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									                                                         RAMADAN 2005 - OCTOBER 2005

                                                 Al-Alim The Scholar       The Muslim Students News Magazine                     FREE | VOL 8 | ISSUE 2

            A Month of Reconnection: the Holy month of Ramadan
 by Reem Rahman                           In Islam, Ramadan is described        significance. By being cut off       such as anger, backbiting,
                                          as the blessed month of God in        from many of the worldly             vulgarity and senseless
Life is a furious symphony of                                                   comforts, even for a short period    argumentation must be challenged
                                          which its days are the best of
activities and responsibilities. In                                             of time, a fasting person can        and curbed to maintain the
                                          days, its nights, the best of
the constant race to keep up,                                                          truly realize and gain        integrity of the fast. It is thus that
                                          nights, and its hours,
sleep is often the first thing to be                                                   sympathy for the hungry,      the most profound dimension of
                                          the best of hours. It is
sacrificed. Unfortunately, faith is                                                    sick, and the poor.           fasting may be achieved: fasting
                                          a month of increased
also something that is prone to                                                        Particularly in the           of the heart in focus on the
                                          spiritual vigilance
fading into the background of the                                                      rampantly consumerist         divine, Allah (SWT). It is then
                                          during which God is
daily hustle.                                                                          society of America, it is a   that Ramadan truly becomes a
                                          believed to be especially
It is for this reason that we once                                                     exigent exercise in the       source of peace and solace.
                                          forgiving and generous. As Tariq
again welcome the month of                                                             unthinkable to be denied
                                          Ramadan so eloquently
Ramadan, as a time to reconnect.                                                anything as basic as food or         Ramadan serves as a month-long
                                          describes “This month is a
For each of us, this month will                                                 drink.                               inner journey of struggle and
                                          feast... not of noise, but silence;
be what we make of it. A month                                                  The separation of physical           discovery. May we all remember
                                          not of banquets but restraint; not
intended for return,                                                            concerns from daily activities       the ultimate intent: for the total
                                          of forgetfulness but
introspection, meditation,                                                      further serves to allow more         experience to reverberate beyond
                                          remembrance. This month is a
brotherhood and love. The month                                                 attention to faith. A vital          the single month, incorporating
                                          feast for the faith.”
of the Qur’an.                                                                  dimension of fasting is              faith and social responsibility as
                                          Fasting is a beautiful experience.    heightened consciousness of          a central part of our everyday
Comparative                               This simple act of withholding
                                          sustenance resonates with
                                                                                behavior and vigilance over
                                                                                action. Among others, behavior
                                                                                                                     lives. Wishing the best of
                                                                                                                     Ramadan to all of you inshallah!

  Fasting Earthquake Disaster: A Call for Action
It is common knowledge that
fasting plays a part in most of the        by Ahsan Rizvi
world’s major religions. yet the          Natural disasters always have a
similarities and differences              way of placing things into
between their and Islam’s                 perspective. The constant
conception of fasting is not as           fragmentation of our attention to
widely discussed. In celebration          daily concerns and financial
of the month of Ramadan, the al-          needs often makes us cold and
Alim staff takes a closer look at         hard, insensitive or oblivious to
the practice of fasting in other          the suffering around us. But at
religions, in order to better             times nature provides us with
understand it within our own.             accidents of such immense
                 Continued on pg. 8 - 9
                                          proportions as to completely
                                          shatter our false sense of reality
                                          and trigger us into conscientious
 Fresh Start                              action. The sad reality is that
                                          humanity requires something bad       rubble and squashed flesh forces     effort for fundraising, united by
                                          to happen in order to defy our        me to shake off the apathy borne     students who genuinely care for the
  by Asif Ikram
                                          complacency and act in such a         down by self-centered realism.       cause. Ideas and leadership have
         As any other freshmen, I         collective manner outside of our      As a board member of the PSA,        come forth in force to suggest
had a lot of anxieties about              own local spheres of grievance.       I, along with my colleagues,         projects ranging from donation
coming to college. I was                  In the past year, natural disasters   have taken it upon ourselves to      booths, canning, and t-shirt sales to
thinking things like: “What               have served to galvanize              share this call for activism with    ticketed dinners and performance
would the professors be like?             incredible collaboration amongst      our peers on campus. The largest     shows.
What would my roommate be                 the citizenry of the world,           challenge lies is the prevalent
like? What would the dorm                 effectively working to fight the      sense of disconnect from a           We ask that all students join us in
showers be like? But above all, I         devastating impacts that these        disaster that has taken place        our efforts. Let the energetic
worried about finding my niche            disasters leave behind. From          across the globe, thousands of       voices of our students thus far
in such a huge campus. With               Hong Kong to New Orleans              miles away. A country still          join together with expressions of
something like 40,000 students at         people have died for no reason        recovering from the death and        empathy, hope, and most
Illinois, one can imagine how             other than the misfortune of their    displacement of its own people       significantly, the willingness to
hard it is to find one’s way.             geographical location.                is difficult to rouse for yet        take action.
What’s hard is you don’t have an                                                another such challenging task.
old social net to depend on right         The recent earthquakes in the                                              Along with collecting cans on the
away. You don’t get to know               South Asian region                    However, with the optimism and       quad, a coalition of 13 RSO’s
people on a one on one basis as           encompassing Pakistan, India          initiative shown thus far, we        will be canning around campus
you would have in high school.            and Afghanistan have rendered         have a very real opportunity to      and sponsoring a benefit dinner:
Especially for those of us who            tens of thousands dead and            aid in the relief effort, and ask
don’t engage in partying, it can          millions without a shelter in the     that everybody take whatever             October 22nd, McKinley
sometimes be difficult to find            blistering cold Himalayan             small opportunity they can to do           Foundation, 6 p.m.
                   Continued on pg. 10    winds. Looking at pictures of         so. We have already begun
                                          places and people decimated to        coordinating a cross-campus              Contact: PSA President
                                                                                                                            Ahmad Zakaria
        Volume 8, Issue 2                                                                  CONTENT
                                                We wish everyone a beautiful month of Ramadan! May your
                                                 fast be accepted and blessed. May the Most-High and His
                                                     Light go along with you, protect you and love you.
                       Design Manager:
  Editor-in-Chief:       Salman Malik                                       Inspiration Corner Pg. 3
 baziz@ad.uiuc.edu                                                          Surah Interpretation
                          Haris Sarvana                                     The Danger of Slander by Bilal Aziz
 Managing Editor:        Isma’il Mitchell
   Reem Rahman
                        Farhana Faroque
                            Ali Malik
                                                                            On-Campus Events Pg. 5
                                                                       Canoe Trip by Inas Raouf
Business Manager: Chief Copy Editor:
   Basil Wahab                                        Yuri Lane, the Human Beatbox by Alia Bilal
                     Brian Dodds
bwahab2@uiuc.edu bdodds@uiuc.edu

