Thursday, September 15, 2016

Omran

Sitting
Sitting in front of my screen
Every day, day-in day-out
Flipping through post after post
Trying to lull off into sleep
Suddenly, I stop
I stare, my soul shivers,
I see him

Watching
He is watching 
He sees me
The boy in the ambulance
He sees me watching him
Face marred with rubble and cuts
His left eye badly hurt
He sits
He stares into nothingness
There is nothing there....

Tired
Little hands on his lap
He just wants to play
He just wants to do what little boys do
He wants to play with his brother 
"I'm so tired" 

Screaming
All around him screaming
Screaming of pain
Screaming of agony
He sits, he watches
He does not know why

Bewildered 
His little bare feet
Dirty and bare
They just swing and hang there
His eyes stare out into nothingness
His face bloodied
He is alone 
Yet he is not alone.

They find his sister
She sits
She stares
She is wearing pink
She is hurt
She stares into the same nothingness

Lost
I sit watching him
We are lost
We sit watching
We sit watching all of them
We sit 
and sit.

The little boy in the ambulance
He is 5 years old
His name is Omran
His brother is badly hurt

We watch
We go to the next post 
We see the cute otter do his flips
We laugh
We carry on

He is still Omran
They are still alive
They have lost their brother
Their hurt brother is dead
His name was Ali
Ali was 10

We sit and wait
Till we see him in our feed again
Till then, we sit, we watch, we laugh
We "like", we "cry", we "love", we "get angry"
We sit and we watch.
Almost robots

He is now "the face of war"
He is now the representative of how badly adults have messed up
He is now the child that is no longer allowed to be a child
Are they both looking into nothingness,
Or can they just see our collective soul?

We watch
We stare
We read
We pray
And sadly, we carry on.

--Mona Banawan




Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Orlando Shooting

Hello everyone! I'm sorry that I haven't posted in a while, the months between March and June are pretty hectic for me.  I'm sure most of you have heard by now of the shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.  Pulse is a very well-known, popular gay bar in Orlando that was founded and named in remembrance of the owner's late brother.  Here's some information on the shooting:
http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/orlando-nightclub-massacre/orlando-nightclub-shooting-emergency-services-respond-reports-gunman-n590446
With at least 49 dead and 53 injured, the massacre marks one of the largest shootings in American history, exceeding the Virginia Tech shooting (32 dead) and the Sandy Hook shooting (20 children, 6 adults dead).  The shooter has been confirmed to be Omar Mateen of Florida, and was killed in a gun battle with police early Sunday morning.
The shooting occurred during Latin night at the gay nightclub during Pride Month.  Make no mistake, this was a hate crime, one that strikes deeply into many communities.
Now, a lot could be said about this shooting, and it can bring up multiple social issues: gun control, terrorism, LGBTQ+ oppression, to name a few.  I cannot go into all of these for the sake of time and space, so I'm going to mainly go into the topics of terrorism and oppression.
The shooter has been said to have called 911 while shooting and pledging his allegiance to ISIS.  I find this hard to believe for two reasons: 1) Why would he call 911 in the middle of shooting? and 2) The media keeps changing the facts on this, saying he called before, then changing it to during, or changing ISIS to Al-Qaeda or something else like that.
People keep taking this to be some huge groundbreaking point on immigration or on "radical Islam".  First of all, Mateen was born here in New York.  He wasn't an immigrant.  Second of all, he wasn't a devout Muslim.  He wasn't even a practicing Muslim.  If he was he would have known that in Ramadan, the holy month of Islam, we aren't even supposed to curse, let alone kill people.  He would have known that, Ramadan or not, murder is a much larger sin than homosexuality.  He would have known that it is a sin in Islam to judge others or impose a consequence on them for a religious difference, unless they are actively harming others (and even then, the death penalty isn't permitted, there are other punishments given for murdering or harming people).  He would have known that killing one person is like killing all of humanity.  And he would have known that a murderer does not die a Muslim.
Also, Mateen was recently confirmed to have been gay himself.  By the DEFINITION of radical Islam, he could not have been gay.  If he was with ISIS and they had known about it, chances are they would not have accepted him as a member.  They've already claimed responsibility for it, though, so it's interesting to see how much they're willing to prove they have no values they aren't willing to compromise.
On the topic of LGBTQ+ oppression and rights, it's foolish to think that we as a society have fully accepted them.  Many people are more tolerant or supportive of their rights, but there is still a frighteningly large level of hate and discrimination against these people.  This has been made clear by NC's recent HB2 law, and similar ones in other states.  It has been made clear in the elevated chance of being attacked if you are LGBTQ+.  And it has been made clear in the recent tragedy, and many others in the past, and many more--I'm sure--in the future.
I don't want to go too far into politics or societal issues, out of respect for the dead.  But here's the thing: In Islam, homosexuality is a sin.  Being transgender is a sin.  This is all true.  HOWEVER, we are not to judge others by it.  And we are not to discriminate against others by it.  Anytime I felt my identity was being attacked or threatened because of people's hate and ignorance, some of the most supportive people other than my fellow Muslims were people of the LGBTQ+ community.  They as a community have helped us in our hard times, and we as Muslims must do the same to show the world we do not tolerate such hate and harm of human beings.  Because whether you agree with someone's lifestyle or not, whether you think they are sinning or not, you treat them as a human being, and you treat them with kindness and forgiveness, even those who do not grant you the same treatment.
In the aftermath of the shooting, know that people will try to pit two vulnerable groups against each other.  We must not allow this to happen.  I encourage any of my readers in Florida, Muslim or not, to give blood to help the victims.  I encourage you to bring food and water to those standing in line waiting to give blood.  I encourage my readers all over the country and the world to send messages of sympathy to those still recovering and to the families of those who will not get the chance to.  I encourage you to pray for the dead and the living, for those being hurt, and for those who have hate in their hearts to be cured of it.  I encourage you to show that you will not tolerate hate, whether directed at the LGBTQ+ community when some say they deserved to be killed, or directed at the Muslim community when some blame them for this tragedy and many more.  I encourage members of both groups to show they won't allow hate or attacks on the other.
I cannot begin to describe how shocked and angry I am at what has occurred.  My heart and condolences go out to the families of the victims and those recovering.  May Allah forgive them and grant them a fast recovery.
Here is more information about the victims of the Pulse shooting:
http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/pulse-orlando-nightclub-shooting/victims/os-pulse-nightclub-orlando-shooting-victims-htmlstory.html
~Minna M.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Happy International Women's Day! (Better late than never)

