Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Voice of the Feminine Divine

For I am the first and the last,
I am the honored one and the scorned one,
I am the whore and the holy one,
I am the wife and the virgin (virgin is a wise woman unto herself)...
I am the barren one, and many are her sons...
I am the silence that is incomprehensible...
I am the utterance of my name.

- Gnostic Gospels

Eid Mubarak

Dear Ummahnity: Eid is arriving. As you celebrate, please remember the millions of people whose fast will NOT end tomorrow. | *HornOfAfrica" - Mark Gonzales

Monday, August 29, 2011

AA's Beginnings

"In 1935, when Bill Wilson, cofounder of Alcoholics Anonymous, stopped drinking alcohol, he went home to a loyal, dedicated wife, a warm home with enough food, and a circle of people who cared about him. He had a law degree, was an experienced stockbroker, and had all the privileges accorded to an upper-middle-class White man from an old New England family. Most of the men who were instrumental in putting together the AA program and whose experiences were to be recorded in Alc0holics Anonymous, the AA "Big Book," came from similar backgrounds. (3)

Bill Wilson's imagination, determination, and creativity in putting together the twelve-step program that worked for him and many others does not change the fact that he was influenced by white, male, middle-class Christian values of the 1930's. Bill Wilson could not have known about issues that would become central in the ensuing decades - sexism, racism, homophobia, drug abuse, homelessness, and child sexual abuse - that are interwoven in addiction. He could not have known that, fifty years later, (76+ now!) the steps he wrote would be used internationally for men and women struggling with all types of addictions - from narcotics to food, sex, dependent relationships, medication, smoking, gambling, and spending, as well as incest and emotional problems.

It is important to remember that Bill Wilson based the steps and the Big Book on experiences of a hundred white men and one woman. He also based his definition of alcoholic personality - egocentric, arrogant, resentful, controlling or violent - on these people. (5)

-Charlotte Davis Kasl, PhD - Many Roads, One Journey: Moving Beyond the 12 Steps

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Love Your Body

Imagine a woman in love with her own body.
A woman who believes her body is enough, just as it is.
Who celebrates its rhythms and cycles as an exquisite resource.

Imagine a woman who trusts and respects herself.
A woman who listens to her body’s needs.
Who meets them with tenderness and grace.

Imagine a woman who embraces her sexuality as her own.
A woman who delights in pleasuring herself.
Who experiences her erotic feelings and sensations without shame or guilt.

Imagine a woman who honors the body of the Goddess in her changing body.
A woman who celebrates the accumulation of her years and wisdom.
Who no longer uses her life-energy to disguise the changes in her body and life.

Imagine a woman who is glad to be alive.
A woman who has released body-scrutiny and -criticism.
Who celebrates her body with reverence and respect.

- Patricia Lynn Reilly

I am now an Imagine a Woman Certified Facilitator-Coach.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The 12-Step Buddhist: Enhance Recovery from Any Addiction

I am always looking for new takes on The 12-step programs. I saw this man in a schedule of events for a retreat center I am fond of and looked this up on Amazon regarding his book.

Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12 step programs are emphatic that they are not aligned with any sect, denomination, or religion. AA is a spiritual program, not a religious program. The 12 step literature is quite clear that we are to use our own concept of a Higher Power, or "God as we understand Him."

Herein lies a problem: the very use of terms such as "God" and "Him" implies a patriarchal, creator God, the archetype of which is the God of Abraham, the God of Muslims, Christians, and Jews. But what of those members in a 12 step program who are atheists, agnostics, or of other beliefs in which there is no "Our Father" or a Creator? Even though the fellowship is fanatically tolerant of religious diversity, most members are white, middle class, middle aged men, who discuss spiritual matters in the terms most familiar to them.

AA has some work-arounds, in which people who do not believe in a deity can use GOD as an acronym, such as Good Orderly Direction, as their Higher Power. However, it is a bit a stretch to pray for improved conscious contact with a Good Orderly Direction. (For those who can do it, our hats are off to them.)