    Advertising:         Copy Editors:                                      Ramadan Mubarak! Pg. 6
    Sabriya Ansari      Farhana Faroque
    Yasmeen Baig         Imran Sidiquee                                     Comparative Piece: Fasting
     Nada Goma
                            Writers:                                        In 4 major Religions
     Brian Dodds
                            Alia Bilal
     Tahir Hafeez
                           Amina Butt
    Syed Hashmi
     Hela Kotob
                        Ar-Pan Chokshi                                 Responding to Katrina Pg. 9
                       Lina El-Beshbeshy
      Inas Raouf
                        Fatemah Hermes                                by Stanley Ilango Thangaraj, Alum
                           Asif Ikram
 Layout Manager:
                          Wasif Khan
   Haris Sarvana
                        Moein Khawaja
                        Ahmed Mujovic                                      Letter to the Editor Pg. 8
                         Sarah Rahman
                         Ahmed Shariff                                    by Roaa Al-Heeti, Alum
                        Imran Siddiquee
     Salman Malik
                         Faisal Siddiqui
      Leila Said
    Muneeba Shariff
                        Special Thanks:                                     Editorials Pg. 10
                         Shyema Azam
                        Shaz Kaiseruddin               Decline of the Bush Presidency by Bilal Aziz
     Hasan Shahid
                          Sadya Khan
                          Sadiq Patel
                         Roaa Al-Heeti
                                                                                    Letter from the Editor
                                               Assalamhu Alaikum,                     nature of said article as either      responsibility for any of the
                                                                                      informational or editorial. Al Alim   aforementioned ambiguity, and for
This magazine contains the name of Allah.      In the first issue of Al Alim this     in and of itself has to no stance     failure to clarify the nature of the
                                               year, we published an article in       on any issue. It is a forum and
       Please treat it with repect.                                                                                         piece. As a result, Al Alim will
                                               favor of the Iraq war, written by      meeting ground of diverse ideas.      clearly label Op/Ed pieces as
                                               Basil Wasab, prominently on the        While that was stated, it is          such. While a large portion of Al
                                               front page of the issue and            understandable that based on the      Alim is geared toward the
                                               throughout. Despite our                position and centralized              declaration of personally held
          The “Scholar”                        disclaimer, which we include in        aesthetics of the piece that the      views, I wish to leave no doubt as
                                               every issue, there was some            misunderstanding took place. As       to the strict impartiality of this
                                               apparent ambiguity as to the           Editor-in-Chief I accept personal     publication.
      Our Muslim Student news magazine
requires funds for publication. Al-Alim,                                 Disclaimer                                         A corrected version of Basil
"the Scholar," exists to serve the needs of                                                                                 Wahab’s article will be made
                                                Unsigned editorials represent a                                             available on the Al Alim website
the UIUC Muslim community and the                                                     Al-Alim (Arabic for “the
                                                majority opinion of the Al-Alim                                             at URL: https://netfiles.uiuc.edu/
                                                                                      Scholar”) aims to provide a forum
general non-Muslim community. It is             Editorial Board. All other                                                  ro/www/Al-Alim/
                                                                                      for discussion of issues affecting
intended as an independent forum for a          columns, cartoons, and letters        the campus Muslim community
                                                represent the opinions of the                                               Sincerely,
                                                                                      and non-Muslims in general. We
diverse spectrum of vies and concerns. It is    author and do not necessarily         welcome and encourage the
                                                reflect the views of the Al-Alim                                            Bilal Aziz
vital that Al-Alim publishes to educate                                               submission of pertinent articles,
                                                Editorial Board, any affiliated                                             Editor-in-Chief
                                                                                      artwork, and letters for
about Islam and Muslim cultures, as well as     organizations, or any advertisers.    publication.
to provide a forum for dialogue within the      Al-Alim is funded by MSA-             We request that submissions
                                                UIUC, SORF, advertising revenue       include the author’s name, phone
Muslim student body and the University as       and personal ads. All articles,       number, and e-mail address.
a whole. Al-Alim seeks to publish monthly       letters, subscription requests and    Contributions requiring
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newsmagazines that will tie the Muslim          to:                                   however. All contributions
groups into the campus body, and                                                      become the property of al-Alim,
                                                           Al-Alim                    though any edited submissions
strengthen religion and student life on this              Cubicle 31                  run only with approval of the
campus.                                               Room 280 Illini Union           author.
                                                     1401 West Green Street
                                                        Urbana, Il 61801

2                                                                                                                                  October 2005
  Ramadan Mubarak From The
  Muslim Students Association
Dear students and community members,
Assalaamu alaykum and             involved in any of the listed
Ramadan mubarak. Just as the      events and remember how many
days and weeks of this blessed    ways we can gain His pleasure
month slip by us, so do the       by working as one united body.
years of our short life in this
world. May Allah help us to feel Jazakum Allahu khayran. May
the proximity of this month’s     Allah reward you with the
end, and indeed this life’s end,  highest of rewards—to be in His
so we may always work to          and His Prophet’s (S) company
improve our efforts in serving    in paradise.
Him and championing this deen.
Let us demonstrate to our Lord    Ma salaam,
how thankful we are for His       Shaz Kaiseruddin
gifts of time and energy by using MSA President
them to serve Him. Please get     skaiseruddin@yahoo.com

                                                     INSPIRATION CONRNER
                                                                             4. Establish regular prayers.
                                       my own personal thoughts and                                                 Most importantly, do we take the
Surah Al-Anfal                         reflections on the ayats at hand.     5. Spend freely of the GIFT            time to communicate with
Verses 2-4                             In many places within the             given to them for sustenance.          Allah(s)? I don’t think we realize
“For, Believers are those who,         Qur’an, Allah(s) offers a clear                                              that every prayer missed is a
when Allah is mentioned, feel a        example of what characteristics       When I read these ayats, I really      one-on-one meeting with
tremor in their hearts, and when       are found in a Mu’min, one who        had to sit and ponder if I really      Allah(s) that we miss. Every
they hear His signs rehearsed,         believes. I don’t think you can       fit these criteria all the time. Am    prayer is an opportunity to open
find their faith strengthened, and     just pick and choose which            I constantly a Mu’min? Being a         our soul to the one who is
put (all) their trust in their Lord;   definition you want to follow, in     believer is not a temporary state.     familiar with ever beat of heart,
                                       fact it is the combination of all     You have to be in a state of           and ask him for help, guidance,
Who establish regular prayers          these definitions that we must        constantly fulfilling the above        and mercy.
and spend (freely) out of the          strive for. In the ayats above, the   criteria to be a true Mu’min. Do
gifts We have given them for           following criteria have been          our hearts feel the tremor when        The last ayat describes the
sustenance. Such in truth are the      listed in order to be defined as a    Allah(s) is mentioned? In that         outcome for those who meet
believers: they have grades of         believer:                             one instance, when his name is         these criteria. They are given
dignity with their Lord, and                                                 mentioned, do we think of the          dignity in front of Allah(s), they
forgiveness, and generous              1. When Allah(s) name is              blessings he has bestowed upon         receive forgiveness, and are
sustenance.”                           mentioned, they must feel a           us? When we hear of his signs,         given generous sustenance. May
                                       tremor in their hearts.               hear the Qur’an do we find our         Allah(s) grant us the ability to be
My interpretation;                                                           faith being fortified with every       of those he favors, to be the
                                       2. When they hear his signs           example of his blessings? When         believers he gives dignity to, to
I am devoid of any real valuable       rehearsed, they find their faith      we see people in need to we            be of those who are forgiven by
insight to offer an interpretation     strengthened.                         place them above ourselves and         him. Ameen
of these ayats, other than what                                              offer of our sustenance, our gift
has already been interpreted for       3. Put all their trust in Allah(s)    from Allah(s) in such a manner         - Wasif Khan
us. I will, however, offer some of                                           that we feel no regret about it?

