August 29, 2006

Even Muhammad* wavered

What's the classic comment one gets as a Muslim when life gets you down and you wanna complain about it?

"Patience brother/sister. Noah waited 900 years."

Thank you very much, that helps a lot.

Another scenario: You are going through a medical hardship or a family member is or having some sort of personal crisis, and you feel like your faith is wavering.

Reply from surrounding people: "It is a trial for you, pray to God and everything will be ok insha'Allah (God willing)."

Excuse me? Did you not hear what I just said?

Where is the humanity? It has almost become the case where if you complain or feel depressed or feel like life's a bitch, you have low iman (faith).

Ignorance is not the suffering man's bliss.

A very long time had passed in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, since Muhammad* had recieved any revelations from God. Last one he had got was Chapter 89 (Al Fajr). People around him in the hostile environment that Mecca was to Muslims at that time, started mocking him saying "Muhammad, your god has abandoned you".

Muhammad*, a prophet himself, wavered in his faith and felt he had done something wrong and God might have abandoned him. In the light of that, God sent down the following words that were to form Chapter 93 (Al Duha):

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
I swear by the early hours of the day,
[93.2] And the night when it covers with darkness.
[93.3] Your Lord has not forsaken you, nor has He become displeased,
[93.4] And surely what comes after is better for you than that which has gone before.
[93.5] And soon will your Lord give you so that you shall be well pleased.
[93.6] Did He not find you an orphan and give you shelter?
[93.7] And find you lost (i.e. unrecognized by men) and guide (them to you)?
[93.8] And find you in want and make you to be free from want?
[93.9] Therefore, as for the orphan, do not oppress (him).
[93.10] And as for him who asks, do not chide (him),
[93.11] And as for the favor of your Lord, do announce (it).

So next time someone is having a hard time in life, don't keep preaching to them about saying alhamdolillah (all thanks be to God) when they are about to watch their loved one slip away from life and are feeling a bit wavered in faith. Just remind them; "Even Muhammad* wavered"... and that's OK...

*May peace and blessing be upon him.

August 26, 2006

Czech Wisdom

It's time for some Czech wisdom of the more pragmatic kind:

Do not always expect good to happen, but don't let evil take you by surprise.

Anger is the only thing to put off until tomorrow.

The big thieves hang the little ones.

When you go to buy, use your eyes, not your ears.

Do not protect yourself by a fence, but rather by your friends.

August 24, 2006

Pashto Music on Al-Baal

A small tribute to my pashto/pathan half, I have uploaded two songs on my stickam. The melancholy Laila Laila by Ehsan, and an instrumental Afghan Pashto National Dance song. Enjoy!

And to any pashto speaking readers out there, Gad sha!

Batkhela is one of the best sites on the web for listening and downloading pashto music from both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Pluto had to go & The origin of "eskimo"

As of today, after a vote made with Astronomers earlier this afternoon in Prague, Pluto has lost its status as a planet. A status it has had since its discovery in 1930. And then there were 8...

The word eskimo was given by colonialists to all people living on the coasts from East Greenland to The Bering Strait, and is today concidered demeaning in both Canada and Greenland and thus has been replaced by the word inuit, meaning the people. (The singular of inuit is enuk.)

Why eskimo is concidered demeaning I do not know. Perhaps because of the meaning of the word; those who eat raw flesh.

August 22, 2006

Stockholm Mid-East Festival!

I nearly fell off my chair! Marcel Khalife is coming to Stockholm!

Between Aug 28th and Sept 3rd, Stockholm will be the host of a Middle East Festival called Street goes Middle East aimed to create awareness about the culture and people of the Middle East. Artists like Egyptian Hisham Abbas, Egyptian-Sudani Gawaher, Israeli-Arab The Middle East Peace Orchestra, Iranian Benyamin, Kurdish Sivan Perver, Israeli Idan Raichel among others, will be entertaining.

A series of lectures about Literature trends in the Middle East, Muslim Scientific Heritage, The situation for Lebanese Children stuck in the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, Lebanese author Elias Khoury talks about his book and a discussion between Jews, Muslims and Christians will all take place on stage.