One of the non-theistic spiritual practices of people in recovery is Buddhism. Buddha was not a god, just a man who discovered how to relieve suffering. When asked if he were a god, Buddha replied "No." When asked what he was, then, Buddha said "I am awake." "Buddha" means the one who woke up.

The 12 Step Buddhist is a guide for integrating and using Buddhist practice in a 12 step program. This book does not explain the steps -- the reader is referred to the Big Book and other approved literature for that. This book is for Buddhists, or others who are non-theistic, who are also addicts in recovery, and want to work a serious spiritual program.

Littlejohn pulls no punches. He is blunt, practical, and hard-core. For those in a program: he is one of us. The author notes that most Buddhist teachers do not know how to handle addicts or alcoholics (for those who make the distinction). Littlejohn has been there, and knows what it's like to bottom out, and also to go back out and return.

The reader may not agree with the approach in The 12 Step Buddhist. No problem. As both AA and the Buddha say, if you think something else will work better for you, please go try it. If it doesn't work, you are welcome back. Take what you need and leave the rest behind.

Other Buddhist 12-Step Books:
- 12 Steps on Buddha's Path: Bill, Buddha, and We by Laura S.
- One Breath at a Time: Buddhism and the Twelve Steps by Kevin Edward Griffin
- Enough!: A Buddhist Approach to Finding Release from Addictive Patterns by Chonyi Taylor

Friday, August 26, 2011

All that you have is your soul

Here I am, I'm waiting for a better day
A second chance
A little luck to come my way
A hope to dream, a hope that I can sleep again
...And wake in the world with a clear conscience and clean hands
'Cause all that you have is your soul

Don't be tempted by the shiny apple
Don't you eat of a bitter fruit
Hunger only for a taste of justice
Hunger only for a world of truth
'Cause all that you have is your soul.

- Tracy Chapman

Challenging Codependency

Co-dependency is defined in various ways; essentially it refers to a person's overfocus on the behaviour and feelings of others. It began with, but is not confined to people involved with practising alcoholics. The authors assembled by Marguerite Babcock and Christine McKay in Challenging Codependency argue that the label is harmful to women, and what it really describes, but does not address in any politically effective way, is the social, economic and political oppression of women. In the essay "Codependency and the Myth of Recovery: A Feminist Scrutiny," Kay Hagan sums up the anthology's central point: codependency "is a euphemism for the practice of dominance and subordination" and the concept locates the origin of personal problems in individual experience rather than in social relations. In other words, power-over attitudes of gender, class, sexuality and race make people sick. That our symptoms are then decontextualized makes us crazy.

This anthology examines codependency's focus "on women's alleged pathology rather than on the dynamics of sexism." The more ludicrous ideas about addiction and dependency are exposed in this collection of reprinted articles, such as the belief that alcoholism would dwindle away were it not for enablers. That women have been sold a bill of goods is the message of this work, which argues convincingly that the social construction of codependency as a disease "has provided a virtually endless supply of new clients for the substance abuse industry."

COPYRIGHT 1996 Herizons Magazine, Inc.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


"The truth, said an ancient Chinese master, is neither like this nor like that. It is like a dog yearning over a bowl of burning oil. He can't leave it, because it is too desirable, and he can't lick it, because it is too hot."

-Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart p 152

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

When We Leave (Die Fremde) - Trailer with English Subtitles

An unforgettable and heartbreaking movie. One of the most searing depictions of patriarchy I have ever seen.

Pink Floyd - Song for Palestine

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Kundalini and Sexual Energy for Women

"...when a woman integrates her sexuality with knowledge of herself, when it is a source of energy, it becomes a force in the expansion of her love and power. When a woman ceases to use sex as a bribe, escape, or weapon of power, it can become one with her Source, her spirituality. Kundalini yoga regards the body as a microcosm of the universe: when one is alive and at one within the body, one is likewise at one wiht the universe, with pure consciousness. Kundalini stands for female sexual energy, represented by a coiled serpent in the form of a flower resting at the base of the spine. When the serpent uncoils, energy rises through the body, awakening purse knowledge and a state of bliss, and sexual energy is transfomed to cosmic consciousness."

