Articles of Interest, January 22nd, 2008

Clinton-Obama barbs dominate debate

MYRTLE BEACH, South Carolina (CNN) — Sharp confrontations over health care and other issues highlighted a debate among the Democratic presidential front-runners Monday night, with the sniping threatening to overshadow substance days before the South Carolina primary.

Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama engaged in particularly sharp exchanges.

With Obama, the senator from Illinois, polling well in the state — especially among black voters — Clinton, the New York senator and former first lady, and former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina used the debate to put Obama on the defensive over a health care plan they say doesn’t offer coverage for everyone.

“If you don’t start out trying to get universal health care, we know — and our members of Congress know — you’ll never get there,” said Clinton, who pushed a failed effort at expanding health care when her husband was president.

“If a Democrat doesn’t stand for universal health care that includes every single American, you can see the consequences of what that will mean.” Video Watch the back-and-forth over health care »

Clinton and Edwards promote plans that would guarantee coverage for all Americans. Obama wants to guarantee health care is affordable to everyone while not requiring everyone to buy it.

“I believe the problem is not that folks are trying to avoid getting health care,” Obama said. “The problem is they can’t afford it.”

Obama countered that Edwards has said the plan may have to be paid for, in part, by deducting money from people’s paychecks, and he said Clinton has been vague on how her plan would be funded. See what the candidates said on the issues »

Just minutes into the debate, sponsored by CNN and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute, Clinton and Obama — who rank one and two in national polls — started with the attacks. See what CNN’s political team thought about the attacks »

  • Talk about a debate! At times it got so ugly I thought Sens Obama and Clinton were going to fist fight or cuss each other out! Their debate attested to the fact that they are in a competitive race. Overall, the debate was great, the second part was much more calm and Wolf Blitzer did a great job. I believe Obama shined in the sense that he proved that he was not weak and capable of defending his positions as well as going on the offense against the Clinton and Edwards camps. Edwards did a great job of trying to stay on topic and the issues that matter, and Clinton did a great job of displaying the qualities of a national candidate. Overall, I’m getting increasingly impressed with the three, although I’m beginning to think Edwards is wanting to stay relevant enough for some position later, but I would take any one of them at this point to be president, even though I don’t trust Clinton that much and believe Edwards is a little too weak.

More: Analysis: Obama Serious About Clintons

Clinton, Obama Engage in Bitter Debate art.mccain.speech.cnn.jpg

No clear party front-runners emerge

CHARLESTON, South Carolina (CNN) — Saturday’s results in Nevada and South Carolina did little to establish a clear front-runner in either party’s race for presidential nominee.

New York Sen. Hillary Clinton won Nevada but captured fewer delegates in what is shaping up as two-person race.

She has what little momentum there is on the Democratic side, having won in New Hampshire and Nevada after Illinois Sen. Barack Obama won in Iowa.

The scorecard sets up a Democratic showdown in South Carolina, where both candidates are trying to capture the black vote. Almost half of voters in the 2004 Democratic primary there were African-American.

“It’s a dead-even race, and it goes on to South Carolina,” David Axelrod, Obama’s political strategist, said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” Photo See images of Saturday’s activities »

“They can try to spin a 6-point loss into whatever they want,” Clinton campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson said on the same program. “But the fact is, Sen. Clinton won a resounding victory. … We focused relentlessly on the issues that the people care about, most certainly the economy.”

South Carolina also is shaping up to be the last stand for former Sen. John Edwards. He won the state’s primary in 2004 but is coming off a disappointing finish Saturday in Nevada, where he got only 4 percent of the vote.

  • I’m certain that things will be a little clearer after Saturday’s primary in South Carolina for the Democrats, where I believe that Obama will win followed by Clinton, then of course Edwards. I believe Obama will have the nomination to lose and we really might not know until after super Tuesday. The stars are telling me nothing of the Republicans as theirs is a field that is truly murky, I think we will see McCain, Romney, then Huckabee as the top three, but ultimately, their party is bleeding from there being too many candidates that are still in it to win and have serious chances. The Republican party has to condense to 1 or 2 candidates soon or lose even greater traction to the Democrats who may soon only have two candidates.

Cops snag lotto ticket from accused drug dealer

ELLSWORTH, Maine (AP) — His lottery ticket was a $1,000 winner, but police have seized it saying it was bought with proceeds from an illegal drug sale.

Michael David, who had been staying at an Ellsworth motel, sold four 10-milligram methadone pills for $15 each last week, Police Chief John Deleo said.

He then went to a convenience store and bought lottery tickets and other merchandise and went back to his motel room, where he was busted.

“I guess it will be up to a judge to decide, but it’s in our possession right now as proceeds from a drug transaction,” Deleo said of the winning ticket.

