Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goodbye 2011, Hello 2012


It feels weird.

Never again will I look at the bottom right of my screen and see those four numbers. 2011.

Tonight, in a matter of a millisecond, a year will pass by and fade into a memory. Many of us will count down the last ten seconds of the year, a magical moment, some of us will yell "Cheers!", others will kiss their loved ones, some will sleep the night as if nothing has happened, others will go wild in the streets of the city. Everyone will, in their own unique way, experience a new year.

If there is one thing in this world that unites us as humans, it is time.

As Einstein said, the only reason for time is so that everything does not happen at once. Across the entire world, everyone will experience the change in time.


Perhaps it isn't as dramatic as it seems, perhaps a new year is simply just another day. But as I look outside, there is a spirit in the air that chokes my body every December 31st. I look into the sky, and realize as the world turns, that one day I won't be on this Earth anymore - that the addition of "one" onto every current year is much more significant than we assume.

Whereas for most, there is a sense of relief that the past year is over, for me, there is always a sense of pain in celebrating a new year.

I feel I have become much too aware of my personal being. I fear knowing who I am. I fear self-discovery, because I fear discovering that I am truly one of seven billion, one 5 ft. 10in. young man living on a 5,490,369,314,220,020 square foot Earth.

It isn't that I fear feeling small, it isn't that I fear feeling alone, it is that I fear feeling futile. And every new year, I am reminded that as time passes by, I am continuing to become more and more aware of my existence.

Sometimes I just wish I could just celebrate like everyone else, go crazy in the streets, party until the end - and I do celebrate - but I feel a grief in doing so. A very small, but powerful grief that I usually overlook, but as years pass and my understanding of who I am in this world grows, I can't help but recognize the thinness of time.

Imagining the future is a beautiful thing, but it hurts to know it is near.

A year will pass tonight and time will force me to sit in the back seat of it's locked, speeding car. And my biggest fear is when that car crashes.

So as I stare into the sky and realize the significance of a year's passing, I am humbled to say that I have twisted my fear of futility into an inspiration to become an instrument in this world, and instead of hearing sounds, I aim to create my own.

All praise be to Allah, thank you for allowing me prosper and learn from my mistakes year to year.

May the new year bring happiness, peace, and joy to all your families and friends.

Let us all welcome 2012, in our own, unique way of existence.

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

The "Ground Zero Mosque": Good or Bad?, The Pros and Cons Clash


Is it appropriate to build a Muslim community center (aka the “Ground Zero Mosque”) near the WTC site? This is one of those posts that lets you, as the reader, decide which side you stand on. One of the articles is written by someone who thinks the Muslim community center should be built, and the other doesn't. One of the articles is written by me, and the other is written by a friend of mine, an aspiring sociologist, Jordan Reef.


It's time for you to decide. It will be obvious when you read it who stands for what, but I'll let it reveal itself.

Author 1: Aadil Malik
There is a massive political debate over whether or not it is appropriate to build a Muslim community center near the World Trade Center site, where in 2001, terrorists crashed planes into the skyscrapers in the name of the religion of Islam. The debate has led to international protests and responses from many leaders across the globe. Whereas proponents agree the center will be an asset to the community, opponents argue it will humiliate and insult the memory of those who died. U.S. Representative and 2012 Republican Presidential Candidate, Ron Paul, says it best, the entire controversy is “all about hate and Islamophobia”.

The Muslim community center, Park51, will be located about two blocks away from the World Trade Center site, replacing an abandoned Burlington Coat Factory store. Proponents believe the center will be an “asset to the city”, and provide to the community a library, gymnasium, swimming pool, basketball court, 500-seat auditorium, a restaurant, a 9/11 memorial, child care facilities, and even a school for culinary arts. However, despite these plans, many focus solely on the aspect that Park51 will hold a two-story prayer space. Adversaries believe the WTC site should remain a sacred burial ground and a war memorial free from the “antagonistic presence of a nearby mosque”. However, what they seem to fail to understand is the fact that Park51 will not be located on the World Trade Center site, but blocks away, among other buildings and institutions that haven’t been associated with the WTC, including the New York Dolls strip club, the Pussycat Lounge strip club, and an Off-Track Betting facility. None of these locations have been coined with the label of “Ground Zero” as the proposed Park51 project has.

Contrary to popular belief, the entire label of “Ground Zero Mosque” is incorrect. Not only is the planned center not located on the World Trade Center site, but it is also not a mosque. According to Islam, a mosque is a holy place that is devoted solely to worship. Park51 is simply a cultural center with a prayer room that in fact, is open to congregations of all religions. The question arises then; why is there so much negativity against the building of Park51? Jim Riches, a former New York City Deputy Fire Chief whose son, Jimmy, died because of the attacks on 9/11, argues that the current businesses surrounding the proposed buildings are irrelevant, stating “The strip club didn’t murder my son”. This is true; however, if Riches is implying that Muslims killed his son – he is unfortunately incorrect. His son was killed by terrorists, along with others who were killed including 60 Muslims. Filmmaker Michael Moore, known for his films Fahrenheit 9/11 and Bowling for Columbine, says it best: “Blaming a whole group for the actions of just one of that group is anti-American. Timothy McVeigh was Catholic. Should Oklahoma City prohibit the building of a Catholic Church near the site of the former federal building that McVeigh blew up?” 
The main argument opponents seem to have is that the Park51 community center is, as former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani states, “horribly offensive”. However, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the spiritual leader of the community center, genuinely believes it will improve American-Islamic relations. In this heated debate, it is extremely difficult to find the common ground between the two sides. Both should come to the agreement on the fact that Park51 is not intended to be a triumph of radical Islam. The heat of the controversy on both sides is “unhealthy, misplaced and ultimately self-defeating.” It echoes our inclination to exaggerate the real threat posed by radical Islamists, and in fact how the U.S. should react to it. The battle between the proponents and opponents magnifies our obsession with an enemy that may no longer exist. The most revealing opposition is coming from those with a greater agenda, like the Executive Director of “Stop the Islamization of America”, Pamela Geller. Geller stands for an organization that isn’t trying to protect the freedoms of Americans, but instead their goal is to eradicate a demographic of individuals who are Americans too. Masjid Manhattan opened in early 1970. The Masjid Manhattan “routinely turns people away for lack of space”. Four blocks away, the World Trade Center opened in April 1973. The actual place that is the real-life equivalent right now of the label, “Ground Zero Mosque”, has been up and running long before there was a World Trade Center. It has been running without controversy, without terrorism, and without protest. The idea arises that perhaps the center isn’t being opposed, but the religion of those building it.

