Monday, June 28, 2010

Hate Crime or Dirty Prank?

For the past few weeks I've been helping at some local halaqahs by teaching the Seerah--the biography of the Prophet Muhammad (saws.) And recently we've been discussing how the Muslims were persecuted by the Quraysh in Mecca before the hijrah (migration to Medina.) Some of the enemies of Islam would really go out of their way to attack and annoy the Muslims, and especially the Prophet Muhammad (saws.) They would drop the innards of slaughtered animals on him, and dump their garbage at his doorstep. It's not like they're just lazily opposed, but they went out of their way to cause trouble.

And that's what came to mind when I heard about this: Feces smeared on Muslim van near Bellevue mosque. I heard about it on Thursday before it was reported to police through the brothers who operate the van. The van is covered in advertising for the WhyIslam? project, with the website address and the hotline number 1-877-WHY-ISLAM on the sides and back. So it's not just a "Muslim van" but a van with messages about Islam, clearly owned by Muslims promoting Islam. So the first thought that comes to mind is probably "ew, gross," but I think it's hard not to assume that the van was targeted by whatever sick person rubbed their hands in dog poo.

The van was parked on a public street (where it is parked quite often, actually) across from the mosque in town. And Thursday afternoon someone spotted the muck on the windshield, driver's side window, and driver's door handle.

Thankfully, the van wasn't damaged in any way and we can just wash it off, so I understand the police reacting like it's not a very big deal--and realistically I don't think there's much that they can do. I live in the same neighborhood, and know how quiet it is at night, so I think it's likely that this happened while nobody was watching, so there's not a way to catch whoever did it.

But should we consider it a hate crime? Or just a prank by some kid or drunk who happened to drive by? I think it's likely that the van was specifically vandalized because of the message on it, and support the decision to report it to police. (Although involving the media seems a bit unnecessary, in my opinion.) Now in case there is any escalation (should the culprit become more bold and damage property), this previous incident will have been documented. In case that there are more incidents of vandalism and violence directed at Muslims, I think they should have the help of law enforcement to protect them. And since there does seem to be a national trend in that direction (more attacks on Muslims and mosques), it's better to be on the safe side.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

No posts for a month?

What am I doing with my life?

Indeed, it's time to check-in. My husband keeps reminding me to blog, and I keep procrastinating. So don't blame him. I kept thinking that I wasn't busy (even though I couldn't find time to do even simple things!) and a little chat with my therapist helped me realize, oh yes, I'm stressed too!

Over the past several weeks I have been busy with just a few different things. The stress mostly comes from a likely upcoming move (which I'll have to write a lot about soon inshaaAllaah as things develop) and three different teachings engagements I'm involved in every week.

In this area, there are actually lots of different activities for new Muslims. Which one is best? So much depends on a person's situation, personality, schedule, and what they're really looking for. So it's nice that there's variety. And for those of us who attend them all--hey, it's nice to have something to do on a rainy weekend, right?

Two of these are evening halaqahs, one on a Friday and one on a Sunday. I don't run either one (which saves me the stress of managing and communicating with everyone who attends,) and only volunteer in teaching a few things. And right now, the only thing I'm teaching is the Seerah. I started at the Friday one first so we're a little ahead--which means that every week I have to prepare for two different lessons, instead of repeating the same. But on the plus side--how much more time I spent reviewing the Seerah for myself? Alhamdulillah, what an amazing review.

And then on Saturdays I run a class for new Muslims, called Compass. We have covered prayer and faith and started learning Arabic, with more subjects coming up in the next two months inshaaAllaah. For this class I'm preparing slides and materials for each weekly class, and since it's my first time teaching a class on my own this way, I'm learning a lot of lessons. I'm learning how much information students can handle in just an hour, and how to deal with absences and review. And how long it takes people to memorize. But some of my theories before starting were correct--if you push people to memorize something (properly motivate them), then they can memorize it.

But I spend a lot of time during the week preparing for these weekend halaqahs and classes.

Another major time hog for me has been my workouts and training sessions, and nutrition appointments. At first I didn't notice because I wasn't busy to start with, but now it makes a bigger impact. On the other hand, now the appointments have been scaled back. To give you an idea--I was seeing a trainer 3 times a week, for about 75 minutes each time, followed by another 30 minutes on my own in the gym, at least. So there goes at least two hours, not to mention travel time. And then the other two days in the gym took an hour and a half out of my day, each, at least. Now I see a trainer only twice a week, and each session lasts about an hour, with another 20 minutes I spend on my own afterwards. So it's not much, but it seems like I have a little more time these days.

Also, I used to have nutrition appointments every week, which are now every other week. And the therapist I mentioned earlier? I still see her but even less often (from every 3 to every 6 weeks) and group sessions which met every week are finished, although I might continue with another group since it was actually pretty helpful.

But now I'm doing much better with my time, especially since I'm trying to go to bed earlier. Actually, it's kind of difficult living up here (and worse, probably, in places further north!) to get the night prayers straightened out. These days are the longest of the year, and Isha isn't until 11:30pm, while fajr is before 3am! So if you stay up to pray isha, and then stay up just a little while afterwards, it becomes very tempting to just stay up for fajr, and sleep afterwards. That's a habit I'm trying to break, since it just ate up so much of the daytime by sleeping all morning. And I'm not nearly as productive at night.

So now I try to go to bed after maghrib (which is 9:30pm) or at the latest, right after isha. If I sleep after maghrib then I can get up around 1-2pm and pray isha a little on the late side, and stay up until fajr and then sleep again. Or I can sleep and get up around 12:30-1 to pray, sleep again, and get up around 4:30am for fajr. (Easier said than done: it's not easy to keep getting up when your body wants to sleep. It revolts.) And if I pray isha, then I try to get up around 4:30am to pray fajr, which is kind of on the late side, not much room for error, but I can still pray it in its time and get a few hours of sleep. I've found that if I'm only asleep for 2-3 hours I have an especially hard time waking for fajr (don't even hear the alarm), but after 4 hours I can manage it.

But with my newfound productivity I've been able to really clean the apartment (my kitchen and bathrooms haven't been this clean since we moved in!) And having a clean place to live and work makes it easier to be more productive.

And now I'm also getting ready for my in-laws to visit (I think nothing will make you clean house like a visit from your in-laws!) in a few weeks, so I'm trying to get the place really organized and less cluttered. So while I'm not blogging, that's what I'm doing. Most of the time.