Month July

  • The pleasure of a new word

    Here’s a brief time out from the seriousness of the conflict in Lebanon…

    I’m currently on a training course run by the lovely company I work for, about “Getting the best out of others”. I learnt a new word on this course. It is… (drum roll please)…


    I think its a pretty cool word, so in my cheesy way, I thought I’d share it with you.

    It means when you put something in place to do a job, but actually instead of improving things, its very presence makes the situation worse. For example, there is a theory that if you don’t put in traffic lights, traffic regulates itself and actually flows better. However, people perceive that traffic is dangerous and chaotic so they put in lights. And what happens, is that the traffic actually gets worse. So the lights are an example of paradoxicalcounterproductivity. Super-cool.

    Any good words you know of?

    p.s. I thought more about this and as a total coincidence (honest!) it seems to encapsulate my view of Israel’s activities. They think the bombing will help them, but actually I think it will make things worse…

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  • It’s not our fault!

    ‘We can’t help it if our bombs kill civilians’ says Israel. ‘It’s Hezbollah’s fault, they made us do it!’

    It reminds me of a little kid throwing a tantrum about a sibling and then telling tales to their parents.

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  • What does ‘winning’ mean?

    Israel wants to destroy Hezbollah. This means destroying them militarily. Israel and the Americans see Hezbollah as a physical entity. Once they are killed off and their assets wiped out, they will be gone. But Hezbollah also represents a mindset – one that says that you have the right to defend your land. And what the Israelis don’t understand is that winning militarily doesn’t mean winning the war. If anything, they will find they have made the end goal harder. And that is what Israel hasn’t understood. Winning does not mean that all your neighbours are scared of you and live through death and destruction.

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  • Publish your opinion here…

    So everyone, this is your big chance. If you read through my posting below, I want to find out what YOU most want to raise as an issue in the Muslim community? What do you think most needs to be changed? What do you think needs to be addressed? Post your comments here or you can email them to

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  • Speak up, don’t shut up: a plea for us all to have opinions

    Here is my monthly column from The Muslim News.

    Muslims are good at being armchair critics. We like to mutter between sips of tea, muffled through mouthfuls of paan, under our hijabs. Everyone has an answer to all our problems. I even find myself being Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells – or should I say “Defender of Hadith from the Homeland”? I confess my guilt quite openly – and I’m probably guiltier than most, as I’m a blogger too, and blogging is the ultimate in yelling advice from the sidelines. But at least I’m making myself heard.

    What is wrong with our youth! I hear people cry, despairing of the apathy, both political and religious. Where has the sanctity of marriage gone! They weep, at the increasing statistics of divorce. Why are weddings so expensive! They shudder at the bank manager’s demands. You know that you are all just as guilty as I am of complaining, criticising and offering solutions in the privacy of our own homes, at rabble-rousing lectures and after spirited khutbas on Fridays. But given a public forum, the horizon is quiet, and everyone carries on without a word. Where are the voices, opinions and disagreements of the community? I asked my blogfans this (that’s all of you!), and got pitiful response. My most popular pieces are about football and swimwear (I’m not kidding, read the responses!). Are these our pre-occupations? I feel disheartened that at this time of unprecedented change and focus on the British Muslim community, nobody has anything to say, there is no courage for ordinary people to voice their opinions. I’m not referring to the voices of our “leaders”, because it’s their job to have opinions (even though we criticise them for it). I’m talking about you, Ahmed and Auntie Jee next door.

    I’m fed up of hearing people complain about what is wrong, what our leaders should really be doing, how the Government is harassing Muslims, how there is a world conspiracy, how Islamophobia is growing, how our children are losing their faith. Heard it before. Mostly from the same people. Yawn Yawn. Don’t talk to me about it unless you’re willing to do something yourself. And believe me, there’s a lot to be done. The issues I’ve listed need addressing, as do a plethora of others.

    Let’s start a lively debate, let’s hear some unheard voices. As a multitude of Muslim communities, we need to have the courage to put forward our opinions. The days of inferiority complexes must be banished and a new openness needs to be encouraged. We need to build some guts into the community, and we need to stop being afraid of being labelled as the “wrong sort of people” within our communities for proposing change. Let’s discard the labels imposed upon us by the outside, be that moderate or extremist, liberal or conservative, progressive or reactive. How many of us have avoided raising issues in our local communities for fear of being stigmatised, of having our reputations sullied, for becoming outcast?

    My current bugbear is the fact that Muslims love to be so miserable. Fun is not to be tolerated, and I am sure that one morning I will wake up to find a fatwa declaring fun to be haram. A Muslim company has hired out Alton Towers for a day in September specifically catering for Muslim needs, but people are asking on websites, are we allowed to have fun? Yvonne Ridley sparked a controversy in a piece attacking women who were clearing enjoying themselves too much at a boy-band nashid concert (I have my own opinions on boy-bands which you can read on my blog elsewhere). How can Muslims be enjoying themselves when there is so much suffering in the world, she cried.

    Even the enormous IslamExpo missed out on the opportunity to give people a Good Time and send them home with smiles. It too put politics categorically above fun. In claiming to showcase the diversity and pleasures of the Muslim world, it forgot to inject the ingredient that most binds people together and creates support and unity – shared enjoyment. You may think this issue is flippant, but it’s quite important and affects everything we do. Muslims should be happy people, not miserable creatures wallowing in Catholic guilt. Fun is a platform for creativity and vision, and these are the things we lack in greatest measure. Lack of creativity and vision translates directly into lack of progress.