-Charlotte Davis Kasl, Women, Sex and Addiction: A Search for Love and Power. 78-79

Monday, August 22, 2011

“What you're living is an indicator of your vibrational offering.”

-Abraham Hicks

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Author Your Own Life

Imagine a woman who authors her own life.
A woman who trusts her inner sense of what’s right for her.
Who takes responsibility for the design and content of her life.

Imagine a woman who is interested in her own life.
A woman whose life is her teacher, healer, and challenge.
Who is grateful for the ordinary moments of beauty and grace.

Imagine a woman who balances her life.
A woman who trusts her impulses to move inward and outward.
Who makes choices to support balance and harmony.

Imagine a woman who participates in her own life.
A woman who meets each challenge with creativity.
Who takes action on her own behalf with clarity and courage.

Imagine a woman who is glad to be alive.
A woman who has released chronic self-criticism.
Who celebrates her life with gratitude and appreciation.

- Patricia Lynn Reilly

I am now an Imagine a Woman Certified Coach-Facilitator.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


"...nearly all people are prone to addictive behavior and spirituality is the only cure for addiction."

-Charlotte Davis Kasl, Women, Sex and Addiction: A Search for Love and Power. (xiii)

Friday, August 19, 2011

"Close some doors today. Not because of pride, incapacity or arrogance, but simply because they lead you nowhere" - Paulo Coelho

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Gay and Muslim - Possible?

"For anyone who’s an LGBTQ Muslim, I want them to understand the Quran’s promise is for all of humankind for all of human time. Our society was very different 1,500 years ago. Human conditions remain the same, but the way we approach them now is different. Either you follow the rituals of dead people, or you live the Quran for today."

Daayiee Abdullah

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I Love my Country

My country:
goats on the Ankara plain:
the sheen of blond, silky, long furs.
The fat plump hazelnuts of Giresun.
The fragrant red-cheeked apples of Amasya,
and of all colours
bunches and bunches of grapes
and then the plough
and then the black ox
and then: ready to accept
advanced, beautiful and good
with the joyous admiration of a child
my hard-working, honest, brave people
half hungry, half full
half slave…

From Nazim Hikmet's stirring poem "I Love My Country"
Translated from the Turkish by Fuat Engin

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Cleaning Out

I have been sick over 2 weeks. It's been a long and boring stretch.

I have my first day of half energy today. I'm realizing I still have a lot of junk to clean out. I did some of it little by little while I was sick. Old relationships that lacked closure and tidying up. It seemed like in the past, I always had many doors open in case the relationship did not work out. In the last week, I have talked to 3 exes from various parts of my life that were always sort of hanging on in one way or another. It feels good to close the door and still have the friendship and good feelings there. I feel we can all go where we need to go now without confusion or bad feelings.

I am trying to minimalize as much as possible. It seems like I have been throwing stuff out of my house for 3 years. I'm taking what I hope is the final sweep through before listing the house for sale. Basically, I am OK with selling anything and everything now. I was more attached to certain items before because I had put so much time and care into picking each item out. But now I am seeing that kept me from really living my life. I was so obsessed with everything looking just right - it was only a distraction with how messy my life was on the inside.

I remember a friend of mine sold everything he owned a few years ago and started completely over. He kept a bed, a chair and a few books. It was startling to go to his new flat with nothing there. But it was quite freeing for him, and I have watched him really evolve in the years since.

It seems I am always in a hurry to have everything change, but nothing became this way overnight. I feel that these last years have been an unraveling of all I covered my true self up with - mostly material, petty things. The more I let go of, the better I feel.


I love this passage from the Koran because it says what I have always thought about forgiveness. One of the thing that irritated me about Christianity was that I felt like many people abused forgiveness.

I think this verse applies to people as well. Why forgive someone over and over for the same thing?

“Forgiveness is only incumbent on Allah toward those who do evil in ignorance (and) then turn quickly (in repentance) to Allah. These are they toward whom Allah relenteth. Allah is ever Knower, Wise.