The Park51 project, inaccurately described as the “Ground Zero Mosque”, has received valid opposition toward the proximity of the community center, but most of the oppositions reveal bigotry and merely Islamophobic opinions. The center will provide many recreational services, praying room, and economic investment. It will create 150 full-time jobs and 500 part-time jobs in an area that is in need of economic stability. In essence, allowing a community center to be built will establish neither an American accomplishment nor defeat, it will essentially inform the world that this nation has, in its wisdom, decided to move on, respect freedoms, and accommodate.

Author 2: Jordan Reef
Two blocks away from the site of the September 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Centers in lower Manhattan, a very controversial project is in the making. It goes by two names (generally): by the name of Park51 by those that support its construction and the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ by those who are against it. The building is planned to be eleven stories tall and would include a plethora of activities and utilities, including but not limited to a restaurant, a culinary school, child care facilities, a swimming pool, a fitness center, a five-hundred seat auditorium, and much more. The value of the project is not merely innocent, but it is also practical. However, given the sensitivity America has had toward the Islamic culture within our country especially after 9/11, this is a hot-bed of political debate and modern social reform. It does not have to be. The reason why the Park51-‘Ground Zero Mosque’ debate has evolved into one of the most monumental political debates of recent history is not predicated upon logic, but rather upon the stubbornness and insensitivity of both sides.

It has been written about for years all throughout the history of humanity that passion can lead to blindness. From the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ perspective (those who are against its construction) this is certainly proving true. America’s inability to accept the truth of the matter is caused by its inability to move on and see opposing perspectives. 9/11 is certainly the most tragic attack on American soil in recent history, but in remembrance of it the Christian America develops two problems. The first—not to downplay 9/11—is that it was a long enough time ago that people should certainly be able to eliminate their irrational nature and their prejudice and look at the construction of the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ with an objective point of view. The second is that the memory of 9/11, the passion and romanticism of it breeds insensitivity. The primary insensitivity is very simple: not all Muslims are Jihad-seeking radicals. Not all Muslims are affiliated to the true culprits of 9/11: Al’Qaeda; in fact most are not. Along with this pre-conceived notion there exists many other, smaller insensitivities. One example lies within the name the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ group gives the Park51 project. In actuality, Park51 isn’t a mosque at all. There is a praying area inside of the structure, but a mosque is defined as a temple devoted entirely to prayer and worship with its own Imam; Park51does not qualify.

In addition to the insensitive nature of the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ group, they are simply misinformed when it comes to many of the topics that revolve around this entire debate. For example, one proponent and spiritual figurehead of the structure’s construction, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, has been accused of radicalism because of the criticisms he has laid against the American government, when he is actually a moderate Muslim and New York preacher of with twenty-seven years of experience simply with some strong opinions on the subject—but doesn’t everyone? There are also more minor facts that Americans don’t know about that justify the construction of the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’, or at least might sway the morals of some of the people who so obstinately resist its construction. For example, most people do not know that there was actually a Muslim prayer room on the seventeenth floor of the southern tower. Also, people may find that people who have somewhat of an obligation to uphold objectivity and neutrality—such as Mayor Michael Bloomberg—tend to gravitate towards the Park51 side of the debate. These are the types of people that would enable progression through the spread of reason, but the passion of the Christian-American people has blinded them and made them stubborn.

The Park51 supporters are at the same time equally—if not more—stubborn and insensitive than the people who want to inhibit its construction. America was founded upon the idea of a separation of church and state, and therefore construction of the Park51 project should theoretically be sanctioned under the law. However, simply because the Park51 supporters can build their community center there does not mean that they should. ‘Basic’ human empathy (and I highlight ‘basic’ because nowadays empathy seems anything but) would lead to the supportive group recognizing that the pain that memories of that day is still strong in the minds of many New Yorkers. Building the community center ever-so close to Ground Zero is disrespectable and provocative and therefore qualifies as fitna—or mischief-making with the intent of provocation—which is forbidden in Islam. Many Islamic activists bring to attention many Americans’ intolerance, unfair prejudice, and overall lack of enthusiasm towards understanding Muslim issues. While this is true, the supporters of the Park51 project are following the same exact pattern of human dysfunction.

In addition to the moral fallacies behind the supporters of the Park51, there are also some factual fallacies which sometimes tend to get overlooked by both sides of the debate. What I’m referring to is the funding behind the Park51 project. While it has been established earlier in this essay that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is by no means radical, it may be true that he gets some of his funding from a radical Muslim. Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal—a man who has been linked to many violent terrorist campaigns throughout the middle-east—is a known patron to the cause of Park51. While the morality behind the construction of the project can be debated in either direction, the involvement of foreign nations, especially with a leader who may have been involved with or in support 9/11 attacks is inexcusable.

Both sides of the debate are stubborn. Both sides of the debate do not understand each other, and in fact hardly care to understand each other. The only group of people that seems to truly understand both sides of the debate is the group composed of people that are almost entirely neutral.  
Ultimately the government has decided to allow the construction of the Park51 project to continue, but when choosing which side of the debate you want to associate yourself with, you are essentially being forced to choose between the lesser of two evils. There are many, many questions that many people ask about the Park51-‘Ground Zero Mosque’ project. There are two questions—while they are crude and seemingly hardly relevant—have power to sway people who may be ‘on the fence’ over the whole debate. Firstly: Do the supporters of the Park51 project have the right to build an Islamic community center? Yes, they do. Should the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ be erected so close—only a short two blocks away—from the place where the Twin Towers fell? No, it should not.
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Sources: Park51.com, ProCon.org, Michael Moore, Eric Darton, Javier Hernandez, Anne Barnard, Rick Hampson, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, ABC News, Time, NYTimes, Huffington Post, Muslim Canadian Congress, Matthew Duss.


Where do you stand? 
Take the poll on the right of the page!
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Friday, November 11, 2011

TFAT v. 5.5 Freedom Released


I was going to attempt a dynamic view this time around and change the entire interface of my website, but its too early for all that.

This new layout is called "Freedom" and depicts a bird flying out of a cage.

Truth from a Teen offers a freedom from the prison of the world and personally, the prison of my identity. I use this website as a medium for my opinions and a medium for the truth.

Please let me know what you think. Thank you for your constant support!
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Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Letter to My Future Child, From A 16-Year Old Me


Dear Future Child,

Daughter, son, adopted, autistic, down-syndrome, gay, straight, republican, democrat, academically challenged or academically gifted - I love you.

I know what its like to be you. I've been there.

I know it sounds cliche, but that's why I'm writing this at this age. At this current time of writing, I'm 16 years old.

You see, every parent's number one defense or support in any argument with their child these days seems to be that they were once their child's age. However, through some odd adolescent reasoning, we don't believe them, or care to consider it as truth.

So I decided it would be a good idea to write you a letter a possible decade before you are even born, and more than that until you're my current age, of course. This way you can believe that I was truly once a child. This way, you can trust me with the conviction of knowing that I was there. Right where you stand reading this post at whatever age you do.

