everyone without adding to their names any titles but I have to add a title to my Muslim "brother" or "sister" to show respect. I have been struggling with this issue for a while and I discussed it with several people and here are the answers I got:

1- Respect: It is a cherished value in Islam and we need to respect each other and older people in particular.
Rebuttal: Are we respecting David and Elizabeth less when we do not add the br./sr. title to their names? Don't we respect our teachers and professors?! Don't we respect our seniors at work and don't we respect our neighbours?! Did the Prophet (SAW) show respect to people using elements alien to their culture? Didn't he use the very titles that they used to use to show respect to them like the Kunya (which means calling a person father of "his son's name" or something beloved to him)
2- Professionalism: In Islamic work we need to be professional especially across genders, thus the need to use titles.
Rebuttal: Why do we need to be professional in a different way from the rest of the society? People are very professional at work, yet they don't use titles most of the time. They only use titles sometimes in some settings with doctors, professors, judges, attorneys and some elected officials. However, most of the time in professional settings they don't use titles and they are very good at being professional.
3- Brotherhood/sisterhood: When we add the title we enforce the concept that we are brothers and sisters which is the bond that ties all of us as Muslims.
Rebuttal: Keep it real dude. As soon as I add the title I don't feel that bond anymore. You want me to feel the bond call me with my name or say my dear brother. You can put the word brother in sentence, it is such a beautiful word but please don't make a title out of it. When someone sends an email and signs, your brother it touches my heart. When some tells me "ya akhi" which is the Arabic for "my brother", I feel the warmth of brotherhood. One time a dear sister emailed me and signed "ukhtak....." (your sister), I was so happy and replied back thanking her. My brothers and sisters in Islamic work are as dear to me as my family and I don't add titles to my cousins names. If you are from a background that mandates giving elders titles and you feel uncomfortable not doing that with me (if I am older than you), then use the same title you would use for your older brother in your culture. In that sense if you are Egyptian and you feel that you can't call me by my first name, then call me "Abaih Ayman". As funny as that sounds, I won't mind it. If you are younger than that, I won't mind being called "3ammo Ayman" :).

Let me share this story about Umar, may Allah be pleased with him. He was off to a 3umra and the prophet (SAW) told him mention us in your prayers "ya akhi" (my brother) and Umar (RAA) said that he wouldn't have loved anything better than this "ya akhi". When the prophet (SAW) wanted to be very brotherly he didn't give him a title. Ever since I read this story, I can only relate to the word put in a sentence but never as a title, ever.

In our Masjids and communities we don't want to create an alien culture. We need to create an all inclusive culture of genuine respect and sincere brotherhood and sisterhood. What message are we sending to people of other faith when we call each other br./sr.? Are we telling them that they are not our brothers and sisters? Let's love each other but let's also make room for our fellow neighbours to come join us in our activities. Let's not create a culture that will stand out like a sore thumb but rather a culture where everyone likes to belong to.

So my dearly beloved sisters and my dearly beloved brothers, don't "brother" me anymore pleaaaaaaaaaaase.

Too busy to post ....yet here are some great posts :)

Just came back from San Jose......Is this heaven on earth or what!! It was the MAS Youth exec meeting and we didn't have time to tour the city, however the view of the mountains on the way from the hotel to the meeting place was such a breather for me. If you ever go down there you have to eat at this Afghan restaurant, there food is great. You may also want to stop at my sister's place, Kariman, to eat some lasagna....Canadians have something to contribute (this was an inside joke..sorry :)

I don't have much time to post anything but I think you should read this great post on Yaser's blog. You shouldn't also miss this pearl by Ahmed Deif.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Life is too short: Are we really aware of that?

I just came back from an absentee funeral prayer for Muhannad Jondy. Muhannad was one of the first people I met when I came to the US. I can't claim that I was close to him but I can say that I always had so much respect for him. People say that I am a good judge of character and I believe that Muhannad was a decent young man. May Allah shower him with His mercy and grant him paradise.
No matter how many times we come across a reminder like this that our life is too short and that death can come when you least expect it, I don't really feel that I internalized that meaning. I believe it, I accept it conceptually but I haven't internalized. That is very scary. We will never be ready to face Allah and be held accountable for our deeds but we have to reach a state of perpetual readiness for the hereafter. I am not there and that is worrisome. May Allah perfect our endings.
This is the second time in my life to pay condolences to a father for the loss of his son. If I can hardly express how tough this was for me, I am not sure you can imagine how hard it is for the parents themselves. The real consolation here is that the prophet (peace be upon him) said: إنما يبتلى المرء على قدر دينه which means that you get tested in life as much faith you have in your heart. I believe that this is a great family. The Jondies are a family of giving. I can't even list their contributions to everyone they knew. May Allah give them patience.
I had mentioned that I was expecting a month of emotional roller coaster but never in my mind did I think it was going to start that way. Please pray for the Jondies.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Busy and exciting

So inshallah, it is going to be three weeks of excitment. This weekend I am getting a bliss of warmth in San Jose, CA both physically and spiritually as I am attending the MAS Youth national exec meeting. On Valentine's day my dad will be arriving from Egypt...and yes it is just a coincidence in case you were wondering :). The weekend after that we have the MAS Youth Detroit retreat. I may be able to attend its second half. The weekend after that my dad will be away for business and I may go skiing with some of my Ann Arbor-Egyptian friends. Then, off to chicago to give my dad an ultimate winter experience. I will, inshallah drop him off at the airport on March 5 and like everytime I drop a family member at the airport, Iwill come back home empty hearted :(.

When I visited Egypt in November, I didn't get to spend time with my dad. Both of us are looking forward to this weekend to have some father-son time. I am sure he has tons of stories and I always have something to say :).

Now I am busy packing for the CA trip and getting my apartment ready for my dad :) then off to a month of excitment and emotional roller coaster.

Those are some more entries that I may bother you with.

Need some help!!

I have a couple of questions:
How do I add links on the side? and how do I link to other blogs?

p.s. I figured a way to do it thru editing the html of the template. Is there any simpler way that I am not aware of?

What does Ramadan mean to me?

(A post from last Ramadan)

Back in the day, I used to look forward to Ramadan and on the day of moon sighting, I used to wait in the masjid or in my room and make duaa.

I used to make sure I had special arrangements for Maghrib prayer before the moon sighting, just in case it turned out to be Ramadan, then this maghrib prayer would have been the first prayer in Ramadan. Similarly, I would spend the last few hours of Ramadan alone and make duaa. During those moments I really felt the true meaning of the Prophet's (SAW) saying: "Should my people learn what Ramadan truely is, they would wish that the whole year is Ramadan."

I missed this feeling for few years but this year I can't wait for Ramadan.......Allahom Balleghna Ramadan "O Allah, help us make it to Ramadan"

And I am back in the game :)

It has been a while since I last blogged. I almost abounded my blogspot. I have a friend who wanted to blog and asked me for ideas. I gave him an idea of a theme for his blog. He liked it and got the ball rolling. His blog got a lot of traffic and he got all excited about it and pushed me to re-blog. I have to admit that reading his blog, I got all excited about blogging again. I hope it will be more fun this time around, inshallah :). So I am back in the game my friends. I will start off with a couple of entries I posted few months ago on facebook. I will inshallah follow that these entries (not necessarily this order):
1- Little mosque on the prairie
2- Music in Islam
3- Gender interactions between the east and west
4- My trip to Egypt (may be several entries)
I am all open for suggestions as well :)