The forgiveness is not for those who do ill deeds until, when death attendeth upon one of them, he saith: Lo! I repent now, nor yet for those who die while they are disbelievers. For such we have prepared a painful doom.”

Surah IV women 17-18

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Heal Into the Present

Imagine a woman who trusts and respects herself.
A woman who listens to her needs and desires.
Who meets them with tenderness and grace.

Imagine a woman who has access to the full range of human emotion.
A woman who expresses her feelings clearly and directly.
Who allows them to pass through her as gracefully as the breath.

Imagine a woman who tells the truth.
A woman who trusts her experience of the world and expresses it.
Who no longer defers to the thoughts, perceptions, and responses of others.

Imagine a woman who follows her creative impulses.
A woman who produces original creations.
Who refuses to color inside someone else’s lines.

- Patricia Lynn Reilly

I am now an Imagine a Woman Certified Coach-Facilitator.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Negative Emotion

“Negative emotion means to some degree that you’ve pinched yourself off from who you were meant to be.”

-Abraham Hicks

Friday, August 12, 2011

An old Cherokee told his grandson, "My son, there is a battle between two wolves inside of us all. One is Evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies & ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy & truth." The boy thought about it, and asked, "Grandfather, which wolf wins?" The old man quietly replied, "The one you feed."


This DVD Changed My Life!

I can't say enough good things about Kundalini Yoga. I just LOVE this DVD!

Thursday, August 11, 2011


most of us r ashamed of our poverty, as if it were our own fault. i too was ashamed of my poverty for yrs, right up until i became a writer. upon beginning my work as a writer, i finally understood that in a country where the majority is poor, it isn't poverty that is to be ashamed of, but wealth.

from istanbul boy: a memoir by aziz nesin

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


The past month in particular has been very difficult with my ex. We have had several major escalations and the police have been to my house several times.

One of the principals of Ramadan is that when you lose your temper or become angry, you invalidate your fast.

Anyone who has ever fasted knows that it is a tough discipline. In Islam, if you invalidate your fast, you have to make that day up later. So the tendency is to not want to invalidate the fast in any way.

If someone tries to start an argument with you while you are fasting, you are only supposed to reply, "I am fasting" as many as 3 times. You must avoid the conflict.

This is a good reminder that is always a choice to engage, and it always within our means to avoid conflict - although it certainly can be very difficult.

If you come back to a disagreement after reflecting on it, you may not be as angry. For instance, if you go back to the argument after the fast is finished for the day, you may not be as upset.

I am glad for this opportunity to re-evaluate how I respond to difficult people and situations.

The Glass Castle

One of my oldest and dearest friends recommended The Glass Castle, and I finally got around to reading it a few days ago. I have been sick and read it all in a couple days.

It amazed me how similar alcoholic families are. That always amazes me, no matter how many Al-Anon meetings or stories I hear, they are all so very sad and similar.

I found this passage particularly touching, although there were many I could quote.

"Poor mom," Lori finally said. "She's got it tough."

"No tougher than the rest of us." I said.

Yes, she does," Lori said. "She's the one who's married to Dad."

"That was her choice," I said. "She needs to be firmer, lay down the law for dad intead of getting hysterical all the time. What dad needs is a strong woman."

"A caryatid wounldn't be strong enough for Dad."

"What's that?"

"Pillars shaped like women," Lori said. "The ones holding up those Greek temples with their heads. I was looking at a picture of some the other day, thinking, Those women have the second toughest job in the world."

-Jeannette Walls

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Finding Love

I have found love.

I have been very hesitant to write about it here because my ex still reads the blog and tends to manipulate my words to serve his own interests.

So this post has been a long time coming.

I don't want to get into the specifics of the relationship so much.

But what I will say is this: It is possible to have a loving and peaceful relationship. When there is constant arguing and drama, it is a sign that the relationship is not right.

It is possible to be in a relationship without constant arguing. It is possible to have a disagreement and handle it completely peacefully and lovingly. It is possible that the person is not being manipulative or trying to hurt you knowingly and hurts when they hurt you unknowingly. It is possible to be completely wide-open for someone and not have them use it against you later.

These things may seem obvious, but they were totally out of my radar when I was in relationship to my ex. It was so off-balance and dysfunctional that I completely lost my grounding. My only really strong example of love in my life was my paternal grandparents, who were married lovingly for 64 years. I think if I had not had that example, I would never have found my way back to a good relationship. They were my guiding star, and I believe they sent me an angel in the form of the man I am with now.

Sometimes it takes a few relationships that don't work to realize what you do want.

Several years ago, I began composing a list of everything I wanted in a partner. There were approximately 25 things on the list, some very serious, some a bit more trivial.

I knew right away when I found my love that he was the one because he already possessed every one of these qualities. There was nothing I had to compromise on or think that maybe I could change. He was already the complete man I was desiring.

When I was going through my certification process with Imagine a Woman, there was a segment on relationships. I think it was one of the best things I have ever seen on relationships, so I will post it here. It was such a moment of clarity for me, and it was so simple - just noticing how you felt in someones presence.

Noticing Feelings
After each encounter with a new friend or potential lover, ask yourself:

1. “How did I feel in his/her presence?”
Underline or highlight the words that best describe your feelings.
“I felt ______ in his/her presence today.”

turned on
free to be me


on guard
shut down

- Patricia Lynn Reilly, Imagine a Woman Empowerment Program, Fundamentals VI
Relationships From the Inside Out

For the first time, I feel only what is in the top section. In my past relationships, it was usually a mix of both - or in the case of my ex-addict-husband, it was only the bottom portion of the list.

I write this to give hope to every woman out there who feels stuck in a bad relationship. Sometimes as women I think its very difficult for us to give up even a very bad relationship. It is so ingrained in us from childhood that a relationship is a primary thing that gives us value.

When we realign with our feelings, we know what is right for us when it comes.

“Love comes when manipulation stops; when you think more about the other person than about his or her reactions to you. When you dare to reveal yourself fully. When you dare to be vulnerable.” Dr, Joyce Brothers.

Monday, August 8, 2011

"What do I want to make of this life, and of my Sacred Self in relationship to it? That is the question. That is what life gives me an opportunity to decide. And my life lived is my decision and my answer. You are faced with the same opportunity."
-Neale Donald Walsch

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Taking Care of (my)Self

My recent pain has reminded me of some of the choices I have made these last years regarding self-care.

I want to stress that I get chiropractic care, massage and accupuncture not because I have so much extra money (although that was the case at one time, it certainly isn't now).

I get these treatments because I place such a high premium on my health.

It has been very clear to me how much stress living (or just dealing) with an addict has put on my body.

Things are much better now, but for years I had chronic headaches, back/neck pain, every sort of stomach issue, and was severely underweight (wearing a size 00 at 5'7").

I don't have much money now, but one thing I will not scrimp on is my personal care. I say this because I see so many women put themselves last and say, "I can't afford self-care."

I don't believe this is true.

I have had to re-shuffle my priorities, but I am managing.

I did that by cancelling cable, eating out less, and basically cutting out little by little anything that was not essential. (Self-care is essential!)

I have also been selling things off slowly. I never thought I could (or would) part with many of my possessions, but I feel lighter and happier than I ever have.

What use are diamonds and money to me when I am dead?

I have seen so many women (including my own grandmother) die of cancer after a life-time commitment to an addict.

I firmly believe that leaving the relationship is the only way to save yourself.

And, that we must take care of ourselves before the addict eats what's left of us up.

Because, even if you leave, the addict will always be there to some extent. And the effects on your body will remain if you don't deal with them aggressively.

One last thought, I am sickened to think of all the money wasted on alcohol, drugs, rehabs and recklessness by the addict in my life.

Certainly I am worth a few hundred dollars a month to get the care I need.

