Digging out more CNN/YouTube plants:
Abortion questioner is declared Edwards supporter (and a slobbering Anderson Cooper fan); Log Cabin Republican questioner is declared Obama supporter; lead toy questioner is a prominent union activist for the Edwards-endorsing United Steelworkers
‘Gay question’ general linked to Clinton
The retired general who asked about gays and lesbians serving in the military at the CNN/YouTube Republican debate on Wednesday is a co-chair of Hillary Clinton’s National Military Veterans group. Retired Brig. Gen. Keith H. Kerr was named a co-chair of the group this month, according to a campaign press release.
Bill Clinton Flatly Asserts He Opposed War at Start
During a campaign swing for his wife, former President Bill Clinton said flatly yesterday that he opposed the war in Iraq “from the beginning” — a statement that is more absolute than his comments before the invasion in March 2003.Before the invasion, Mr. Clinton did not precisely declare that he opposed the war. A week before military action began, however, he did say that he preferred to give weapons inspections more time and that an invasion was not necessary to topple Saddam Hussein. At the same time, he also spoke supportively about the 2002 Senate resolution that authorized military action against Iraq.
All-New 2008 Nissan GT-R Officially Unveiled
The 2008 GT-R will be on sale in Japan on 12/6/2007. It features a 3.8L Twin Turbo “VR38” V6 with 473 horsepower and 433 lb-ft. of torque. It also features a dual clutch transmission and a Bilstein DampTronic suspension system.
2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X Officially Released with Full Specs
Print magazines have already posted numerous photos and basic stats for the all-new 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X, but today Mitsubishi has officially released the full stats of the JDM version.The new Lancer Evolution X is on sale today in Japan and includes an all-new design and a 2.0 liter 4-cylinder 16-valve DOHC MIVEC engine that produces 295 horsepower and 300 ft-lbs. of torque. in addition there is also a new Twin Clutch SST 6-speed automated manual transmission that won’t be available until November.
Mitsubishi Concept-RA Unveiled…Does this Give a Hint of the Next Eclipse?
Mitsubishi has released two photo renderings of the Concept-RA that is going to be unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show in January. We can only hope that this concept is going to provide hints of what the next Eclipse is going to look like.
Lottery winner wasn’t supposed to gamble
BOSTON – The winner of a $1 million lottery scratch ticket may not be so lucky after all: He’s a convicted bank robber who isn’t supposed to gamble. Timothy Elliott faces a Dec. 7 court hearing over whether he violated his probation when he bought the $10 ticket for the $800 Million Spectacular game at a supermarket in Hyannis.Elliott was placed on five years’ probation after pleading guilty in October 2006 to unarmed robbery for a January 2006 heist at a bank on Cape Cod. Under terms of his probation, he “may not gamble, purchase lottery tickets or visit an establishment where gaming is conducted, including restaurants where Keno may be played.”
‘American Idol’ Champ Jordin Sparks Fails To Ignite The Charts, Barely Cracking Billboard Top 10
Sparks — the winner of the sixth and most recent season of “American Idol,” and who many thought was the most marketable of the show’s winners — probably won’t be thrilled when she learns her album has turned out the lowest first-week numbers of a debut issued by any of the show’s previous winners. Jordin Sparks enters next week’s chart at #10 (the sole new release to crack the top 10) with little more than 119,100 sold. Comparatively, season-one victor Kelly Clarkson’s 2003 debut, Thankful, opened at #1 with 297,400 scans, while season two “Idol” Ruben Studdard’s 2003 LP, Soulful, also entered at #1, selling 416,600 units. America’s third “Idol,” Fantasia Barrino, sold more than 239,000 copies of her 2004 debut, Free Yourself, to bow at #8, while season-four champ Underwood’s 2005 opus, Some Hearts, opened at #2 with sales of 315,000. The last man standing at the conclusion of the show’s fifth season, the salt-and-pepper-pelted Taylor Hicks, sold more than 298,000 copies of his 2006 eponymous debut to enter the chart at #2.
French police detain ‘drag queen’ over 18 gay murders
French police have detained a 68-year-old man — reported to be a ‘drag queen’ performer — suspected of murdering 18 mainly homosexual men, a judicial source said Wednesday. The murders were committed between 1980 and 2002 in eastern France and the Paris region.
L’Alsace newspaper said the key suspect worked as a female impersonator and that his arrest followed a two-year investigation by a Montbeliard police officer, who spotted his name in database files relating to a string of unsolved murders.
“Khartoum north prosecution unit has completed its investigation and has charged the Briton Gillian (Gibbons) under Article 125 of the criminal code,” state media SUNA said quoting a senior Justice Ministry official.Gillian Gibbons is expected to appear in court on Thursday.
And he says he would be upset if jailed Gillian Gibbons never came back to teach at Unity High School in Sudan’s capital Khartoum. The lad, who spells his name Mohammad, said: “The teacher asked what I wanted to call the teddy. I said Mohammad, after my name.”
US Muslim Girls Find Solace in Scouting
CAIRO — Young Muslim girls are increasingly joining Girl Scout troops in the US to help bring them closer to the mainstream culture and avoid scrutinizing looks. “It is kind of cool to say that you are a girl scout,” Asma Haidara, a 12-year-old Somali immigrant, told the New York Times on Wednesday, November 28.
Mother’s lawyer: Child killed for failing to say ‘please’
HOUSTON, Texas (AP) — The stepfather of a 2-year-old girl lost control and beat her to death because she wouldn’t say “please” and “yes sir,” an attorney for the girl’s mother said Wednesday. A body found last month in Galveston Bay is believed to be that of the little girl, Riley Ann Sawyers, though DNA tests are pending.Her mother, Kimberly Dawn Trenor, and stepfather, Royce Clyde Zeigler II, were arrested Saturday.
Stickler said Zeigler, 24, was overwhelmed by his sudden fatherhood and didn’t know what behavior to expect from a toddler. Trenor moved with her daughter from Mentor, Ohio, to Texas in June to be with Zeigler, whom she met online.
Zeigler wanted his wife to spank Riley with a belt when she failed to say things like “please” and “yes sir” or “no sir,” Stickler said Wednesday. Zeigler didn’t believe Trenor was doing it, however, because the 2-year-old’s behavior wasn’t changing.
Police fear child porn stash could yield hundreds of victims
HARTFORD, Connecticut (AP) — A doctor who once faced child abuse allegations kept a staggeringly large collection of child pornography — found nearly a decade after his death — and investigators fear there could be hundreds of victims, authorities said Wednesday. The owner of a West Hartford home formerly owned by Dr. George Reardon found the images — 50,000 35 mm slides and more than 100 8 mm movie reels — in a hidden storage space during a renovation project in May, town police said. West Hartford investigators announced the cache Wednesday as they set out to find the victims, saying identifying them could lead to others who possessed the images or were otherwise involved.
Surgery helps woman drop 140 pounds, 10 dress sizes
(CNN) — Standing near the coffin of one of her closest friends, Patty Hill made a promise that would forever change her life. Her friend, Gail, had died from a blood clot just a week after undergoing gastric bypass surgery to make her stomach smaller. Hill was scheduled to have the same surgery and believed it was the only way to end her lifelong struggle with obesity. Tipping the scales at 280 pounds and standing 5 feet 5 inches tall, Hill says she was depressed, moody and always defensive. The 47-year-old mother from Weymouth, Massachusetts, was morbidly obese, and after her friend’s death, she was beginning to lose hope.
Hill wore a 26/28 dress size and had heart problems. Now, not only was she afraid that she couldn’t lose the weight, but she was even more afraid she’d die, leaving her daughters, ages 23 and 14, to grow up without her.
U.S. cannot impose vision on Mideast, Bush says
WASHINGTON (CNN) — President Bush on Wednesday told CNN he would personally “facilitate” peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis, saying the formation of a democratic Palestinian state was the best way to bring peace to the region. “A democracy on Israel’s border is important for Israel’s security and that very democracy is important for the Palestinians to have a hopeful life,” Bush said. “It is also important for the broader Middle East.” Bush’s comments come a day after a summit at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, in which Israeli and Palestinian leaders agreed on a framework for future peace talks. The sides set the end of 2008 as a goal for completing a peace treaty.
Ten reasons to tune into Pack-Cowboys … if you can
Our top 10 reasons why Thursday night’s titanic Green Bay at Dallas game rates as must-see TV (the key stipulation being, of course, that you have access to the NFL Network) … 1. It’s a quarterback’s world: Were it not for a man named Brady, the seasons being turned in by Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo and Packers quarterback Brett Favre would be 1-2 (in some order) in the MVP race. Romo and Favre rank in the league’s top five in almost all the major passing categories, which seems to prove at least two things: Romo’s career didn’t disintegrate after he bobbled that hold of a potential game-winning field goal try in the playoffs at Seattle last season, and at the moment, retirement doesn’t seem to be the right call for Favre, now does it?
At the risk of pointing out how much fun both Favre and Romo are having these days, have you noticed how much fun they’re having these days? Sometimes the comparison game is so over-done and tiring, but in this case, Romo’s gift for improvisation and play-making creativity really does remind me of a younger Favre. Without quite so many forehead-slapping underhanded throws.
2. We haven’t seen many matchups this good, this late: This is only the fourth time in the Super Bowl era that teams with 10 or more wins and one or fewer losses are colliding. The last time it happened, when the 10-1 Giants met the 10-1 49ers in San Francisco on Dec. 3, 1990, Bill Parcells was still in his first NFL head coaching gig (that’s a while ago), and Joe Montana was still comfortably holding off that pesky start-Steve Young movement.
The 49ers won that highly anticipated showdown 7-3, but the game that everyone remembers came in that season’s NFC Championship, when the Giants knocked Montana out of action and got their revenge in a 15-13 nail-biter.
- Foes Use Obama’s Muslim Ties to Fuel Rumors About Him
By Perry Bacon Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 29, 2007; Page A01In his speeches and often on the Internet, the part of Sen. Barack Obama’s biography that gets the most attention is not his race but his connections to the Muslim world.