David, 46, remained in custody Monday in the Hancock County Jail on drug trafficking charges. An official at the jail said David was not available for comment.

  • I don’t care what you say, you have to love the irony in this case!

Black leader to Bill Clinton: ‘Chill’ on Obama

(CNN) — The bitter back-and-forth between former President Bill Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama has led a prominent black lawmaker to tell the former president Monday to “chill a little bit.”

The two Democratic front-runners, Illinois Sen. Obama and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, are locked in a battle for the key South Carolina primary this Saturday.

As their campaign sparring continues, the Illinois senator seems to be spending almost as much time responding to Hillary Clinton’s husband as he does to the candidate herself.

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, one of the most powerful African-Americans in Congress, weighed in on the feud Monday, saying it was time for Bill Clinton to watch his words.

Bill Clinton has delivered full-throated attacks on Obama in recent days, accusing him of overstating his opposition to the war in Iraq, complaining about Obama’s union supporters in the Nevada caucuses last weekend and blasting his relatively mild praise for Republican icon Ronald Reagan during a Las Vegas newspaper interview.

Obama adviser David Axelrod said the Clintons have been playing “good cop, bad cop,” with him wielding the club while she stays positive.

And Obama said Monday that Bill Clinton “continues to make statements that aren’t supported by the facts.”

Bill Clinton’s attacks on Obama, Clyburn said in a CNN interview, were unfair because a former president’s viewpoint “carries with it extra weight.” Video Watch Clyburn tell Clinton to ‘chill’ »

“I think they would say in ‘Gullah Geechee’ country he needs to chill a little bit. I hope he understands what that means,” Clyburn told CNN.

  • I must admit, I believe Obama handled himself well again these attacks and President Clinton is beginning to look desperate and his actions may have long standing effects against Senator Clinton’s campaign.

Speaking of Bill Clinton…..


January 21, 2008 — Bill Clinton showed yesterday why he made it into the book “The Art of Napping.”

During an appearance at the Convent Avenue Baptist Church in Harlem, the former president was caught nodding off.

Clinton was there during a service to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., while his wife was nearby at Abyssinian Baptist Church, where she was endorsed by its minister, Rev. Calvin Butts.

Clinton has had napping episodes before. Among others, he nodded off at a Mets game and at Ronald Reagan’s funeral.

  • Now usually I would make a joke out of this as it does look bad, but the truth is the man is just tired. Having sat through many a Baptist service, trust me, the most energetic person can get tired sometimes, so imagine Clinton who has campaigned and spoke himself to exhaustion? Bill should have drank a lot of coffee or something before this event as he has been to black churches before and should know that it never looks good when someone on the pulpit or in the choir nods off. 🙂

Saudi rape case lawyer ‘reinstated’

(CNN) — The Saudi lawyer who represented a woman kidnapped and raped by seven men said his license to practice has been reinstated.

Lawyer and human rights activist Abdul Rahman al-Lahem told CNN’s Nic Robertson that the Justice Ministry has reinstated his license.

Al-Lahem had previously told CNN that the Saudi judge revoked his license as punishment for speaking to the media about his client’s case, which attracted international attention.

His client, an engaged teenager, was raped by seven men who found her alone with a man unrelated to her. She has said she was meeting with the man to retrieve a photograph. The attack took place in Qatif in March 2006.

The seven rapists were sentenced to two to nine years in prison but she also was sentenced to 200 lashes and six months in prison for having violated the kingdom’s strict Islamic law by being alone with an unrelated man.

The woman’s sentence provoked outrage in the West and cast light on the treatment of women under Saudi Arabian law.

Under Saudi law, women are subject to numerous restrictions, including a strict dress code, a prohibition against driving and a requirement that they get a man’s permission to travel or have surgery.

In challenging what he said were his suspension and disbarment, al-Lahem said he had received threats on his life from the religious right.

Last month, Minister of Justice Abdallah bin Mohammed al-Sheikh, in a phone call to a Saudi Television newscast, said the lawyer’s license had never been revoked.

“Such decisions are made through institutions in the kingdom,” he said. “The punishment of the lawyer or any lawyer does not come from a reaction; it comes from a carefully examined procedure within a special council in the ministry.”

He said the council charged with deciding law license revocations had not issued any decisions in the case.

  • This is great news! I was at a Muslim meetup this past Sunday and we were discussing the Saudi injustice system and how this lawyer and the woman involved got a raw deal. It’s great to see the kingdom cleaning it’s act up when being watched, but honor and trustworthiness is best displayed or not depending on how you act when your not being watched. How many lawyers and women get raw deals everyday because they don’t get international attention?


Saudi Women to Take Driver Seat

CAIRO — After decades of banning, Saudi women will finally be able to take the driver’s seat in the conservative Muslim society.

