Can’t focus? Here …

I was always wondering about the fact that the few minutes we spend in our prayer everyday are considered the most important deed we do. Five times a day, you will have to drop what you are doing and get into praying. There is a huge value in these few minutes that we spend in our prayer. And I am sure there is a huge impact our prayer has on us so that we can live a better life during the many hours we spend outside prayer.

Part of what the five times prayers teach us is the ability to focus. It brings to our habit the concept of “prioritizing” and the concept of “focusing” on high priority actions. Many of us just do many things Continue reading

Not excited to go to work? Me too until …

Laziness! Sigh!

Active people may not understand what I am talking about. How would they? They are enjoying the blessings of being active, excited, and energetic. I belong to this group sometimes :-). In a little younger age, I was a little surprised to see that the Prophet (pbuh) makes a specific prayer in the morning and in the evening asking Allah to protect him from several things amongst them is “laziness.” Now I understand, it is a killer.

Laziness comes in all forms and shapes. It is a creepy desease that disables our muscles, our brain, our heart, and our spirit. It is worse than having a physical disability. Laziness is a mental desease and a very bad personal and group habit. One of the creepy yet effective tools laziness uses to make you lazy is to make you lose excitement about what you are doing. You feel no happiness in what you are doing and you wish if you can do something else. Even if you do not stop doing what your doing, you do it like a zombie, lifeless moving creature. You also see no reward in what you are doing and you feel you better spend your little energy some where else. But because you are lazy, you do not even think of any “some where else” and you just move on with a lazy life.

Work is one of these things. Work has the ability to turn you off. No matter how exciting, it is work. No matter how you are faced with new things every day, they are the same new things. We should think of creative ways to keep ourselves excited doing our jobs. I am sure you can think of many ways, one of them hit me this morning when I was reading a few of the sayings of prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Continue reading

Should I stop blogging daily?

After one week in the postAday2011 challenge, I would like to really stop and think whether this is a good idea or not. I have mixed feelings about it. I became so active in reflecting and take note of every idea worth posting. I started being used to writing something every day. I have a list of potential ideas that can fill January and I feel I can keep up. The number of readers of my blog in the first week of January is almost as big as my most busy month and way above the monthly average.

But I still have a mixed feelings about it. Some of my readers are joking with me that they can’t keep up reading. I am not enjoying writing as much. I feel it is a job I have to do as opposed to want to do it. I kind of feel the few reader who come to the blog are not as excited. I do not know! I am a little hesitant to continue blogging on daily basis. I thought of getting some feedback to help. If you happen to read, please help me decide by filling the following form. Thanks!

Silence People: Block the Mercy of God

This post is inspired by a post written by my friend AB and I can’t find the link to post

In one of the very famous chapters in the Qur’an, Ar-Rahman (The Most Merciful), Allah starts the chapter by a few short versus. The First one says, “Ar-Rahman!” The verses to follow, though short and fast, describe the manifestation of this mercy. Here: “The most merciful * [It is He who] Taught the Qur’an * [He has] Created man * [He] taught him speech.” The word “Bayan,” translated here as “speech” is more comprehensive than just speech. It is about giving man the ability to express himself, share his ideas, explain what his thoughts, etc.

What is very important to know is that not only is this a right people have but also some kind of “mercy” from Allah upon his creation. When this piece of mercy is taken away from people, they will suffer. They will look for it; they will miss it; their life will be a difficult life. It is similar to taking away from people water, food, air, or shelter. The only difference is that taking away these materialistic needs has an instant apparent effect on them. Taking from people their ability to express themselves has a similar effect but on the their souls, and it will lead eventually to death, but that of the soul.

Oppressive governments do so, and hence the amount of frustration and lack of quality life. But more importantly, we, sometimes, deprive people around us from a good environment where they can “consume” this type of mercy Allah gives them. Here is a few examples to demonstrate how we do that, knowingly or unknowingly: Continue reading

Change by your heart or your heart will change

The Prophet (pbuh) said in a very famous Hadith, “Whoever sees something wrong should change it, with his hand. If he can’t, then with his tongue. If he can’t then with his heart and that is the weakest of faith.” The prophet, by this hadith, mandated everyone to change that which is wrong. All of us are obligated to do so. Sometimes, we are able to directly change what is wrong when we have an authority to do so. When we can’t, the obligation does not drop. It continues to be mandatory but through speaking against it so that people who can change it, change it. This is pretty straight forward and obvious.

What is interesting is the third statement. Continue reading

Now what?

My layover in Paris was scheduled to depart soon, and I had yet to eat lunch. With thirty minutes until take-off, I quickly purchased a souvenir for my younger sister and thought it best to stuff it in my carry-on away from the man to my left, for I noticed his signals to his partner-in-crime whenever a bag was left unattended in the duty-free shop. I stored the Eiffel Tower in the back pocket to ensure its safety, and smiled upon catching sight of the laminated cover my mother had stuffed in last minute.