Furthermore, on Sept 22nd, Natacha Atlas will perform in Stockholm at Södra Teatern.

It's Orisinal

I'm convinced while designing the graphics
for the Rose game, he took inspiration from
Trastavere in Rome.
What can I say? It's addictive! Try some of the most simple and fun games out there by creator Ferry Halim. May I add, some of the best music accompanies each game, not to mention some of the most creative and breathtaking graphics.

I have been a "dedicated fan" for years. There have been a lot of serious posts and issues out there, but we all need to let off some good old steam, so enjoy!

My fav's: The Bee (because of the music) & The Koala . (Actually they are all good...)

Al-Baal currently playing...

...William Ackerman's New England Morning. A Stanford College drop out, wanting to become a carpenter, ended up producing albums of some of the most inspiring instrumental music. Buy downloadable songs here.

Previously Irish, Chicago based fiddler Liz Carroll's The Ghost, the hatchlings, The long Bow was playing. Many of you asked where you could get hold of her music. Here it is.

August 21, 2006

"Clean, Fresh, Muslim Woman" Returns!!!

People, do you remember him?

Well, since I am the mother of coincidence and dramatic situations, meeting him once was of course not enough.

Yesterday while on my way to a meeting, I went into the train, and mind you there are 8 carriages normally on a Swedish train. I manage to enter the exact same carriage, and also entrance, where "Clean Fresh Muslim Woman" Mad Man is sitting.

I never forget a face. Needless to say, one look at him and my spine wasn't only shivering but willing to break in two!

He starts smiling and waving and giving me the "thumbs up". I just nod my head and continue the conversation I was having with my friend on the phone. Ironically as it was, the girl I was talking to was the exact same friend who was with me the first time we were "introduced" to him on Queen Street.

Noticing that I am majorly ignoring him, and laughing my head off inside, a Romanian girl of perhaps 14 or 15 begging for money passed by me towards him. He gives her money and then asks her to sit down infront of him and they start speaking in broken english.

I hear parts of the conversation (no I was not eves dropping, he speaks so loudly one has no choice but to hear!).

CFMW Guy: Yes yes, my friend he is thiiiiiissssss taaallllll (stretching out his hands to describe how tall his friend is).
Romanian Girl: Oh ok.
CFMW Guy: Yeah and his girl friend is only this tall (narrowing the distance between his two hands).
Romanian Girl: Aha.

Needless to say I ran as soon as I could.

August 19, 2006

Feelings & Toiletpaper

"Let me tell you something I have learnt in my 34 years on this earth. Feelings, like toiletpaper these days, are wasted. People use them up like toiletpaper, that is what they have become worth to others. Learn from me, feelings get used up. There is no endless source of feelings so be careful what you do with them, and who you give them to. You risk standing there one day, empty, because you gave and you gave without getting in return, and finally there was nothing left to give, and your heart died."

-Spoken by a friend

A silent world

"You say nothing at all,
yet everything's already been said.
On a day like this I fall,
though I didn't make my bed."

Malaria kills more than one million people every year in Africa. 70% of them are children under 5. The picture is of a baby infected by malaria, sleeping. It is a simple disease to cure. But it needs funds to be able to do so.

August 18, 2006

Islamic Games and Basement Mosques part 2

Having read the entire Qur'an was however not enough, I still had to go every weekend and sit there, and read it all again!

Me, 8 years old: Daddy, why do I have to go again, I have already done my Qur'an khatam?
Dad: That doesn't mean you stop reading The Qur'an.
Me, still 8: I know that but can't I read at home?
Dad: Don't argue with your father.

It's a wonder I learnt how to have a constructive conversation with anyone.

Joke aside, I kept on going and reading, and dipping cookies, but of course now even more bored than before. We were not allowed to talk anything while it was "reading time" and the Molvi had his eyes and big fat belly on us all the time. If one did happen to talk, one would be sure to get a flying pen coming ones way. I must confess I perfected my reflexes in that very mosque.

So, I came up with a brilliant idea!