                                                   THE DANGER OF SLANDER
By: Bilal Aziz, Editor-in-Chief
                                       Eventually the action in question     backbiting). And fear God,             an avowed enemy. (17:53)
                                       is pegged to the person -             verily, God is the one who
Muslims in America put much            regardless of validity - leading      accepts repentance, Most               We as Muslims put stringent
stock into avoiding sin. Were one      to many ramifications, ranging        Merciful. (49: 12)                     guidelines on how we follow the
to spend even a few minutes with       from social                                                                  teachings of Islam. We also
the average Muslim they would          ostracizing to                                       This is a common        foolishly impose our personal
know that this person puts a great     inability to                                         parable in Islam,       standards on our fellow
deal of importance in the sanctity     marry. This                                          but is it practically   Muslims. In doing so we are,
of every aspect of their life. The     touches on many                                      applied?                paradoxically, breaking a
ways we pray, eat, sleep, speak,       cultural issues                                      Ultimately, Allah       commandment of Allah’s, one
and act are all in remembrance         that won’t be                                        mentions slander        that He found important enough
of God. This spans across the          delved into at                                       five separate times     to mention more times than things
spectrum of schools of thought in      this time, but                                       in the Quran.           we put immense weight on,
Islam. However, there is an            let’s take a look                                    Subjectively            things that we use to define us;
undeniable plague that the             at what the Quran                                    speaking, the most      i.e. the way we dress. We cannot
collective mindset seems to            says on the                                          moving verse is in      be selective with which
ignore. This is the phenomenon         matter.                               bani Israel in which Allah             commandments are good to
of backbiting and slander. How                                               indicates that slander is the          follow and which aren’t. Most
many times have we seen it with        In Surah al-Hujarat Allah says:       devil’s hand at work: Say to My        importantly, we can’t use or
our own eyes; someone hears            And spy not neither backbite one      servants that they should only say     disregard commandments to hurt
something about a brother and          another. Would one of you like to     those things that are best, for        our brothers and sisters. That is
sister and immediately spreads         eat the flesh of his dead brother?    Satan does sow dissensions             arguably the greatest sin of all.
the rumor to people they know.         You would hate it (so hate            among them, for Satan is to man
         Ramadan 2005                                                                                                                               3
                                                 FRESH START
                                    When I had to go off to finish off    me and undoubtedly thought of        had to embrace the peculiarity
  continued...                      a prayer, they waited patiently       me as anti-social. Needless to       that makes us who we are, the
                                    because they actually understood      say, that didn’t make things         peculiarity that every minority
things to do. Personally, I         what an important obligation it       easy—I can’t say I had as much       Muslim has faced. As Al-Hasan
doubted I’d be able to make         was. But more importantly, they       fun as I could have in high          al-Basri said, “A believer is a
good friends quickly here on        understood where I was coming         school.                              stranger in this world, he is
campus.                             from in a way no one else ever                 But when I came here, I     never afraid of its humiliation,
         But I’d left out one       could. They understood the            realized that the oddness I’d        and he never competes for its
factor—the Ummah. In                unique set of values and              always felt had precedent. All       glory.” Likewise, us too as
my home town, there                                                                                                      American Muslims
weren’t a lot of other                                                                                                   have an element of
Muslims, so I’d never                                                                                                    strangeness to us. Even
realized the value of a                                                                                                  as we live and work by
social circle of Muslims.                                                                                                our non-Muslim
My first Jummah at                                                                                                       friends, this element
CIMIC changed all that                                                                                                   well always be with us.
when I realized the value                                                                                                Not quite segregated
of being able to call                                                                                                    from society, we still
people I’d never met                                                                                                     maintain a detachment
brother or sister. That                                                                                                  from it.
day after salat, a bunch of                                                                                                     My first months
guys I’d known for about                                                                                                 of college have been
5 minutes invited me                                                                                                     awesome. I’m enjoying
over to the blues to chill                                                                                               my wide net of both
for a little bit. Needless                                                                                               Muslim and non-
to say it felt good—me a                                                                                                 Muslim friends. More
freshmen, chilling with                                                                                                  importantly, I’m
some of the cool older                                                                                                   discovering new ways
kids.                                                                                                                    to think about my din
         Now, you don’t                                                                                                  and my life. I’m every
have to be Muslim to                                                                                                     thankful to Allah for
invite random people to                                                                                                  this wonderful
chill with you.                                                                                                          opportunity that each of
Personally, I know that in                                                                                               us has been given here
our dorm, some of the guys will     obligations that comprised my         the brothers here had lived                    at Illinois; to be able to
just knock on random people’s       Muslim identity. They                 through the same things I had.       live and learn along our brothers
dorms and say hi. So why was        understood the trials and             They had to spend prom night         and sisters in faith. And even as I
my experience so different?         tribulations that all of us face      away from the dance floor, if        yearn to return home this
Because that day with the           growing up outside the dar-al         there at all. They had to avoid      Thanksgiving Break, I know that
brothers, I realized immediately    Islam. Before, whenever I tried       always being the “popular”           this outpost of the Ummah will
that we had a deeper bond. When     to explain to a friend why I          ones, because some forms of          always maintain a treasured
I was doing wudu at the faucet,     couldn’t do something like go to      popularity bring with it the curse   place in my heart.
they didn’t look at me strangely.   prom or to a party, they’d look at    of the shaitan. All the brothers

                                                       CAMPUS EVENTS

       The Hijab: Muslim Women after September 11
             Community, Power, and Identity
                                    covering). They actively choose       within the fabric of American        women, held an engaging
                                    to display and assert their           society.                             discussion after the presentation
                                    religious faith through their dress      The womens’ experiences           in order to further probe the study
                                    and behavior. Drawing on data         and touching anecdotes were          and its implications. One of the
                                    gathered through participant          overwhelmingly positive, each        most significant observations
                                    observation, focus groups, and        having found that they gained a      highlighted the bias presented by
                                    individual interviews, her            much stronger sense of their         only following college-age,
                                    research explored the                 religious identity and connection    second-generation women who
                                    relationship of gender,               to their Muslim peers and            had just recently donned the
                                    appearance, and religion to           Islamic communities upon             hijab. Given the academic nature
                                    Islam’s sense of collective           donning the hijab. At the same       of college campuses, it is far less
                                    identity. Specifically, Prof. Peek    time, however, donning such a        unlikely that the women would
                                    described the personal and            visible marker of Islam also led     have experienced any overt
By Reem Rahman                      social reasons that a group of        each woman to feel an acute          negativity to further challenge
   This September, Lori Peek,       young Muslim American chose to        burden of responsibility to          their experience.
Assistant Professor in the          wear the hijab, post 9-11. These      actively confront and dispel            The event raised as many
Department of Sociology at          women chose to wear the hijab         numerous stereotypes and             questions as it tried to answer. It
Colorado State University,          partly as a sense of Islamic          misconceptions of Muslims,           offered an instructive and
presented her study of second-      obligation towards conservative       particularly prevalent in the        engaging study, but only of one
generation Muslim American          demeanor, and partly as a             aftermath of the September 11        highly selective slice in the total
women who had voluntarily           voluntary desire to present           terrorist attacks.                   of what it means to be a woman
started wearing the Hijab (head     themselves as Muslim women                The audience, primarily          and Muslim in America.
 4                                                                                                                        October 2005
                                                       CAMPUS EVENTS

Canoe Trip Synopsis: Return of the Freshmen Girls!
                                     Freshman, Sarah Rahman gasped         tossing her into the lake.          want to disturb the mysterious
 By: Inas Raouf                                                                                                beings in the lake. Suddenly,
                                     and looked around to                  Freshman Alia Bilal screamed,
                                     make sure the ten of us                                                            Hela Kotob dove-in to
Muslim Students Associations’
                                     were still in our canoes.                                                          save Ms. Baig. The two
sista’s were born to canoe! We
                                     We were relieved to                                                                girls resurfaced alive
paddled up a storm at Kickapoo
                                     know that the girls were                                                           and well – to the cheers
Landing, on September 24, 2005,
                                     safe when we noticed a                                                             of everyone around
when we tackled the high seas of
                                     few kufis floating in the                                                          them. The declarations
the tranquil lake. With our ruby-
                                     water. Fatima Rahman                                                               of Allahu Akbar were
red life jackets and trusty
                                     remarked, “Oh, it must                                                             heard all around
paddles in hand, we hit up that
                                     have been the MSA                                                                  Kickapoo Landing as
lake like no woman ever has—
                                     brothers.”                                                                         Alums, Romana Tayyab
we did Columbus proud. When
                                     “Alhamdulilah,”                                                                    and Hanan Jasim
sophomore Farhanah Farooqui
                                     responded Inas Raouf as                                                            shouted “Takbir!” for
and freshman Ayesha Ahmed
                                     she continued paddling                                                             the safe return of the
sensed eeriness in the air, we
                                     up the river. Enjoying                                                             girls. The day was an
knew it was going to be an
                                     the beautiful scenery of                                                           auspicious one in the
experience we would never
                                     the mountains, Yasmeen Baig                                                        history of the MSA, and
forget. Drifting ever deeper into
                                     noticed a brother’s bandana in        “Oh no, she is drowning!” We all    shall always be remembered as
the world of a gloomy and
                                     the lake. As she reached over to      looked-on, terrified, not knowing   the Return of the Freshmen Girls.
deserted lake, the girls noticed a
                                     grab it, her canoe up-ended,          what to do. We certainly didn’t
few upside-down canoes.