I've been there, done that.

I have been bullied, loved, hated, hurt, put on a pedestal, recognized, pushed, shoved, misinterpreted, underestimated, overestimated, rejected, dumped, had to dump, had to reject, had to say yes, peer pressured, been lied to, had to lie, threatened, helped, had to help, made mistakes - I have had many experiences- and still will have more in the future.

I don't want you think you are alone. I don't want you to think that I'll be of no help, because truly, your parents are the only people in the world that will be able to help you when times are tough. If you don't trust us, who will you go to?

And I'm not saying that my experiences will stop as a parent either. I will give you the wrong advice. I will still make mistakes. In many cases, you will teach me.

My point is, in prospect, I see myself telling you what every parent tells their kid - that I have been "there". And unfortunately, I see you reacting similarly to the way I did when I was a bit younger - with disbelief. Both of my parents have used this as a support, and I rejected it. I kept things to myself, and in turn made more mistakes than I needed to in the first place. The problem is, my parents never had any proof that they knew what was going on in my life, and that they had similar experiences. So I never believed them until I was too late to take advantage of their advice.

So my solution is this. One day, I will most likely explain to you that I have had similar experiences to those you are going through, maybe you'll believe me - maybe you won't.

I am still a child, and I'm telling you - moreover, proving to you that I am that friend you are looking for, that best friend you need, that parent you wish you had.

Because you see, this isn't only a letter to my future child (you), this is a letter to my future self.



You can trust me. Because I promise you, I promise the Aadil of the future, that I will be the best parent I can be, and love you for who you are.

Because my future child, life is wonderful, but not easy. There are consequences for our actions. At some point, you will test my sanity and patience, but my determination to aid you in being the best you can be, will not stop.

At this moment in time, I think of what it will be like to to see your eyes meet mine. I sometimes brainstorm what I will name you; I think of the features you will have that I have or had too. But most importantly, I have visions of how your life will bring my life a sense of purpose.


And that I hope my life will bring your life trust and sincerity.

And now, as I sit here and think of what it will be to someday share this letter of hopes and dreams with you, I think of what hopes and dreams you will have. I wonder what journeys I will be fortunate enough to be a part of. I wonder what choices you will make, what mistakes you will make, what accomplishments you will make, what you will want to be. And all of these thoughts, they encourage me to keep learning from my own parents. These thoughts remind me of what I mean to my parents, and what my parents mean to me. I want you to know that I will not interfere in your choices, but help you make the right ones. Your happiness will be my happiness, and your trouble will be my trouble as well. I want you to know, and never doubt for even a second, how very much you were loved and thought about way before you were born. I want you to understand how much I wanted you, prayed for you, thought about how I would parent you. I want you to know that even at the age of 16, I knew that you would be the most important thing that would happen in my life. I want you to know that I think about how to make sure that you and I will have the best possible life together, enjoy each other, help each other, and learn from each other.

And lastly, I want you to know that every little preparation I am making, and will continue to make to be the best possible father I can be to you, is worth it. Because I love you.

See you in the future, and I guess I'll see myself in the future too,

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Saturday, October 29, 2011

"Sigh No More": How to Eliminate Regret

I have a question for you.

What is the reason for your regret?

Your regret is holding you back from success, and you know it. Why is it so hard for you to move on? Not only do you regret your past mistakes, but you expect to regret your mistakes in the future as well. You feel like your on a path of constant failures and mistakes that it doesn't matter anymore, and consequently, you regret even more and more.

Aren't you fed up with the bull?

Isn't it time to move on?

You may find yourself reading this post thinking the guy who wrote it is just another sympathizer with no solution; you may think I'm just saying what everyone else says.

You may be right.

But realize this: the guy who wrote this post on the other side of the internet world has learned how to never regret anything.

Have you ever found yourself in a gloomy mood, sitting in a car, staring out the window into the distance, thinking about your past, regretting just because you feel the need to? Have you ever found yourself staring blankly out of space, regretting every move you ever made in the game of life?

Have you ever considered that the only thing you should regret is your regression?

Psychologically, our brains are designed so that we revert back to an earlier and less mature pattern of feelings or behavior. Retrospection, in its essence, could be viewed as a disease. However, it cannot be viewed as an excuse to regret.

In some cases, regret is the only way to eventually moving on. In most cases, the concept of regret becomes a game of Jenga. Every time you regret something, you pull out a block, putting yourself in risk for a mental breakdown. Sure, you can set all the blocks back up, but you'll be setting yourself up for failure once again.


So what's the solution? How can you stop regretting everything you do?

I did a very similar post to this one last February called "3 Steps to No Regrets". In the post, I generalized three key steps on how to eliminate regression. The following steps are much more specific, though I do still recommend you read my previous post as well for further help.

Step One - Regret is Voluntary:
Realize that regret is 100% voluntary. You CHOOSE to regret, it isn't something that happens "just because". There IS a cure to the disease. In analogy, as disease may often be a good thing for the human body, regret may often be good too. Being exposed to a disease, your body programs itself to defend against it. Similarly, by exposing yourself to all the nooks and corners of regret, and realizing the potential it has to ruin your aim for success, your body and mind will eventually expect it and prevent it before it can even happen.

Step Two - Learn How to Learn: 
This is the most important and arguably the hardest step: learning how to learn. Making mistakes is crucial in order to reach success. Accept the fact that you will make mistakes, its natural. You shouldn't regret your mistake. For example, if you make a mistake by cheating on your boyfriend or girlfriend - your first step shouldn't be regret. It should be step one, up at the top - realization. Realize that regret is voluntary, and its your job to choose not to do it. Step two tells us that we must learn how to learn. By this, you must comprehend the value of making mistakes. Although it sounds cliche, it is the truth - mistakes are a learning opportunity. Learn that you are the one who made the mistake of cheating, and learn not to do it again. Learning from your mistakes shouldn't make you regret you made them, rather it should make you happy that you now know not to make it again. By recognizing the value of learning, you will be more accepting of the fact that regret is voluntary and it is not an excuse. It can be prevented.

Step Three - Do You:
Enjoy optimism. Often, people feel that being too optimistic blinds you from the truth. This depends on how you define optimism. You can be optimistic and still be realistic. Don't let optimism blind you from the truth. Reach self-esteem. Do you. Realize that you have worth, and that regretting is only creating obstacles instead of moving past them. And last but certainly not least, realize that the past is your friend. It isn't meant to be forgotten, it isn't meant to be repeated either. Just like a best friend, it is mean to help you. Regretting your past won't help you capitalize on the future ahead of you. 

Unfortunately, the word "step" has a connotation that makes it seem like it is quick and easily achieved. 

In the case of eliminating your regrets, this is definitely false.