Since declaring his candidacy for president in February, Obama, a member of a congregation of the United Church of Christ in Chicago, has had to address assertions that he is a Muslim or that he had received training in Islam in Indonesia, where he lived from ages 6 to 10. While his father was an atheist and his mother did not practice religion, Obama’s stepfather did occasionally attend services at a mosque there. Despite his denials, rumors and e-mails circulating on the Internet continue to allege that Obama (D-Ill.) is a Muslim, a “Muslim plant” in a conspiracy against America, and that, if elected president, he would take the oath of office using a Koran, rather than a Bible, as did Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the only Muslim in Congress, when he was sworn in earlier this year.
- Screening of Muslims in US
Thursday, November 29, 2007
NEW YORK: US immigration authorities acted constitutionally when they subjected dozens of people, returning from an Islamic convention in Canada, to screening tactics usually reserved for people suspected of being terrorists, an appeals court has said.The court upheld the conclusion of a federal judge that the 2004 inspections, which involved frisking and fingerprinting, did not violate US constitutional rights to practice religion and avoid unlawful searches.
“We do not believe the extra hassle of being fingerprinted and photographed — for the sole purpose of having their identities verified — is a significant additional burden that turns an otherwise constitutional policy into one that is unconstitutional,” a three-judge panel wrote.
- Nixon Papers Recall Concerns on Israel’s Weapons
WASHINGTON, Nov. 28 — In July 1969, while the world was spellbound by the Apollo 11 mission to the moon, President Richard M. Nixon and his close advisers were quietly fretting about a possible nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Their main worry was not a potential enemy of the United States, but one of America’s closest friends. “The Israelis, who are one of the few peoples whose survival is genuinely threatened, are probably more likely than almost any other country to actually use their nuclear weapons,” Henry A. Kissinger, the national security adviser, warned President Nixon in a memorandum dated July 19, 1969.
Israel’s nuclear arms program was believed to have begun at least several years before, but it was causing special fallout for the young Nixon administration. For one thing, President Nixon was getting ready for a visit by Prime Minister Golda Meir of Israel, who was also in her first year in office and whose toughness was already legendary.
Should Washington insist that Israel rein in its development of nuclear weapons? What would the United States do if Israel refused? Perhaps the solution lay in deliberate ambiguity, or simply pretending that America did not know what Israel was up to. These were some of the options that Mr. Kissinger laid out for President Nixon on that day before men first walked on the moon.
The Nixon White House’s concerns over Israel’s weapons were recalled in documents held by the Nixon Presidential Library that were released today by the National Archives. They provide insights into America’s close, but by no means problem-free, relationship with Israel. They also serve as a reminder that concerns over nuclear arms proliferation in the Middle East, currently focused on Iran, are decades-old.
The papers also allude to a campaign by friends of W. Mark Felt, who was then the second-ranking F.B.I. official, to have him succeed J. Edgar Hoover as director of the bureau in 1972. President Nixon, of course, did not take the advice, choosing L. Patrick Gray instead, and Mr. Felt later became the famous anonymous source “Deep Throat,” whose Watergate-scandal revelations helped to topple the president.
I don’t know what to say…….I missed the debate live, but I stayed up for the re-airing 12 am this morning, I started out sleepy, but 2 am this morning I was full of energy!
I’m actually listening to the debate again in it’s entirety on XM radio’s POTUS 2008 right now as I type.
Read the following very carefully:
FORGET WHAT I HAVE SAID IN THE PAST ABOUT THE GOP CANDIDATES!!!
The candidates really impressed me this morning. If you have been reading this blog, know me from a message board, know me personally, or listened to my radio show, it’s quite obvious that I’m not a fan of the republican party.
Well I have to admit, these candidates this morning have began to change that.
Overall, the debate was great, the candidates did a good job, and believe it or not, I may actually push the (R) button in November 2008!
I went into this debate thinking I would really despise these candidates and the party more, I left the debate thinking I might actually vote for one of the candidates!
As a black man and a Muslim, this is not to be taken lightly. I would be on the couch until the election if I shared these thoughts with my wife!:)
Nevertheless, I feel I should share my opinions about the candidates based on my first debate and actually listening to the candidates:
I still don’t like former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, however I have to admit that he looks and sounds more than ready for the job and based on his record, he would probably do a good job.
I believe Governor Mitt Romney did a horrible job and seemed very disingenuous and not ready for the White House, if he gets the nod, I surely would never vote for him.
Representative Tom Tancredo….well he seems more like a prop! He had some great views, but doesn’t seem “Presidential” and I would never support a candidate that would nuke the holy city I reverence!
Representative Duncan Hunter seemed very genuine but a little too conservative for my taste.
Representative Ron Paul, Ron Paul, Ron Paul…….well he’s definitely exiting, but like his Democratic counterpart Dennis Kucinich, while many of their views resonate with me and they are very committed to their beliefs, they seem just a little too extreme for my tastes. If either got the nod, I would probably vote for them on principle, however I would be very cautious because of their extreme elements.
Senator John McCain, I don’t agree with him on many issues, but I still believe that he knows what he is talking about and would be a great asset to this nation. Last night, he reinforced that as he gave Mitt Romney black eye after black eye.
Former Senator Fred Thompson, truly came off as a leader and would get my vote.
However…..(drumroll) I hope former Governor Mike Huckabee wins it! You heard it right, I would throw my support behind a Baptist Minister! 🙂 Huckabee, was genuine, heartfelt, and very impressive. Every answer to every question whether I agreed with his position or not, was answered with compassion and it was obvious that he was truly thinking and trying his best to represent the heart and spirit of the American people.
There were some hits, misses, and other “stuff” with the questions.
From the very beginning I thought Romney dropped the ball on his attack on Guiliani and the whole “sanctuary city” argument. He appeared very hypocritical and I believe Guiliani made perfect sense……at least to me.
Sen McCain, truly shined on torture and the US Military and I almost got off the couch and stood at the position of attention and give him a salute!
Mike Huckabee was hilarious when asked would Jesus (pbuh) run for office and it showed that he can be both serious and personable.
Rep Hunter was on point on immigration and the border fence.
However, I believe that all the candidates dropped the ball on both questions asked as it applies to black people in America: The first was about black on black crime and the second was on why blacks don’t vote republican. I believe the candidates missed a real opportunity here. I believe Huckabee who mentioned that in his state he got 48% of the black vote, that if chosen as the GOP representative, he could get a lot of black votes, probably mine as well.
I also believe that most of the candidates dropped the ball on the lone “Muslim” question. A sister in Hijab asked “what would they do to improve the US image to Muslims” and instead of reaching out the Muslim community, most of the candidates took the opportunity to address their base and talk very militaristic and borderline stroked the already high Islamaphobic atmosphere that is in this party. Guiliani did the best on this question in my opinion. I didn’t expect much out of Romney on this question especially after his comments the other day….
In the end, if Senator Hillary Clinton gets the democratic nod, I believe the only person on that stage last night that could easily defeat her, is Mike Huckabee. Every other candidate will most likely lose. If Senator Barack Obama gets the nod I believe Huckabee is the only that can go toe to toe with him as well. Paul only wins against Kucinich. Everyone else would have to pray Hillary or Barack fall on their own swords!
I will definitely be taking this discussion up on my show tonight at 10pm ET “The American Muslim” and I would love for my readers to call in.
Lastly, I would like to encourage minorities and those who have never looked at these GOP candidates to give them a try. I believe in this cycle this party actually has more to offer than the Democrats (yeah even I can’t believe I typed that). Don’t get me wrong, I believe there are several Presidents in the Democratic candidates, but I believe there are more in the GOP.
If we are truly serious about the future and direction of this country in 341 days we need to break partisan lines one way or the other and choose the best candidate for the country period, I for one at this point can say my vote is fair game I’m not committed to either a (R) or a (D).
Today I decided to focus on articles of Interest that involve Muslims primarily to curve the idea that Muslims are not positive or are working toward peaceful means today. These are just a few articles, however I would humbly submit that their are many, many, more. Please check the links in my blogroll for other Muslim bloggers that often share such information and if you have some news, please feel free to share them with me at email@example.com.
- Lebanon’s Islamic scholar says Muslim woman may hit back if beaten by husband
BEIRUT, Lebanon, (AP): A Muslim woman is allowed to fight back in self-defense if hit by her husband, Lebanon’s top Shiite cleric declared Tuesday in a ruling rare for the male-dominated Islamic society. Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah issued the fatwa, or religious edict, on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
A statement by his office said Fadlallah stressed that although Islam gives men supremacy over women in running household affairs, it “does not approve of a man using any sort of violence against a woman, even in the form of insults and harsh words.”
“These (acts) are sins whose doers will be brought to account by God and are punished by Islamic law,” Fadlallah said and denounced all kinds of physical violence used against wives as “a sign of weakness” by the husband.
Fadlallah, 72, is the top religious authority for Lebanon’s 1.2 million Shiites, but has followers throughout the Mideast. He is considered a militant by the West for past links to the Hezbollah, but has adopted progressive, nonviolent stances on some issues, surprising some among his conservative followers.
Fadlallah has condemned honor killings, a practice common in some conservative Muslim communities, and also called for peaceful boycott of American products, banned smoking as a religious duty and approved cloning for scientific research purposes.
“We consider that if a man used physical violence against a woman and she could not defend herself except by retaliating with similar violence, she can do so out of self-defense,” Fadlallah said in his fatwa Tuesday.
- The Muslim Council of Britain calls upon the Sudanese government to release the arrested schoolteacher, Ms Gillian Gibbons, without delay.
The Muslim Council Of Britain 27th November 2007
The Muslim Council of Britain calls upon the Sudanese government to intervene in the case of the arrested schoolteacher, Ms Gillian Gibbons, with a view to ensuring that she is released without delay.
