Status Quo is not Necessarily Bad

We always tend to think about the status quo as something negative, bad, stagnant, or wrong. However, we have to know that this is not always the case. As a matter of fact, it is likely to be good and correct. People reached this status quo as a result of long term effort. Those people maybe as smart or even smarter than we are. Disregarding their experience and aiming to change without giving them the proper due respect turns out to be a problem. I cannot count how many times I personally go through this experience, whether I have joined a new company, took on a new project, or asked to improve on a current setup. I tend to quickly propose drastic changes and aim for revolutionary effort. As I mature through the project, and as I develop more understanding, I find out that I should have studied and thought more carefully of what my predecessors have done.

Statuses that people arrive to through long period of times and agree to adopt for another long period of time are going to stand very strong against change. They are the outcome of very complex system of interaction and experience especially if those involved in their development are smart and sincere people.

Yes, times change and status quo expires. One has to think very carefully and show very deliberately that there is a need for change. Otherwise, they will die trying …

What the Whole world Knows about you, and you need to know about yourself!!!

Written By: Mohammad abbasi

edited by: Bayan Abbasi

I am talking about you playing “Victim” all the time; just like bad breath or smelly sweat on a humid day; most often, people sense it while you don’t …And now,

there is a way to know if you have this debilitating disease called “Victimides”.
Of course there is no disease called Victimides in the medical journals.. I made up this label to describe this near fatal condition.

So, how do you know if you’re one of those that play “Victim”? For starters, let me ask a few questions: Continue reading

A couple of thoughts about the “basketball moms attitude”

I have been accompanying my son for his basketball games. His team is a good team but they are playing in leagues that are really challenging. The kids, despite trying their best, were really really challenged by the other teams. Parents are really nice, supportive of their kids, and a group of nice people to sit among and watch the game with. However, given my quiet attitude of watching games, it did bother me a bit the amount of yelling and shouting from those parents (especially the moms). For the first time today, I utilized my time analyzing their yelling Continue reading

My Speech During MLK Day

A speech I am preparing to deliver in the MLK day 2010, in our community, Westchester County, NY

It is a great honor

It is a great honor for me to speak on this day. It is a great honor for me as a human being, as a Muslim, and as an “American-to-be.” 🙂 The man we are commemorating today is a great man. Although talented and skilled, what made him great was not the qualities he possessed or the skills he had, for many people had the very same talent and skills. What made him great was the cause he stood for and the ideas he strived to promote. As I learn about him fighting poverty, opposing war, calling for civil rights, and standing against racial segregation and discrimination, I see one huge virtue that is central to him effort; that is justice.

The reason I am honored as a Muslim is because this is one of the main values Islam came to establish and God made essential to humanity. This was obvious in the message of Prophet Muhammad and all prophets and messengers before him (peace be upon them all). He (glory be to Him), clearly said that this universe is created with justice and runs with justice. He orders us clearly to be just and to stand firm for justice even against ourselves, our parents, or our families. These commands and orders were foundational to Islam to the extent that Muslim scholars studying the Qur’an and  the tradition of the Messenger (pbuh) as a whole, made the conclusion that all Islamic teachings aim for three main things: 1) developing a righteous individual, 2) establishing justice in the society, and 3) protect people’s necessities, namely, religion, life, progeny, wealth, and intellect. We are talking about a central value in Islam and all religions. We are talking a about a man who furthered this cause and became one of its prominent icons.

Commemorating MLK brings about the spirit of living this virtue, striving to further it, and feel the honor of belonging to the same land he lived in. Commemorating MLK should give us pride to have those values deeply ingrained in our very founding document, the Declaration, and our very guiding law, the Constitution. That is why we should be proud, as Americans, well, “Americans-to-be.” as well.