“There has been a decision to move on this by the Royal Court,” a government official told The Daily Telegraph on Monday, January 21, requesting anonymity.

“We will make an announcement soon.”

Officials affirmed that the landmark decision and plan to issue a decree allowing women drivers will see the light by the end of the year.

The move comes amid mounting calls from local and international rights groups campaigning for an end to the years-long ban.

A group of women activists have recently protested the ban by driving cars through the country.

They have also sent a 1,100- signature petition to Kind Abdullah bin Abdel Aziz, citing the lack of any religious reasoning against the ban.

Last week, the UN committee that monitors implementation of the Convention on Elimination Discrimination against Women criticized the Saudi ban dating back decades ago.

In 1990, a group of 47 women drove 15 cars in the capital Riyadh in defiance to the state ban.

They were swiftly rounded up by police and penalized, while their male guardians were reprimanded.

The following year, a fatwa was issued by then mufti and head of the Council of Senior Ulema (Muslim scholars), Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Baz, prohibiting women from driving cars.

Demining Opposition

The government official said that long discussions have ended with acceptability of women driving.

“It is recognized that if girls have been in schools since the 1960s, they have a capability to function behind the wheel when they grow up.”

For years, women resorted to hiring live-in drivers while other relied on male relatives.

Scholars and conservatives have long voiced fears that allowing women to drive would lead to Western-style freedoms and an erosion of traditional values.

“When it was first raised, the extremists were really mad,” notes Mohammad al-Zulfa, a member of the Shura Council.

“Now they just complain. It is diminishing into a form of consent.”

Abdul Aziz bin Salamah, the deputy information minister, agrees.

He cites a change concerning some deeply-rooted taboos in society.

“I think the fair view is that one can be against it but one does not have the right to prevent it.”

  • Here’s a prime example of what I’m talking about! Yes this is a great step, however why is it that the Saudi’s have to be “pressured” to change? How is it that they are supposed to be Muslims and guardians of the two holy cities, but continue to not be an example to mankind in a good way, but continue to promote the image that Islam and Muslims are backward imbeciles? Why not be of great courage and faith and show the world what a great Muslim community and society can look like, by actually practicing Islam and not relying on tribal and cultural “norms” as a means to interpret that which is not even there in the first place?

‘No peace deal’ if Israel keeps building

US George W. Bush’s drive for peace between Israel and the Palestinians by the end of his term in office is unlikely to succeed unless the Jewish state stops building in the West Bank, the Palestinian prime minister said.

“If Israel does not stop extending Jewish settlements immediately, there will be no peace deal in 11 months. The expansion of Jewish settlements puts at risk the continuation of the peace talks,” a German newspaper today reported Prime Minister Salam Fayyad as saying.

“Theoretically, the talks could succeed by December. Whether that is probable is another matter. It depends on the implementation of the peace road map,” Mr Fayyad told Germany’s Sueddeutsche newspaper.

The interview was distributed today but was conducted yesterday.

Israeli and Palestinian officials began peace negotiations last week, the result of a US-sponsored conference in Annapolis, Maryland, but there is deep public scepticism as to whether they will reach a deal.

Mr Fayyad attacked Israel for failing to stick to the part of the 2003 peace “road map” by building Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

“While we are talking about the main areas of dispute, Israel is extending its settlements in the West Bank. That is the biggest problem,” Mr Fayyad was quoted as saying.

  • Why is this so hard to see? You call for peace but violate the conditions thereof?

MLK: Has the Dream Become a Nightmare?

Bill Cosby and Alvin F. Poussaint, M.D. Say It’s Not Too Late to Reclaim Threatened Families and Communities

New York, NY ( – The historic words spoken by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the steps of the Washington, D.C. Lincoln Memorial in 1963 brilliantly and eloquently expressed his dream of love, peace, and justice transforming a suffering world filled with hate, violence, and injustice.

Today, there are countless examples of Dr. King’s dream coming true. Those examples will be celebrated across the nation on Martin Luther King Jr. Day Monday, January 21.

If Dr. King were alive today he would see that America has changed in deep and profound ways. He would see that in the South people routinely elect black police chiefs, mayors, state lawmakers, and congressmen. He would see that overt bigotry, once considered the norm, is no longer tolerated by mainstream society. He would watch this year’s political race and see that a black man is a serious contender to win the Democratic nomination for president of the United States.

Dr. King would also see that millions of blacks continue to fall short of the dream.

This point is brilliantly outlined by one of America’s most beloved cultural icons Bill Cosby and Alvin F. Poussaint, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Judge Baker Children’s Center in their book, Come On People: On the Path from Victims to Victors.

