Friday, June 27, 2014

Ramadaan Ready!

Salaams & Jummah Mubarak Dear Readers,

I sadly wonder what is the preoccupation with regards to food especially with us Muslim in South Africa! Are we so taken in with these "savouries" which we only consume in Ramadaan, everyone I speak to or meet asks the same question: Have you made your savouries and Are you ready?

In all Honesty is that what Ramadaan boils down to: Food? and nothing but Food? Epic Topic in Ramadaan revolves around what savouries you made and whose daughter-in-law invented what savoury...What ever happened to simplicity?

What is your take on this?

May Allah save us from this mindset Aameen!
Ramadaan Ready!

“Am I ready? You really asking me... am I ready!” exclaimed Farida, her boisterous voice filling the kitchen.

She hastily dusted her hands on her well-worn apron, scattering little foggy clouds of flour around her and grabbed Aneesa’s wrist, her plump hand going almost twice around the young girls’ wrist.

“Come, come! Let me show you how ready I am,” she boomed, half dragging the delicate Aneesa out of the kitchen in to what was once a balcony now converted to accommodate two large freezers. Farida triumphantly opened the doors to a freezer stacked with plastic containers, all neatly labeled.

“See, my child, I am so ready. There we go – samoosas… chicken, mutton, vegetable, jalapeno and even tuna samoosas. And then, I have kebabs, spring-rolls and moons….vegetable and potato cutlets…pies of every kind. This time I’m ready!”

She ceremoniously closed the doors of the freezers, puzzled by the unimpressed look on Aneesa’s face.

“Er…aunty,” began Aneesa feebly, rubbing her wrist, “That’s not what I meant…”

“I know,” said Farida, who reached out for Aneesa’s wrists, but they were cautiously tucked away behind her back, “You want to see what else I got…..”

“Come, come,” she said, rushing back into the kitchen to the corner where another tall freezer hummed noisily. Whipping open the doors, she announced, “Chicken corn soup, vegetable soup, haleem (soup), pizzas, marinated chicken fillets … name it my darling, and I have it all ready”

Farida didn’t hear her niece’s protestations about that’s not what she meant, she continued: “You remember that dua you taught me…remember?”

Aneesa shook her head in silent defeat.

“Allahuma baarik lana fi Rajab, wa Shabaan,wa  balligna Ramadaan(Oh Allah bless in Rajab and Sha’baan and allow to reach Ramadaan), see I know it so well. I recited it all the time and Allah Ta'ala gave me sooo much Barakah (Blessings),” she said, stretching her chubby arms out wide, “and I got all this done.”

“Last year was just too terrible,” Farida lamented, tucking a few stray greying strands of hair under her scarf, “In the last ten days of Ramadaan we were out of samoosas and chicken pies, and my poor Yusuf had to do without his favourites. But not this year! This time I’m so ready for Ramadaan.”

Exasperated Aneesa held her aunt’s hefty hand in both her palms and said firmly, “No, no aunty….that’s not what I meant!”

Farida looked at her baffled and confused. Scratching her head she whispered, “Then what? What else is there to be ready for Ramadaan?”

“Yourself!” exclaimed Aneesa.

“Yourself? Myself? How do I prepare myself for Ramadaan?”

“Have you thought about how much Qur’an would you read each day, or how much time will you spend making dua, or how will you plan your days?” Aneesa asked.

Farida looked at her sheepishly and popped a freshly fried Bhajia(chilli bite) into her mouth, “No, not really…I’m so busy with all this that I don’t even have time to think about that.”

“This is the real preparation of Ramadaan!” Aneesa explained. “Last week Sheikh Hamaad was explaining that The Messenger of Allah( Peace be upon him) would increase his efforts before Ramadaan. He would fast more. Saayidah Aisha (RA) said she never witnessed him fasting as much as he did in Shabaan in preparation for the month of Ramadaan and Sheikh quoted a hadith of Umme Salamah (RA) : That she did not see The Messenger of Allah( Sallalahu Alaihi wasallam) Fasting two consecutive months except for Sha'ban and Ramadan."

Farida diverted her attention only to dip another bhajia into the red chilli sauce and pop it into her mouth. Aneesa looked at the flowery plaque on the wall that read “Never trust a thin cook” and suppressed a smile.

“Sheikh explained just how valuable this month is,” continued Aneesa gently pushing away the plate of tantalizingly hot bhajias, “That an obligatory or Fardh act in the month of Ramadaan has the reward of seventy such acts and a Nafl (Voluntary)act to gain closeness to Allah Ta'ala will get the reward of an obligatory, Fardh, act. So there’s no time to waste in this month. He explained we have to make the best of every moment of this precious month”

“Eat, child!” said Farida, pushing the plate close to Aneesa, “You’re so thin.”