    So here is my challenge to all of you, make your opinion heard. What is the one thing that you would most like to change about the Muslim community? And how do you propose to do it? You can comment from the deeply political and religious, to the mundanities of life. This is your chance to get interactive and share your views. To mix metaphors, it’s time to get what’s on your mind, off your chest. You can post comments on my blog or email them to me at I’ll even include the most interesting in my next column in The Muslim News print newspaper. What is that one thing that you always wanted everyone to know, to address, to change? Go on, have an opinion, give it a try.

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  • What is terrorism?

    One of the great debates of our time is the question of what is terrorism and who is a terrorist? Most of the time to me, it seems a label used to describe any activity that a state doesn’t like.

    Is there any such thing as an absolute terrorism, or is it a subjective decision. Is one man’s terrorist another man’s freedom fighter? Is state terror legitimate to protect its citizens? Do non-state actors have the same rights if they enjoy popular support? Who has the right (if anyone) to authorise terror? And has the subject of “terror” been so often and liberally used that it has lost all meaning, and cannot help us to navigate our way round the real problems.

    The Asma Society recently held a conference for Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow. The Editor of the Danish newpaper that published the offending cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed attended and was shown a number of cartoons in reponse. You can see the rest of the series here. He promised that he would publish them, in his generous spirit of liberalness. We wait to hear from him and his publishers.

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  • How much is a Lebanese life worth?

    I can’t bear to keep posting up figures of all the people killed in the attacks in Lebanon. In fact, I have felt so distressed that the world is sitting by and doing nothing, that I’ve been unable to write anything over the weekend. I’ve been trying to work out what is going to break the international community’s paralysis and stop the killing frenzy.

    It’s just so very hard to see how the US and my very own UK government can possibly toe the Israeli line in saying Israel has the right to totally destroy Lebanon. If I’m not mistaken Israel is supposed to be a Jewish state. Doesn’t Judaism direct its adherents to live in peace with its neighbours? Every time Israel doesn’t like what someone else is doing, it takes a heavy hand and literally steam rollers in. In my lifetime Israel has occupied more of its neighbours than any other middle eastern country. If Israel genuinely wants to live in peace, why does it keep picking fights?

    I was heartened this morning to hear that Human Rights Watch (whatever you may think of them) are investigating Israel for war crimes because they believe that Israel’s attacks are “indiscriminate and disproportionate”.

    However, my most horrific moment over the weekend was seeing photos of young Israeli children sending “gifts of love” on missiles destined for the children of Lebanon. These pictures were taken at a heavy artillery position near Kiryat Shmona close to the Lebanese border. You can argue your case as to whether these are real or not. But it falls into a pattern which highlights the inability of Israelis to see Arabs as human beings.

    I remember travelling to Jerusalem and Gaza in the late nineties when things were by comparison at a low level of activity. I would watch young Israeli soldiers with huge rifles and barely a hint of stubble on their chins, pulling over Arabs indiscriminately, demanding their ID, detaining them when they were clearly going about their own quiet business. I watched at the border with Gaza as they were herded like cattle through the high barbed wire fences and their possessions were tipped out of their bags and ransacked in the search for who knows what. I spoke to a young woman in Gaza who told me that in her twenty years of life she had never been permitted to visit Jerusalem and the holy sites – places less than 30 minutes drive away.

    The torture, the poverty, the pain must be unbearable, but what struck me most was how Israel had taken away these people’s human-ness. How it saw them just as pests, not human beings. And here we are again in Lebanon, with the same mindset seeping through.

    If I had to do some maths on the value of life it seems as though 2 Israeli military personnel kidnapped = 300 Lebanese civilians dead (and counting) and 500,000 Lebanese displaced.

    The tragedy is that the holocaust showed the heinously disgusting and disastrous results of dehumanising people through the way that the Nazis acted against those who were ‘other’. How tragic it is to see the victim turning perpetrator. The world after the second world war was supposed to be a brighter place. When did the flame of hope blow out?

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  • The disproptionate attacks increase

    Lebanese toll: more than 330
    Israeli toll: 34
    source: BBC

    Cartoon: Peter Brooks in the TimesOnline

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  • The bully in the playground

    Lebanese toll: 300 people have been killed and 500,000 displaced by the violence
    Israeli toll: 29 Israelis dead

    Is it still too early to stop these children being killed, injured, their lives torn?

    Israel, with its superior military might and technology, seems to like picking on little children.

    Pick on someone your own size.

    The UN says almost a third of the dead and wounded are children

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  • The numbers of dead increase

    The US negotiators have been sent back from Jerusalem being told it’s too early to begin discussions for a ceasefire. Too early to stop people being killed?
    When Lebanon is on its knees – “when the clock is put back 20 years in Lebanon” in the words of one of the Israeli ministers on Radio 4 this week – will they stop.

    The Security Council can’t agree on a way forward.

    A local radio station today led with the headline: “The ordeal is over in Lebanon”. Good news? Only for those foreigners who have been evacuated. The ordeal is certainly not over for the millions left behid.

    Lebanse toll so far: At least 270 Lebanese – mostly civilians – have died in the conflict.
    Israeli toll so far: Twenty-five Israelis have died, including 13 civilians killed by Hezbollah rocket attacks

    Source: BBC. Picture: Israeli tanks move into Lebanon

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