Cosby and Poussaint stress the need for African Americans to never give up the struggle to eliminate racism and classism in our society. At the same time people need to step up and begin building communities where 50 percent high-school drop-out rates, teen pregnancies, and ignoring their responsibilities as parents becomes the exception rather than the rule.

“Dr. King’s dream was that his four little children ‘will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.’ He was talking about children advancing to become strong, beautiful people — not abandoned by their parents,” writes Cosby and Poussaint. “Not drug addicted, not irresponsible. What we see around us today in our poor neighborhoods is a nightmare, not a dream.”

Come On People is built around the themes of Cosby’s popular call-out sessions, in which he has challenged people in towns and cities across America to reclaim and restore their families and communities.

Cosby and Poussaint share their vision for strengthening America by addressing the crisis of people frozen in feelings of low self-esteem, abandonment, anger, fearfulness, sadness, and feelings of being used, undefended, and unprotected. By addressing these issues and providing tools to deal with them, Cosby and Poussaint help empower people to make the daunting transition from victims to victors.

At times challenging, at times inspirational, Come On People provides real-life examples of the problems plaguing communities throughout America and the time-tested solutions that can help turn things around.

Suffused with humor and moral clarity, Come On People challenges readers to:

* engage in political activism
* take their neighborhoods back;
* become purposeful and effective parents;
* get actively engaged in shaping the lives of their children;
* take care of their physical and emotional health;
* encourage their families toward higher education; and
* think entrepreneurially about employment and economic advancement.

  • I think and have said many times that black people need to take a serious look at themselves especially in the context of history and especially when we pay lip-service to our remembrance of Dr. King and next month a host of other historical icons. To sit around as if nothing is wrong is to willfully admit that many are truly deaf, dumb, and blind.


Israel Academia Takes on “Nazi” Israel

CAIRO — Appalled by incessant crimes against innocent Palestinians, Israeli professors are increasingly speaking out and encouraging students and soldiers to dissent government policies.

“It is estimated that some 20 to 25% of people who teach the Humanities and Social Sciences in Israel’s universities and colleges have expressed extreme anti-Zionist positions,” the Israel-Academia Monitor said in a new study.

It said they have engaged in public demonstrations and sponsored petitions addressed to Israeli soldiers not serve in the occupied West Bank.

“In particular is the distressing use of the analogy between Israel policy and practices of the Nazi regime in WWII,” wrote the critical study.

It also added that such academic personnel travel abroad and consistently denounce Israel.

“They have been active in encouraging academic organizations abroad to boycott Israel universities and academics.”

The study blasted the outspoken university students as life time communists with a Marxist ideology.

Israel Academia Monitor has been documenting what it calls anti-Israel, anti-Semitic behavior of the senior staff at major Israeli universities.

It describes such professors as “radicals who collaborate with anti-Semites and bashers of Israel from around the world.”


The study accuses Ben Gurion University professor Ban Bar-On of drawing a parallel between Israeli practices against the Palestinians and the Holocaust, , Yediot Ahronot said on Monday, January 21.

“Some of the aggression that the Jews did not exercise against the Germans, they are expressing against Palestinians,” Bar-On wrote last April.

It accused the psychology professor has promoted textbooks describing Palestinian resistance activists as freedom fighters.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni admitted in 2006 that Palestinians who attack Israeli soldiers cannot be defined as terrorists.

“Somebody who is fighting against Israeli soldiers is an enemy and we will fight back, but I believe that this not under the definition of terrorism, if the target is a soldier,” she told the US television network ABC.

The study also criticized Professor Tamar Yarom, a professor at Hebrew University’s college of arts.

Yarom has produced a documentary, “Would I smile?” accusing Israeli soldiers of atrocities against the Palestinians.

“I have served in the West Bank during the first intifada in 1987 – 1988, and when I finished my service I wondered ‘how would a woman like me take part in suppressing and oppressing another nation’,” she once said.

“How can a gentle woman remain silent regarding this cruel violence against the Palestinian people?”

A growing number of Israeli celebrities and young people is evading compulsory military service by claiming to be religious or pretending to be mentally ill.

Erlik Alhanan, the public face of Israeli refuseniks, has said that the number of reservists refusing to serve in the occupied Palestinian territories has been on the rise.

In September 2003, twenty-seven Israeli reserve and active duty airmen signed a letter addressed to then Israeli Premier Ariel Sharon, refusing to carry out “immoral and illegal” raids on Palestinian civilians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

  • I’m increasingly convinced that those who support these policies are outright hypocrites especially if they are Jewish. For a people who suffered so unjustly so many times, to now do it to others, is very, very, sickening. You would think that those Jews that do this, would be the vanguards of peace and justice for all peoples, being eye witnesses to such injustice and evil themselves.