It will take a while to realize what you're worth. It will take a while to realize that mistakes are beneficial in order for you to learn. It will take a while to realize that it is your choice to move on or stay back.

But once you do, and you will - you'll be free.



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Sunday, October 2, 2011

TFAT v.5.2 Toast Released


TFAT v. 5.2 includes:
  • new background
  • new poetry corner
  • new header
  • new twitter feed
  • new page dividers
...and much more!
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Saturday, October 1, 2011

At Once I Knew, I Was Not Magnificent


As you sit at your computer desk, your cubicle with your computer, as you lay in bed, on your sofa reading these words on your laptop, as you read this in whatever situation this finds you - I ask you three simple yet brutally, beautifully difficult tasks. To feel, to imagine, and to realize.

Feel every sense you can, smell the aroma of Earth, feel your eyes tingle from the brightness of your computer's screen, feel your toes struggling to stay still, feel your heart pounding against your chest, hear the sniff of the man with a cold in the distance, feel the touch of the scroll on your mouse denting the middle of your index finger, feel your tongue click against the top and bottom of your mouth as you read these words - feel until you can feel no more.

Feel the emotion of hatred against the one you hate the most, feel the power of love as you hug your mother, feel the jealousy you always doubt you have, feel the happiness of knowing you are not alone, feel the sadness of knowing you've hurt someone.

And now, once you have felt the slightest of feelings; I ask you to imagine.

Imagine the boy tripping on a rock right outside your house, imagine the girl in China writing in her diary under her covers, imagine the ants you stepped on walking home from wherever you went today, imagine the bacteria on the end of your nose waiting to get in, imagine the water on the moon waiting to be tasted, imagine the blood in your body flowing like a stream, imagine until you can imagine no more.

And now, once you have imagined the slightest of imaginations; I ask you to realize. Realize that you are nothing but one hair on your head, nothing but one pen in a mansion, nothing but one bag in a junkyard, nothing but one staple in stapler, nothing but a pin on a football field, nothing but one fish in the ocean, nothing but one car on the highway. Realize that you are nothing but yourself.

We are all raised with a complex ideology that everyone is and must be different. Yet while knowing this fact, we all seem to fail in realizing that it is a paradox. Our differences are what make us all similar.

We focus the majority of our time on defining our differences, racially, stereotypically, financially, physically - that we fail to focus on our major similarity - we are all human. All capable of the same tasks, same talents, same abilities. We are all born the same. And although scientists and doctors may disagree, the diseases and disorders we are born with do not have an effect on our capabilities. Whether you suffer from paralysis or suffer from cancer or suffer from nothing at all - the factor of "can" and "could" remain the same. There is a difference in what we can do and will do, and you have all the right to disagree with me but understand this - if we all continue to live our lives with the pessimism of differences, when will we come to agree? I would rather live with the pessimism of similarity than the pessimism of differences, because with being similar, with being common, with being equal - not superior or inferior, with being simply human, I can come to realize that indeed, I am not magnificent.

My ego is nothing but a bubble in a universe containing billions of galaxies that contain billions of solar systems that contain multiple planets, including the one which we call home, Earth. If the planet we live on isn't the largest thing on the face of this place, why do we try to make our egos bigger than it? Why are we constantly struggling to be felt, to be remembered, to leave a legacy, to be talked about, to be the center of attention? Why do we try to be worth something to others when the entire point of life is to be worth something to yourself? Why do we battle to be magnificent?

The truth is, we are worthless, but our worthlessness makes us worth something to our own selves. And again, scientists may disagree with me and you may too, but the smallest thing in this entire universe is the ego of the modest man. And our motives and intentions and goals must be directed to the achievement of this highest state of modesty. In fact, the ironic thing about the ego of the modest man is that his ego doesn't even exist, but he is proud to be modest. And that facts kills us all.

Realize the importance of being small, because in truth, the smallest of man is the biggest of humanity.

And at once, at last, we must realize we are not magnificent as anomalies, but anomalously magnificent.


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Sunday, September 11, 2011

"Soldier", A Poem By: Danielle La Valley

I would like to share this amazing poem written by a friend of mine.

"Soldier" 
By: Danielle La Valley

I am heroic and I am brave
Innocent lives I fight to save.
I fight for my country; it’s your country too
Let us stand and salute the red, white, and blue
I am a solider of the United States
And I vow to protect ‘til I meet my fate
I am one of millions defending this land
Divided we fall, together we stand
School wasn’t for me; I’m a warrior at heart
And after graduation I was ready to start
I wrote down my name and I was enlisted
To trade my identity, to be a statistic
57891643
Is the number they used to recognize me
Ready as ever to prove I’m a man
They shipped me off to Afghanistan
When I left for my base, I was cautious as a mouse
As I drove through Kabul, passing house after house
Some people stopped while others stared
And others ignored because they didn’t care
The city around me passed in a whirl
But for a split second I saw the face of a girl
Most of it was covered with a scarf over her head
But her eyes peered out through loose pieces of thread
They were deep, dark brown and enriched with purity
Though her glare intensified with forced maturity
I didn’t know what to think, who was I to her?
Or was I overanalyzing a passed by blur?
Many nights came when I’d dream of her stare
Over time that memory slipped away to the air
Day after day after day had begun
I’d march and I’d march and I’d march ‘til it was done
I’d wake up before dawn and sleep after night
Exhausting it was but I used all my might
I trained hard and long until I got to shine in my hour
To bring down the enemies who brought down our towers
They buzzed off my hair and gave me a gun
I locked and I loaded and was ready to run
I entered the truck with a helmet on head
Strong feelings in heart, there was nothing to dread
I closed my eyes so I could focus my mind
And sort through my thoughts so I could find
The things and people I was fighting for
Freedom, family and friends, nothing less, nothing more
I opened my eyes to a treacherous view
Dark gray storm clouds looming under skies of blue
No amount of training could prepare anyone for this
My heart sunk to my stomach and digested into abyss
The buildings were burning and crumbling to shambles
Glass covered streets that were crooked and scrambled
The ashes and tar suffocated my lungs
The evaporating steam hit my eyes so they stung
I was thrust out of the truck and the moment alike
And called into position to be ready to strike
My body responded with actions second nature
As I marched towards combat deep into the obscure
The silence made my ears bleed worse then gunshots and screams
As I pretended to be where I wasn’t, like a bad lucid dream
I ran hiding and lurking to stay true to my mission
As I created “Black Hawk Down” in my own rendition
My team split up so we could we encircle the enemy
After we cheered to our training at the military academy
I crouched into position and low crawled to a window
As I spied the opposition 500 feet below
I pulled out my gun and locked onto my target
My hands started to quiver and my palms started to sweat
The man down below glanced up into my eyes
I nearly jumped out of my skin from surprise
There were those deep, dark brown eyes so pure
All of the innocence raped away by death and by war
And for a moment his eyes light up horrified
Because I had decided whether he lived or he died
But that moment had passed as my finger pulled the trigger
A decision decided from trained hostile vigor
He fought for his beliefs just I fought for mine
So can someone please explain where is the enemy line?
Is it at our manmade borders that make up hundreds of nations
That define who we are just because of location?
Take away each other’s gender, age and race
Let’s tackle the issues we all have to face
Peel back all of our wounds and let the truth bleed
We are all people with the same basic needs
Some food to eat, water to drink and shelters for protection
To feel we are wanted and loved is the hearts resurrection
I killed a man today and inside he killed me as well
It’s a shame his story is one I’ll never hear him tell
But it’s all in the name for the red, white and blue
I fight for my country; it’s your country too
And I vowed to protect ‘till I meet my fate
Because I am just a soldier of the United States
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Saturday, September 10, 2011

9/11: The Status of Muslims 10 Years Later


Ten years.

Its been 10 years since the tragic day when 19 hijackers viciously and blindly crashed planes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, corrupting perception of a pure religion by claiming the acts in the name of Islam. The attacks left 2,819 dead of 115 nations, and a country in fear and despair.

From that day on, America would never be the same.

Being a Muslim American, I am very fortunate to be raised in a country that decrees all men are created equal, despite the presence of controversy in that statement. I was born and raised in Philadelphia, a city with a fairly diverse population. As a kid, I was taught to respect all people despite their ethnicity or religious backgrounds. In fact, diversity lies in my family as well; I have an aunt who is Italian, I have family residing in Africa, and personally I'm Pakistani. I learned how to be open, how to trust, and learned the universal principles that are common in every person.

The morning of September 11th, 2001 was just like every other morning. It was the beginning of my second school year, I was a first grader, only six years old. I woke up at 6:45am and went to school. What began as an ordinary day rapidly turned into the worst. My Dad came to pick up my cousins and I from school, since, as the news of the attacks spread, we were dismissed early.


It seemed like something out of a movie. It just didn't seem real. But it was, and after that my life changed.

I was no longer free to be a child. Thoughts of right and wrong infiltrated my brain. Who is friend and who is enemy? Who is the attacker and who is the victim? Questions I shouldn't had to have asked myself at that age. Questions like; "Who are Muslims and who are terrorists?" or "Is there even a difference?". Questions against my own faith.

I couldn't hide from the fact: Americans had every right to hate Muslims out of ignorance. People had every right to call me a "camel-jockey", a "Muslim faggot", "Osama's son" - because it wasn't their fault they didn't know the true meaning of Islam. The fact is, its ours.

We as Muslim Americans for the past 10 years have carried and for the foreseeable future will continue to carry the responsibility of defining Islam. Don't get me wrong, 9/11 was not the fault of anybody but terrorists. I repeat: TERRORISTS. The word "Muslim" should never be antecedent to the word "Terrorist". The terrorists who attacked on 9/11 were not Muslim, because true, practicing Muslims know the virtue of tolerance and the sin of murder. And by blasphemously connoting these two words with their corrupt intentions, these terrorists blemished a pure religion.

In the past 10 years, hostility towards Muslims has increased. But this doesn't mean we Muslims should fall back. We shouldn't add fire to the fire already created by continuing to ridicule the seriousness of these acts, and this sentence is mainly dedicated to my fellow Muslim youth. People had every right to call me those names because they didn't create them, we did, and we agreed upon them. We created the atmosphere of misinterpretation. Our "jokes" that we are related to Osama, or our "parents are ragheads", were taken advantage of, and are now being used against us. Because of our immature comments, we have given others the opportunity to capitalize on our weakness of simply wanting to fit in.

Enough is enough. For some of the fellow young Muslims, listening to their own jokes being repeated by others has gone too far. They've realized that they created the monster. For other young Muslims, they've continued to corrupt the perception of Islam by false representation.

I truly believe the solution to the end of Islamophobia, the fear of Islam, lies in the Muslim youth. We have to represent our religion for what it is, not what others think it to be.

10 years have past and 10 years have escalated Islamic hatred. The only end is through the abolishment of ignorance. People shouldn't have to inform themselves about Islam, we, as Muslim Americans, need to act as the catalyst of that change. It is our responsibility to be the teacher, because the classroom rule is as follows - when the teacher speaks, the student must listen.
______________________________________________________
I had an interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer regarding the post 9/11 status of Muslims. Read it here: Inquirier: U.S. Muslims Reeling From Ostracism After 9/11

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Totally, Like, Not Like, You Know? Speak With Conviction

If you haven't noticed, it has become weird to like sound like you know what you are talking about, you know? Or actually be confident in what the hell you're trying to say? It's like, these question marks just pop up at the end of our sentences, you know? Like, once um, we actually were like able to declare a point in our declarative sentences until one random day, like some... thing just... like, you know? It's just like, totally... whatever?

Our inarticulacy shouldn't be blamed on stupidity, or a "disorder" like ADHD, we shouldn't hide the fact that we are the most inarticulate generation of humanity to ever set foot on Planet Earth. Even the cavemen developed a language and "spoke" with more conviction than we do today.

The way we speak leads to misinterpretations, arguments, altercations, harsh words - only because we don't always mean what we say. Unfortunately, this isn't a problem with the English language, but instead its a problem with the way we are raised. Many of us fail to get a point across in speech as easily we do on paper, and for others its vice versa.

One cause of our lack of conviction is the way our education system is based upon questioning authority. We are encouraged to question one another, albeit this is a good thing, in the long run we must realize we need to learn how to SPEAK with authority too.

For me, it is easier to speak to a large group of people than a small one. Some say public speaking is a gift for me, but honestly, I don't know how to talk in public. Sometimes, I do stutter, get nervous, and often lack conviction. When it comes to writing, I find it much easier to express my thoughts. This idea leads me to the second cause of lack of articulacy - the age of technological advancements.

Today, we are much more apt to use Microsoft Word to write an essay, than write it on paper using pen. Its just not the same. Many of us are unbelievably articulate essayists, but unbelievably horrible speakers. We learn how to be articulate using technology, instead of using our body parts.

I could state many theories/reasons of why our current society is so inarticulate, but honestly, the reasons don't matter as much as the solutions do.

The solution is to speak with authority. Give a damn about what you are saying, and end your sentence with a period. Be confident in what you say, even if you are wrong. The result of inarticulacy is immaturity. If you don't know how to speak with authority, nobody will take you seriously.

Stutter if you need to, "um" if you want, but never declare a question and ask an answer.

You have a voice. Use it.


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Monday, August 29, 2011

"A Real Love Poem", A Poem By: Aadil Malik


This poem is for those who aren't color blind
Those who know the rose is red and the violet is blue
This poem is for those who feel they've lost their mind
Broken promises, relationships, meaningless "I Love You's"

This poem is for those who wish to say they are sorry
Sorry I couldn't give something to you that you deserved to be given
This poem is for those who believe nothing lasts
For their future and pasts have been shattered into shards of glass

This poem is for those who know the meaning of true love.

True love in a society centered on artificial compassion, virtual hearts and smiles, and wordless tongues
True love in a society that doesn't understand love isn't only in the heart, but the brain, the mouth, the breath in the lungs.

Love.

To love, real love, an unconditional affection
No divorces, no complications, only perfection
Glowing complexions, husbands protecting children
Natural connections
THAT, my friends, is love.

Be it arranged, or be it at first sight
Be it gay and lesbian, or be it black and white
Be it through marriage, family, friendships, or fights
Be it with Caucasions, Haitians, African Americans, or Asians
Love is Coexistence. Patience.

That. Is. Love.

Nobody knows what love is, the lucky ones only know what it "means"
Because the problem is you don't know love, love knows you, you see
Love is not simply an emotion or a cause, but a cure trapped in the barrier of your human body
Love sees inside out and not outside in
You don't know love because you can't see it, love is hidden
Love sees your stomach, your liver, your blood, your intestines
Love is within.

Love is your heartbeat that beats until you die
Because when your heart stops beating, your love commits suicide

Love is encased in the womb known as humanity
And to express it, one must let it out in mundanity
But this task is not as easy as it may seem
Some find love through first kisses, deaths, sympathy, empathy
Some find love through sex, marriage, family, intimacy
Some find love through art, music, spirituality
Some find love through religion, Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity

I find love through poetry.

Because these poetic lines rhyme with the love I have encased within my bony body,
as the pen hits the paper and the fingers hit the keys,
love is the ring worn by my wife, Poetry.

And although these meaningless words have lost its value
I want you to understand that I truly do love you.
Not like a fat kid loves his chocolate cake
But instead like the real man I desire to be in a world where too many are fake -

I. Love. You.

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Who Am I?

School has just started, and I must say, I am more prepared this year than I was last. I feel much more confident, much more relaxed, and much more comfortable with Junior Year.

This week, my writing teacher assigned our class an assignment - an essay that answers the question; "Who Am I?".

I liked what I wrote because it actually is the truth. I edited it to make it appropriate for my blog. I hope this gives you a better insight on how who I am as a person, and what I believe.

The obvious answer to this question is that “I am Aadil Malik”, but this doesn’t define who I am as a person; the answer to that question can’t be found in a birth certificate or an ID, not even the heart- rather, our mind. Simply put, if I can’t answer this question myself, who can? A much easier question would be: “Who ISN’T Aadil Malik?” I am not a product of any system, not a master of any product, and not a system itself. I am not a Democrat or Republican, not a Journalist or a Teacher - in fact; I’m not even a student.

What I am is human, a noun that I believe has lost its value in today’s society.

My reputation may serve me wrong – of course, I have labels, such as Student and Founder of this blog. However, quite honestly, I don't think of me as any of these.

Our humanist society has led us to believe that some of us carry a higher rank than others. We are plagued by clashing religions and cultures as a result of this belief.

I am simply human. I am not inferior to any other being, and I am not superior to any other being. I am equal. Equal in a dog-eat-dog society that is based on a system where people feel degrees, education, and experience, make them masters of this life. I am the equator of a map where the wealthy have reached the North Pole, and the poor have frozen at the South. I am a combination of every adjective that exists, just like you, and just like the rest of the human race. I am human, and that’s the only place my pride lives. I am not proud to be Student Body President, not proud to be a student at my school, I’m simply and only proud to be human, because not only does that make me equal to you and everyone else, but different as well.

The unit of equality has been overshadowed by units of ego, assumption, mistrust, misinterpretation, and pride. And of course, there are times where I am not visibly equal, but its because I never will be. In the wise words of Hannah Montana, nobody is perfect. But, in the wise words of every Holy Book on planet Earth, EVERYBODY IS EQUAL.
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Monday, August 15, 2011

"Speak Up", A Poem By: Aadil Malik


It rains hardest on those who deserve the sun
Economy sucks but still the rich have fun
Tax cuts for the wealthy
Budget cuts for the poor, but you see
Its not the wealth that concerns us, its our democracy

Public school districts across the state and nation
Face agonizing decisions about how to pare budgets drained by the economic inflation
The result of a combination of poor bipartisanship and poor cooperation
If our leaders don't listen to eachother, why would they listen to our advocation?

We live in a society that depends on clandestinity
Anonymity, and carcinogenicinity
We hide our knowledge, ourselves, and spread lies like cancer
Misinterpretation leading to religious and cultural clashes, everyone screaming their's is the "answer"
When nobody questioned them in the first place.

Should we blame our leaders, or should we blame the system?
Point fingers at the President or the one's who elected him?
Point fingers at Democrats or Republicans?
Or do we point fingers at ourselves?

Is the decline in democracy our fault?
Is it our fault that there are less people who speak their mind than the number of victims of physical assault?
By default, we blame those who have higher authority
But the blame truly goes to those who fail to speak their minds effectively

A tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
You speak your mind and no one is around to hear it, do you make a sound?
Don't be a tree, be a blessing to humanity
A tree has no language, but humanity can express
Instead of blaming authority, tell them the truth, confess

It rains hardest on those who deserve the sun
But if you speak up, the rain will oblige, and the sun will lend you one.

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Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Message to Fellow Muslims: Realize the Importance of Ramadan


Last Ramadan is a distant, yet graceful memory.

I remember standing through long Tarawih prayers at the Masjid, breaking fast at Iftar dinners, and rejoicing with family and friends on Eid. Despite the summer heat, the Masjid was filled with adults and children alike. Some were immersed in prayer, some were overwhelmed with emotion, some were calling upon Allah for their needs. All these people were going through a process of purification, so rich in value that words can't even begin to describe.

That time has come again, and in fact, the time will leave us again.

Look at yourself right now and compare yourself to the person you were last Eid. Subhan'Allah, you fasted and Insha'Allah your sins were washed away. But these sins have accumulated over the interval of time, and you reverted back to how you were before Ramadan.

Why?

Muslims were focusing on rejuvenating their soul, strengthening their relationship with Allah, asking for forgiveness. But many have become lost in their puddle of sins once again. The month of Ramadan is a time for improvement and growth - spiritually, communally, and personally. These three growths are perfections to morality.

There is, I believe, a reason to the reversion, it being that we intensely focus much of our time on spiritual growth.

There needs to be a balance between our spiritual, communal, and personal lives, because during the month of Ramadan, many of us focus solely on spiritual growth. We find a way to improve our relationship with God, yet at the same time we must keep a spirit of building relationships with other people, which is especially essential in order to create a just and kind society.

Unfortunately, in our postmodern society we tend to be oblivious to the fact that everything we do has a direct effect on others. The independence we enjoy comes with responsibilities to the people surrounded by us.

Ramadan is not just a month of increasing relationship with Allah, but increasing relationships with friends, family, and even yourself. "Sawm", the Arabic word for fasting, literally means "restraint and self-control".

Fasting isn't only about abstinence. Its not only a ritualistic act. It is a combination of physical discipline, spiritual reflection, and communal growth. It is much deeper than simply "not eating", its an opportunity to let go of bad habits and foster good deeds. We learn to commit good deeds by instinct, just like we learn our times tables in school - through repetition.

During this Holy Month, we must improve our moral character, because Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said that the best among humanity are those who have the best manners towards others.

Ramadan teaches us how to live morally. To perfect morality, we must understand that it is a two-step process. Individually, we can do this by striving to foster certain universal principles such as kindness, honesty, and compassion into our daily lives. In our communities, we must try to interact with others in a respectful manner.

Hours from now Insha'Allah, I will start the process of purification by praying Tarawih prayers at the Masjid. Listening to the Imam read verses from the Qu'ran will fill my heart with remembrance of my Lord.

But once this journey is over, I will not have only grown spiritually, but personally and communally.

This is the promise we must make to ourselves.

Realize the importance of Ramadan.

Grow.

Ramadan Mubarak, and May Allah grant us reward for our efforts, Ameen.

-That's the TFAT.
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Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Letter to Philip Su, Software Engineer of Facebook: The Crappy New Chat

The social-networking juggernaut, Facebook, recently released a new update that intended to improve the site's chat feature.

However, instead of improving the feature, they pretty much eliminated it off the website.


So, I decided to write a letter to the person who was apparently in charge of the update, Mr. Philip Su.

Here is the letter I sent to Mr. Su.

Dear Mr. Philip Su,
Ever since this new and supposedly improved chat feature was released, I haven't heard yet one positive remark about it.

The problem is, Facebook hears user's complaints, but does absolutely nothing about it.


Of course, "improving" this feature probably took a bunch of long nights and hard work, however, the update effectively removes the feature from Facebook. Why don't I see a number of who is on anymore? Why do I care if someone I normally talk to is offline? Even if I did care, it was more ideal for me to see ALL my friends that ARE online, so in essence I could figure out who isn't.

Most of us used the chat feature to see which of our friends were online. We used it instead of using AIM or MSN. Instead of realizing this fact, it seems that you ignored it and simply made an update that is less user-friendly and in essence, making the feature no longer an instant messenger. Basically, "Facebook Chat" has been removed, and in its place is a quicklaunch bar for sending messages.

Sure, you can keep the damn sidebar and I don't give a crap about the video calling or group chat either (big whoop). We want a whole list of our friends online and the number of people online back.

There was no reason to remove those features. Nobody likes the new chat box. This isn't an improvement at all.

You see, Mr. Su, at first - I thought the thing that was annoying me about the update was my inability to accept change. But I soon realized that it wasn't me at all, the update truly sucked. It sucks so much, that ever since it came out, I have seen at least 25 people this past week move to Twitter because they are frustrated with Facebook engineer's incapability to understand common demand.

What aggravates me isn't only the constant stupid updates, but the fact that nobody in the Facebook corporation listens. Last September, there was a page on Facebook that threatened to Burn Qu'rans on 9/11. The page hosted hatred and violent remarks. I reported the page at least 75 times, and sent over a dozen messages and emails to the Facebook crew. I received no reply, and no response to the reports. You failed to understand that you had the power to eradicate the hatred on that page by banning it. The page was deleted when it was too late. In effect, it became another big, unworthy story in the media. It didn't have to get that big.

Sure, I'm only 16 years old. But that doesn't mean I'm stupid. The truth is, in order for a corporation to be successful, they must listen to their clients and make the best choices based on the most common demands.

The only update Facebook needs right now is one that reinforces their communication with their users.

Capitalize on this mistake by fixing it and showing users that you actually listen to their feedback. For once, do something right.

-That's the TFAT.
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Sunday, July 17, 2011

3 Steps on How to Manage Your Time Wisely

For us students and adults alike, summer vacation is a gift from God. Its a time to finally relax and well, not care about anything. It allows us to forget about our stressful workdays.

And when the time comes to get back to work, we fall apart. We utilize our skills of procrastination, and as a result - since we don't prepare, we fail at managing our time.

Story of my life.

But hey, its still summer, and most of us are enjoying it pretty well. I hate to break it to you - but the time to get back to work is creeping up on us. Heck, I have to go back to school in 29 days.

So why not prepare when you HAVE the time?

There are three key steps on how to manage your time wisely, and I'm not talking about those generic organizational skills (list your priorities, order of importance, etc). That stuff comes in handy, but these steps come before that.

In order to follow the three steps, we first need to answer this question:

Why?

Why do we need to manage our time? Time is limited, and we need to spend it wisely. Because one day, one hour, one second could be the last moment of our lives. We have to realize that our time is just as short as our elder's. Once that idea is ingrained into our brains, we will be able to understand that wasting our time isn't the way to enjoy our life, using it is.

Step One: Understanding the Concept of Time


I did a post called "Stop Wasting Your Time" back in January in which I described the importance of time. There is a quote by Dion Bucicault that states: "Men talk of killing time, while time quietly kills them." Time is a very big word. I could give you Webster's definition, but that would simply bore you. Understanding the concept of time is as colossal as understanding the meaning of life. I've done my share of research about the concept, one being something I do on Facebook called "365 Days". I have a photo album in which I upload a picture every day for a year. Today's picture will be the 217th. I use this album as a mnemonic device that teaches me the concept of memory and about the passage of time. I've realized that a clock is useless. To me, time is is the measurement of how long your memory extends. We, as humans, choose to define this measurement in units of seconds, minutes, hours, days, and years. But to truly take advantage of time, we must extend our memory by keeping our eyes open to our surroundings.

Step Two: Appreciate the Concept


Appreciation of the concept of time is a direct result of understanding it. Instead of dreading over a time limit, we should appreciate the limit given. This optimistic view will prevent procrastination and will allow us to finish  the task ahead quickly and effectively. The problem is, most of us don't appreciate what is given to us. For example, when a teacher gives you an assignment that requires you to complete 40 problems, and tells you its due tomorrow at the beginning of class, our natural instinct is to complain about the time limit. Don't complain. Appreciate the idea that the teacher gave you even that much time to complete the assignment. Don't doubt your ability to extend your mental clock.