      “Yuri Lane at U of I”                                                             Hope Not Hate
  By: Alia J. Bilal                                                                                            reflect on pluralism, non-
     On September 21, the                                                                                      violence, and women’s rights. In
Muslim Students Association,                                                                                   addition, Muslims should not be
Hillel, Unit One, and a number of                                                                              blind to ignorance within the
other organizations sponsored an                                                                               Muslim world and it is
event that left the audience                                                                                   imperative that Muslims promote
grasping at their chests in awe.                                                                               intrafaith dialogue, especially
“Human Beatbox” Yuri Lane                                                                                      between Shias and Sunnis.
arrived at the University of                                                                                   Mr. Les Janka, president of the
Illinois to perform his highly                                                                                 Council on American-Saudi
acclaimed one-man theatrical,                                                                                  Dialogue and vice president of
“From Tel Aviv to Ramallah”.                                                                                   the National Council on Arab
                                     similarities between the two
The show, put on by Allen Hall’s                                                                               Relations, also spoke about the
                                     men, bringing out the many
Unit One community, was held in                                             By: Rozina Kanchwala               importance of creating
                                     parallelisms of both of their
the lounge of Allen Hall and                                                                                   dialogues, between the US and
                                     lives, but at the same time not
attracted multitudes of UIUC                                               Is there a solution to the rising   Saudi Arabia. He reflected on
                                     ignoring the colossal security
students, educators, parents, and                                          misconceptions of Islam in the      his experience of working in the
                                     gate that sets their stories apart.
children from the surrounding                                              United States? Professor Gandhi     White House and the
                                     With an explosive ending
community. There was barely                                                and Les Janka, the two panel        shortcomings he witnessed of the
                                     presenting the forced adulthood
standing room available, as                                                speakers at the “Hope, not Hate”    American government. Janka
                                     of two youngsters and the
audience members sat on the                                                forum put on by Americans for       explained America is attempting
                                     underlying implications of the
floor in front of Lane, in chairs                                          Informed Democracy, offered         to run history’s latest empire.
                                     destruction of two kindred
around them, and other people                                              their insight. The solution they    Janka asked if we, as Americans,
                                     spirits, “From Tel Aviv to
simply congregated at the doors                                            proposed as dialogue among          are competent and capable of
                                     Ramallah” is a cry of
and in corners, all hoping for a                                           nations.                            running an empire. He felt the
                                     desperation, a mantra that peace
glimpse of the beatboxing                                                  Professor Gandhi started by         answer to this question was
                                     is the only solution to all
phenomenon that has been touring                                           emphasizing that the lack of        “No”, considering how, in his
                                     problems, and that violence and
the nation.                                                                dialogue between nations post-      words, Americans do not
                                     warfare will never bring
     “From Tel Aviv to                                                     911 was a tremendous                understand history, do not speak
Ramallah”, featuring live images                                           opportunity lost. Instead of        languages, and do not understand
                                          Emphasizing this plea for
from visual projectionist Sharif                                           attacking Iraq, Americans should    culture and religion. He then
                                     peace, open-mindedness, and a
Ezzat, briefly chronicled the                                              have asked what provoked acts       stated that the question should
                                     desire to break down borders, is
lives of two fictional characters,                                         of terrorism. He further stated     not be “Why do the terrorists
                                     the fact that the two people who
a young Muslim man and a young                                             that Islam is not a monolithic      hate us?” but rather, “What did
                                     make “From Tel Aviv to
Jewish man, growing up a few                                               religion and that there are         we do that makes them hate us?”
                                     Ramallah” function are, in fact, a
short miles from each other. The                                           religious and secular Muslims       Mr. Janka reiterated that the
                                     Jewish man (the “Human
play highlights the intense                                                with many different                 answer to this question, like
                                     Beatbox” himself) and a Muslim
                                                                           interpretations. Therefore, it is   many others, could be found
                                     man (visual projectionist, Sharif
                                                                           essential that there be dialogue    through dialogue. Both speakers
                                     Ezzat). Overall, the play stresses
                                                                           between all groups. He ended by     drove home the point that
                                     the sincerity and utter humanity
                                                                           addressing Muslims regarding        dialogue between people and
                                     that resides in all of us, and
                                                                           interactions within their own       nations is the only way to
                                     manifestations like these are
                                                                           faith. Professor Gandhi urged       respond constructively to
                                     something that this world, let
                                                                           Muslims to know their heroes,       terrorist acts and to build
                                     alone this campus, could do with
                                                                           understand their stories that       bridges between nations.
                                     greater quantities of.
       Ramadan 2005
    Ramadan                                                               RAMADAN MUBARAK

     What!?                                                                   opportunity to obey Allah (the
                                                                              God Almighty) by observing
                                                                                                                     loved ones, with gifts for the
                                                                              fasting. The Holiday begins with          The experience stands out in
    By: Brian Dodds                                                           Muslims putting on their best,         my mind as the best time of the
                                                                              preferably new clothes, and            year—a month made beautiful by
     When put to the question:                                                going to pray in an Eid                the heightened sense of
                                                                              congregation, generally held in        spirituality, compassion, and
  “What does the word                                                         each community. The                    community. In essence, it imparts
                                                                              congregation consists of a             a sense of what it means to be
   ‘Ramadan’ mean to
                                                                              special morning Eid prayer             truly human: it restores order to
        you?”                            The month of fasting                 which is followed by a sermon.         the eternally complex symphony
                                      culminates in celebration of Eid        Afterwards, people greet and           of life.
U of I students offered their         ul-Fitr (grandly translated as the                                             The net result is a month of
                                                                              wish each other “Eid-Mubarik”,
scholarly insights. Here is a         Feast of Fast Breaking). It is a                                               heightened spiritual awareness
                                                                              meaning happy Eid. The rest of
sample of ten responses I             true thanksgiving for a Muslim                                                 and renewed sense of social
                                                                              the day is spent by spending time
received on the quad:                 believer for having the                                                        responsibility.
                                                                              with friends, family, and all