 San Fransicso natives Jarman Holland (pictured pouring wine) & wife Barbara (far right) host a dinner party at their home in Johannesburg Eugene Jackson stands in front of his newly built 34,000 square foot home near Durban

20 Four 7 Productions to Launch on DVD Blacks Without Borders: Chasing the American Dream on Foreign Soil

Los Angeles, CA ( – Veteran producer director Stafford U. Bailey and co-producer Judy Thayer-Bailey will launch the DVD, BLACKS WITHOUT BORDERS: Chasing the American Dream on Foreign Soil. A groundbreaking documentary that takes a heartfelt look at the emotional journey of a group of African Americans who called it quits in the U.S. to start a new life in South Africa.

The film chronicles 12 modern day globetrotters who have uprooted their lives in pursuit of their dreams and are finding that America is not the only land of opportunity. After two trips to South Africa and over 50 hours of footage, the film provides a candid and touching tale of sacrifice, hardship and great rewards by U.S. born citizens such as Cora Vaughn, a Chicago attorney who walked away from over a million dollar a year law practice to open up a bed & breakfast down the street from Nelson Mandela, James Prevost who came to South Africa with nothing and revolutionized the comedy industry and Charles Henderson a heroin addict at age 16 who became a Harvard graduate and now owns one of the most successful businesses in South Africa.

20 Four 7 Productions has been involved in producing innovative programming for over a decade. Award winning producer director Stafford U. Bailey has earned a reputation for producing informative as well as visually stimulating programs that have aired nationally. While in South Africa in 2005, Bailey saw a growing number of African Americans relocating to the region. Following further research, he discovered that African Americans chasing the American dream on foreign soil was on the rise and no major documentary covering this topic was being made or was planned. So, in 2006 he began production for a series of documentaries that explores this trend.

“There is a vast group of African Americans that are under-served, that are tired of the reality shows and music video programming that floods our TV screens,” said Bailey. “We want to show that there are many African Americans making great strides not just here in the United States but around the world.”

  • I must admit, the thought has crossed my mind several times. My wife and I are looking very hard at possibly just leaving it all and going to Africa. Who knows what lies ahead, but I do respect those who have decided to make a change especially if it works for them.


Bin Laden’s braided peacenik son on a mission

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) — Omar Osama bin Laden bears a striking resemblance to his notorious father — except for the braids that dangle halfway down his back. Then there’s the black leather biker jacket.

The 26-year-old does not renounce his father, al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, but in an interview with The Associated Press, he said there is better way to defend Islam than militancy: Omar wants to be an “ambassador for peace” between Muslims and the West.

Omar — one of bin Laden’s 19 children — raised a tabloid storm last year when he married a 52-year-old British woman, Jane Felix-Browne, who took the name Zaina Alsabah. Now the couple say they want to be advocates, planning a 3,000-mile horse race across North Africa to draw attention to the cause of peace.

“It’s about changing the ideas of the Western mind. A lot of people think Arabs — especially the bin Ladens, especially the sons of Osama — are all terrorists. This is not the truth,” Omar told the AP last week at a cafe in a Cairo shopping mall.

Of course, many may have a hard time getting their mind around the idea of “bin Laden: peacenik.”

“Omar thinks he can be a negotiator,” said Alsabah, who is trying to bring her husband to Britain. “He’s one of the only people who can do this in the world.”

Omar lived with the al Qaeda leader in Sudan, then moved with him to Afghanistan in 1996.

  • I know this is last week’s “news” but I had the window up and decided to share it nonetheless. There is a side of me that screams “publicity stunt” however, I have to concede that only Allah (swt) knows his mind and heart, and any wanting to work toward peace should be supported somehow and will be blessed. May Allah (swt) aid him in his truly uphill battle.

Sunni – Shia: Brief History

Both Sunni and Shia Muslims share the most fundamental Islamic beliefs and articles of faith. The differences between these two main sub-groups within Islam initially stemmed not from spiritual differences, but political ones. Over the centuries, however, these political differences have spawned a number of varying practices and positions which have come to carry a spiritual significance.

The division between Shia and Sunni dates back to the death of the Prophet Muhammad , and the question of who was to take over the leadership of the Muslim nation. Sunni Muslims agree with the position taken by many of the Prophet’s companions, that the new leader should be elected from among those capable of the job. This is what was done, and the Prophet Muhammad’s close friend and advisor, Abu Bakr, became the first Caliph of the Islamic nation.

The word “Sunni” in Arabic comes from a word meaning “one who follows the traditions of the Prophet.”

On the other hand, some Muslims share the belief that leadership should have stayed within the Prophet’s own family, among those specifically appointed by him, or among Imams appointed by God Himself.