Fatima Al-Fihri: Founded the world's first university in Fez, Morocco in 859 AD.
Laleh Bakhtiar: First American woman to translate the Quran (Islamic holy book) into English, and provided different meanings for many ambiguous Arabic words.
Shirin Ebadi: First Muslim woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.  Also first woman in Iran to achieve Chief Justice status.
Daisy Khan: Founded Women's Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality (WISE).  WISE works to "reclaim women's rights in Islam using a human rights and social justice based framework".
Anousheh Ansari: First Muslim woman in space.
Malala Yousafzai: Activist and Advocate for women's rights to education around the world.  Literally took a bullet for women's education.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/fazeela-siddiqui/10-muslim-women-you-should-know_b_1348903.html

I'm a day late but happy International Women's Day!  This post celebrates some of the pioneering and groundbreaking Muslim women through the centuries.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

To Those Who Call Me Terrorist

You call me "terrorist", but you turn blind eyes.
When I am the one being terrorized.

Where are you to call out the terrorists, when a man rapes my mother because of the headscarf she wears?
Where are you to call out the terrorists, when I walk to the store, and am harassed all the way there?

You call us "terrorists", but fail to see,
The irony of your own hypocrisy.

Where are you to call out the terrorists, when a bomb falls on my city streets?
Where are you to call out the terrorists, when your "noble" country sends them in fleets?

You call us "terrorists", but when will you know,
That terrorists will not distinguish, and will try to hurt us both?

Where are you to call out the terrorists, when, from home, they chase me away?
Where are you to call out the terrorists, when they drag me back the next day?

You call us "terrorists", but do you realize,
That the children you label release chilling cries,
In response to the horror they see with their innocent eyes?

Where are you to call out the terrorists, when they silenced those screams?
Where are you to call out the terrorists, when they move to those extremes?

You call us "terrorists", but why isn't it clear
That I and most others do not volunteer,
And only request safety and relief from this fear?

And so I ask you this,

Where were you to call out the terrorists, when my family was tortured and killed as a result of hate?
Where were you to call out the terrorists, when I, too, suffered the same fate?
Where were you to call out the terrorists, when I lay in the mud?
Where were you to call out the terrorists, when I was killed in cold blood?

~Minna