Jake, a sophomore from the
College of LAS said:
“Ramadan? I really don’t                                      Blessings Of Ramadan
                                      Ahadiths (sayings) of the prophet                                              obscenity or foolishness. Should
                                      (PBUH) relating to the Holy              1. Abu Hurayrah relates that          anyone engage him in a fight or a
Carrie, from Fine and Applied         Month of Ramadhan.                      Rasulullah (SAW) said, “My             slanging match, let him answer him
Arts offered: “Yeah, it has                                                   Ummah were given five things           by saying: I am fasting, I am
something to do with Muslims.”        Sahl bin Sa’d (RA) relates: The         for Ramadhaan which were not           fasting.”
                                      Prophet (SAW) said, “In Jannah          given to anyone except them. For
                                      there is a gate which is called Ar-     them, the smell from the mouth of      5. Kaab bin Ujra relates,
Aubrey, a junior in LAS hit it on     Raiyan through which only those         a fasting person is more sweeter to    “Rasulullah said, “Come near to
the money: “It’s a month of           who observe Saum (fasting) will         Allah than the fragrant smell of       the mimbar”. And we came near
fasting observed by Muslims in        enter on the Day of Resurrection.       musk. On their behalf the fish in      to the mimbar.
remembrance of the journey                                      None else     the sea seek forgiveness for the       When he ascended the First step
made by Muhammad.”                                              will enter    fasting persons until they break       of the mimbar he said “Aameen”.
                                                                through it.   their fast. Allah prepares and         When he ascended the second
                                                                It will be    decorates a special garden in          step of the mimbar he said,
Alex, of Engineering, fell slightly                             called out,   Jannah everyday and then says (to      “Aameen”. When he ascended
short of the mark with: “Isn’t that                             “Where        it), “The time is near when faithful   the third step he said, “Aameen”.
like some Hindu thing?”                                         are those     servants shall cast aside the great    When he descended we said, “0
                                                                who           trials of the world and come to        Rasul of Allah, we have heard
                                                                observe       you”. In this month (for them) evil-   from you today something which
Mike, Erin and Kyle all get an                                  fasting?”     minded Shaytaan is chained so as       we never heard before”. He
E for effort with: “It’s something                              So they       not to reach unto those evils to       said, When I ascended the first
about Islam – I really don’t                                    will stand    which they normally reach during       step) Jibra-eel A.S. appeared
know what though.”                                              up and        other months besides Ramadhaan.        before me and said, “Woe to him
                                                                proceed       On the last night of Ramadhaan         who found the blessed month of
                                                                towards it.   they are forgiven”. The Sahaabah       Ramadhaan and let it pass by
Amy, of Business is on the            When the last of them will have         R.A. thereupon enquired, “0            without gaining forgiveness”,
board with: “Something to do          entered, the gate will be closed        Messenger of Allah, is that last       Upon that I said, “Aameen”.
with fasting. My friend’s             and then no one will enter through      night Laylatul Qadr? Rasulullah ()     When I ascended the second
roommate was Muslim and she           that gate.” (Muslim).                   replied, “No. But it is only right     step, he said “Woe to him before
did it – I think it has something                                             that a servant should be given his     whom thy name is mentioned and
to do with Islam.”                    Zaid bin Khalid Al-Juhani (RA)          reward on having completed his         then does not read Durood
                                      reported, The Prophet (SAW)             service”.                              (salaat alan Nabi) on you”. I
                                      said, “He who provides a fasting        Reported by Ahmad, Bazzaar and         replied “Aameen”. When I
Jared, in Music said: “It’s a holy    person something with which to          Bayhaqi                                ascended the third step he said,
month for, I think Islam – though     break his fast, will earn the same                                             “Woe unto the person in whose
I’m not sure.”                        reward as the one who was               4. The Prophet (peace and              presence both parents or one of
                                      observing the fast, without             blessings be upon him) said:           them attain old age, and (through
                                      diminishing in any way the reward       “Fasting is a shield. Let no one       failure to serve them) is not
And Tom, with my personal             of the latter.” (At-Tirmidhi)           who is fasting commit any              allowed to enter Jannah” I said
favorite: “Rama-huh?”                                                                                                           “Aameen”

6                                                                                                                              October 2005
                                                  COMPARATIVE FASTING
                                      its founder, Siddhartha Gautama.       should be done in moderation.          religions teach moderation. Also,
     Buddhism                         At the age of twenty nine he           Today, fasting is something that       they teach that meditation and
                                      fasted in hope of finding a cure       is voluntary. It is a way for many     worship can be attained through
      It is hard for me to talk       to the suffering that existed in       Buddhists to reach a higher state      fasting. Islam, Christianity,
about Buddhism because I have         man. Siddhartha was in such a          of meditation and worship.             Judaism, Buddhism, and Hindu-
limited knowledge on this             state of hunger that he felt death     Buddhism teaches that fasting          ism may have different names,
religion. As an outsider I will try   was coming. He finally ate some        has many merits to gain if one is      but they all have one message:
my best to explain the way in         food, and at that moment he            able to fast.                          moderation leads to a higher
which Buddhists fast. Buddhism        reached a state of nirvana. It was          The idea of fasting in            state of meditation and worship
is a religion that has taught         at this time that he received his      Buddhism is to give up meat for        for a believer.
moderation since the beginning        “awakening” and was called             a couple of days. I find that
of its existence. The origin of       Buddha, or the enlightened one.        Buddhism and Islam are very                     - Sarah Rahman
fasting in Buddhism goes back to            Buddha noted that fasting        similar in their teachings. Both
                                      him can see it. The face of the        consultation of both doctor and        Gedaliah (3rd of Tishri), the day
       Judaism                        person lights up, as the troubles
                                      and worries of daily life are
                                                                                   Like Muslims, the Jewish
                                                                                                                    after Rosh Hashanah; Asarah
                                                                                                                    b’Tevet, 10th of Tevet; Ta’anit
      Why do we fast? Whether         lessened. Since the person             fast is a complete fast, i.e.          Esther (13th of Adar), the day
you asked a Rabbi or an Imam,         fasting is in a state of grace, they   absolutely no food or drink is         before Purim; Shiva Asar
the answer would be the same.         are not angry or frustrated and        allowed. On regular fasting days,      b’Tamuz, 17th of Tamuz. Another
We fast with the intent, and with     conflicts can be resolved much         the Jewish fast begins at sunrise      less observed fasting is B’Hab,
God’s mercy, to subdue our            easier when the mind is clear of       and ends at sunset. On special         which involves fasting on the
physical aspect. Everyone is          hatred and focused on mercy.           holidays, like Yom Kippur, or the      Monday, Thursday and Monday
affected by what their body           Everyday a person should do            Day of Atonement (10th of              following the major festivals of
feels. Inevitably, this leads to      good deeds; if, God forbid, they       Tishri), when forgiveness is           Succoth and Pesach. It is in case
some form of deviance from the        go a day without doing even one        asked from God, or Tisha B’av          the celebrations of the festival
prescribed path. Thus, by fasting,    good deed, then that day is lost:      (9th of Av) commemorating the          caused you to do any sins that
one has the chance to nullify the     fasting is a way to ask for for-       destruction of both Temples in         may be inappropriate for the
sway their bodies hold over           giveness for these days, and in        Jerusalem among other sad              nature of the festival. Also, most
them, and return to a more            effect brighten all days with the      events, the fast is 25 hours,          religious Jews fast from when
humble and essentially peaceful       light of God.                          beginning at the start of the          they get up on their wedding day
state. In the state of fast, one is         Fasting commences when a         Jewish day (i.e. the evening           until the ceremony itself. This is
more conscious of themselves          boy is Bar Mitzvah (13) and a          before) until nightfall on the day     because the day is considered a
and their surroundings, and is in     girl is Bat Mitzvah (12). Any          concerned.                             personal Yom Kippur, on which
a better condition to receive the     able and healthy person must                 As mentioned, the vast           they are forgiven their sins and
blessings, mercy and guidance of      fast. If a person is ill, for ex-      majority of Jews fast on Yom           start again as a married man or
God. That is why recitation of        ample diabetic, then fasting is        Kippur which occurs between            woman. Of course, anyone can
the word of God becomes even          not required. However, this            September and October. For             fast whenever they feel com-
more important.                       exemption is not determined by         religious Jews, some other             pelled to fast.
      When a person is in a state     the person themselves, the             fasting days (these are all from
of fast, he and the people around     decision is made only after            sunrise to sunset) include Tsom                 - Ahmed Mujovic

                                      lentingly pursue the perfect path      the religion, often depending on       cleansing of the body for both
       Hinduism                       in one’s daily life, fasting be-       which deity one chooses to             spiritual and health reasons.
                                      comes essential. In this sense the     worship and often correlating                In most aspects Hinduism
      In Hinduism, one denies the     similarities with the other            with festivals. The methods for        fits snugly beside the other major
physical needs of the body for        religions are obvious. The             fasting range from complete self-      religions of the world when it
the sake of spiritual gain. Ac-       emphasis on self-discipline is         restraint to simply abstaining         comes to fasting. The few differ-
cording to the Hindu scriptures,      especially familiar to Muslims         from salt on certain days of the       ences, in practice and timing, do
fasting establishes a harmony         during Ramadan. As with most           year. The underlying principle         not take away from the shared
between the body and soul which       other religions, Hindu fasting         behind all these types of fasting      underlining principles. Both
in turn provides an attunement        also serves as a reminder for the      comes from the Ayurveda, an            Islam and Hinduism define
with the Absolute. The belief is      worshipper of the suffering of         intricate medical system that          fasting by its ability to cleanse
that this attunement is required in   the world.                             originates in the Hindu Vedas. It      the soul and strengthen one’s
order to live a healthy life, since         The times and organization       outlines the ways in which one         faith.
it improves both one’s physical       of fasting within the religion are     can stay healthy and highlights
and mental health.                    much different though. There are       the need for the occasional                      - Imran Siddiquee
      Since it isn’t easy to unre-    different types of fasting within
                                      Jesus’s (pbuh) actions as a call       similar to the ideas in Islam. It            Thus, for Christians, among
    Christianity                      to fast.                               reflects an important concept in
                                                                             Christianity; “Do not lay up for
                                                                                                                    other things, fasting is a means
                                            Most Christians, who fast,                                              through which the body and soul
      Unlike the other religions      do so in the weeks prior to            yourselves treasures on                of a person prepare for the
discussed, Christianity does not      Easter. In the 4th century the two     earth…but lay up for yourselves        coming of the Kingdom of God,
necessarily have a consensus on       days before Easter where com-          treasures in heaven” Matthew           for the permanence of the next
whether or not one must fast.         monly fasted and slowly this           (6:19-21) . Fasting is seen as a       life that is not satisfied by the
Though Jesus (pbuh) himself           number grew to as much as 40           way of turning away from the           transitory nature of this one.
fasted for 40 days before the         days before the holiday. In terms      falsity of earth in order to realize   Likewise, for Muslims, fasting is
beginning of his ministry, he         of practice it varies, with some       a superior world. The restraining      seen as the temporary sacrifice
never directly ordered that his       ending at midnight and others at       from consumption of the world’s        of material items for the sake of
followers should fast. The            nightfall and some abstaining          pleasures enhances a Christian’s       becoming closer to God, of
religion in general, though, does     from all foods and pleasures and       grasp of heavenly pleasures. In        renouncing this world and
not have an enormous number of        others only from specific things.      this sense, the fast is once again     embracing the everlasting world
religious laws, thus overtime               The basic principle behind       proven as a universal tool among       of the afterlife.
many Christians have interpreted      fasting, once again, is fairly         major religions of increasing
                                                                             spirituality.                           - Alia Bilal and Imran Siddiquee
        Ramadan 2005                                                                                                                                7
                                                LETTER TO THE EDITOR

        Letter to the Editor
 By: Roaa Al-Heeti
                                     Iraqis and Muslims feel about        how much of the Iraqi population      that only Shias and Kurds
 In its first Fall 2005 edition,     the U.S. occupation in Iraq made     is comprised of Arab Sunnis (the      suffered under the reign of
 Al-Alim published an article        me wonder what the author            CIA World Factbook cites close        Saddam Hussein. The blatant
 that condoned the U.S. invasion     believes are the United States’      to 40 percent), the natural           fallacies and inaccuracies that
 of Iraq as “one of the most         other positive steps in the          resources available in the more       could have been easily verified
 positive steps the United States    Middle East – perhaps relentless     Sunni parts of Iraq (or perhaps       with research should shed
 has taken against the Middle        support of Zionism? The article      he doesn’t consider two rivers        serious doubt’s in the reader’s
 East.” The level of hatred and      was littered with incorrect data     and oil to be “natural resources      mind as to accuracy of any
 disregard for much of what          that is easily verifiable, such as   or wealth”?) and his implication      claims made in the article.