"Self-nurturing requires an attitude of feminine valuing. It is enhanced
by the time in which you shift your attention to yourself. If you nurture
yourself, the choices you make in your life will be conscious and

—Virginia Beane Rutter, Celebrating Girls

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Journey Home to Yourself

Imagine a woman who turns toward herself with interest and attention.
A woman who turns inward to listen, remember, and replenish.
Whose capacity to be available to others deepens as she is available to herself.

Imagine a woman who lives an embodied life.
A woman who has returned home to her breath.
Who breathes consciously in gratitude for life itself.

Imagine a woman who discovers the way home to herself.
A woman who descends into her own inner life.
Who reunites with her essential self and reclaims her natural capacities.

- Patricia Lynn Reilly

Thursday, August 4, 2011

As I mentioned in a previous post, I made the mistake of contacting my former father-in-law.

I have tried for so many years to forgive him, and I just can't.

I'm still holding on the blame that I have for him, which I expressed again on Saturday.

I had a thought this morning that had not occured to me before.

Yes, he is to blame for how he raised his son, and his actions have directly affected me. I will always believe that. Although holding on to my anger does not serve me.

What I need to remember is that I made a choice, day by day, to stay with his son, despite all the things he continuously did to me.

At one point, my ex sent me a text telling me I needed to get over my unresolved anger issues. My partner read it and said, yes, as long as he continues to do the same things, you have unresolved issues.

What I am taking away from this is that I always have a choice. I don't have to engage with my ex or his father. I don't really need to have much to do with either anymore. I can't control their actions, and I think there will always be some amount of craziness involved in the choices my ex makes. So I have to stop believing he can ever be a different person than who he has showed himself to be. And I have to just take responsiblity for what I can control, which is me, and the choices I make.


I have been in more pain this week than I have been for quite some time.

It is a reminder of the place I was several years ago. Pain is an indicator of something not being right, or in my case, being very wrong.

I had a horrible ordeal with my ex last Saturday. He refused to bring the children home. I believed he was drunk. He was beligerent. I got into it with my former father-in-law, who I rarely engage with whatsoever. (I was desperate, but this is never a good person for me to talk to for any reason. His response: "I'm sorry you're having a bad day.")

I called the police and long-story-short, the kids came home several hours later. But we were all traumatized by the experience.

The next day, I was in a daze and the kids were a mess. We went to the beach to get some air.

The 4 days following I have had a migraine and bladder infection that will not leave.

I have done accupuncture, meditation, Yoga and chiropractic care with massage. At the chiropractor, they asked me if I had been in a car accident. That was a wake up call for me.

I looked up my conditions in Heal Your Life and found them very interesting:

Bladder Problems:
Probable Cause: Anxiety. Holding on to old ideas. Fear of letting go. Being pissed off.
New Thought Pattern: I comfortably and easily release the old and welcome the new in my life. I am safe.

Back Problems:
Probable Cause: Stuck in all taht stuff back there. "Get off my back."
New Thought Pattern: I release the past. I am free to move forward with love in my heart.

In any case, I have realized that I can not go on like this. It is completely dehibilitating. I am glad I am out of my day-to-day situation of living with an addict. But when you have kids, you are stuck with that person, to some extent, forever.

I have learned that there is no point in arguing with my ex. It never goes anywhere. It is never fruitful. It is always completely exhausting.

The best times are when I completely ignore him. The days in between visits when there is no contact are the best.

But I need to find heathier ways to not engage and to remind myself to breathe - deeply - when things are beginning to escalate instead of spiralling out of control in hysteria. My body can not take it anymore.

This has been a terrible week in many ways, but I do think I have finally felt the strong connection between engaging with my ex (for any reason) and my overall health. If I want to have the kind of life I desire, I can't engage anymore.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Well, it's Ramadan, and I'm remembering that I am a horrible and spoiled faster. I have no energy and get headaches.

But I do think it is a fantastic spiritual practice and I plan to continue with it. The first days are always the hardest, and I have been sick with a bladder infection that doesn't seem to want to budge. I am easing into it though.