Values in books are not enough

What really surprises me was that Dr. King was not calling for something new. The values he was promoting were obvious values and the basis of his cause was already there. He was not doing what he was doing in the 16th century. He was doing that in the 50s and 60s. My message to all of us gathering here is that great values need people to stand for them and causes have to be furthered by effort, real effort. It is not enough that our constitution is great. It is not enough that we believe in it and its values. It is not enough to make a pledge or an oath to support it and defend it. These values need to see light through the real realization in our daily life. They should see light in the legislation of laws and the implementation of these laws. They should see light in the way we conduct ourselves as people, as a government, and as a nation. If these values disappear or diminish from our lives, which is a nature of the human beings to be forgetful, heedless, or tempted by some lower level desires and benefits, someone has to stand for them, someone has to promote them, someone has to remind us of and move us towards those values we originally believed in. This person will face resistance, will get tired, and will become unpopular, but someone has to do it or otherwise, we will all fail.

One person is not enough

I mentioned that the value of Dr. King stemmed from the value he stood for. Comes next to that is his ability to move people and to make his cause a cause of a movement. Going through history, it was not the speech he delivered more than it was the march in DC. It wasn’t the article he wrote more than the bus boycott he championed. This is my message for all of us to take home: I don’t have to be MLK to stand for a good cause. I can be part of a larger movement that stands for a good cause, a movement lead by great people like him. These days, there are many people, including our president, who is trying to stand for good causes. We have to be sure that these causes will not move forward unless embraced by people like us and not only a few individuals who promote them. We better be part of these movements for a real impact on out society. I am sure there were many unsung heros at the time of Dr. King who contributed to his cause, probably more than King himself. Let us be one of those!

Being unpopular

Nelson Mandela, an icon of freedom, peace, and tolerance was once, and until 2008, barred from entering our country because of his “terrorist” association. Dr. King, an icon of civil rights, a Nobel Prize holder, and a national celebrity, was wiretapped by the FBI. They both went to jail, were defamed in the media, and were unpopular to many people. The values they promoted were viewed by some people as “crazy” values, and they were blamed to be “crazy” people. This was said about every person who stands for good causes, including all prophets of God. This issue appears as a common theme in the history of mankind.

What is my message here?

If what drives us is political correctness, safety, peace of mind, and popularity, rather than beliefs, virtues, and great causes, we will fail as individuals and our society will fail as a whole. Of course political correctness is desirable, safety is a goal in itself, and popularity is nice, so nice. However, these are secondary and very insignificant when a value like justice is on the table. We should remember Dr. King’s endeavor when we face some of the difficulties that face people of reform. We should remember Nelson Mandela when our endeavor experiences some of his. I recall a statement, Prophet Muhammad used to say when he faces some hard times from his people; he used to say “My brother Moses was harmed more than this and he was patient!”

do not undo, please

I will conclude with my final message to you. The society we are living in, the values we are enjoying, the reason people like me come to America, and the hope that our society can be the exemplary society for all people is based, merely, on those noble values. Nevertheless, these values came with a price. For these values people marched; for those values people went to jail; for those values people struggled with their money and their time; for those values people were assassinated. It is a huge legacy and it is a trust in our hands. We are supposed to further it and hand it over to our next generation. However, if we choose not to, let us not be the ones who undo them. Let us not abandon those values for personal or short term benefits. we should “reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals,” as our president mentioned in his inauguration speech showing no compromise for such values even for something as important as our safety. Those values are the ones that will make America safe, prosperous, and a land everyone wants to live in, and live for.

A Well-Deserved Trophy

As I was coming back from the MAS soccer tournament in Yonkers last night, I was thinking of what happened is this tournament. The last time I was in Yonkers playing this tournament, we went home with the trophy. There was a team that we hardly allowed in due to their age. These were the MAS Youth team from Yonkers. They insisted in playing and we insisted that they may get hurt. We also said that there is so many programs and events for the youth and we, adults, deserve some peaceful adults-only event.

I have to be proud to say I have lobbied the organizers to allow these guys in (as I was the youth director at the time and these guys were my favorites). The organizers were those whom we call “MAS Youth Uncles” who were probably as caring for those youth as I was and they approved them in. This youth team really lost badly (if I remember correctly, all the games and they had no chance to win). I, as well as others, was teasing them and making fun of them not to play again with the “big boys” 🙂

In the second tournament they joined, they were an impressive team who did not really make it to a high rank in the finals but impressed everyone by how organized and zealous to win they were.

In the past tournament of yesterday’s, they surprised everyone. They defeated most of the teams* and they transformed their defeat into victory in all the games. They won the trophy after going through the best two teams in the tournament. From a complete defeat in the first tournament, to impressive looking team with high potential in the second, to the trophy winners in one the of the toughest tournaments yesterday, they really deserve the victory and they deserve enjoying the trophy.

As we, the adults, know how much bragging they will make in front of us and how much hard time they will give us making fun of us, we were all cheering for them even against our own teams. Poor fathers who have some of these in their household will have to suffer from this until the next tournament. 🙂

Read this reflection of mine again but read it while replacing the word “soccer” with “life.” We really need to give a chance to these young people. They will have to mingle with us and take serious responsibilities. They will have to organize themselves and come forward to prove themselves as the leaders of their communities. If you happen to be in a position of interacting with young people, know that the potential in front of you is tremendous and it is you who will empower these people to show their skills, talent, and effort. Do not deprive them or yourself from the chance.

I wish this team that I am proud of  use this analogy to show leadership in life as they did in soccer.

One last message that I cannot close the post without (that is me I am sorry), I would like you guys (MAS Youth Yonkers) to enjoy the victory as much as you can because the next lesson for you will be “how to overcome defeat” when I am done with you in the next tournament. But for now, enjoy the well-deserved trophy

Ummo Wael

* the only team they have not defeated was the team which has the dad of three of them which makes me thing of sending a complaint to the FIFA 🙂

The Making of the LASER beam – TAM 09 thought #2

The TAM mission torture

Discover the mission was the theme of TAM 09. The organizers wanted to make sure MAS members leave the weekend with full understanding of the mission and its implications on MAS work and on our life. All sessions were geared towards that. Introducing the mission statement, the role of tarbiya in the mission, the obstacles in getting involved of such a mission, the obstacles in front of achieving the mission, the outreach component in our mission, the tarbiya effort required for this outreach effort (to achieve our mission), mission, mission, mission! Morning sessions are about the mission and evening sessions are about the mission, mission on Saturday and mission on sunday. 200 MAS members were put in one room going back and forth around this one very concept, MAS mission.

This is how you make a LASER beam

Every Muslim, MAS members included, is a particle of light. Let us think that those few MAS members are photons. You put them together in small or big numbers they will become some form of light. Those photons are getting together somehow to create some good light that are illuminating the way for many people around. TAM 09 brought these people together and kept pushing them back and forth back and forth in a very condensed time (and space) talking about one thing, their mission. They hit each other with ideas and they quickly synchronize. Sometimes it is a noisy disagreement and sometimes is a quite time of reflection and thinking. Sometimes, it is the speaker collecting ideas and sometimes it is the speaker pushing ideas back. It is a little amount of raw knowledge but very dense and sharp. Those photons kept going back and forth until something started to happen towards the end of the TAM. Those photons (MAS members in the TAM) developed a few yet very interesting qualities: 1) there developed a huge passion (energy), 2) they developed a very strong focus on one thing (the mission), and 3) they developed a mutual coherence, same wavelength and same phase. I can see them coming out of the room in the last session as a strong LASER beam coming out of its tube. They will travel thousands of miles while being focused on one thing, MAS mission! This is exactly how you create a LASER beam. This idea brought some creative juice to several of us. TAM 09 in DC was really the making of the LASER beam of MAS members that needs to be guided, channeled, and leveraged by MAS local and national leadership.