Whenever I wanted to talk to my friend sitting next to me, I would simply keep my head down as if I am reading, do the usual back and forth swinging movement that I have no idea why in the world Pakistani children do when they read the Qur'an, and I simply pretended to read when I infact was saying "So do you wanna come over to my place and play Nintendo?"

The bottom line is, places like that are a waste of space and an insult to religion itself. They really do not motivate children, nor inspire them to feel anything naturally for their religion and identity. Although not all Qur'an schools are like this, the ones here that have been run by Pakistani imported Molvis with no grasp of Swedish culture or language, have been nothing but a disaster. And yet not many know that the Pakistani curriculum and Qur'an learning system and books, are by far the best in the world and are often sought after by Arabs and others trying to teach their children how to read Arabic.

August 17, 2006

The Keeper: The Legend of Omar Khayyam

One of the main characters in Amin Maalouf's Samarcand is philosopher, poet and mathematician Omar Khayyam of Persia. Born in 1048, he was to change the way people viewed the world. Not only did he calculate the number of days in a year accurately by six decimals, but his calculation has only one day error every 5000 years whereas the Gregorian Calendar has one every 3330 years. He also proved to people around him, among them prominent scholar and philosopher Imam Ghazali (see previous post about him), that the universe did not revolve around earth but that infact earth revolved on its own axis.

A lunar crater and an asteroid have both been named Omar Khayyam after him.

Films have been made about his amazing life. Back in 1957 a Hollywood film starring Cornel Wilde was made, and in my old copy of an Agatha Christie book (Death in the Air) from 1946, a book of poems by Omar Khayyam called Rubaiyaat of Omar Khayyam (meaning quatrains, referring to the style of four lines of poetry) was on second place of New Avon Library's Best Selling Titles of that year in America.

More recently however, in 2005 Iranian filmmaker Kayvan Mashayekh filmed and came out with a movie titled The Keeper: The Legend of Omar Khayyam with actors like Vanessa Redgrave.

View the trailor here.

Islamic Games and Basement Mosques part 1

I was sent a link to this website and found in particular quite an entertaining crossword puzzle (notice when you type in the right word a voice keeps repeating mashallah, very good, mashallah, it sounds hillarious) surely aimed at children learning about their religion. I wish we had stuff like this growing up instead of the usual Pakistani Molvi (imam) who spoke no Swedish, sitting in some basement somewhere, repeating a mantra with no soul.

What made me most annoyed with going to the Mosque on Saturday and Sunday (mind you the only two free days of school week), was the fact that I missed Narnia, the BBC tv series, every Saturday morning!

I never forgave dad for that.

Let me tell you what we used to do; majority of kids going to the mosque were Pakistanis, with the odd exception of myself being half Swedish, and my best friend who is also half Swedish half Pakistani. Needless to say, we found each other...

This all started when I was around 5, it was the same routine every Saturday and Sunday. By the time I was 8 I had not only read out the entire Qur'an in Arabic and learnt x number of verses by heart, but to my horror, my father had published a photograph of me saying just that in the Urdu magazine Manzil, that is printed in Sweden by an enthusiastic Pakistani businessman.

Every single kid in that mosque wished they were on some other planet, and the highlight of the day, besides going home, was the break where we were given cookies and lemonade. We would have dipping contests, who could dip the cookie longest without it breaking. (That is how bored we were...)

The Bonfire

I am tied by my tongue,
I am held back with reservation.
For to say what I think,
will no doubt need an explanation.

And I fear I cannot give,
what you wish for, what you need.
So I cover my inner dwellings,
on a dose of silence I must feed.

For my word is like the splinter,
once thrown on glowing coal,
could spark up a bonfire,
made of my heart and of my soul.

August 16, 2006

The "i" in Pakistan

This year (as often is the case) I forgot the Pakistani Independance Day, August 14th. It celebrated 59 years and is now the 6th most populous country in the world.

I read a bit about the etymology or word origin of Pakistan and found the following:

The name "Pakistan" (IPA: /paːkɪst̪aːn/) means "Land of the Pure" in Urdu and Persian. It was coined in 1933 by Choudhary Rahmat Ali, who published it in the pamphlet Now or Never[5] as an acronym of the names of the "Muslim homelands" of western India — P for Punjab, A for Afghania (the Afghan areas in the Northwest Frontier Province), K for Kashmir, S for Sindh and tan for Balochistan. An "i" was later added to the English rendition of the name to ease pronunciation.


August 15, 2006

Lemongrass Update

In June I posted about Lemongrass (& Relationships). This is what it looks like now. A bit of TLC goes far for plants and humans alike.

Back from the UK Drama

I just spent the last week in the UK, and lucky me, I arrived a day before the Heathrow drama took place so I got off lightly. I got back yesterday night so I managed to fly back home the day they had lowered the threat to critical. That still meant clear plastic bags, no liquid and limited items as handbaggage. I still managed to purchase a book once checked in; "1000 places to see before you die". How appropriate.

Nothing strange about flying, apart from perhaps x-raying my shoes and a few delays here and there. I wonder if this will be the default travel style of the future or if it is something that will pass? there is talk that Australia might propose a ban on handluggage permanently.

The people working in security at Heathrow told me they thought x-raying shoes was stupid.

On the news one could hear reports that BAA and other airports around Britain had urged the British Government to lower the security threat alert.

So I ask myself... why keep on x-raying summer flip flops and the likes?

What better way to create and instill fear in a general public? Now not only will we look suspiciously at anyone Asian or Arab, Muslim or as often mistaken for one, Sikhs, but they have also placed the threat in something as ordinary as shoes. It is quite brilliant... fear is a great, subtle weapon and convincing device.

August 10, 2006

A conversation between...?

- Why are you doing this?
> I have a right to defend myself.
- But I never did anything to you.
>Perhaps not directly...
- But I never attacked you?
>You supported people who did.
- How do you know that?
> You live where they live.
- Does that give you the right to kill me?
> No, I am defending myself.
- But you are attacking me and my family?
> Well you need to leave then.
- So you mean if I don't leave my home that we have had our whole lives before "they" came here, I'll die?
> Yes, everyone has a choice to stand up for right or wrong.
- Who decides what's right or wrong?
> Laws, justice.
- I feel you are wrong. I feel destroying my home is wrong. I feel punishing me for something I have not done is wrong.
>Well you should have thought about that before.
- Before what?
>Before you supported people who are trying to kill my people.
- But who said I was supporting them?
> Well you should make your government take care of the problem.
- But I am only 7 years old...

George Galloway, telling it like it is

Think what you will of Hezbollah or Israel, but for once, in media, with sheer honesty and straightforwardness, without political games, a person is given\taking the opportunity to speak a few honest cents about media broadcasting of the long ongoing conflict in the Middle East and although I don't support killing of civilians of any kind, no matter what, there is a constant silence when it comes to Israel, as a state (I remind you, a state!), massmurdering civilians, all in the name of justice.

George Galloway, thank you for speaking your mind, and for saying to Anna, the Sky News reporter " It is clear that Israeli blood is worth more...".

It is one of the biggest truths of the past century and it looks like it will be for a long time.,,31200-galloway_060806,00.html

August 08, 2006

Morica Han

Walking through the old town Bascarsiye in Sarajevo, really is like walking back in time. We decided to have coffee at an old former Caravansaray (meaning castle of caravans), which you can find on Ferhadija walkway.

The han was used as an inn, warehouse space, stable and accomodation for traders who often travelled from both near and far. It was funded by the Gazi Husrevbegova (a name you will often hear and read about in Sarajevo) fund, but got its name much later from the inn operator Mustafa Moric.

Today it hosts many cafés and restaurants and some absolutely amazing local Bosnian and Persian rugs.

August 07, 2006

Introducing a useful word

Do you know anyone who is a milquetoast? I heard of this fabulous word today, and decided to add it permanently to my vocabulary. A milquetoasty person or thing is someone/something that is of a timid or meek disposition, the opposite to another pole, being macho.

The story goes, in 1924 Harold Tucker Webster created a comic strip figuring the character of a timid and meek man by the name of Caspar Milquetoast.

Apparently Peter Cetera (see pic) has been described as a Milquetoasty person when Blender Magazine named the 'Top 25 Biggest Wusses Ever'.

(Information courtesy of Vocab Vitamins)

Then and Now

In 1984, Sarajevo hosted the Winter Olympics, what was to be the biggest ever, at the time. It was successfully carried out and a lot of sarajevo had been primped up for the event, the first and only Holiday Inn was built, and still stands today.

Less than a decade later, Sarajevo (and Bosnia Herzegovina as a whole) was under seige for four years, attacked by snipers, bombs and Serbian militia.

The picture that has moved me the most, and the scene that has moved me the most during my stay in Bosnia is the following one:

August 06, 2006

Mostar Jump

The annual competition held in Mostar coincided with my visit luckily, and I got to witness the men of all ages taking a plunge into the Neretva river from the newly re-constructed Mostar Bridge.

At this event everyone who jumps is judged by a handfull of former jumpers and every year a winner is crowned.

August 05, 2006

Le concept de "tu"

Tu promets beaucoup bien,
mais ne fais jamais rien.

Et tous le temps tu suppose que,
dans le mot "nous" n'existe "je".

Dans un souffle tu prends ma vie,
Je dis toujours "Ok", toujours dis "Oui".

Je me suis perdu, dans le concept de "tu".
Quand je suis trouvé? N'est pas connu.

Tr: You are good at promising much,
but you never deliver.

And all the time you assume that,
in the word "Us", "I" does not exist.

In a breath you take my life,
I always say "OK", always say "Yes".

I have lost myself in the concept of "you"
When I am found, is not known.

Carla Bruni

When in Paris a couple of months ago I purchased a CD by model turned singer, Carla Bruni. (click on Discographie & Médias, then Audio) The title track Quelqu'un m'a dit which means Someone said to me is enchanting and I thought I would share it with you all.

August 04, 2006

Sarajevo in Pictures

"I know that you (Alijah Izetbegovic) believe in God, I'm not sure if God exists but I am absolutely certain Satan does."
-Said by a fellow prisoner of former President of Bosnia Alija Izetbegovic (himself a devout Muslim)
The white in the picture are tombstones of some of many Bosnian Muslims killed in the Serbian Genocide. These are three football fields converted into cemetaries in the heart of Sarajevo.

Market Hall

Downtown Sarajevo surrounded by lush, green hills.

Kaizer Bakery

Skenderije, Sarajevo

A bombed apartment building in Sarajevo. I find a lot of beauty in this picture, for though it seems maimed from destruction, it still stands firmly with traces left of its former beauty.

I have not had time to sit down and write properly about my trip yet and I am going away again tomorrow. These are just a few pictures I wanted to share. I will return with more pictures and stories about the amazing Mosques in Sarajevo, the food, the people, the old city, Mostar and the bridge, Visoko and the Pyramids and much more. Meanwhile, enjoy the song Ederlezi by Goran Bregovic that I uploadedon my stickam.
Take care everyone and Allahimanet (Bosnian Muslim greeting for goodbye)

August 02, 2006


Oh hills of Sarajevo
if only you could speak
What grimness you have witnessed
from your highest peak

Oh bridge over Mostar
they drowned you in the river
of Neretva where you witnessed
crimes that sent cold shivers

Oh Pyramids of Visoko
tell us of the things you saw
Opression spread across your land
four years in the enemies claw.

Oh people of Prijedor
no one knows how many of you fell
But if you would have made it
what horrible tales you'd live to tell?

Oh woman from Trebinje
refugee in your own land
Expelled from home by a foreign people
with weapons in their hand.

Oh green, lush fields of Hadjic
still covered in mines
How many lives were you forced to take?
And how many times.

I am returning from Bosnia tomorrow God willing, and leave you with this poem dedicated to the suffering people, animals, trees, rivers, hills, mountains, mosques, churches, graveyards, homes, hospitals, schools, roads, electrical power plants, telephone lines, water, food of Bosnia, that were all bombed ruthlessly in the war and longest siege in european history of a country.