“This is a very unfortunate incident and Ms Gibbons should never have been arrested in the first place. It is obvious that no malice was intended,” said Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain.
Bringing 50,000 Muslims from around the world, the third Global Unity and Peace conference opened in the British capital London.
Bringing 50,000 Muslims from around the world, the third Global Unity and Peace (GUP) conference opened in the British capital London on Saturday, November 24, with a focus on correcting stereotypes on Islam and British Muslims. “The GUP is an opportunity to present a true image of British Muslims amid a torrent of negative media reports,” GUP director Mohamed Ali said.
UK Muslims defend Christmas
UK Muslims oppose proposals to tune down Christmas celebrations under the pretext that it hurts feelings of the religious minority. CAIRO – British Muslims oppose proposals to tune down Christmas celebrations in the European country under the pretext that the gala hurts the feelings of the sizable religious minority.
“If we are going to continue to mark Christmas – and it would be very hard to expunge it from our national life even if we wanted to – then public organizations should mark other major religious festivals too,” the influential think tank said in a report, to be published in few weeks.
Indonesia’s economy divas
JAKARTA Three professional, talented women are orchestrating the booming economy of the world’s most populous Muslim country in the world. “We know each other very well. The chemistry is always very good between the three of us,” Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati told Reuters on Wednesday, November 7.
Jews celebrate holocaust Muslim heroes
CAIRO – The result of a painstaking drive to dust off old, ignored archives, a photo exhibition in West Jerusalem is honoring Albanian Muslims who risked their own lives to hide and protect Jews hunted by the Nazis, Jerusalem Post reported. “Albania was the only country in Europe in which there were more Jews after the war than there had been before the war,” American photographer Norman Gershman said at the opening of his exhibition at Yad Vashem, Israel’s official Holocaust memorial.
Green Car of the Year
It’s safe to say that when Americans think of fuel-efficient cars that are friendly to the environment, they’re probably picturing a small, lightweight sedan or coupe. However, the 2008 Green Car of the Year announced at the Los Angeles Auto Show will shatter that perception.The winner is a 5,000-plus pound V8-powered full-size SUV—the all-new Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid. Not only can this year’s winner carry up to eight passengers or tow 6,000 pounds, it is rated at 21 mpg in the city and 22 on the highway. The city mpg rating matches that of the Toyota Camry passenger sedan.“This is a milestone in many respects,” said Green Car Journal editor and publisher Ron Cogan. “People don’t think ‘green’ when SUVs are concerned, and for generally good reason since SUVs often get poor fuel economy compared to most other vehicles. Chevrolet’s Tahoe Hybrid changes this dynamic with a fuel efficiency improvement of up to 30 percent compared to similar vehicles equipped with a standard V8.”
Jackson Five to reunite, Jermaine says
The Jackson Five are planning to tour again for the first time since 1984, Jermaine Jackson told BBC Radio on Monday.Jermaine, who appeared in the British version of “Celebrity Big Brother” this year, said he and his brothers, including Michael, could hit the road as soon as next year and that concert dates have been discussed.“We feel we have to do it one more time. We owe that to the fans and to the public,” Jermaine said in the BBC interview.
Return of the Plug-In Electric Car?
A huge improvement over GM’s EV1 electric car, the Chevrolet Volt could travel 640 city miles if it comes together the way engineers have planned.General Motors Corp., the Detroit-based automaker often maligned for not sticking with electric cars in recent years, showed off a newfangled electric car early in 2007 that could have lots of us clamoring for electric transport. The intriguing aspect of the Chevrolet Volt concept unveiled at the 2007 North American International Auto Show in Detroit isn’t that it can be plugged into an outlet, charged and then operate on electric power pulled from a substantial, onboard battery. It’s that the Volt also carries an onboard “engine” that, unlike conventional cars, is not connected directly to the wheels of the car. It’s there just to make electric power if the battery pack were to be depleted.
2008 Model Year Preview
Calendar 2007 is almost over, and auto manufacturers are well on their way to the 2008 model year. More than forty models are either completely new or redesigned for the 2008 model year, and a steady stream of new sheet metal is now rolling into showrooms. Take a first look at the road ahead . . .
Getting into the Hajj spirit For those of us not going to Hajj this year, it’s easy to dismiss the journey of a lifetime. After all, we aren’t rushing to make travel plans, secure a visa, pack and master the rituals of this fifth pillar of Islam all in less than a month. So, it’s easy to ignore the excitement of those going.
But we non-Hajjis can swing into the Hajj spirit too, and we should. We must always remember that one day, when our health and finances are in the right shape, we too must make this journey to the House of God.
- Iran: The uninvited guest at peace summit
Tuesday’s Arab-Israeli peace summit in Annapolis, Maryland, is supposed to be about resolving long-standing Palestinian issues, the Golan Heights, and other contentious matters. But, increasingly, it is framed in the United States and Israeli media as a dual-purpose conference, the other being the containment of Iran. Thus, an editorial in the Jerusalem Post writes that “the process that Annapolis seeks to launch will be inherently conditional on Western success against the Iranian challenge … The idea that holding an Arab-Israeli peace summit would be a setback for Iran is a valid one.” The more liberal Ha’aretz went even further by stating the goal of the Annapolis conference to be the formation of a “global coalition against Iran”.
- Dozens injured in Paris rampage
Nearly 80 French police officers have been injured, six seriously, during a second night of riots by youths in the suburbs of Paris, police unions say. The police say some officers suffered bullet wounds, while others were hurt by stones, fireworks and petrol bombs thrown at them in Villiers-le-Bel.The youths said they were avenging the two teenagers killed when their motorcycle hit a police car on Sunday.
The 2005 unrest, sparked by the accidental deaths of two youths, spread from a nearby suburb of Paris to other cities and continued for three weeks, during which more than 10,000 cars were set ablaze and 300 buildings firebombed.
Community mosque is the best in Britain!
A state-of-the art mosque in Thornbury Road, Bradford, has beaten off tough opposition from 1,000 others to be crowned Britain’s best mosque. As pride in the achievement reached fever pitch among attendees, reporter Will Kilner went to find out why the Madni Jamia Masjid had been singled out in the Model Mosque of Britain contestMy tour guide for the afternoon, Imran Rasul, epitomised everything the competition judges admired in the Madni Jamia Masjid.
As he strolled confidently through the airy modern rooms in the large building, Mr Rasul, a youth volunteer, pointed out interesting features and provided an in-depth description of each room’s function.
- 120 War Vets Commit Suicide Each Week
Earlier this year, using the clout that only major broadcast networks seem capable of mustering, CBS News contacted the governments of all 50 states requesting their official records of death by suicide going back 12 years. They heard back from 45 of the 50. From the mountains of gathered information, they sifted out the suicides of those Americans who had served in the armed forces. What they discovered is that in 2005 alone — and remember, this is just in 45 states — there were at least 6,256 veteran suicides, 120 every week for a year and an average of 17 every day. As the widow of a Vietnam vet who killed himself after coming home, and as the author of a book for which I interviewed dozens of other women who had also lost husbands (or sons or fathers) to PTSD and suicide in the aftermath of the war in Vietnam, I am deeply grateful to CBS for undertaking this long overdue investigation. I am also heartbroken that the numbers are so astonishingly high and tentatively optimistic that perhaps now that there are hard numbers to attest to the magnitude of the problem, it will finally be taken seriously. I say tentatively because this is an administration that melts hard numbers on their tongues like communion wafers.Since these new wars began, and in spite of a continuous flood of alarming reports, the Department of Defense has managed to keep what has clearly become an epidemic of death beneath the radar of public awareness by systematically concealing statistics about soldier suicides. They have done everything from burying them on official casualty lists in a category they call “accidental noncombat deaths” to outright lying to the parents of dead soldiers. And the Department of Veterans Affairs has rubber-stamped their disinformation, continuing to insist that their studies indicate that soldiers are killing themselves, not because of their combat experiences, but because they have “personal problems.”
Citigroup to Raise $7.5 Billion From Abu Dhabi State
Nov. 27 (Bloomberg) — Citigroup Inc., the biggest U.S. bank by assets, will receive a $7.5 billion cash infusion from Abu Dhabi to replenish capital after record mortgage losses wiped out almost half its market value. Citigroup rose 2.6 percent in New York trading today following acting Chief Executive Officer Win Bischoff’s statement late yesterday that funds from the state-owned Abu Dhabi Investment Authority will help “strengthen our capital base.”Abu Dhabi will buy securities that convert to stock and yield 11 percent a year, almost double the interest Citigroup offers bond investors, underscoring the New York-based company’s need for cash. Fourth-quarter profit will be reduced by as much as $7 billion because of losses from subprime mortgages, which led to the departure of CEO Charles O. “Chuck” Prince III and a 46 percent slump in its stock this year.
“Clearly, Citi has a problem with capital adequacy after the subprime crisis,” said Giyas Gokkent, head of research at National Bank of Abu Dhabi PJSC, Abu Dhabi’s biggest bank by market value. “ADIA has seen an opportunity to get cheaply into a blue-chip stock.”
With the purchase of a 4.9 percent stake, Abu Dhabi, the largest emirate in the United Arab Emirates and its capital, would rank as Citigroup’s largest shareholder ahead of Los Angeles-based Capital Group Cos. and Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
- S&P: 3Q Home Prices Fall by 4.5 Percent
NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. home prices fell 4.5 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier, the sharpest drop since Standard & Poor’s began its nationwide housing index in 1987 and another sign that the housing slump is far from over, the research group said Tuesday.
The index also showed that prices fell 1.7 percent from the previous three-month period, the largest quarter-to-quarter decline in the index’s history.The S&P/Case-Schiller quarterly index tracks prices of existing single-family homes across the nation compared with a year earlier.A separate index that covers 20 U.S. metropolitan areas dropped 4.9 percent in September from a year earlier, with 15 metro areas posting declines. Only five metro areas — Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C., Dallas, Portland, Ore., and Seattle — showed an increase in prices, but S&P noted that the pace of the rise is decelerating.