The Shia Muslims believe that following the Prophet Muhammad’s death, leadership should have passed directly to his cousin/son-in-law, Ali. Throughout history, Shia Muslims have not recognized the authority of elected Muslim leaders, choosing instead to follow a line of Imams which they believe have been appointed by the Prophet Muhammad or God Himself. The word “Shia” in Arabic means a group or supportive party of people. The commonly-known term is shortened from the historical “Shia-t-Ali,” or “the Party of Ali.” They are also known as followers of “Ahl-al-Bayt” or “People of the Household” (of the Prophet).

From this initial question of political leadership, some aspects of spiritual life have been affected and now differ between the two groups of Muslims.

Shia Muslims believe that the Imam is sinless by nature, and that his authority is infallible as it comes directly from God. Therefore, Shia Muslims often venerate the Imams as saints and perform pilgrimages to their tombs and shrines in the hopes of divine intercession. Sunni Muslims counter that there is no basis in Islam for a hereditary privileged class of spiritual leaders, and certainly no basis for the veneration or intercession of saints. Sunni Muslims contend that leadership of the community is not a birthright, but a trust that is earned and which may be given or taken away by the people themselves.

Shia Muslims also feel animosity towards some of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad , based on their positions and actions during the early years of discord about leadership in the community. Many of these companions (Abu Bakr, Umar, Aisha, etc.) have narrated traditions about the Prophet’s life and spiritual practice. Shia Muslims reject these traditions (hadith) and do not base any of their religious practices on the testimony of these individuals. This naturally gives rise to some differences in religious practice between the two groups. These differences touch all detailed aspects of religious life: prayer, fasting, pilgrimage, etc.

Sunni Muslims make up the majority (85%) of Muslims all over the world. Significant populations of Shia Muslims can be found in Iran and Iraq, and large minority communities in Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, and Lebanon.

It is important to remember that despite all of these differences in opinion and practice, Shia and Sunni Muslims share the main articles of Islamic belief and are considered by most to be brethren in faith. In fact, most Muslims do not distinguish themselves by claiming membership in any particular group, but prefer to call themselves simply, “Muslims.”

Huda Dodge is an educator, freelance writer and editor. She is the author of The Everything Understanding Islam Book, published in 2003 by Adams Media Corporation. She has been active on the Internet for over a decade, and has been‘s Guide to Islam since 1998. She currently teaches elementary school in the Middle East.

Life and Beyond according to the Quran

In the Quran life in this world is an inseparable part of a continuum, a unified whole – life, death, life – which gives our life a context and relevance. In this context, the life of the individual is made meaningful and enriched inasmuch as it is full of ‘good works’. Life in this world leads to the afterlife, a belief which is fundamental in the Quran. The afterlife is not treated in the Quran in a separate chapter, or as something on its own, for its own sake, but always in relation to life in this world.

Linguistically it is not possible in the Quran to talk about this life without semantic reference to the next since every term used for each is comparative with the other. Thus: al’ula and al-akhira (the First and the Last life), al-dunya and al-akhira (the nearer and the further/latter life). Neither has a name specific to itself, or independent of the other. Consequently, the frequency of the terms in the Quran is the same, in the case of dunya and akhira- each appears 115 times.

There is a reference, direct or indirect, to one aspect or another of the afterlife on almost every single page of the Quran. This follows from the fact that belief in the afterlife is an article of faith which has a bearing on every aspect of the present life and manifests itself in the discussion of the creed, the rituals, the ethics and the laws of Islam. In discussing the afterlife, moreover, the Quran addresses both believers and non-believers. The plan of two worlds and the relationship between them has been, from the beginning, part of the divine scheme of things:
It is God who created you, then He provided sustenance for you, then He will cause you to die, then He will give life back to you. Quran 30:40

It is We who give life and make to die and to Us is the homecoming. Quran 50:43

He created death and life that He might try you according to which of you is best in works. Quran 67:2

According to the Quran, belief in the afterlife, which is an issue fundamental to the mission of Muhammad, was also central to the mission of all prophets before him.

Belief in the afterlife is often referred to in conjunction with belief in God, as in the expression: ‘If you believe in God and the Last Day’. Believers are frequently reminded in the Quran, ‘Be mindful of God and know that you shall meet Him’ (Quran 2:233) (used in this instance to urge fitting treatment of one’s wife in intimate situations). ‘To Him is the homecoming/ the return’ (Quran 36:83; 40:3 and passim). As a belief in the afterlife is so fundamental to Islam, it is only right that Muslims should regularly be reminded of it not only throughout the pages of the Quran but also in their daily life. Practicing Muslims in their five daily prayers repeat their praise of God at least seventeen times a day, ‘The Master of the Day of Judgment’ (Quran 1:4) . Being inattentive to the afterlife (Quran 30:7) or to the prospect of coming to judgment (Quran 32:14) are signs of the unbeliever.

All this heightens the believer’s sense of responsibility for actions in this life. In fact the principles and details of religion are meant to be seen within the framework of the interdependence of this life and the afterlife and to color the Muslims’ conception of life and the universe and have a bearing on their actions in this life.

Excerpted from “Understanding The Quran” by Muhammad Abdel Haleem

I had so many articles today, I’m just sectioning off the rest:)

Technology Articles of Interest:

What passes for bling in China

The tech industry’s unfortunate bling factor has not escaped the overseas wholesale market. Case in point: Chinavasion, maker of so many multimedia watches, has come out with a “gold edition” of its own….

Who will buy Panasonic’s 150-inch plasmas?

After Panasonic stole the show at CES in Vegas with its ginormous plasma TV last week, we got to thinking: Who buys these things anyway?

One indication may come from the number of sales from the last 100-plus club. Pocket-lint cites a report in the Commercial Times that only 15 of Panasonic’s 103-inch plasmas were sold in the last year with prices averaging around $62,500. “Apparently the monster screens have been shipped to Japan, the U.S., and Europe mainly, but one customer in the Middle East bought five,” it said.

HP puts some new clothes on a mouse

HP’s products have never been known for their fashion sense, but some extra-curricular coaching from Gwen Stefani may be paying off. Its new Bluetooth Laser Mouse isn’t going to set Milan on fire–was this the best they could do for its name?–but remember who we’re talking about. It’s Hewlett-Packard.

Vista virtualization move opens real doors

Microsoft’s decision to allow Home versions of Vista to run inside virtual machines may have far-reaching benefits in the coming years.

The initial market for such virtual Vista machines is likely to be among Mac users looking to run Windows or within the ranks of hard-core PC enthusiasts. But the move could also benefit the average PC user who just wants a machine that’s easier to use, says Woody Hobbs, CEO of Phoenix Technologies, a leading maker of the BIOS (basic input/output system) software that loads before a PC boots up.

Windows 7 to Be Released Next Year?

KrispySausage writes “A recently-release roadmap for the next major Window release — Windows 7 — indicates that Microsoft is planning to release the new operating system in the second half of 2009, rather than the anticipated release date of some time in 2010. This quickly-approaching release date would seem to be at least partially verified by news of a milestone build available for review by an anonymous third party.” We’ve previously discussed the upcoming new OS version, as well as its danger to Vista.

First review of Windows 7 Milestone 1 Build 6.1.6519.1

Looks like it didn’t take long for the first external build of Windows 7 to be leaked on to the interwebs. Black fumes were reported escaping Steven Sinofsky’s office earlier this morning after news Microsoft has delivered a Milestone 1 build of the next version of Windows to OEMs spread like wildfire in a dry grassy field on a hot summer’s day.

A member named “kenipnet” on’s forums claims to have and installed this very build on his own desktop and laptop machines, and posted this short review on Neowin. For unknown reasons, it was later deleted by the poster, but fortunately the website administrator “Neobond” has republished a cache version of the original post for all but Sinofsky to see. Of course there’s no way to prove this is true, but the facts appear consistent with ‘other reports’ of what the build contains. Take it with a grain of salt and a cup of tea, donuts sold separately.

Microsoft Windows 7 “Wishlist” Leaked

Cassius Corodes is one of many readers to point out that a recent “wishlist” of new Windows development features is floating around the net. This list was supposedly leaked from Microsoft and contains some of their key development features for the next version of Windows. Given that the next new Windows release is bound to be a long way off I would recommend seasoning this news with a hefty dose of sodium chloride.

Disney puts Nintendo DS to use as interactive tour guide

The DS has already proven some of its versatility by ordering food and dishing out replays at Safeco Field, and it looks like Disney’s set to expand those non-gaming capabilities even further, with it now testing a system that turns the handheld into an interactive tour guide. Dubbed the Disney Magic Connection, the app appears to be fairly extensive, including not only maps of the Magic Kingdom, but details on wait times at various attractions, directions to the nearest washrooms and ATMs and, of course, the odd game. Unfortunately, at least in its current state, you’ll only be able to take advantage of those features with one of Disney’s pre-set up DSs and not your own — no word if that’ll change once the system moves beyond the testing phase. Hit up the read link below for more pics of the app itself and a first-hand report from one lucky tester.

iPhone goes corporate: AT&T announces business plan

Without a 3G iPhone announcement at MacWorld, Apple remains focused on increasing the penetration of their generation-one handset. True to the rumors circulating the intertubes last week, AT&T is now offering the iPhone to business customers. Plans break down as follows:

  • 2 year commitment, voice service, and data plan required
  • $45 per month for unlimited data, visual voicemail, and 200 SMSes; $55 ups the SMS limit to 1,500; $65 for unlimited everything
  • An extra $25 per month nabs a 20MB monthly data plan good for 29 countries, $60 per month ups the limit to 50MB
  • Activate by 31 March and qualified accounts will receive a service credit of $25 per month good through 31 December, 2008 — yeah, that’s a sweet deal

We have a funny feeling that the timing of this has something to do with IBM’s imminent announcement of Lotus Notes mail for the iPhone. Now get on the horn to IT, they’ll be dreading your call.

Sprint announces massive layoffs, store closings amid subscriber defection

New Sprint Nextel CEO Dan Hesse appears to have inherited a company bleeding subscribers by the thousands, and will now officially be dropping the ax on 4,000 employees and 125 retail locations. Amid the loss of 639,000 postpaid customers in the fourth quarter, Sprint will be cutting a total of 6.7% of its work force (following the 5,000 layoffs last year) and 8% of company-owned brick-and-mortar stores, while remaining mute on other rumors that it will consolidate its headquarters in Kansas. Sprint Nextel shares are down $2.89, or nearly 25%, at the time of this writing.

Microsoft to add a ‘super standards’ mode to IE 8

Microsoft is planning to add a new, opt-in “super standards” mode to Internet Explorer (IE) 8 — a move of which some developers are critical.

IE Platform Architect Chris Wilson shared the details of how Microsoft plans to provide the greater standards compatibility, which it has promised for its next browser release via a January 21 posting to the IE Team Blog.

Wilson said Microsoft is planning to offer developers three modes in IE 8: the existing quirks mode, which will be compatible with current IE pages and applications; a “standards” mode, which will be the same as what’s offered by IE 7 and “compatible with current content”; and a third, super standards mode that will require the insertion of a <meta> element to guarantee the highest level of standards compatibility.

HP’s products have never been known for their fashion sense, but some extra-curricular coaching from Gwen Stefani may be paying off. Its new Bluetooth Laser Mouse isn’t going to set Milan on fire–was this the best they could do for its name?–but remember who we’re talking about. It’s Hewlett-Packard.So HP might deserve a little more credit for adding a tiny bit of flair, kind of like the way you compliment an acquaintance for wearing jeans instead of Dockers for the first time. The specs aren’t too shabby either, according to Chip Chick, with 1600 dpi resolution and a power-saving standby mode. But somehow, we don’t think the company will be co-branding with 50 Cent anytime soon.

HP’s products have never been known for their fashion sense, but some extra-curricular coaching from Gwen Stefani may be paying off. Its new Bluetooth Laser Mouse isn’t going to set Milan on fire–was this the best they could do for its name?–but remember who we’re talking about. It’s Hewlett-Packard.So HP might deserve a little more credit for adding a tiny bit of flair, kind of like the way you compliment an acquaintance for wearing jeans instead of Dockers for the first time. The specs aren’t too shabby either, according to Chip Chick, with 1600 dpi resolution and a power-saving standby mode. But somehow, we don’t think the company will be co-branding with 50 Cent anytime soon.

HP’s products have never been known for their fashion sense, but some extra-curricular coaching from Gwen Stefani may be paying off. Its new Bluetooth Laser Mouse isn’t going to set Milan on fire–was this the best they could do for its name?–but remember who we’re talking about. It’s Hewlett-Packard.So HP might deserve a little more credit for adding a tiny bit of flair, kind of like the way you compliment an acquaintance for wearing jeans instead of Dockers for the first time. The specs aren’t too shabby either, according to Chip Chick, with 1600 dpi resolution and a power-saving standby mode. But somehow, we don’t think the company will be co-branding with 50 Cent anytime soon.

HP’s products have never been known for their fashion sense, but some extra-curricular coaching from Gwen Stefani may be paying off. Its new Bluetooth Laser Mouse isn’t going to set Milan on fire–was this the best they could do for its name?–but remember who we’re talking about. It’s Hewlett-Packard.So HP might deserve a little more credit for adding a tiny bit of flair, kind of like the way you compliment an acquaintance for wearing jeans instead of Dockers for the first time. The specs aren’t too shabby either, according to Chip Chick, with 1600 dpi resolution and a power-saving standby mode. But somehow, we don’t think the company will be co-branding with 50 Cent anytime soon.


One Comment

  1. How do Muslims feel about Jesus?

    I realize they don’t see him as God as the Christians do, but do they not see him as someone who is worthy of respect?

    And if that is the case wouldn’t the following offend Muslims almost as much as it would Christians?

    Muslims are in an unique situation in the West where they can influence things better than Christians can. I urge you to express outrage to ESPN. After all Jesus is part of your religion too so disrespecting Jesus is in effect disrespecting Islam


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