I always feel good and renewed when I complete the fast. I have more energy and focus once I get all the sludge out of me. Fasting removes many built up toxins from the body.

I am working on reading through the entire Koran, which is also a part of Ramadan. I am already about 1/5th through it, which is unusual for me. (It's roughly the size of the New Testament). It's not the most exciting reading, but I do think it is important to know and read your religious texts. Actually I think we should all read as many as we can, not just our own. I have tried to read most of the major ones over the years and I have learned from all of them.

One thing that I have taken away from my reading this year is that I don't agree with all of the Koran, and I don't have to. I don't agree with 100% of anything I read.

The Koran is an ancient text, like most of them, that contains many old and outdated ways of thinking. But it also contains many gold nuggets, which I am grateful to retain.

The one slogan from Al-Anon that I really like and held on to was, "Take what you like and leave the rest." I think that applies to most things in life.

I am also trying to teach my children about the texts and also about why we fast, which is actually what drew me to Islam.

Islam is a religion of peace and equality. You can not feel empathy for someone if you have not suffered a similar experience yourself. When you feel hunger, you know how terrible and debilitating it is. I say this knowing full well that I also have the option to eat at any time, which is an entirely different experience. That said, I think Ramadan is the closest way we have to really feel empathy that most people never experience.

It is very easy to come up with reasons why other people should be hungry, which is what all of us do to some extent in the Western World.

Otherwise, we would not have hunger. Certainly there are resources to feed (and educate for that matter) everyone. But we have different priorities.

Every Muslim, regardless of how much money they have, is required to fast. And you must give proportionately to your NET WORTH a "Zakat", or offering, which goes directly to the poor. There is no middle man, and there is no getting around what you owe to the world community.

I am very proud of my Muslim faith and it makes me extremely sad that it is so misinterpreted and hated in much of the world. I hope that some day people will see that there are many wonderful things about Islam. Like everything, there are also some negative things as well. But it seems a shame to me to focus only on those when the whole is so great.
"You are what you do, and not what you think you should do."

-Paulo Coelho

Monday, August 1, 2011

Ramadan Mubarak!

Ramadhan began today, Monday, August 1st 2011, after the sighting of the moon this weekend. Ramadhan is the month on the Islamic lunar calendar during which Muslims abstain from food, drink and other sensual pleasures from break of dawn to sunset. The fast is performed to learn discipline, self-restraint and generosity, while obeying God's commandments. Fasting (along with the declaration of faith, daily prayers, charity, and pilgrimage to Mecca) is one of the "five pillars" of Islam. Because Ramadhan is a lunar month, it begins about eleven days earlier each year.

EXEMPTIONS FROM FASTING (some exemptions are optional):

Fasting is compulsory for those who are mentally and physically fit, past the age of puberty. The following individuals are exempt from fasting:
• Children under the age of puberty (Young children are encouraged to fast as much as they are able)
• People who are mentally incapacitated or not responsible for their actions
• Those who are too old to fast
• The sick
• Travelers who are on journeys of more than about fifty miles
• Pregnant women and nursing mothers
• Women who are menstruating
• Those who are temporarily unable to fast must make up the missed days at another time.

Breaking the daily fast with a drink of water and dates
Reading the entire Quran during Ramadhan (For this purpose, the Quran is divided into 30 units.)
Social visits are encouraged.
Special prayers, called taraweeh, are performed after the daily nighttime prayer.
EID UL-FITR ("Festival of Fast-Breaking") Prayers at the End of Ramadhan
Eid begins with special morning prayers on the first day of Shawwal, the month following Ramadhan on the Islamic lunar calendar, and lasts for three days.
It is forbidden to perform an optional fast during Eid because it is a time for relaxation.
During Eid Muslims greet each other with the phrase "Eid Mubarak" (eed-moo-bar-ak), meaning "blessed Eid" and "taqabballah ta'atakum," or "may God accept your deeds."
There are an estimated 10-15 thousand Muslims in Oregon and SW Washington and about 7-10 million Muslims in America and some 1.5 billion worldwide.