Tampa and Miami led the index with the lowest year-over-year declines at 11.1 percent and 10 percent, respectively. It also showed drops in San Diego of 9.6 percent; Detroit, 9.6 percent; Las Vegas, 9 percent; Phoenix, 8.8 percent; and Los Angeles, 7 percent.
Japanese robot with soft hands chats and serves meal
TOKYO (Reuters) – A pearly white robot that looks a little like E.T. boosted a man out of bed, chatted and helped prepare his breakfast with its deft hands in Tokyo on Tuesday, in a further sign robots are becoming more like their human inventors. Twendy-One, named as a 21st century edition of a previous robot, Wendy, has soft hands and fingers that gently grip, enough strength to support humans as they sit up and stand, and supple movements that respond to human touch.It can pick up a loaf of bread without crushing it, serve toast and help lift people out of bed. “It’s the first robot in the world with this much system integration,” said Shigeki Sugano, professor of mechanical engineering at Waseda University, who led the Twendy-One project (http://twendyone.com) and demonstrated the result on Tuesday.
The robot is a little shorter than an average Japanese woman at 1.5 m (5 ft), but heavy-set at 111 kg (245 lb). Its long arms and a face shaped like a giant squashed bean mean it resembles the alien movie character E.T.
- al-Qaida Wing: Bin Laden Message Coming
CAIRO, Egypt (AP) – Al-Qaida’s media wing said Monday it will soon release a new message from Osama bin Laden. It said the message will be addressed to European countries, but did not elaborate. The announcement by al-Qaida’s as-Sahab media production wing was posted on an Islamic Web site that commonly airs militant videos. The statement did not say when the message would be released or whether it would be a video or audio tape.The as-Sahab posting, whose authenticity could not be independently confirmed, featured a photograph of the bearded bin Laden dressed in a traditional white Arab robe.
Bin Laden has issued four public statements so far this year—on Sept. 7, Sept. 11, Sept. 20 and Oct. 22. The Sept. 7 video was bin Laden’s first in three years and was issued to mark the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.
Tree man ‘who grew roots’ may be cured
An Indonesian fisherman who feared that he would be killed by tree-like growths covering his body has been given hope of recovery by an American doctor – and Vitamin A.Dede, now 35, baffled medical experts when warty “roots” began growing out of his arms and feet after he cut his knee in a teenage accident.The welts spread across his body unchecked and soon he was left unable to carry out everyday household tasks. Sacked from his job and deserted by his wife, Dede has been raising his two children – now in their late teens – in poverty, resigned to the fact that local doctors had no cure for his condition.To make ends meet he even joined a local “freak show”, parading in front of a paying audience alongside victims of other peculiar diseases.
- Lawmakers To Consider Spanking BanBOSTON — Lawmakers on Beacon Hill are set to consider a proposed ban on spanking children in the commonwealth. NewsCenter 5’s Shiba Russell reported that the issue is set for debate at a Statehouse hearing Wednesday morning.The Boston Herald reported that State Rep. Jay Kaufman filed the spanking ban petition at the request of an Arlington, Mass., nurse who wants Massachusetts to become the first state in the country to stop corporal punishment.
- Google Plans Service to Store Users’ Data
Google Inc. wants to offer consumers a new way to store their files on its hard drives, in a strategy that could accelerate a shift to Web-based computing and intensify the Internet company’s competition with Microsoft Corp. Google is preparing a service that would let users store on its computers essentially all of the files they might keep on their personal-computer hard drives — such as word-processing documents, digital music, video clips and images, say people familiar with the matter. The service could let users access their files via the Internet from different computers and mobile devices when they sign on with a password, and share them online with friends. It could be released as early as a few months from now, one of the people said.The Mountain View, Calif., company plans to provide some free storage, with additional storage allotments available for a fee, say the people familiar with the matter. Planned pricing isn’t known.
A Google spokeswoman declined to comment on any specific online storage plans beyond what it already offers as part of its email and other services. But she said in a statement that “storage is an important component of making Web [applications] fit easily into consumers’ and business users’ lives.”
Google’s push underlines a shift in how businesses and consumers approach computing. They are increasingly using the Web to access applications and files stored in massive computer data centers operated by tech companies such as Salesforce.com Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Google. Such arrangements, made possible by high-speed Internet connections between homes, offices and data centers, aim to ease users’ technology headaches and, in some cases, cut their costs.
- Saudi official rules out handshake with Israelis
WASHINGTON, Nov 26 (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s participation in the U.S.-sponsored talks on Middle East peace was seen as a diplomatic coup for the Bush administration but the kingdom has made clear there will be no handshakes with Israeli officials. “We are not here for theater. We are here for the serious business of making peace. We are not here to give an impression that everything is normal,” Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal told reporters on Monday, on the eve of the conference to be held in Annapolis, Maryland.“We will not do anything that will divert from the seriousness of the occasion, (such as) shaking hands to give an impression of something that is not there,” he said.
Iran Says It’s Produced New Missile
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – Iran said Tuesday it has manufactured a new missile with a range of 1,200 miles capable of reaching Israel and U.S. bases in the Mideast, the official news agency IRNA reported. Iran’s Defense Minister Gen. Mostafa Mohammad Najjar said the Ashoura missile was produced by factories affiliated with the ministry, according to IRNA. He did not say whether Iran has test fired the missile or has plans to do so.Many of Iran’s weapons development claims have not been independently verified.
Iran launched an arms development program during its war with Iraq to compensate for a U.S. weapons embargo. Since 1992, Iran has reportedly produced its own jets, torpedoes, radar-avoiding missiles, tanks and armored personnel carriers.
Recent weapons development has been motivated by Iran’s standoff with the U.S. over its controversial nuclear program, which Washington claims is a cover for weapons development – a charge Tehran denies.
Iran is known to possess a medium-range ballistic missile known as the Shahab-3, with a range of at least 800 miles. In 2005, Iranian officials said they had improved the range of the Shahab-3 to 1,200 miles, equal to the new missile announced Tuesday.
- Gingrich Predicts Obama in Iowa
ABC News’ Ed O’Keefe Reports: Newt Gingrich predicts Barack Obama will win the hotly contested vote in Iowa, saying the junior Senator from Illinois will motivate more energized supported than the former First Lady. “My guess is Senator Obama’s going to win Iowa and that he’s going to win it by a surprising margin,” the former Speaker of the House told ABC News’ Diane Sawyer on “Good Morning America”.
Redskins’ Taylor Dies Day After Shooting
MIAMI (AP) – Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor died early Tuesday, a day after he was shot at home by what police say was an intruder. He was 24. Family friend Richard Sharpstein said Taylor’s father told him the news around 5:30 a.m. “His father called and said he was with Christ and he cried and thanked me,” said Sharpstein, Taylor’s former lawyer. “It’s a tremendously sad and unnecessary event. He was a wonderful, humble, talented young man, and had a huge life in front of him. Obviously God had other plans.”He said Taylor died early Tuesday at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, where he had been airlifted after the shooting early Monday.
Doctors had been encouraged late Monday when Taylor squeezed a nurse’s hand, according to Vinny Cerrato, the Redskins’ vice president of football operations. But Sharpstein said he was told Taylor never regained consciousness after being transported to the hospital and that he wasn’t sure how he had squeezed the nurse’s hand.
- HOW HILLARY WILL GO NEGATIVE
November 27, 2007 — AS her once-formidable lead in national polls dwindles and Barack Obama moves ahead of her in the all-important Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses, Hillary Clinton will likely intensify her negative campaign against her rivals. The Clintons’ political MO has always had a good dose of negative campaigning, especially when the going gets rough. There’s no reason to assume that they will alter their game plan now.I remember Bill’s race for re-election as Arkansas governor back in 1990, when he found himself falling behind Hal McCrae, his unknown Democratic primary opponent. After Clinton’s 10 years as governor, McCrae’s attacks – featuring Daliesque stretched-out clocks tolling the time for him to go – were hitting home. Hillary decided to attend McCrae’s next press conference and engage him in a public, impromptu debate about his attacks on her husband. She gave as good as she got – and her foray marked the start of a four-week campaign of negative ads that brought McCrae down.
Q&A: Talking with Stephen King
Stephen King likes to start the conversation and so the horror author began asking questions before TIME’s Gilbert Cruz could take a seat to interview him in New York City. But Cruz soon took over. Excerpts: STEPHEN KING: So who’s going to be TIME Person of the Year?
TIME: I really don’t know, there’s a very small group of people who make that decision.I was thinking, I think it should be Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan.
Yeah. You know, I just filmed a segment for Nightline, about [the movie version of his novella] The Mist, and one of the things I said to them was, you know, “You guys are just covering — what do they call it — the scream of the peacock, and you’re missing the whole fox hunt.” Like waterboarding [or] where all the money went that we poured into Iraq. It just seems to disappear. And yet you get this coverage of who’s gonna get custody of Britney’s kids? Whether or not Lindsay drank at her twenty-first birthday party, and all this other shit. You know, this morning, the two big stories on CNN are Kanye West’s mother, who died, apparently, after having some plastic surgery. The other big thing that’s going on is whether or not this cop [Drew Peterson] killed his… wife. And meanwhile, you’ve got Pakistan in the midst of a real crisis, where these people have nuclear weapons that we helped them develop. You’ve got a guy in charge, who’s basically declared himself the military strongman and is being supported by the Bush administration, whose raison d’etre for going into Iraq was to spread democracy in the world.
So you’ve got these things going on, which seem to me to be very substantive, that could affect all of us, and instead, you see a lot of this back-fence gossip. So I said something to the Nightline guy about waterboarding, and if the Bush administration didn’t think it was torture, they ought to do some personal investigation. Someone in the Bush family should actually be waterboarded so they could report on it to George. I said, I didn’t think he would do it, but I suggested Jenna be waterboarded and then she could talk about whether or not she thought it was torture. And then the guy from Nightline said, “Well, obviously you’ve not been watching World News Tonight with Charlie Gibson.” But I do — I watch ’em all!