Aneesa eyed the bhajias and continued, “He even told us how the pious people would spend their Ramadaan. He gave us so many examples but I only remember the on about Sheikh Abdur Rahim (rahmatullahi alaihi), who would spend his entire day in the recitation of Quran, he would not even meet anyone and even reduced his meals to the bare minimum to save time in the month of Ramadaan. And about Imaam Shafie(rahmatullahi alaihi) who would complete a Quran every day and every night during this month, plus the one he would read in the Taraweeh salaah completing 61 Qurans for the month.”

Farida let out a silent whistle, “That’s a lot. But…what am I to do. I have to see to the boys, and we usually have so many visitors in Ramadaan.”

“Just plan yourself,” advised Aneesa, “You have prepared all this foodstuff so you can steal a little time to read a little Quran every morning, and when you get up for Sehri(pre dawn meal), then get up half an hour earlier and read Tahajjud  Salaah(late night prayer) – because duas at Tahajjud time are certainly accepted. And while you are busy in the kitchen then read Durood(send blessings) on The Messenger of Allah( Sallalahu Alaihi wasallam). And before Magrib Salaah (prayer after sunset)…”

“But that’s the time I’m busy frying all the savouries and warming the food, and…” protested Farida.

“Just a few minutes before you break your fast, even five, sit down and make dua (pray) asking Allah Ta'ala for all your needs because Allah Ta'ala does not reject the dua of a fasting person at the time of breaking fast. If you plan yourself, you can achieve so much – you planned, and worked hard, and you managed to pack three freezers full of food – so you can do so much in Ramadaan if you plan your time.”

Farida smiled broadly, looking at the freezers that bore testimony to her hard work.

“Just think if you read just five pages of Quran after every salaah you will complete the whole Quran in the month.”

Farida shook her head in disbelief, “That’s all?”

“Yup, that’s all it takes,” replied Aneesa.

“You’re a special girl, now eat something, or let me make you some tea?” looking at her niece intently, “You’re so thin and we still have to find you a husband.”

Aneesa laughed, “Thanks aunty, but I’m fasting”

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Marriage - why cant we be Tasneem Basha (Featured on the Safeera Kaka-Mahomed Show)

Marriage - why cant we be friends...

He’s confused, she’s confused. He’s non-committal, she’s right. She’s crazy, he’s a low-down-dirty…you get the picture. And... with attitudes like these who can blame us for not finding Mr or Mrs Ever after. Of course I do know that there are those of you out there who never ‘intend’ (like its up to you) on getting married, and to you I say…what the heck are you doing reading this post? For the rest of you, this is how its done.

Respect, ladies. Respect yourself enough to know his world does not revolve around you, invest in yourself (in other words get a life), do things you enjoy and make sure you’re a whole person before you get married. Respect your husband (don’t burn those bra’s just yet); as a fellow Muslim, human being and as the person who’s been tasked with clothing and feeding you. Don’t do things to antagonise him- I trust you’re older than 13 and can understand what I mean. Men generally behave the way you say they do.

Boys, your turn. Respect your wife. Brother, she’s courting stretch marks for you and that’s saying something. Respect her as a fellow Muslim, human being and the person who has been tasked with trying to read your mind. Respect her enough to know she has a mind, opinion and talent of her own, she is not ‘back-office support’ to your Broadway show.

All together now. Remember, the both of ya’s, that you are on the same team moving as a couple towards the same goal, and that is seeing each other grow in richness of personality, knowledge, comfort. Have a genuine intention for this person to have the best that both worlds have to offer. Play nice, say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and ‘would you like/prefer…’ Instead of ‘Whaa tchu wan?!’.
Share tasks, watch and help the other wash out the fridge or change the cars oil. It’ll encourage appreciation at the very least.

Fight people, for goodness sake fight! Its better in all its fiery, acid-spitting glory than ego-breaking silent cold wars. Scream about how unfair it is, rant about how everything SHOULD favour you, but don’t EVER threaten. Especially not with the ‘T’ word.

Please bonk. I know couples who have gone a year without nookie. Couple’S. A YEAR. What the heck is that about? Did the wedding ring clamp your libido spring? Nothing breaks a person in a relationship like being rejected in any way. They WILL make you feel the shards of that brokenness.
Hang out together. It doesn’t have to be formal. Sit in the parking lot at the M1 Oasis, eat allsorts and listen to a new CD. You don’t ‘have’ to talk, honestly the world will not come to an end.
I suppose there’s a lot more I could teach you young ‘uns, but easy does it.

There’s one thing I would really like you to remember from all this and that is courtesy. If you can’t be genuinely polite, well-mannered and respectful to your partner, you’re sinking faster than the Titanic with Gods finger on it.