Step Three: Use Your Time


This is the step most of us stop at for some odd reason. Sure, we accept the fact that we must understand and appreciate time, but then we don't know how to use it. This is the part where all the organizational skills come in handy. Listing your priorities, organizing them by importance, will all aid in allowing you to effectively use your time. Don't be afraid to spend your time. We are so hesitant to spend time, just like we are hesitant to spend money. But just like money, if you don't spend time, you don't make time.

Now quit wasting your time, and actually follow these steps to time management!

-That's the TFAT.
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Saturday, July 16, 2011

What's New? TFAT v. 5.0 Pickle

Today marks the day of the release of v. 5.0 Pickle.


This new layout features:
  • Easier-to-read text: much more pleasing to the eyes.
  • A new title.
  • Changed the Poetry Corner button
  • Added a post divider (check it out under this post!)
  • Changed the layout
  • New, refreshing background
  • and many more minor edits...
Share your opinions and thoughts in the comments section of the post!
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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

How has the politicization of Islam blemished its religious purpose?


Humans are quick to connote words to their most recent memory or experience, often resulting in stereotypes. Therefore, when faced with the words (or relating to) Islam- society's perception is based on recent events- such as the attacks on 9/11. Islam is quick to be deemed as a threat to the Western world, and one of the causes for this is due to past events involving the Muslim society being militant.

In the article, "Dominant Western Perceptions of Islam and the Muslims", Dr. Chandra Muzaffer states, "Today, the mainstream Western media portrays Islam or what it describes as 'militant Islam' or 'fundamentalist Islam' as a threat to the west". The article further presents the idea that Islam is "news of a particularly unpleasant sort". This is true, but not many people find it easy to present the idea why it is unpleasant news. It seems as if in today's society, media has continued to pinpoint the Islamic world as a representation of religious politics. One of the most infamous reasons is the attacks on September 11th. Airplane hijackings by Islamic terrorists led to crashing into the World Trade Center in New York City.


The definition of terrorism according to The American Heritage College Dictionary is: the unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence to intimidate or coerce societies or governments, often for political or ideological reasons. I find the term "militant" Islam or a Muslim terrorist, not only contradictory- but, in essence, unworthy to be said. How are we to trust someone who doesn't even know the correct pronunciation of the word "Muslim", to define "Islam" for us? This is one of the biggest problems we face with religion- authority. Now, being a Muslim American (there's a difference if I'm an American Muslim), I struggle to define my own religion. This problem exists due to the fact that the title I give myself contains so many controversial aspects, but it truly defines which definition/point of view reigns supreme. As a Muslim, who is faithful and defensive of his religion, I define Islam as what I believe it truly is- a monotheistic faith with the sole purpose of it's "Shahadah"- to serve Allah (God) by following the five pillars of faith and the three categories of Tawhid (doctrine of Oneness). However, as an American, Islam is simply a major religion that has been a part of a violent history. When combined together, I am a Muslim American, someone who knows both sides of the argument, but is a Muslim first- American second.


I never heard of the term terrorism until it was associated with my religion and the region my family is from- the Middle East. My experience in Pakistan reflects around one memory- when I went to the bazaar (market) with my family. Imagine walking amidst thousands of people in a market made of confusing roadways, almost seeming to lead you nowhere - in the country where well over 50% of the world's terrorists reside, and 97% of the population is Muslim. One could imagine the stereotypical, statistic-based fear I faced, especially after the attacks of 9/11. Walking among this crowd of people, I was carrying a glass bottle of Coke. The glass bottle slipped out of my hand, crashed on the bare pavement, and the shards of glass sliced my toes. I screamed. In the blink of an eye, a crowd of at least 30 to 40 people surrounded me. You would imagine they would react violently, especially after hearing a loud shriek. But no, instead, they asked me how I was and if I was okay. Some began to run to the local shop for first aid, others began to ask my Dad if they should call for medical help. Soon, one man came with bandages and fixed me all up. Shocked at the reactions of the people, I was unable to even say thank you. After these experiences, I am forced to believe that the people of Pakistan are just like anyone else- down-to-earth.

The experience of 9/11 that every American faced had an equal first impression on America as Pakistan had on me. Many Americans, including Muslims themselves, began to view Islam as a cruel religion, and all terrorists- as Muslims. With that in mind, I believe that first impressions lead people to connote specific words to their experiences. The attacks on 9/11 were devastating, and the U.S. government claimed to have proof that the attacks were taken by Islamic terrorists. This first impression influenced some people that Islam is a religion that promotes violence.

A stereotype is a common generalization of a person, thing, etc. In today's society, Muslims are the pinpoint of stereotypical beliefs- often resulting from misnomers. The misnomer of calling a Muslim a "Muhammadan", which is offensive to a Muslim; the misnomer of calling a Muslim an "Islamist", which is generally the shortened term for Muslim terrorist- all lead people to wrong perceptions of the religion. These perceptions are caused by Islam always being in association with terroristic acts like suicide bombing, etc.

Though many terms have been corrupted by connotations, there is one in particular that connotes to suicide bombers- and that word is Muslim. The meaning of Muslim is “one who submits to God”. In truth, that literally means a believer of Islam. However, when many are asked about the first thing that comes to their mind when they are given the word 'Muslim', they reply with answers such as 9/11, London bombings, Madrid train bombings, Al Qaeda, terrorism, suicide bombers, anti-tolerance, Sharia law, oppressed women- coincidentally most of the topics that the media covers about the religion of Islam. This is because the mainstream media only covers what makes news interesting, because it seems nobody wants to hear about the Muslim father who went to the mosque and prayed for his daughter who was told to remove her hijab (scarf) because of a "national security policy.” Nobody is interested in listening about this girl and her father who at the DMV were yelled at to “go back to Afghanistan”. This innocent 16-year-old driver, who was of Arab-American heritage, was so traumatized that she broke down in tears. 

When was the last time the news covered a story about a Muslim being hurt? The media makes it seem like these things don’t happen, but Muslims everyday are hurt because of the connotations that have left their religion in shame.

To eliminate stereotypical connotations, one must understand the denotation of the term Islam. Now, if ONE Muslim is a terrorist, this shouldn't imply that Islam is a violent religion. The fact that the media too frequently labels terrorists as Muslims is what caused a bad perception of the whole. It's like saying Microsoft is a bad company just because a couple computers that were sold turned out to be defective. There is no logical argument in that statement. According to the Qu'ran, Islam literally means submission, referring to submitting to Allah (God). Allah is the Arabic translation of God. Lack of promoting denotations of Arabic terms like Allah and Islam are the reason so many people create misnomers regarding the religion.

When limited to only certain amount of perceptions that the media portrays, one is quick to connote terms like Muslim and Jihad to recent events. Unfortunately, the media often forgets, or in conspiracy - intentionally leaves out the other side of the story, especially evident with the case of Islam. This leads to a blemished observation of what the religion really is, and what political movements have led it to become.

-That's the TFAT.