British teacher facing 40 lashes in Sudan for letting her pupils name a teddy bear Mohammed
Gillian Gibbons, a 54-year-old described as “timid and polite,” has been arrested and accused of blasphemy against Islam’s prophet.The teacher, from Liverpool, let her class of seven-year-olds choose the teddy’s name as part of a project at Unity High School in Sudan’s capital Khartoum. She was said to be “deeply distressed” in a police cell last night after learning she faces the barbaric lashing under the Muslim state’s strict sharia law.Former colleague Gill Langworthy said today: “I saw her in July and had farewell drinks and she was so excited about going.
Exclusive: Saudi Rape Victim Tells Her Story
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Justice is defending a sentence of 200 lashes for the victim of a gang rape, punished because she was in the car of a male who wasn’t a relative when the two were attacked. In exclusive testimony obtained by ABC News, the young woman told her story of what happened and how she was treated in the months that followed. “Everyone looks at me as if I’m wrong. I couldn’t even continue my studies. I wanted to die. I tried to commit suicide twice,” she said of her experience just after the attack.The woman, known anonymously in the Saudi press as “Qatif Girl” for the eastern province town where the crime took place, was originally sentenced to 90 lashes for being in a state of “khalwa” — retreat with a male who’s not a relative.
But the General Court of Qatif increased the punishment to 200 lashes and six months in jail after she took her case to the press. Authorities deemed it an “attempt to aggravate and influence the judiciary through the media,” according to Saudi Arabia’s English-language newspaper Arab News.
In a December 2006 interview in Khobar, Saudi Arabia the woman gave a full account of her testimony to Human Rights Watch, describing the incident as she did before the court. She was meeting a male acquaintance, a former boyfriend, when the attack took place.
The Dead Sea Scrolls, Prophecy and Messiah XVI
How many of us think of our direct personal experience with pain and suffering in terms of theology and the scriptures? How many of us who believe in a Supreme Being, who has power and control over our lives and “all things” truly believe that such a One is wisely and intentionally permitting and at times directing our experience with pain and suffering in order to raise us to higher stages of development – mentally, emotionally and spiritually? These two questions bear on a third (and many more); which should be placed before those believers in a Supreme Being who are acquainted with what Blacks in Africa and the Western Hemisphere (and indigenous and aboriginal people all over the world) have lived through: Is the Supreme Being and even the laws of nature obligated to work on behalf of people who have been oppressed, enslaved and dehumanized? Blacks endure pain and suffering disproportionately. BlackElectorate.com, on a weekly basis, links to a variety of articles from external websites that provide a witness of the quality of life for Black people all over the world. (I always hope and pray that the viewers will take the time to read as many of these articles as possible – whether they agree or disagree with the headline or subject). While there are many humorous, prosperous, positive, and favorable aspects of the Black experience captured on a weekly basis in the BlackElectorate.com news section, there is no reasonable way to deny that some of the most horrible experiences that any human beings have endured in recorded history, are a part of the current event and historical coverage of the lives of Blacks in the Western hemisphere and Africa. Today, many, many, many Black people are in great pain – emotionally, physically, and mentally – as a result of what they have lived through, witnessed and inherited. In most cases, the mental and emotional aspects of the pain and suffering of Black people is far more excruciating than the “physical” part. Of course, emotions and thoughts affect physiology and vice-versa.About a decade ago, at a time in which I was undergoing a particularly painful experience, I read part of a book called, Pain: The Gift Nobody Wants written by Dr. Paul Brand and Philip Yancey. I first came into the knowledge of the book when reading a series of Farrakhan: The Traveler articles by Minister Jabril Muhammad. He wrote of the paradoxical power of pain and with great detail and care, commented on, and analyzed how the subject of pain is intimately related to and intertwined with the process of the deliverance of Black people from their horrible condition. It was very clear to me, and in a way that I had never realized that in a real sense the pain and suffering of Black people, experienced on a personal, interpersonal, national and international level was actually qualifying us for a leadership role, even that of rulership. This brings to mind a principle elucidated in the Holy Qur’an – in 7th Chapter, verses 128 and 129 (Maulana Muhammad Ali translation)[the bold and italics are mine]:
129 They said: We were persecuted before thou camest to us and since thou hast come to us. He said: It may be that your Lord will destroy your enemy and make you rulers in the land, then He will see how you act.
In his commentary on these verses, Maulana Muhammad Ali (the translator of this version of the Holy Qur’an) writes, in part, “Their being made rulers in the land was conditional upon their doing good…”
Those powerful and beautiful writings mentioned earlier on pain, by Jabril Muhammad, are available to those individuals who join the WrittenTestimony.com mailing list. Those subscribing to the mailing list, will receive an e-mail containing information on where the series of writings are archived and can be accessed.
One of the most interesting things that I learned from reading Pain: The Gift Nobody Wants, was the nature of leprosy. I had a misconception about what exactly leprosy was, only considering it in its most superficial form and thinking only in terms of its symptoms and signs rather than the depth of the problem and vulnerability to injury that it permits and enables. In some ways, after I became more educated about leprosy I thought of it as similar to AIDS in that it is not necessarily leprosy or AIDS that do the most damage, but rather what they open one up to.
This was particularly important to me as leprosy is mentioned and described throughout the scriptures – in the Old and New Testament. It was after reading only one particularly poignant and touching passage in the first chapter of the book by Dr. Brand and Mr. Yancey, that it struck me powerfully that there is a deep relationship between what Black people, particularly in America, are experiencing and spiritual leprosy. Here is that passage of the book, that shows that pain can actually be a gift:
Hajj begins December 18th Insha’Allah and while I won’t be attending this year, I will surely be there with the Ummah in spirit.
That being said as I was reflecting on the Hajj and the importance there of I began to think over my life and the story of Abraham and Ishmael, may the peace and blessings of God be upon them both and the “controversy” around “the story” of who it was that was actually ordered to be sacrificed.
Growing up as a Christian, I was firmly rooted in the belief that it was Isaac (pbuh) and as a Muslim I’m firmly rooted in the belief that it is Ishmael.
I often ponder about the variances in the beliefs I had as a Christian versus those as a Muslim, and I’m willing to bet, many a convert to Islam occasionally has the same introspection from time to time, no matter how long they have been a Muslim.
The one thing that I always ask myself no matter the topic is “How could I have believed that?” Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a broad swipe at Christianity, but I have to admit there is a reason why I am no longer a Bible thumping, believing, saved, born-again, and filled with the holy ghost Christian 🙂
This has always been a controversial subject as I have never truly been direct in my reasons for leaving Christianity. It has always been a very difficult discussion. It’s one of those taboo subjects in my family. For those that know me personally they know why.
Many who do not know me often allege that I must have been a “confused” or “nominal” Christian, but those who know me, can bear witness that I was completely the opposite. The child of a Pastor, the once son-in-law of a Minister, I taught and lived Christianity so much, that I was on the cusp of becoming a Minister myself (I believe my Grandfather thinks I may one day still pick up the torch).
So leaving has always been a difficult discussion, because my conversion to Islam was not as many may think. I had never met a Muslim prior, no one “converted” me or remotely shared Islam with me. My acceptance was purely textual. I read, studied, and believed.
What many don’t know and I rarely talk about is that Allah (swt) in the Quran presented many clear and definitive arguments against many of my central Christian beliefs. The core of my conversion was that Allah (swt) debated me and won!
At that time, I wasn’t debating any Muslim, I was debating a book. In fact, my only reason for picking up the text at that time, was to debate and point out the “fallacy” of the text. This was my number one “mistake” 🙂 that I later learned. See, when Allah (swt) presented an argument my retort as a Christian had to come from the Bible and herein was the hole in my armor. (onward Christian soldier…get it 🙂 )
One of those gaps I felt like I should share today as I reflect on Hajj, Abraham, and Ishmael (pbut).
For us Muslims, we are taught and it is revealed in the Quran that Abraham and Ishmael built the holy house in Mecca, Masjid-ul Haram and since that isn’t specifically covered in the Bible, it wasn’t a big point of contention (although I did want to know why it wasn’t in the Bible). However, the big one in their story was the issue of the sacrifice. Which we Muslims remember and celebrate at the end of Hajj: Eid ul-Adha which Insha’Allah will be on December 20th this year.
As a Christian there was never any doubt or reason for to doubt that Isaac (pbuh) was the son that was ordered by Allah (swt) to be sacrificed. But after reading the Quran……here was one of those points of contention i.e. debate that I lost.
The Quran says:
37:102 “And one day, when the child had become old enough to share in his father’s endeavors, the latter said: “O my dear son! I have seen in a dream that I should sacrifice thee: consider, then, what would be thy view!” Ishmael answered: “O my father! Do as thou art bidden: thou wilt find me, if God so wills, among those who are patient in adversity!”
Now The Bible says:
Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”
This is an obvious contradiction, but the real question is which is right?
See in matters of faith although it’s harsh to say and people don’t like to say it, things are either right or they are wrong. Things are either true in their claims (especially as it relates to the Word of God) or they are not.
This was an obvious dilemma.
So as I reflect today and studied then, there was/is an obvious problem. When one examines carefully the Biblical narrative they find out some “interesting” facts.
1: Ishmael was about 13 or 14 years old when Isaac was born.
2: He was present when Isaac was born.
These two facts contradict the Biblical narrative concerning the two in many ways. It’s almost like pandora’s box. You go looking to debate the sacrifice claim and more stuff keeps on coming.
After reading and rereading the Bible, one has to wonder, how can Isaac be Abraham’s “only son” when he had a 13/14 year old older brother? Genesis 22:2
Now Christian apologists will argue that at this time since Ishmael and Hagar were gone, “technically” Isaac was the only child according to the covenant…… But if this is the case, why would God leave so much ambiguity and leave it up to our imagination and doctrine to come up with these conclusions? Why would God say “only” knowing that Isaac was second born?
