Archive for September, 2009

First of all, I would like to say.. this guy will soon be a favorite of mine. He rocks! (okay, I’m excited).


Today, I read an article in the Al-Ittihad newspaper about tolerance in Islam towards other faiths. Here is the poor google translated version of the article:

Stressed the Islamic preacher Dr. Ayed Al-Qarni Yesterday evening, during the lecture taking place in the final religious council headed the team of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces during this Ramadan, the need for a religious Islamic Tsamehi and conciliatory at the global level with all people.

Saw the lecture, which was held under the title «culture of tolerance»…..

He stressed that the message of Islam is the message of saving humanity, not exclusionary or threats and intimidation, murder and looting, noting that the work of some of the imams from the pulpits of prayer for all the evil that the people of his neighborhood does not suit the Islamic nation that carry the universal message. It was his Consequently, it should not be used Friday sermons or religious discourse to antagonize the world «Vnkhalv that the teachings of the Koran, which says the Almighty God: Pay the way that is better, then that enmity between you and treat them badly».

Garni said «we hear some speeches and lectures to pray for the enemies of religion, using words and phrases to Allah to destroy the enemies of floods and earthquakes, and even dying from swine flu», pointing out that it is detrimental to Muslims, as they live with people of other religions on the same planet and are not isolated or far away, and therefore must be dialogue and tolerance. He said that unfortunately some of the imams of the claim against the infidels, and each of them from outside their religion, God had to come out of the solidity of worship and unite and supports the Islamic religion.  He emphasized that Islam is only to fight those hostile to Muslims and occupy their land, pointing out that non-Muslims, like Muslims, have contributed in building the human civilization and the like also have creations and useful inventions of all mankind, such as electricity, telephone, etc. of inventions and new scientific discoveries and »therefore may not pray for them death and extinction ».

He called in this context to remove the Inquisition of the mind and the minds and do not believe that there is no other band survivor or that there is a people and not others, custodians of the religion or speaking in his name…

Garni said «We do not have the last word and Ajthadatna not regard as sacred and must respect other points of view and to move away from the confusion between the words of the scholars and the Word of God and the words of His Messenger, peace be upon him in the deterministic and constancy and significance»….

Qarni called to the need to raise their children and generations for dialogue, tolerance and respect for the other party rather than heavy-handed, which alienate people and to enforce the provisions of the Holy Quran and Sunnah in our lives in various fields.  And forbade the letter excommunicating you have an adverse impact on the entire society, stressing that the great writers, thinkers and geniuses and men of Western politicians understand Islam and the traditional values of their knowledge of and read about our religion

He stressed that some of them written in the literary contributions of Islam and the values that came to them, pointing out that the world today is in dire need of tolerance, effective and positive coexistence between people, where people mingle in our Arab and Islamic variety of nationalities from various continents, colors, customs and religions, and therefore of every Muslim highlight the bright face of Islam through tolerance to deal with them and giving them the security, safety and tranquility….

In response to questions submitted to it, “said Qarni Treating the current situation of Muslims is through the propagation of the letter Altsamehi to end militancy, extremism and violence, emphasizing the importance of reviewing the curricula being laid of love and tolerance among young people….

He also called Qarni scientists and scholars not to dwell on matters of politics and left to the governor, pointing out that scientists and scholars and preachers of the distant past they refused to take political positions and devote themselves to worldly things jurisprudence and legal reform and advised the Governor.

Well, for those who read Arabic, here is the article.


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When Culture and Law Do Not Meet

Today I dedicate my post to the death of a dear person that society and law failed her deeply. This is a story of a woman, who was born with a simple disability that should have not prevented her from living her life fully and with no drawbacks. Her story -my friends- marks her family, her society, and the law with shame.

She was young when her parents divorced and her father married another woman. That mother in law punished this young girl for her disability. Using the word “punishing” does not justify what happened. Tortured and abused for almost 40 years is more descriptive and close to reality. The abuse began when her mother in law had children and could not handle them. This girl became the enslaved servant of the house. She cleaned the house all day and was whipped at night. She ate leftover and slept under the stair case.

After her half brothers and sisters started growing, her abuse increased. They took turns, and learned the all sorts of torture techniques on her. She was theirs to insult, to beat, to enslave. She started to develop a mental illness. How would you not if you sleep in your own shit every single day?! She was forbidden from even going to the bathroom, taking showers, and having clean clothes! She was a walking trash bag and was definitely treated like one.

You might wonder, where were her extended family? Where was the law?

One of her cousins tried to take her away from that house. He managed for a small while, but he was faced with cultural pressure. “How can he take her while she has a living father and brothers?”. In Islam, a woman’s guardian is her father followed by brothers and uncles. Her cousin (married with kids) was causing a lot of gossip. He was making his uncle look weak in front of people. So, they fought to have her back under their roof.

Basically, abusing a girl looked so much better than questioning her abusive father’s ability to support her. Culture, in this instance, sheltered the abuse to maintain the father’s honor. However, the abuse was not sheltered from society. Every one in that neighborhood new about it, but what can they say or do. She lived under her guardian’s roof. The police turned a blind eye to the abuse. To them, it did not lead to major bodily injuries. She still walks (though hunched), and don’t forget, she had a disability. Also, he was a man of wealth and influence.

At the end, this is an instance where culture and law do not meet. She is dead, may God rest her soul in peace. To those who think our culture is perfect, then I would like to say that that same culture has given so many excuses to the father and brothers of this woman. That same culture was “okay” with her abuse. A culture that had nothing to do with the teachings of Islam. That same culture that killed her 40 years before she had died.

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Alright, since its Ramadan, I wanted to talk a little bit about religion and for today I chose the topic of Jesus’ crucifixion. Ohh, and I hope I do not get crucified over this post. Please read with an open mind and think before you attack.

I remember years back when I was in college, I met these two young protestant girls that wanted to talk about Christianity and hopefully win us over. Well, we began an open discussion and I thought it was a chance for me to open their eyes to Islam. To make the story short, we were all deriving our examples and “evidence” from our holy books and we tried to point out the things that did not make sense from what the other person was saying. “So you are saying that Jesus was crucified, which means he was dead then he woke up from the dead to go to heaven without any brain damage ?”, and their point was “So you are saying that Jesus was not crucified, that his soul was swapped with another one, even though historically crucifixion was a normal event and it was more likely to happen than a soul swap?” …do you see what I mean?

I cannot deny that these conversations were helpful (opened my mind), but at the same time, I do realize that we were discussing and at some extent arguing about our beliefs that are solely based on faith. At the end, I became friends with the girls and we hung out. We ventured on the topic of religion many times but the intention changed to learning rather than changing each other.

It is similar to arguing about whether a mountain crawls or jumps. Both are not common sense though we might try to think so! Sometimes I think it is funny how we argue and battle each other over things that are not logical! I’m not saying it is not true or that it did not happen –clearing my conscious – but what I am saying is that we fight over things that are based on our decision to believe that what we are taught in school or in our houses –some based on self education– is as true as daylight.

I mean, they are called miracles for a reason. Miracles in religion are those events that are out of the ordinary and that are not based on logic or the natural order of the universe. So, whether the Quran says oh it was not him even though it did seem to them that it was him, or whether in Christianity it says oh it was him, and he died to save us, but then he was resurrected –other versions might have it differently– it all does not make sense!

Saying that, my point from all this is to hope that one day we are able to respect each others beliefs and give each other the space to practice our religion –as long as it does not overstep someone elses space–  and just stop overstepping our boundaries. No need to harass each other or be dramatically offended – seen it happen from both sides, the shock followed by the deep exhale and the widening of the eyes as if saying “How DARE you!!!!”.

At the end, the Quran did say:

Say: O disbelievers! (1) I worship not that which ye worship; (2) Nor worship ye that which I worship. (3) And I shall not worship that which ye worship. (4) Nor will ye worship that which I worship. (5) Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion. (6) ” (Surat Al-Kaferoon)

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Men Behind Walls

Today I would like to talk about the roles of men in our society. Please note that this is not meant to generalize, though I think it is true for the majority of people here.

I had a conversation with a co-worker a few days ago about his daily life. He works in Muscat but lives in the inner parts of Oman. The conversation went as follows:

“Do you cook?” he asked, “Yes, sometimes” I replied, and in an attempt to bring up a discussion I asked, “Why? Do you?”.

“Nooo!” he replied with a tone of disbelief as if I have hurt his honor. Knowing him, I kind of expected it and I continued, “Why not? There is nothing shameful in cooking”. “But I am a MAN!, I should never touch a pan!”… huh, If cooking is shameful, then is starving honorable?.. just wondering

Then, he went on to describe how things go with him once he arrives his village, “Once I enter my house, I put my bag of dirty clothes on the side and sit in the living room. A few minutes later, my lunch arrives. Of course my mom or my sister brings it to me. Then, I sleep. I barely enter our kitchen, and even if I needed to drink, they would bring it to me. At the end of the weekend, I find my clothes cleaned and ironed, ready for me to take back to Muscat”…. Thinking while not being shocked, that hardly makes you a man!

“Now what you are saying is that you are a man because you do nothing and let the women in your house serve you?” I replied.

“No, its not because I do nothing, but women are supposed to serve men. That is their duty. The Quran says ‘Men are in charge of women’ (Surat al-Nisa, 34).” He continued.

“That does not mean men are above women!, and it certainly doesn’t mean that women are servants to men!”

Here, the phrase ‘Men are in charge of women’, is widely used in the Gulf area. In our local Arabic, the term “in charge” has changed to mean that men are above women. Now, if we look at the whole verse concerning the “in charge” part, the Quran says: “Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded.”

Now this makes me wonder. Women, in many times, work and too spend part of their salary (sometimes all of it) on their household needs. So, in another light, and may I dare to say this: men being in charge of women is somewhat not needed as much with those that work and are independent.

There are many men that would not marry a non-working female because their income alone is not enough. Then, they expect their wives to work (same hours as they do) and run back home to cook, clean, and look after the kids. On top of that, if the wife is not looking after herself – as in being attractive– then she is not a good wife!

So, my question is… in this society, where does the men’s role fall behind the walls of houses?

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After posting an article on dating in Oman, and after reading Dhofari Gucci post on “Internet Dating“, I wanted to write a more comprehensive review over the situation.

What I will try to do here is not to state whether dating is good or bad, but to tackle the issue from a more objective point of view rather than a judgmental one.

There are a couple of points to consider here:

First: Past vs. Present
The difference between the past and the present is that in the past, women would get married at the age of 14 (and above) and men would get married at 17 (and above). The act of marrying your children off was such a sacred act that very few girls would reach the age of 16 without having a fiancee.
Today, you have kids from both sexes that are between the ages of 15 to 25 (and above) that are unmarried for family, educational, and financial reasons. So, the issue is.. if people reach their prime in sexual needs at the age of 18, where would you put all their sexual frustrations? If talking to a guy, dating, and even masturbation is a taboo… where does all their sexual needs (which are normal human needs) go?

I don’t blame girls that believe guys who tell them over the chat room or the phone that they are in love. These girls are in desperate need to fulfill their emotional desires, and the guys are in desperate need to fulfill their sexual desires (or vice versa).

Also, the big difference between the past and the present is the sensitive situation women are put in. In the past, if a woman gets married and it doesn’t work out, then its okay. She gets divorced and after a few months, she is married again. Now, women are in a difficult situation. She is labeled a “divorcee”, secluded from society, and people looked down on her. A woman tries her best to chose that one person who will be good to her for the rest of her life. Therefore, looking for a suitable partner becomes her responsibility too. Women prefer to know their partners at some extent before marrying them.

Second: Marriage Obstacles
There are many women and men that desire to get married, but they are faced with obstacles that premarital sex is soo much easier to do than get married. This is one of those serious situations we are facing here in Oman. Marriage sometimes is not delayed for financial reasons. Sometimes the guy “is not good enough” for the family. His heritage, his lineage, or his level of education does not meet the parent’s requirements no matter how much the girl feels about the guy.

We don’t live in a culture where someone is only valued based upon their morals and good intentions. No. Some people would say, “you can’t blame the parents for wanting the best for their kids”, well.. my response is “Can you blame the kids for wanting to fulfill their needs?”.  How many guys and girls have fought to be together but all tries were in vain? Who are we to judge them later on for ending up dating and having premarital sex?

Third: media
Dhofari Gucci mentioned the media’s influence over dating in Oman. It is very true that it feeds young adults with sexual imagery. However, does the problem lie on the media only?
If you look around Oman, and the Gulf for that matter then tell me.. what do young adults do? What other options do they have? Where can they direct their energy other than it being suppressed into massive sexual desires?

The activities that happen in Muscat are what? Girls walking around the Shatii or driving their cars over and over again at the Qurum area along with the guys. (if you can see the headlights flashing and hear the honks from time to time, it means.. helooo there! or check me out!). If playing sports is somewhat seen as a waste of time for girls and sometimes as a taboo so that they do not injure their hymens. I mean, not all young people are interested in going to Quran lessons (with all respect), or participating in poetry events.

My final conclusion:

When I was in college in the US, I used to have friends that were conservative protestants. They also believed that premarital sex  and inappropriate male to female behavior was unacceptable. However, you might wonder, how were these young adults able to avoid acting upon their desires in a society that not only it does not condemn it, but encourages it in many instances. Well, these kids did a hell lot of community work. Volunteering and participating in group activities as much as they can. They also married young: around the age of 22.

However, they also don’t ban girls and guys from having friends of the opposite sex. I think this teaches a very valuable lesson, that you can look at the opposite sex as just a friend with no sexual connotations.

To be honest, here.. many of the men and women that are unmarried (even married in some instances) are seen as potential sexual partners.

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Dating scenes in Oman

Many wonder about the dating scenes in Oman between our younger generation. Well, about 60% of the dating happens in Universities and Colleges! Many of the students that attend these colleges come from conservative families. However, in any case, there is a pattern that you will notice happening on the dating scene.


Some guys come to the college and have never seen uncovered girls (not wearing face cover, or the head scarf). Being sexually suppressed, they start to spot a potential victim. The whole thing begins with them trying to be nice and funny (sometimes the scene is just sad! But some girls still manage to giggle!). After they get the signs of OKAY, which are usually indicated through smiles and giggles, they start by asking help in assignments. Then, the guy starts telling the girl that she is different the rest and that he feels sooooooo comfortable around her…. Etc (you get the point).


Well, I must say that girl’s transformation is the most predictable of all. A girl comes to college and finds many boys that she is not used to seeing. Coming from a conservative family, she “rejects” the idea of even talking to a guy. She gives her “stares” of disapproval and gossips with her “similar mentality” friends about those “sluts” that talk with guys. Now, of course these girls would brag about how they are better than those “sluts” and that they are the “good apples” that are left. After the first month, these girls will find that they cannot help but smile whenever guys try to be funny.

Then, the transformation begins… you start seeing signs of make up on their faces. The head scarf becomes smaller (not bellow the chest). The abaya’s become tighter. After another month, the head scarf becomes loose and the silky (straightened) hair starts to show. All of this includes the smiles and giggles they have been sending towards the guys. Then, girls starts having that special someone in their lives that they talk to every night. Ohh, and yes, these are the girls that start with wearing clothes under their abayas and end up with undergarments under it only!

So here is the dating scene:

In a college, the girl and the boy look for a place that they “think” is invisible to everyone else. So, they might chose the library and go behind the book shelves. If the library is quite, you will be able to hear the giggles. Otherwise, that “invisible” place in not so… invisible. The guy might start touching the girl on her hand, then as the relationship advances, the more touching occurs. Then, all signs of compassion and love between the two appear in public. She leans on him, puts her arms around him.. etc. The difference is, it is not always love and compassion. Guys in this country like to brag about “how many” girls they have. They usually have more than one!

Then, as any relationship, things start to advance. Girls start attending college even when they don’t have classes (parents think they are studying very hard.. well.. they are working hard on something!). However, they are picked up from college by their guys. God knows where they go, but I’m guessing they just stay in the car and the guy gets some action. Once they are done, they guy drops the girl back at school.

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