                                                       OPINION ON IRAQ
By: Roaa Al-Heeti

         For years, Iraqis have                                           between the sects rather than on      States’ invasion of Iraq is that the
                                     and would disappear when the
held their breath in anticipation                                         their unity as Iraqis and as          Iraqis, who this war was allegedly
                                     United States captured Hussein,
of when Saddam Hussein would                                              Muslims. In just a few days, the      meant to help, lived more
                                     yet the resistance only grew after
no longer be their president. It                                          people will enter polling booths      peacefully under dictatorship.
                                     Hussein’s capture. The United
was a moment people longed for                                            to vote on a constitution that        According to Iraqbodycount.org,
                                     States told the world Hussein
– a day certain to come.                                                  feeds off segmenting the Iraqi        more than 26,000 civilians have
                                     had ties to Al-Qaeda, when in
However, the United States                                                population rather than on uniting     been killed by military intervention
                                     truth Al-Qaeda only entered Iraq
invasion and subsequent                                                   the country and restoring order.      in Iraq. Thirty percent of these
                                     when the United States left Iraqi
occupation of Iraq deprived all                                           The day-to-day life of Iraqis has     deaths occurred before May of
                                     borders open to all the world’s
Iraqis of the joyous                                                      taken a similar toll after the        2003, when President George W.
announcement they dreamt                                                                                              Bush declared the end of
of.                                                                                                                   major military operations in
         Although Hussein                                                                                             Iraq. More than half the
most certainly does not rule                                                                                          deaths were caused by
Iraq anymore, and although                                                                                            explosive devises, mostly by
his removal indicates the                                                                                             air strikes.
end of a dark era, the                                                                                                Unfortunately for the Muslim
change in times was                                                                                                   world, this message of
anything but joyous. The                                                                                              democracy has proven to be
CIA Word Factbook, which                                                                                              little more than a modern day
provides information on the                                                                                           manifestation of the white
governments of every                                                                                                  man’s burden. Rather than
country, simply states                                                                                                take over lands and destroy
“none” for the type of                                                                                                cultures in the name of
government that rules Iraq                                                                                            Christianity, modern day
today. The brevity of this                                                                                            crusaders advocate for the
description serves as a                                                                                               spread of democracy as the
brutal reminder of the                                                                                                world’s savior.
tragedy of modern day Iraq                                                                                            And the burden of war
and why the removal of                                                                                                hasn’t been any lighter on
Hussein was not an event                                                                                              Americans either. For more
to rejoice. While we                                                                                                  than two years, the United
watched American soldiers                                                                                             States has had to pour
and Ahmed Chalabi’s men                                                                                               dollars and soldiers into a
topple a statute of Hussein                                                                                           situation no one is sure
on international television                                                                                           Americans can get
in celebration of the end of                                                                                          themselves out of.
a dictatorship, the grimmest                                                                                             Out of the tragedy of Iraq
chapter of Iraqis history                                                                                             comes one steadfast hope.
was unfolding.                                                                                                        People all around the world
As Hussein’s statutes fell, so did                                        invasion. Not yet recovered from      – and especially the Muslim world
the United States’ reasons for                                            the economic sanctions imposed        – united to stop and oppose the
                                     When no one would believe the
invading Iraq. Iraq never bought                                          on them, Iraqis also face             war. Although the rallies, chants
                                     United States’ pre-textual
yellow cake from Niger, and                                               inflation and a shortage of water     and protests weren’t enough to
                                     reasons for invading Iraq, the
U.N. weapons inspectors were                                              and electricity. The security         stop the invasion, millions of
                                     United States preached that a
right, there were no weapons of                                           situation in Iraq has affected life   people from countries around the
                                     message of democracy brought
mass destruction in the country.                                          so much that many schools have        world and Americans from
                                     them to Iraq. Yet photos and
The United States told the world                                          yet to open full-time because of      organizations such as
                                     sworn statements of Iraqi
Iraqis stopped Americans in the                                           fear for the safety of students and   Moveon.org, Vietnam Veterans
                                     detainees published in the
streets of Iraq to give the                                               teachers. An ordinary                 Against the War, our local
                                     Washington Post detailed abuses
invading forces flowers and                                               marketplace can turn into a battle    AWARE group and many Muslim
                                     that show a clear lack of respect
kisses, yet the Americans fought                                          zone without a moment’s notice,       organizations all stood strong
                                     for Iraqis. Every detail of the
for weeks to overcome the tiny                                            often at the expense of civilians.    with the Iraqi people.
                                     emerging Iraqi government must
village of Umm Qasr. The United      meet American approval, and the      The lack of security has lead to
States told the world the            formation of the government has      an overall state of fear and
resistance they faced came from      focused more on the differences      paranoia in the country.
the last of the Hussein loyalist                                          The grim reality of the United
 8                                                                                                                         October 2005
                          Responding to Hurricane Katrina
                                              UIUC Anthropology Dept. newsletter 05
By: Stanley Ilango Thangaraj          more ingrained layer of New           spectacle, the appropriation of      post-modernism—its failings
                                      Orleans that emerged – the            particular meanings on these         and its potential, Bunzl and
A slight breeze soothes the
                                      poverty and the blackness. This       black bodies, the institutional—     Kelsky engaged and questioned
humidity of this corn-run region;
                                      particular intersection produced      local and national—recovery          why the academic world has
the fan continues to oscillate
                                      the new spectacle as the African      efforts that reflected class and     failed to reach the greater space
loudly, drowning-out the uneven
                                      American bodies were colonized        racial intersection, and the         of mainstream information (mass
noises outside my apartment.
                                      through our media; the                consumption of the event. Tied       media and public debate). With
Typing with the luxury of food,
                                      impositions of criminality,           into every level of institutional    the need to address “race” as
water, clothing, and space, I
                                      insanity, and barbarism strewn        racism through minimal action        one of the main tenets proposed,
realize my privilege in its most
                                      carelessly among these bodies.        and inaction, I constitute the       Kamala Visweswaran’s call to
blatant manifestation: I talk and
                                      As I sat comfortably in these         hegemonic structures and not the     reinstitute race into Cultural
read while lives are lived in
                                      classrooms at UIUC, poor              solution.                            Anthropology becomes ever
utterly adverse conditions. My
                                      African Americans, poor whites,                                            more evident.
mind oscillates like the wings on
                                      and others faced the ghettoization    W.E.B. DuBois posed the
my fan, but my productivity
                                      brought on by this natural            question in Souls of Black Folk,     As the water removed all these
seems limited and confined. I am
                                      disaster and the institutional        “How does it feel to be the          other layers of capitalistic
furious, I am outraged, yet, I
                                      response.                             problem?” By this he made clear      excess to expose the blistering
read, I chat, I dialogue.
                                                                            the color line and the means by      wounds of racism, all three
                                      Through Hurricane Katrina,            which African Americans gained       disciplines of anthropology need
Lives were lived even in the
                                      waters of nourishment had turned      negative valences (constituting      to find ways to make these
severe conditions brought forth
                                      into a genocidal machine, yet,        the “problem”) in opposition to      hidden sores of racism visible,
by Hurricane Katrina. The
                                      amidst the destruction and death      the whites. Here, I struggle with    integrate them into the
waters blanketed entire cities
                                      the water nourished a very            the same question but in a           mainstream informational space,
and regions, what had existed
                                      particular truth. The invisible       slightly different context. How      facilitate a proliferation of
before now was hidden like
                                      was now visible, the subaltern        have we, in academia, become         discourses outside of academia,
morbid secrets. Waters had
                                      now appeared in the mainstream        the problem? What kind of            and be engaged in the process of
rushed in and swallowed up not
                                      space of our visual media.            institutionalization has made the    recovery. We have to make
only New Orleans but its white
                                      Poverty had always existed in         space of higher learning one of      visible the importance of
spectacle. As the water level
                                      the midst of such sexual and          inaction? Other than financial       studying race and situate it
continued to rise, the prostitution
                                      financial splendor of Mardi           support, what role does the          locally, trans-locally, and
of the visual spectacle of beads
                                      Gras. Coming to the surface,          institution play? Are we in          globally. I do not want to be the
and breasts disappeared as the
                                      nourished in this catastrophe,        academia making visible              problem, I do not want to let my
rising waters brought forth the
                                      was the not the debris of racism      “racism” and “race”?                 soothing fan calm me to the heat,
receding of some new truths that
                                      but its entirety. Nothing could                                            humidity, and institutional
had always existed but in
                                      hide or cover this truth, the         In this search for answers, I turn   violence played out on African
confinement. The floodwaters of
                                      waters demonstrated this.             to the Unit for Criticism’s first    American bodies; I see racism, I
Katrina broke the damn of these
                                                                            lecture featuring Matti Bunzl        shout RACISM, I want to be a
truths as the white spectacle
                                      Institutional racism came through     with a response by Karen             part of the solution.
dissipated into a deeper and
                                      the construction of the black         Kelsky. Through the genre of

                      Epigentics: Destiny, Genes, and Pizza
                                      presiding, determining not just       addresses heritable changes in       there’s nothing to stop Allah
By: Fatemah Hermes                    our physical features, but also       genes that occur without             from changing what’s written).
                                      many of the intangible elements       mutations. So it seems that we
Since the structure of DNA was        of our existence, how much            are not any closer to controlling    As a scientist I have to try to
proposed in the 1950s, it was         control – if any – do we have         our destinies.                       disprove that* by showing that
immediately evident that detailed     over our own lives and our                                                 either everything is determined,
understanding of the intricate        destinies?                            As a Muslim, I believe I have        such as by the DNA code, or that
molecule and its functions would                                            reconciled between the freewill/     nothing is determinable. The
do us some good, since it was         I can’t help wondering if one of      determinism debate. The Quran        latter hypothesis has already
the only biological information       the hidden reasons behind the         is replete with verses that imply    been falsified with the discovery
storage system known to date. It      multinational three billion-dollar    God’s preceding determination        of DNA, as discussed above.
was already clear that DNA is         human genome project that was         of our fates. For example, in        The former is now being
central to inheritance and thus to    launched in 1990 was in fact to       Surah 9, verse 51, Allah says,       challenged with the advent of
the bigger picture of evolution;      try to gain some control over our     “Say: ‘nothing shall ever happen     epigenetics. But the search still
subtle “coincidental” changes to      destinies. The first phase of the     to us except what Allah has          continues. In the mean time, it all
the information code would be         project, to sequence the entire       ordained for us. He is our Maula     boils down to this: if you think
transmitted to progeny if the         human genome, was completed           (=Lord, Helper and Protector).’      you had no choice in disliking
environmental conditions              two years ahead of schedule in        And in Allah let the believers put   thick-crust anchovy pizza, you
selected for them. The extent to      2000 and proved to be the             their trust.” Yet the Quran also     can choose to eat thin-crust
which factors like behavior and       easiest of the three phases. But      holds that man is responsible for    cheese pizza!
personality were inherited was        after scientists had the competed     his own actions, “O you who
still debatable, but there was        sequence in their hands, they         believe, you have charge of your     *The proper scientific method is
evidence to suggest that those too    realized that it was the least        own souls” (5:105). Islam            to try to disprove something, and
were passed on from parents to        significant part of the code; there   teaches that freewill and            if it withstands all attempts to
offspring. And here is where          were tremendous amounts of            determinism and not mutually         disprove it, it is accepted as
biology links back to philosophy      factors that determined how the       exclusive. The reasoning behind      true.
with its mother of all questions –    code was deciphered in each           that is that as humans we don’t
what are we all doing here? If        cell. Enough at least to give rise    know what “Allah has ordained        Acknowledgment: special thanks
this tri-phasic cycle of mutation,    to a new field of study called        for us”, and therefore we should     to my sister, Zainab Hermes, for
inheritance, selection is all-        epigentics (epi = outside) that       strive and pray for the best. (And   inspiring me to write this article.

        Ramadan 2005                                                                                                                             9
                          Charging to Inefficacy: The Decline of the Bush presidency
                                      limping economy and starkly          more pro-life light. An              Administration’s credibility, even
                                      unpopular war, not only handily      overwhelming majority of             when it seems torn beyond repair,
                                      with the electoral and popular       Americans were against this          was damaging.
                                      election, have his presidency fall   intrusion of the Federal
                                      apart in less than a year? The       government, and were appalled        A mortal wound to the already
                                      answer isn’t a silver bullet, or a   by President Bush’s pledge to        ailing president came in the form
                                      crushing scandal, but a              represent a minority view for        of a raging torrent named
                                      systematic failure of leadership,    political purposes. Ultimately,      Katrina. The president rode the
                                      transparency, and political          this action spilled the first        Homeland Security wave into a
                                      aptitude.                            broadly negative light on the 2nd    2nd term, but when hundreds of
                                                                           Bush term, spoiling the post-        thousands of living, breathing,
                                               It’s commonplace for        election bounce a president is       tax paying citizens were affected
                                      elected officials to lend support    granted.                             so extremely by the storm, and
                                      to those that helped them get                                             then having the problem
                                      elected. However, as with            Social Security is known as the      compounded by a lack of
By: Bilal Aziz, Editor-in-Chief
                                      seemingly every issue, there is      “third rail” of politics. To touch   effective infrastructure due to
                                      precedent – and then there is the    such a sensitive and volatile        rampant cronyism, caused the
The rubble of the World Trade
                                      Bush Administration. In an           topic is to gamble one’s political   President’s safety credentials to
Center still smoldered in the
                                      amazing disregard for the            life. Yet if President Bush can be   be revoked. The distance to the
background, the skeletal frame of
                                      separation of powers, family         credited with anything it would      Christmas Day Tsunami in the
what was once a defining feature
                                      autonomy, and common decency,        be an overly abundant supply of      Eastern Hemisphere evaporated
of the New York skyline twisted
                                      President Bush called Congress       ambition. Over the course of the     when the same affliction literally
and ravaged by an unwarranted
                                      into an emergency midnight           last year the President pushed his   washed up on the nation’s front
and brutal attack on a civilian
                                      session to usurp the power of the    partial privatization plan for the   step.
target. Atop the rubble stood a
                                      states to intervene in a family      archaic insurance system. His
giant - a towering symbol of
                                      health issue.                        persistence in pressing the tax
American sentiment. Megaphone
                                                                           shelter of “private savings
in hand, his simple southern
                                      Terri Schiavo was a woman            accounts”, eerily reminiscent of
drawl invoked a basic passion of
                                      who, after collapsing due to         the Republican push for a “health
unity and camaraderie that would
                                      malnutrition, was left in a          savings accounts” tax shelter
stir even the driest cynic. He
                                      persistent vegetative state. Her     during the Medicare prescription
spoke truths of the moment, of
                                      husband was, for better or for       drug benefit fiasco of his 1st
fellowship in recovery, of
                                      worse, her legal guardian, and       term, did not resonate well with
passion in patriotism, and most
                                      after 15 years of medical            the general populace, or even
subtle and moving, of desire for
                                      treatment without sign of            with his congressional allies.
justice. Thus, on September 11th,
                                      recovery, he decided to pull the     Bush’s insistence on inelegantly
2001 President George Walker
                                      feeding tube that sustained her      pounding the issue home, against
Bush ignited the flame of
                                      vital signs. Her parents             the backdrop of a denigrating
patriotic fervor in the country, a
                                      exercised their right to find a      situation in Iraq, caused an even    With compounding disasters and
deep seeded resolve to ensure
                                      legal avenue to which they could     steeper drop in his approval         mishaps, with an imploding and
the security of the nation, and
                                      reconnect the tube, yet after        rating.                              possibly criminal Congressional
bring a wave of righteous anger
                                      several years of litigation, the                                          caucus, this entrenched and ill-
on those that sought to destroy it.
                                      final decision was made to go        When Ambassador Joseph               suited President now faces the
                                      through with Mr. Schiavo’s wish.     Wilson reported that the             first real opposition of his
His approval ratings skyrocketed
                                      This is a situation that happens     assertion that Iraq had purchased    Presidency. After countless
to the mid 70’s.
                                      all the time across the world; it    quantities of spent Uranium,         negative ads, recycled catch
                                      is a private and painful             “yellow cake”, was baseless and      phrases and platitudes, the
         Four years later, in the
                                      experience for any family to go      false, the case for war was less     President is now found on the
strange backdrop of the White
                                      through. Unfortunately, President    air tight than the Administration    defensive, no longer able to
House Rose Garden, a besieged
                                      Bush had an agenda that was          had hoped. Coincidently,             dictate the terms of the debate.
and fledgling president struggled
                                      more important than a family’s       conservative pundit Robert           The whispers of dissent prior to
to explain away the failings of
                                      sovereignty. After shouting down     Novak revealed Wilson’s              the invasion of Iraq have become
his Administration, days after his
                                      and condemning any alternative       undercover CIA operative wife,       a roar, and childish
on-the-ground commanders
                                      or rational argument, the            thus making her unable to            generalizations of liberals can’t
testified to the lack of progress
                                      Evangelical Christian Right          continue her role as such. That      distract the attention from the
in a war he began. Their report,
                                      called-in the President’s debt.      story died down long before the      failings of a seemingly
juxtaposed against his
                                      Their massive constituency,          2004 elections, but the              bewildered Executive. Of all the
regurgitated talking points of
                                      fervent activism, and fiery          treasonous act and ensuing           missed opportunities in
“progress” and “hard work”,
                                      rhetoric undoubtedly tipped the      cover-up was later revealed          American history, perhaps none
seems comical if disregarding
                                      balance in the 2004 elections.       when a reporter, threatened with     will amount to the image of an
the fact that the price for
                                      Therefore, the President thrust      jail time, exposed his source as     awe inspiring figure of American
miscalculation is paid in blood,
                                      the debate into the forefront,       none other then Deputy Chief of      resolve, leading his country on a
of Americans and Iraqis.
                                      forcing the tube be reinserted       Staff and top Bush political         righteous journey toward justice.
                                      and asserting that the Federal       strategist Karl Rove. The            With this unprecedented chance
His approval ratings drop to
                                      and not the state courts decided     Administration, not too put-off      to change the world, loyalties to
dismal high 30’s
                                      the matter. They intervened on       by the idea of lying, dismissed      business, dogma, and general
                                      the topic of euthanasia, not by      the idea of Rove’s involvement       wants of the elite and ultra-rich
        The war in Iraq, the 2004
                                      means of well thought out            as liberal spin. Whether or not      have neutered the amazing
elections, and the political
                                      arguments but by using one           the actions of Rove amount to        potential for leadership that this
pendulum’s sharp swing to the
                                      family’s inner conflict as a         criminal conviction are              administration was granted one
right are all well documented.
                                      puppet to posture themselves in a    irrelevant, the effect on the        fateful day in September.
Yet, how does a President with a
10                                                                                                                                  October 2005
Ramadan 2005   11
12   October 2005

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