Furthermore, on another topic, on the issue of being sent away, without going through the tedious debate of whether or not Hagar was a slave, concubine, wife, etc. or the reason surrounding the “expulsion”, one has to wonder why the Bible says that Hagar laid Ishmael down under the bushes were he was crying like a baby or small child, when the Bible in the same chapter reminds us that he is actually 13/14? Is God confused here? Or was it normal for parents to lay their teenagers down under bushes when they cried? Genesis 21:14-16
I don’t know, maybe it’s just me but there are many holes in this story from the Biblical side. The Quranic side is clearer and more concise and given the background history of the compilation and handling of the two, it’s quite obvious why I chose the Quranic narrative and accepted it as the truth…on this occasion.
Also I wanted to note that in Genesis 21:21 The desert of Paran is mentioned…. not to go off on another tangent, but many scholars believe that Paran is the ancient name of Mecca…. I find that “interesting” because it would appear that the Bible is saying that Ishmael grew up and lived in Mecca, but obviously wasn’t too distant from his brother and father and they obviously kept in touch since Ishmael and Isaac did bury their father together….. Genesis 25:9
The entire point of this rant in context is that as one who accepted Islam 6 plus years ago, even today as I reflect on many Islamic ideas, I can’t help but wonder how did I believe a lot of the things I did in the past. More important than that is that I’m never bored or tire from hearing the story and reasons behind the Hajj.
Inclusion of Arab world in summit raises hopes
# Palestinian negotiator welcomes Syrian, Saudi participation in summit
# Saeb Erakat says Arab presence will correct “mistakes” of past meetings
# Syria to send deputy foreign minister for Tuesday’s talks in Annapolis, Maryland
# Talks aimed at triggering final status agreement between Israel and PalestiniansA top Palestinian official has hailed the fact that representatives of Arab countries will attend Tuesday’s summit in Annapolis, Maryland.
“After seven years of total stalemate, President Bush with [Secretary of State Condoleezza] Rice are providing an opportunity for us and the Israelis to resume the negotiations,” Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said.
Police have tentative ID on girl found dead in box
# Woman, boyfriend arrested after a tip led to search
# Police believe child found dead in box is Riley Ann Sawyers, 2
# Body of little girl was found in box that washed ashore last month
# Police asked public for help identifying girl they dubbed “Baby Grace”The toddler whose body washed ashore in Texas last month has been tentatively identified as a 2-year-old girl, and her mother and a man identified as her boyfriend were arrested Saturday, the Galveston County Sheriff’s office said Sunday. Investigators believe the child they dubbed “Baby Grace” is actually 2-year-old Riley Ann Sawyers, the Galveston County Sheriff’s office said Sunday.
The child’s mother, Kimberly Dawn Trenor, 19, and a man identified as Royce Clyde Zeigler II, 24, were arrested Saturday on charges of injuring a child and tampering with physical evidence, the sheriff’s department said.
It’s official: Oprah to hit the trail
(CNN) – Sen. Barack Obama dropped the hint last week, but Monday his presidential campaign made it official: talk show host Oprah Winfrey will join him on the campaign trail next month. The campaign said Oprah will make four appearances with the Democratic presidential candidate in three key early states: Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
Work off those holiday calories fast
ST. LOUIS, Missouri (AP) — This shouldn’t come as a surprise: Thanksgiving is not the green light to a six-week indulgence that precedes the waddle back to the gym Jan. 2. Experts advise Americans not to throw good habits out the window on Turkey Day and into the holiday season. Instead, choose carefully, eat slowly, and savor. “It’s normal and expected that most of us are going to overeat over the holidays,” said St. Louis dietitian Diane Zych.
The holiday season that starts with Thanksgiving (or even Halloween) and ends with New Year’s is a slippery slope, said Barry Popkin, who directs the University of North Carolina Interdisciplinary Obesity Center. He said studies have shown that seasonal weight gain can be significant — up to 10 pounds.
Bush and Olmert express hope for peace
WASHINGTON – Hours before the opening of a high-stakes international conference on the Middle East, President Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert expressed hope Monday that peace finally could be achieved. A senior member of the Palestinian delegation said an elusive joint statement on the contours for future talks was within reach.”I’m looking forward to continuing our serious dialogue with you and the president of the Palestinian Authority to see whether or not peace is possible,” Bush said after meeting with Olmert in the Oval Office ahead of the conference. Bush had a similar meeting scheduled with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas later in the day. “I’m optimistic,” Bush said. Olmert said that international support — from Bush and also, presumably, from the Arab nations that will attend the conference in Annapolis, Md. — “is very important to us” and could make all the difference.
“This time, it’s different because we are going to have a lot of participation in what I hope will launch a serious process negotiation between us and the Palestinians,” Olmert said, referring to the talks expected to begin in earnest after this week’s U.S.-hosted meetings. “We and the Palestinians will sit together in Jerusalem and work out something that will be very good.”
Iraqis may offer US deal to stay longer
BAGHDAD – Iraq’s government, seeking protection against foreign threats and internal coups, will offer the U.S. a long-term troop presence in Iraq in return for U.S. security guarantees as part of a strategic partnership, two Iraqi officials said Monday.The proposal, described to The Associated Press by two senior Iraqi officials familiar with the issue, is one of the first indications that the United States and Iraq are beginning to explore what their relationship might look like once the U.S. significantly draws down its troop presence. In Washington, President Bush’s adviser on the Iraqi war, Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, confirmed the proposal, calling it “a set of principles from which to begin formal negotiations.”
In a televised address Monday, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said his government will ask the U.N. to renew the mandate for the multinational force for one final time, with its authorization to end in 2008.
Plot suspects want access to evidence
MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. – Three of the five men charged with plotting an attack on the Army’s Fort Dix have asked a judge to move them out of a high-security prison unit, saying they were being illegally denied the right to see all of the evidence against them.In legal filings over the past week, the men repeat a complaint that their lawyers have made before: In the Special Housing Unit of the Federal Detention Center in Philadelphia, they are not being given enough access to the government’s evidence in their case. The defendants’ lawyers want the men moved to the prison’s general population. They also want them to hear — and in some cases, see — about 200 hours of audio and video recordings the government made while investigating the case. They are getting access to the recordings only sporadically, their lawyers have said.
- terrorists target Army base — in Arizona
Fort Huachuca, the nation’s largest intelligence-training center, changed security measures in May after being warned that Islamist terrorists, with the aid of Mexican drug cartels, were planning an attack on the facility. Fort officials changed security measures after sources warned that possibly 60 Afghan and Iraqi terrorists were to be smuggled into the U.S. through underground tunnels with high-powered weapons to attack the Arizona Army base, according to multiple confidential law enforcement documents obtained by The Washington Times.
“A portion of the operatives were in the United States, with the remainder not yet in the United States,” according to one of the documents, an FBI advisory that was distributed to the Defense Intelligence Agency, the CIA, Customs and Border Protection and the Justice Department, among several other law enforcement agencies throughout the nation. “The Afghanis and Iraqis shaved their beards so as not to appear to be Middle Easterners.”
According to the FBI advisory, each Middle Easterner paid Mexican drug lords $20,000 “or the equivalent in weapons” for the cartel’s assistance in smuggling them and their weapons through tunnels along the border into the U.S. The weapons would be sent through tunnels that supposedly ended in Arizona and New Mexico, but the Islamist terrorists would be smuggled through Laredo, Texas, and reclaim the weapons later.
Older white women join Kenya’s sex tourists
MOMBASA, Kenya (Reuters) – Bethan, 56, lives in southern England on the same street as best friend Allie, 64. They are on their first holiday to Kenya, a country they say is “just full of big young boys who like us older girls.”
Allie and Bethan — who both declined to give their full names — said they planned to spend a whole month touring Kenya’s palm-fringed beaches. They would do well to avoid the country’s tourism officials.
Also, the health risks are stark in a country with an AIDS prevalence of 6.9 percent. Although condom use can only be guessed at, Julia Davidson, an academic at Nottingham University who writes on sex tourism, said that in the course of her research she had met women who shunned condoms — finding them too “businesslike” for their exotic fantasies.
Putin accuses US of undermining parliament polls
President Vladimir Putin on Monday accused the United States of attempting to “discredit” Russia’s upcoming parliamentary elections, claiming Washington had pressured international monitors to boycott the polls. Putin made his accusation during a campaign trip to his hometown Saint Petersburg ahead of Sunday’s polls, and in the wake of a violent police break-up of opposition protests and the jailing of chess legend Garry Kasparov at the weekend.
Putin said that monitors from the respected Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) cancelled a planned mission to Russia “on the recommendation of the American State Department. We will take this into account in our inter-state relations.”
- Study Calls HIV in D.C. A ‘Modern Epidemic’
The first statistics ever amassed on HIV in the District, released today in a sweeping report, reveal “a modern epidemic” remarkable for its size, complexity and reach into all parts of the city. The numbers most starkly illustrate HIV’s impact on the African American community. More than 80 percent of the 3,269 HIV cases identified between 2001 and 2006 were among black men, women and adolescents. Among women who tested positive, a rising percentage of local cases, nine of 10 were African American.
The 120-page report, which includes the city’s first AIDS update since 2000, shows how a condition once considered a gay disease has moved into the general population. HIV was spread through heterosexual contact in more than 37 percent of the District’s cases detected in that time period, in contrast to the 25 percent of cases attributable to men having sex with men.
“It blows the stereotype out of the water,” said Shannon Hader, who became head of the District’s HIV/AIDS Administration in October. Increases by sex, age and ward over the past six years underscore her blunt conclusion that “HIV is everybody’s disease here.”
The new numbers are a statistical snapshot, not an estimate of the prevalence of infection in the District, which is nearly 60 percent black. Hader, an epidemiologist and public health physician who has worked on the disease in this country and internationally, said previous projections remain valid: One in 20 city residents is thought to have HIV and 1 in 50 residents to have AIDS, the advanced manifestation of the virus.