My mother is an Arabic and Quran instructor, as is my father, and she felt that an Arabic grammar book would help her 18-year old daughter on the other side of the world. After receiving the slim plastic-bound handwritten gift from her student’s grandfather, she deemed me a worthy final destination. The keepsake later accompanied me to my Arabic classes in Jordan, where I gathered gems that I’ll show in a story for another day.

I soon entered the local university and studied language engineering, properly known as linguistics. As a member of the final graduating class of linguists at UH, I reconsidered my decision to join the department too many times to count, and soon grew accustomed, even eager, to watch the utter shock plastered on most faces after hearing the l-word.

One million EPP, V→T, T→C, and X-bar trees later, I feel that I’ve been a linguist since childhood, maybe even PRO at the controls. Though I am born and raised in Houston, my parents pride themselves upon my classical Arabic literacy. They trained me to speak not a word of English until the tender age of five, when I was forced to leave the nest for the big and bad first grade. That may explain my unnaturally talkative nature and awkward self-expression.

However, learning Arabic formally for twelve years can make or break a poor soul. The journey wasn’t worthwhile for some of my former classmates, and a 3-minute dialogue effectively bankrupts their vocabulary bank. Though the fourth and seventh grades served me well, I soon lost interest in a world to which I couldn’t relate. But of course, how could my Eurocentric mentality appreciate the language of multitudinous peoples? I wish the world had invested time and effort in lovers like me. The beauty of the mind and its wondrous ability to process two worlds simultaneously. The ever-pressing issue of Arabic language change. The effect of Orientalist discourse on modern society.  The origins similarities and differences of both tongues, and implications in the philosophical, religious, and political world. Linguistics and modernity…. now what?

I live in a world that has yet to provide me with an answer to these questions among many others that subconsciously affect the Western individual. This is why I choose to be the change.

I extracted some ideas from my personal statement in composing today’s post 🙂

Violence Vaccine

It has been frustrating to find the wave of violence throughout the world only increase and develop momentum. It even happens in places and situations that never experienced such violence before. Violence often affects innocent people who have committed no crime or hold no responsibility for what may have caused people to act violently. Although I condemn, with the strongest possible means, harming innocent people, I still think that we need to find more meaningful ways to deal with this type of violence fundamentally.

All what I see happening in dealing with violence are a very superficial, and sometimes wrong, ways that mostly involves intelligence and law enforcement. Even worse, sometimes military and wars are launched in the name of combating terrorism. Interestingly, in “some countries :-)” intelligence and enforcement agencies have been Continue reading

Social reform starts with spiritual reform

Sorry for the long post. This post is inspired by a discussion with my sister MA!

When I think about social problems the world goes through over and over again despite the much effort to overcome them, I can’t stop thinking about what Prophet Muhammad–peace be upon him–dealt with, not only in his society during his life time, but also how Islam continued to solve those problems throughout the history.

What is really unique about Islam is that it deals with all problems, social problems included, in a comprehensive way the most important element of which is the spiritual element. The spiritual power Islam creates in the individuals is the first and the foremost step towards solutions.

Let me mention a couple of examples to demonstrate what I mean. Continue reading


Because I’m an English major, people assume I’m an avid writer, eating, drinking, and sleeping research papers because they are the joy of my life. When I clarify that my real interest in languages is a purely linguistic one, most walk away discouraged to search for the next victim, I mean, essay ‘editor’.

Continue reading

Why am I writing anyway?

I recently subscribed to the 2011 challenge of posting on daily basis. It does not seem easy btw. It is difficult to articulate ideas and it is even more difficult to get them in the first place. Also, since I am not a professional writer, that is, I do not do this for living, writing a post a day goes against my way of writing: I only write when an idea really hits me. Also, given the reflective nature of this blog, reflecting by a plan goes against the concept of reflection. 🙂

Anyway, I was excited about the challenge and I told my kids, “I need your help. I am going to have to post something every single day!” “Does anyone have an idea of what to write?” I asked. One of them responded, “Maybe you should write about the challenge. Why do you want to write a post every day?”

I think it is a very good idea! I came to the computer and started thinking about the reason. Why do I really want to write? What is my intention? How is that useful to me? Or to people around me? I rarely get an orignal idea; so why everyday? And … if I get an idea that is not original, what is the point of wasting people’s time reading it? Am I trying to use writing to vent?  Am I doing it so that I get praises when I write something good? Am I looking for the thumbs up or the “likes” count? I am not even advertising my blog that much, so what is the point? Maybe I should advertise it more aggressively. But why do I want to advertise and attract more people to what I write? Continue reading