* blog post that was discussed on CII this morning

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Nightmare Story Of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui

As-Salaamu-Alaikum Dear Readers, please remember to make a special duaa for Sister Aafia Siddiqui during these Mubarak days of Shabaan and Ramadaan. Her plight thus far is one of torture, pain and misery. Only her imaan holds her together. She has not seen her family in years, cannot make a phone call to them either. She has been tortured, abused, hurt, too many times already.

There are many interviews that went about this weekend as her sister Dr Fowzia Siddiqui was in South Africa.

Keep the oppressed ummah in your duas this Ramadaan, in sha Allah.

The Nightmare Story Of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui

By Judy Bello

A woman finds herself alone on the street in an unfamiliar neighborhood of an unfamiliar city. The people around her don't speak her native language, and in fact, she doesn't understand their language. She is accompanied by a 12 year old boy, Ali. She doesn't recognize him, but she has a great affection for children, and he is in her care. He will later be identified as her son, Ahmed whom she has not seen in the 5 years since they were abducted from a taxi in Karachi not far from their home. She doesn't know how she got there, and she isn't entirely sure why she is there. Small and slender, no more than 110 lbs, he seems fragile, a little disoriented, out of place. She will later say that she was looking for her husband, or another time, that she was looking for a particular woman. It's possible she really doesn't know why she is there. She hears the Muezzin's call and begins to move towards the mosque. Perhaps she will find a refuge there.

The Afghan police in Ghazni notice a woman on the street. Something draws their attention to her. She doesn't appear to belong to the place. Perhaps she isn't dressed in the local style. She is on the street in the early afternoon on a Friday when most men are at the Mosque and women are in their homes. The Police say she seemed out of place, lost. The police would later say that she was loitering after dark, but among the court documents, there is an interview with the shopkeeper in front of whose store she was detained. He says that he wasn't in the store because it was Friday, he was attending the prayer service at the Mosque. It would have been between 1 pm and 3:30 pm. He swears the woman is a stranger and he has never seen her before. Though they will later say that they only approached her because she seemed out of place, they check his shop and even his phone to make sure. There is nothing on his phone except some pornographic images of white girls. He is innocent. [3]

So what did attract their attention? Most likely we will never know for sure. Maybe its her ap parent disorientation as they will later state, or perhaps it is just that they don't recognize her. Maybe they have been tipped off to look for her. When they confront her, she is startled and defensive. She screams at them not to touch her. She accuses them of being Americans or American operatives. [3] It is clear that neither she nor the boy speaks the local language, so a translator is called. A WikiLeaked document identifies a shopkeeper who was enlisted as translator. He says that she shouts at the police and curses them in Urdu. She calls on Allah and demands that they not touch her. Of course the same document says that she was picked up after dark. [1] If they are just asking what she is doing, why is she so distressed? Have they physically detained her, or is she just panicked by their uniforms? They take her in for questioning.

They have found a number of incriminating objects in her handbag. According to a document later published through Wikileaks, her purse contains “numerous documents on how to build explosives, chemical weapon use, targeting US military assets, excerpts from the Anarchist's Arsenal and a 1 GB (gigabyte) thumb drive with additional related material” along with “unknown chemical materials sealed in containers”. [1] During the course of the interrogation she is severely beaten. She admits that she is a suicide bomber whose target is the local governor. Apparently his home is nearby the place she was detained. She has a passport, which apparently has her true identity because they recognize her name as being on the FBI Most Wanted List . (Pretty good reckoning for local Afghan National Police who don't speak English). Perhaps it just confirms that she is definitely the one they were looking for. They call Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the Americans at Bagram, as well as the Governor she was supposedly targeting, who immediately takes advantage of the opportunity for publicity and calls a press conference. [2]

Soon the Americans arrived, FBI agents with soldiers and translators in tow, to collect their prey. She is sitting on a bed behind a curtain in a rather small room. She is bruised and exhausted. Perhaps she has dozed and is awakened by the entrance of as many as 10 men into the small room where she is being held. Now she is alert. It is interesting that the interrogators have brought along translators, but perhaps they need them to communicate with the Afghan police. The woman speaks good enough English to get a Masters Degree from MIT and PhD from Brandeis University. She was a dynamo then, busy with her studies and her charities and her family. Now she is exhausted, beaten, frightened, alone in a room full of heavily armed men.

One of the soldiers seats himself near the curtain and sets his automatic rifle on the floor near his chair. He will later say that it hadn't occurred to him that the prisoner was in the room. [1] I suppose that is understandable. In the world these Americans normally inhabit, prisoners are regularly shackled and hooded. They are brought into a room when everyone else is in place like chained animals being brought into the ring at a circus. Even so, it is a pretty serious breach of responsibility for the Sergeant in charge of the security team to lay his rifle on the floor next to a closed curtain.