Almost 12,500 people in the District were known to have HIV or AIDS in 2006, according to the report. Figures suggest that the number of new HIV cases began declining in 2003, but the administration said the drop more likely reflects underreporting or delayed reporting. A quarter-century into the epidemic, the city’s cumulative number of AIDS cases exceeds 17,400.
- Huckabee: America Enslaved to Saudi Oil
WASHINGTON (AP) – Consumers are financing both sides in the war on terror because of the actions of U.S. ally Saudi Arabia, Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee said Sunday. The former Arkansas governor made the comments following what he suggested was a muted response by the Bush administration to a Saudi court’s sentence of six months in jail and 200 lashes for a woman who was gang raped.
“Every time we put our credit card in the gas pump, we’re paying so that the Saudis get rich – filthy, obscenely rich, and that money then ends up going to funding madrassas,” schools “that train the terrorists,” said Huckabee. “America has allowed itself to become enslaved to Saudi oil. It’s absurd. It’s embarrassing.”
Huckabee said “I would make the United States energy independent within 10 years and tell the Saudis they can keep their oil just like they can keep their sand, that we won’t need either one of them.”
Taser man stunned … 50 times
Antoine di Zazzo says he has been ‘tasered’ more than 50 times and never felt the worse for the ordeal. One of the biggest Taser representatives outside the US, Di Zazzo also gave a surprise blast of the stun gun to French far-right politician Jean-Marie Le Pen and offered a test dose to Nicolas Sarkozy before he became France’s president.
Sarkozy diplomatically declined, according to di Zazzo, but the president’s no-nonsense law and order tactics are one reason why the engineer businessman is confident of huge demand for the gun, despite controversy over its use in North America and being declared a form of torture by a UN committee.
National Front leader Le Pen, who was 79 at the time, went to inspect the gun last year because of the headlines it made when Sarkozy made his pledge as interior minister. “He did not want to try it but I took him a bit by surprise,” said di Zazzo.
“He has special protection because he is a leading politician but I got round them and fired into his shoulder. He fell over but got up again and then went around telling people: ‘You are shaking the hand of the man who has tried Sarkozy’s toy’.”
- Sharif’s triumphant return from exile adds to Musharraf’s woes
The woes of President Pervez Musharraf deepened last night after one of his most determined opponents returned to Pakistan from exile. Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who was ousted by General Musharraf’s military coup in 1999, flew into Lahore and was welcomed by thousands of supporters who broke through police barriers to greet him.
When Mr Sharif, the head of the Pakistan Muslim League, and his brother, Shahbaz, appeared, the crowds broke out into exultant cheers of “Nawaz Sharif Prime Minister” and “Musharraf is a dog”. A sweaty and clearly emotional Mr Sharif then mounted a platform to denounce “dictatorship”. He declared: “I have no lust for any post or power. I have come to serve the people and save Pakistan.” He also called for the state of emergency declared on 3 November by President Musharraf to be lifted.
Opinion polls suggest that support for Mr Sharif, who unlike Ms Bhutto has always refused to deal with President Musharraf, has grown in recent months. Any decision that he and Ms Bhutto make to work together in the coming days could prove to be crucial. A spokesman for Ms Bhutto last night welcomed Mr Sharif’s return saying: “All the leaders of the political parties must be allowed to take part in the political process.”
Hijab – A State Choice? “A kind of aggression.” “A successor to the Berlin Wall.” “A lever in the long power struggle between democratic values and fundamentalism.” “An insult to education.” “A terrorist operation.” These descriptions–by former French President Jacques Chirac; economist Jacques Attali; and philosophers Bernard-Henri Levy, Alain Finkielkraut and Andre Glucksmann–do not refer to the next great menace to human civilization but rather to the Muslim woman’s headscarf, which covers the hair and neck, or, as it is known in France, the foulard islamique.
In her keenly observed book The Politics of the Veil, historian Joan Wallach Scott examines the particular French obsession with the foulard, which culminated in March 2004 with the adoption of a law that made it illegal for students to display any “conspicuous signs” of religious affiliation. The law further specified that the Muslim headscarf, the Jewish skullcap and large crosses were not to be worn but that “medallions, small crosses, stars of David, hands of Fatima, and small Korans” were permitted. Despite the multireligious contortions, it was very clear, of course, that the law was primarily aimed at Muslim schoolgirls. The decade-long debate in France over the foulard was marked by three specific controversies. The first erupted in October 1989, when Ernest Cheniere, the principal of a high school in Creil, north of Paris, expelled three students: Samira Saidani and Leila and Fatima Achaboun. The reason for the expulsion, Cheniere claimed, was that he had to enforce laicite, the French notion of secularism, in the school. The national debate that followed took place within the context of the fatwa against Salman Rushdie and the West’s confrontation with Iran, on the one hand, and the celebration of the bicentennial of the French Republic, on the other.
At the time that France’s attention was focused on three teenage girls with headscarves, the country had more than 3 million Muslims. French-Algerian novelist Leila Sebbar, writing in Le Monde, qualified the controversy as “grotesque.” In the end, the Socialist Lionel Jospin, who at that time was minister of education, chose to let the courts decide the case. The Conseil d’Etat eventually ruled that students could not be refused admission simply for wearing headscarves, but it also gave teachers and principals the power to decide, on a case-by-case basis, whether such signs of religious affiliation were permissible.
Three American comics find Islamic audiences laugh too
Cairo – – The three young men have coffee-toned skin. They say they’re on “a mission.” They have a growing following in the Middle East, and they proudly proclaim themselves to be the “Axis of Evil.” Not the kind of boast you want to make around a TSG inspector at, say, LaGuardia Airport.
But the three comedians – Egyptian-American Ahmed Ahmed, Palestinian-American Aron Kader, and Iranian-American Maz Jobrani – have been playing packed houses in the US and are now on their first Middle Eastern tour.
In the West, the words “funny” and “Islam” rarely find a home in the same sentence. But these three comedians are working to change that. Their “mission” is to poke fun at Middle Eastern stereotypes. And even here, they are finding fertile ground in the anxieties of the post-9/11 world.
While the comedians had some fears that their acts would fall flat in Arab countries without a stand-up comedy tradition; in fact, they’ve found a ready audience this past week in Egypt, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates.
Audience members also say they appreciate the effort to pierce stereotypes with humor, and point out that jokes about treatment at airports are as relevant to Egyptians since Sept. 11 as they are for Egyptian Americans.
And the comedians have discovered they have powerful fans in the region. King Abdullah of Jordan nearly fell out of his chair laughing as he sat in the front row of the show in Amman last week, and later invited the comedians over to his office.
Kader says that after a little while the King’s secretary entered the room, and started pestering the Jordanian leader about a pending meeting with the Syrians. The king just waved her away and kept talking to the comedians. Kader didn’t think much of it until he picked up the Jordan Times the next morning and saw a photo of Abdullah shaking the hand of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
For example, take Kader’s bit about Vice President Dick Cheney’s accidental shooting of lawyer Harry Whittington on a hunting outing. When Mr. Whittington got out of hospital, he said he regretted the distress the incident had caused the vice president. “So I’m thinking he’s Palestinian. He has to apologize for getting shot,” says Kader to uproarious laughter.
There’s No Place Like … Iraq? Actually, yes. Refugees are returning—but it’s tough to resettle them without worsening sectarian divisions.
Dawood is happy to be back in Baghdad. Not that he had much choice. Late last year the cautious, soft-spoken Shiite fled to Syria and on to Lebanon, leaving his wife and their three children in relatives’ care while he looked for a safer home. He had begun getting death threats after helping create an Internet hookup for the U.S. Army base at Taji. Dawood (he won’t risk the use of his full name) is a 33-year-old IT engineer, but he couldn’t find work outside Iraq. His Lebanese visa ran out, and Canada refused his asylum application. So a few weeks ago, practically broke, he returned to Baghdad. His old district is torn by an ongoing Shia-Sunni turf war, but Dawood says he feels safe in the family’s new, mainly Shia area. His youngest child, now 3, called him “Uncle” at first, and he’s still looking for work, but it’s good just to be with his family. “I’ll tell you something about missing Baghdad,” he says. “When I’m in Baghdad, I don’t want to hear any Iraqi music. But when I’m somewhere else, all I want to hear is Iraqi music.”
Thousands of Iraqis are finally returning, lured by news of lessening bloodshed in Baghdad and increasingly unwelcome in the neighboring lands where they tried to escape the war. Although they’re scarcely a fraction of the roughly 2.2 million who have fled into exile since 2003, they represent a big shift: for the first time since the war began, more Iraqis seem to be re-entering the country than leaving. At the desert outpost of Al Waleed, the main crossing on the Syrian frontier, border police reported 43,799 Iraqis coming home in October—more than five times the number heading out, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Other statistics remain patchy at best, but the signs point toward home. “I can tell you this,” says Abdul Samid Rahman Sultan, Iraq’s minister of Displacement and Migration (the job title alone tells how bad the problem has been). “Flights from Syria are always full. Flights out are not.”
- Behind Mideast summit – the Iran factor
WASHINGTON – When the Bush administration holds a meeting this week to formally relaunch the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, one uninvited guest will be looming large over everyone’s shoulder: Iran. Tuesday’s meeting in Annapolis, Md., was once envisioned as a three-day conference to kick off the negotiation of final-status issues. It’s now an incredibly shrinking 24-hour gathering, but its occurrence at all is in no small measure a result of the rise of Iran and its brand of radical Islam in the Middle East.
•If President Bush has finally bought into a process he eschewed for seven years, it is not so much because he really believes now is a propitious moment for progress on peace. Instead, analysts say, Mr. Bush sees the need to contain Iran. He also sees how bringing Arab moderates to the table with Israel could work toward that goal.
•Saudi Arabia said it would attend a conference only if it addresses the core issues for establishing a Palestinian state. That won’t happen, but still Riyadh will attend – in large part because the Saudis see as desirable any action that ties the United States into the region and challenges Iran’s rise.
•And the attendance of Syria – something that both the Bush administration and Israel hoped for – reflects how Damascus is seeking to hedge its bets after having aligned itself increasingly with the regime in Tehran.
For the US, moderate Arab states, Israel, and the Palestinian supporters of Mahmoud Abbas, “finding a way to counter the threat from Tehran … is fueling this peace meeting more than any other factor,” says Martin Indyk, a former US negotiator on the Middle East who is now director of the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center on the Middle East in Washington.
Expectations for the Annapolis meeting, to be held at the US Naval Academy in Maryland’s capital, are “lower than the Dead Sea,” says David Makovsky, director of the project on the Middle East Peace Process at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Neither Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert nor the Palestinian president, Mr. Abbas, is coming from a position of domestic political strength that would allow for compromise.
Q & A With Reverend Conrad B. Tillard, Interim Pastor, The Eliot Church Of Roxbury
If anyone had announced ten years ago, that Nation Of Islam Minister Conrad Muhammad, a decade later, would be known as Baptist Minister Reverend Conrad B. Tillard, few would have believed it. And by his own account, include among that majority, the subject himself. But time and circumstances continue to teach all of us that we should expect the unexpected. And the unexpected turn of events in the life of the man born Conrad Tillard, forty years ago, have been so stunning, complicated and misunderstood by many – in the media and outside of it – that still 7 years after he left the Nation Of Islam, it is hard to find or hear or read a cogent, private or public account of what happened to, and inside the heart and mind of, the man known in Harlem as ‘Brother Conrad’. What caused him to make the transition in public ministry, from Islam to Christianity? To be sure, Rev. Conrad Tillard is not the first Member of the Nation Of Islam to leave or return to the Church. BlackElectorate.com has featured coverage of another such reported ‘conversion’ involving Jeremiah Cummings of Dallas, Texas who left the Nation of Islam and became a Christian preacher. And many know the story of Rev. A R Bernard, the leader of New York City’s largest Church – The Christian Cultural Center, who was once a Member of the Nation Of Islam. But there have been few, if any, with Minister Conrad Muhammad’s public stature – a former Minister at the Nation Of Islam’s historic New York City Muhammad’s Mosque # 7 – who have gone on to become a prominent Christian Pastor.
Guided by the maxim, ‘the more unlikely an event, the more information it yields’ and inspired after a reading of two recent articles published about Rev. Tillard (BeliefNet.com’s, “A Prodigal Son Comes Home” and The Boston Globe’s, “Heeding A New Call”), BlackElectorate.com Publisher Cedric Muhammad, on March 1, 2005, two days after the Nation Of Islam’s observance of its annual Saviours’ Day Celebration, requested an in-depth interview with Rev. Conrad Tillard to discuss his controversial spiritual evolution; his Hip-Hop ministry; and his political ambitions and worldview. Rev. Tillard kindly accepted the interview request and agreed to grant BlackElectorate.com a 45-minute to one hour interview. In a departure from the original intention, the interview, conducted on March 15, 2005, spanned nearly four hours. What follows is a very slightly edited transcript of that conversation.
It is our deep desire that the first part of this three-part interview, which today focuses on Theology (published the week between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday) will stimulate deep thought and reasoned discussion on the subjects of Jesus and Islam and their relevance to Black people in America, in particular, and religion and theology all over the world, in general.
Vatican to Accept Muslim Dialogue Call
VATICAN CITY — Two months after a galaxy of Muslim scholars and luminaries sent a letter to all Christian religious leaders worldwide, Roman Catholic cardinals say the Vatican will have a positive response in the near future.
“The Vatican will respond positively, and quite soon,” Dakar Cardinal Theodore-Adrien Sarr told Reuters on Sunday, November 25, during a ceremony to install 23 new members of the College of Cardinals.
“We will not miss this opportunity.”
Early October, 138 Muslim scholars and dignitaries addressed an open letter to the world’s Christian clergy, including Pope Benedict XVI, for dialogue based on common essentials between Islam and Christianity.
Themed “A Common Word Between Us and You”, the 29-page letter cites verses from the Noble Qur’an and the Bible on similarities between the two Abrahamic faiths.
The Muslim call has already won plaudits from many non-Catholic leaders, including Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Lutheran World Federation head Bishop Mark Hanson, World Council of Churches head Rev.Samuel Kobia and US Presbyterian Church head Clifton Kirkpatrick.
Several leading theologians, including Catholics, have already given the initiative the thump-up.
But the Vatican, which represents more than half the world’s two billion Christians, has not yet officially answered to the Muslim call.
“Watch out for this week,” said a veteran cardinal, requesting anonymity.
How to Read the Qur’an
The Qur’an is the word of the Ever-Living God; it has been sent down to guide humans for all times to come. No book can be like it. As you come to the Qur’an, God speaks to you. To read the Qur’an is to hear Him, to converse with Him, and to walk in His ways. It is the encounter of life with the Life-giver.
[God—there is no god but He, the Ever-living, the Self-Subsisting (by whom all subsist). He has sent down upon you the Book with the Truth] (Aal `Imran 3:2-3).
For those who heard it for the first time from the lips of the Prophet Muhammad, the Qur’an was a living reality. They had absolutely no doubt that, through him, Allah was speaking to them. Their hearts and minds were therefore seized by it. Their eyes overflowed with tears and their bodies shivered.
They found each word of it deeply relevant to their concerns and experiences, and integrated it fully into their lives. They were completely transformed by it both as individuals and as a corporate body into a totally new, alive, and life-giving entity. Those who grazed sheep, herded camels, and traded petty merchandise became the leaders of mankind.
Today we have the same Qur’an with us. Millions of copies of it are in circulation. Day and night, it is ceaselessly recited in homes, in mosques, and from pulpits.
Voluminous exegetical works exist, expounding its meaning. Words pour out incessantly to explain its teachings and to exhort us to live by it. Yet eyes remain dry, hearts remain unmoved, minds remain untouched, lives remain unchanged.
Ignominy and degradation appear to have become the lot of the followers of the Qur’an. Why? Because we no longer read the Qur’an as a living reality. It is a sacred book, but it tells us something of the past concerning Muslims and non-Muslims, Jews and Christians, the faithful and the hypocrites, who, once upon a time, used to be.
Can the Qur’an, 1,400 years later, be a living, relevant force, as powerful for us now as it was then? This is the most crucial question that we must answer if we wish to shape our destiny afresh under the guidance of the Qur’an.
There appear, however, to be some difficulties. Not least of which has to do with the fact that the Qur’an was revealed at a certain point in time. Since then, we have traveled a long way, made gigantic leaps in technological know-how, and seen considerable social changes take place in human society.
The Message of Pilgrimage
Prior to 1982, my knowledge of Hajj had been limited to what I could gain from books, and so, when at last in that year I had the privilege of performing this religious duty, I felt myself singularly blessed. Although the rites of Hajj are spread over only a few days, as symbolic guidelines, they stand people in good stead for the rest of their lives. The message of Hajj, as I now comprehend it from the study and performance of it, is that people should make the Almighty the very pivot of their existence, hastening at His call to do His every bidding.
When people leave their home and country to go on such a pilgrimage, they brim over with all the emotions aroused by the thought that they are embarking on a course that will lead them directly to God. They are, in effect, sloughing off their own world, leaving it behind them, and reaching out for the world of the Almighty. They are on their way to the House of God, a place where the great deeds of God’s messengers and their followers have been preserved for all eternity; where we find the hallowed impressions of the lives of those who lived and died for the cause of God. The pilgrims are then filled with the realization that they are bound for the very destination that God especially chose for His last revelation. Once launched on this course, the pilgrims are imbued with the awareness of God and His truths, as well as the feeling that it is imperative that they become God-oriented. If, up till then, they had been self-centered in their thinking, they now turn their thoughts to God, and their entire behavior is molded and transformed by these new thought processes.
Once the pilgrims’ trains of thought have become God-oriented, they begin to ponder over major issues: God’s act of creation, particularly His creation of the pilgrims’ own selves; God’s affording the pilgrims diverse opportunities of bettering themselves in this world; God’s very benevolence, which makes it possible for the pilgrims to set forth on this journey to the House of God. The pilgrims also give their minds to the day when they will meet their death and be summoned to the court of God. This trend of thought turns the ostensible physical journey of the pilgrims into an intense, spiritual venture.
When the time nears for their entrance into Al-Haram (sacred territory), all the male pilgrims divest themselves of their clothing in order to don a new kind of “uniform” — an unstitched, plain, white garment that serves to heighten their consciousness of entering a new world. The very act of shedding their normal clothes (and with them all signs of status and ethnicity) signifies that they are separating themselves from the way of life peculiar to their environment and are now ready to become suffused with such emotions as are desired by God. In this way, thousands of men cast off their own hues and take on the hue of the Almighty. After clothing themselves in ihram, the pilgrims find their tongue beginning to utter godly words — “Labbayk, Allahuma, labbayk!” — and they continue, as if hastening to answer God’s call, to repeat the word “labbayk” — “O God, I am here, I have come!”
Labbayk (I am here) does not mean just that the pilgrims have come to stay in Makkah. It means that in leaving their normal abode they have cast aside their whole way of life. It means, “I am here, at Your command, and with all my heart and soul I am ready to obey You.” While on their pilgrimage, pilgrims simply give utterance to the word “labbayk,” but when they return to their own countries, they must put it into practice in their everyday lives.
On reaching Makkah, the pilgrims must perform Tawaf (circumambulation). To do this, they enter the House of God — the great mosque in whose spacious central courtyard stands the Ka`bah — that was erected by the Prophet Abraham in ancient times. Then the pilgrims go round the Ka`bah seven times to demonstrate their willingness to make God the pivot of their whole existence.