Friday, March 30, 2007

Bleachy water

Every year, in March, the people in charge of the water plant stop putting ammonia into the water. That should make the water healthier? Cleaner? Well, the ammonia used to mask the smell of the chlorine which was also used as a disinfectant. Removing the ammonia to use only the chlorine leaves the water smelling... like bleach.Now as Muslims, we pray five times a day and make wudhu before--which involves washing our faces as well. The month is almost over alhamdulillah but it's still irritating to smell the bleach as I wash out my mouth, nose, and put water onto my face. I can't bear to drink it... so I've been paying my dues to Dasani lately.

I've been busy the last two weeks, since I last posted. To start with, I took an Arabic class. An intensive Arabic class. The format was 10 days, 3 hours each night, in grammar. The class aimed to teach the fundamentals of Arabic grammar in order to help in reading Qur'an. The idea is that once we've learned grammar we can aquire vocabulary more easily, and understand how words and sentences are constructed, to observe the linguistic effect of the Arabic in the Qur'an. And that was really amazing. Looking at some verses constructed one way, and others in a different way. In English we really tend to brush over them, but it's easier to tell directly from the Arabic when something is supposed to be emphasized. The course was offered by Br. Nouman Ali Khan from the Bayyinah Institute ( I've already registered for the follow-up seminars; he requires a minimum number of students to sign up, though, to send an instructor, so I'm hoping enough will actually sign up to ensure that this program continues here.
The reason for learning Arabic is ultimately to learn the Qur'an--how to read it, and comprehend it, but also how to listen and comprehend. Naturally, listening is more difficult than reading; it takes more practice anyway. Reading can be self-paced, with the ability to look slowly and carefully at the words. When listening to someone recite, you're at the mercy of his speed and pronunciation. But I'm really happy to say that I have noticed an improvement in my concentration during salah. Just yesterday I went to the masjid for the fajr salat and to my own astonishment was able to understand small bits of what he was saying. Before now there have been some words I could understand but usually I would miss them because they ran together. Now I'm seeing that I can deconstruct it just enough to recognize even more words--enough to even determine from where the imam was reciting (surat al-Iman, btw.) That was a really nice experience.

I have been asked to be interviewed for a local monthly Islamic newspaper, by someone who saw my speech last Saturday... that's new. This Wednesday (and possibly next Wednesday as well inshaAllah) I spoke to the campus police... tough crowd. The issue was "Muslim affairs" and advise for them on interacting with Muslims in their professional capacity. I don't really think they needed it, but apparently someone had suggested to "the chief" some such training. As soon as I arrived I got a little "chat" about not talking politics. Of course, it's standard policy whenever presenting through ING to not discuss politics anyway, and I assured him of that. The problem was that the previous week another speaker had been there, and said something that maybe he shouldn't have. Basically, that when the Soviet Union fell, the USA began to look for another enemy and the Muslims got to be it.

Now, regardless of the validity of that statement (dunno of any of you agree with it or not) it's not a thing to say to such a group as that. A tremendous amount of evidence is required to prove that claim, but in one fell swoop the person to suggest it has insulted the government and Americans. Many police officers are ex-military, in general they are very patriotic and to say something like that without proof (and the proof is not to be found in common circles, trust me, if it even exists) is going to immediately undermine your credibility as a speaker. Unfortunately, that happened. One man listening had said that no matter what the speaker said after that, he wouldn't care, or pay attention. Very dangerous. I guess it was a reminder to be especially careful about what we say in crowds like that. I don't consider this presentation to be one of my strongest at all--it was too short to be very effective and informative so I tried to cover what I thought would help them most. On the other hand, I think I managed to avoid any kind of political judgments or suggestions.

I guess that's enough for now. I've found a few neat sites that inshaAllah I'll be adding to the side part of the page that I hope you can enjoy. :-)

Oh, and about the t-shirt. They were made by the MSA at my school and I don't think they are available for general distribution. Best bet would be to contact them through their website:


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