Q: How did the fast during Ramadhan become obligatory for Muslims?
A: The revelations from God to the Prophet Muhammad that would eventually be compiled as the Quran began during Ramadhan in the year 610, but the fast of Ramadhan did not become a religious obligation for Muslims until the year 624. The obligation to fast is explained in the second chapter of the Quran: "O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint...Ramadhan is the (month) in which was sent down the Quran, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting..." (Chapter 2, verses 183 and 185)

Q: What do Muslims believe they gain from fasting?
A: The main benefits of Ramadhan are an increased compassion for those in need of the necessities of life, a sense of self-purification and reflection and a renewed focus on spirituality. Muslims also appreciate the feeling of togetherness shared by family and friends throughout the month. Perhaps the greatest practical benefit is the yearly lesson in self-restraint and discipline that can carry forward to other aspects of a Muslim's life such as work and education.

Q: Why does Ramadhan begin on a different day each year?A: Because Ramadhan is a lunar month, it begins about eleven days earlier each year. Throughout a Muslim's lifetime, Ramadhan will fall both during winter months, when the days are short, and summer months, when the days are long and the fast is more difficult. In this way, the difficulty of the fast is evenly distributed between Muslims living in the northern and southern hemispheres.

Q: Isn't it difficult to perform the fast in America?
A: In many ways, fasting in American society is easier than fasting in areas where the climate is extremely hot. In Muslim countries, most people are observing the fast, so there are fewer temptations such as luncheon meetings, daytime celebrations and offers of food from friends. Many American Muslims would prefer a daytime work shift during Ramadhan so that they may break the fast with their families and attend evening prayers.

Q: How can non-Muslim co-workers and friends help someone who is fasting?
A: Employers, co-workers and teachers can help by understanding the significance of Ramadhan and by showing a willingness to make minor allowances for its physical demands. Special consideration can be given to such things as requests for vacation time, the need for flexible early morning or evening work schedules and lighter homework assignments. It is also very important that Muslim workers and students be given time to attend Eid prayers at the end of Ramadhan. Eid is as important to Muslims as Christmas and Yom Kippur are to Christians and Jews. A small token such as a card (there are Eid cards available from Muslim bookstores) or baked goods given to a Muslim co-worker during Eid ul-Fitr would also be greatly appreciated.


ALLAH - Allah is the Arabic word for "God." It is the same word Arabic-speaking Christians use when referring to God. Allah is not the "Muslim God," but is the same God worshipped by Christians and Jews.

FUNDAMENTALIST - Muslims view the label "fundamentalist" as stereotypical and ill defined. Muslims also object to the use of terms such as "radical" and "extremist." These terms lack definition and are seen as pejorative. More neutral and objective terms include "Islamist" or "Islamic activist." If the person in question is involved in a criminal act, name that act, not the faith of the person who commits the crime.

JIHAD - "Jihad" does not mean "holy war." Literally, jihad means to strive, struggle and exert effort. It is a central and broad Islamic concept that includes struggle against evil inclinations within oneself, struggle to improve the quality of life in society, struggle in the battlefield for self-defense (e.g., - having a standing army for national defense), or fighting against tyranny or oppression. The equivalent of the term "holy war" in Arabic is "harb muqaddasah," a term that cannot be found in the Quran or the Prophet's sayings (hadith). There is no such thing as "holy war" in Islam, as some careless translators may imply. It is rather a loaded medieval concept that did not arise from within the Muslim community. Because of this myth's frequent repetition, most people in the West accept it as if it were a fact.

WOMEN'S RIGHTS - Under Islamic law, women have always had the right to own property, receive an education and otherwise take part in community life. The Islamic rules for modest dress apply to women and men equally. (Men cannot expose certain parts of their bodies, wear gold or silk, etc.) If a particular society oppresses women, it does so in spite of Islam, not because of it.

There are an estimated 10-15 thousand Muslims in Oregon and SW Washington and about 7-10 million Muslims in America and some 1.5 billion worldwide.