This prisoner is curious about the commotion and anxious. She wants to know what is happening. She rises and steps forward. She peeks through the curtain . . . Snatches the gun . . . . and Fires the gun . . . according to the Americans . Someone yells out “The prisoner is free.” Shots ring out. She falls to the ground, wounded, with a bullet in her belly and one in her side. When her attackers come to rescue her, she curses them in English and screams at them not to touch her, even as they wrestle her to the ground. Later, in court, the Americans will swear that she took the gun and fired it. They will say they had no choice but to defend themselves. The Afghans will state that they didn't see what happened but they heard shots fired. The woman says that she came to the curtain to see what was going on.

The prisoner is brought to Bagram Hospital for surgery, where a portion of her intestines is removed, along with a kidney. She is in shock and near death on arrival. Numerous transfusions are required to bring her back and stabilize her prior to and during the emergency surgery. Afterwards, she is shackled, hand and foot, to her bed. Imagine, if you will, a surgery where the patient is cut from breastbone to pubis, and then shackled to a bed on her back, bound hand and foot like a crucifixion. A pair of watchful FBI Agents stay by her side, encouraging her to talk about herself, about her life. [3] She will later refer to him as her only friends. She is heavily sedated with pain killers, and one can imagine they might be very helpful, given her restraints, and comforting, given her state of utter dependence and aloneness. A week later, she is flown to New York and arraigned before the Southern Court of New York in a wheelchair on separate charges obtaining a lethal weapon and of attempting to kill each person in the room.

This terrible story is like something out of a nightmare, or a bad novel. But it is a true story, in so far as you can find the truth of events that are disputed and cloaked in the secrecy of multiple ‘security operations'. At least it is part of the story of the ordeal of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani woman, born into an upper middle class family with conservative religious values, who placed a high value on education and on service. It is a part of the story of a young woman who came to the US, initially to Texas, later to Massachusetts to attend various colleges, eventually achieving a degree in ‘Neuroscience', though she was did not enjoy biology and chemistry but preferred the study of psychology and education. In fact she had prepared for a career teaching developmentally disabled children. [3]

Aafia Siddiqui had lived in the US for more than 10 years, married here and borne her children here. She carried the family standard as she engaged in teaching and preaching Islam as the clearest and brightest truth and supporting Muslim Charities in war zones like Croatia and later, Afghanistan; sending Qur'ans to prisoners and teaching children at an impoverished inner city mosque. But something has gone terribly wrong to bring our heroine her to this terrible pass. And it will only get worse.

Returning to the present story, common sense would indicate it would have been very difficult for this small battered woman to have lifted and fired a powerful automatic rifle. The least amount of compassion would indicate that even if she did take the gun, even if she managed to fire the high power automatic rifle without being knocked to the ground, the action would have been in the service of escape rather than a murderous rampage. However, there is no forensic evidence whatsoever that she held the gun or fired it. No one was shot except the prisoner herself. There were no bullet holes in the walls or ceiling of the small room, and no shell casings recovered from the floor. There were no fingerprints on the gun, and there was no gunpowder on the prisoner's hands or the curtain in front of her. [Court Documents] Yet a year later, Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani national who never should have been extradited from Afghanistan to the US in the first place, a bright, well educated person with a PhD from Brandeis University, now incapable if a consistent description of where she had been for the past 5 years, incapable of recognizing her own son, was convicted of separate counts of attempted murder and assault for every American in the room, sentenced to 86 years in prison and incarcerated in Carswell Medical Center in Texas.

According to Cornell University Legal Information Institute , under Federal law: the maximum sentence for manslaughter


2.      Court Document, USA vs. Aafia Siddiqui, Document #256 ( Aafia Siddiqui's testimony to FBI agents at her bedside while in Bagram hospital after her surgery )

3.      Sentencing, USA vs. Aafia Siddiqui, Document #314

4.      Case Summary, 1:08-cr-00826-RMB USA v. Siddiqui, “Count 1: Conspiracy ( with whom? ) to Kill A US Citizen [] Count 4: Violent Crime/Drugs/ Machine Gun (!) (Use of a firearm during crime of violence (?) “ — Emphasis and red comments interjected are mine.

5.      Definitions from

6.      Other crimes in 18 U.S.C.

Judy Bello is currently a full time activist thanks to the harsh and unforgiving work environment in the Software Development Industry. Finally free to focus on her own interests in her home office, she is active with The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, and with Fellowship of Reconciliation Middle East Task Force and often posts on their blog at . She has been to Iran twice with FOR Peace Delegations, and spent a month in the Kurdish city of Suleimaniya in 2009. Her personal blog, Towards a Global Perspective, is at and she is administers the Upstate anti-Drone Coalition website at . She can be reached at: