Copyright © 2003-2011, Aishah Schwartz. Permission granted to circulate among private individuals, groups, or in not-for-profit publications in full text and subject title. All other rights reserved.

December 30, 2005

E.A.R. - Escaping Abusive Relationships

In the name of Allah, the Most-Merciful, the All-Compassionate May the Peace and Blessings of Allah be Upon You Assalamu Alaikum Insha'Allah this message finds you in the best of health and imaan, and NOT in need of any of the information or resources my new project aims to provide. Amin. However, I have been saddened and disturbed at the amount of communication I've read recently with regard to Muslimah's (and women in general) silently suffering inside abusive relationships. Even more disheartening is the fact that many sisters/women are consumed with the thought that they are helpless to escape. It is a sad fact that no matter what background you are from, what country you live in, or what religion you are affiliated with...abuse knows no boundaries. The information you will find here is just the beginning of a project that I hope, with your input, we can expand to include categories and or areas that will provide resources available GLOBALLY, so that no sister/woman ever feels she is alone, that she doesn't have a choice, or is helpless to escape…no matter where she lives. Insha'Allah. Please use the feedback form found here to send in your suggestions, links, stories, poems, news articles, etc., in support of E.A.R. - Escaping Abusive Relationships. Jazakallahu khayran for showing you care!! Ma'Salaama.

December 26, 2005

Southern Smile from Across the Miles

Digitally daughter sends holiday greetings from South Carolina. I hope your day was great! Judging from the pretty ring on your finger...I'm guessing it was! Love, Mom

December 25, 2005

How About an Eid Sale at Macy's?

By Sabiha Khan December 25, 2005 Christians no doubt welcome the movie version of C.S. Lewis' "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," but many Muslims do as well. Neither my fellow Muslim moviegoer nor I was offended by any of the movie's Christian references, and, in fact, we thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to see smart storytelling on the big screen. That may come as a surprise in light of popular myths about Muslim beliefs and practices. But Islam teaches Muslims to respect and understand other religions, especially the religions of the people of the book, among them Christians and Jews. Many Muslim core values — freedom, justice and peace — are shared by followers of the world's other great religions. And Muslims revere Jesus as one prophet of God in a long line of such prophets, among them Abraham, Moses, John the Baptist and Muhammad. American Muslims believe that Christmas celebrations should not be watered down or banned because they might offend people of other faiths or non-faith. Acknowledging Christmas — or any other religious holiday — in the public square does not infringe on my sensibilities or my right to practice my religion. Indeed, many Muslim families will take their children to see the beautiful decorations of Christmas lights on homes to share the happiness they produce. Similarly, Muslims will play host to Muslim and non-Muslim friends during the Islamic celebrations of Eid-ul-Adha (Festival of the Sacrifice) and Eid-ul-Fitr (Festival of the Feast). Perhaps the talk about a movement to de-Christianize Christmas aims to scare people into thinking that Christianity itself is under attack. We should be wary of those who try to turn this emotional issue into a rallying point against non-Christians or even secular Christians who don't share the religious right's agenda. Many non-Christians merely want their religious holidays to receive the same recognition and acceptance as Christmas. For instance, why shouldn't Albertson's put lamb and hummus on sale during Ramadan? Or Macy's set aside a one-day blowout sale on clothing the day before Eid? Or the local elementary school stage an Eid production with traditional songs? The Constitution states that government may not endorse one religion over another. This does not preclude the public celebration of our country's many ethnic and religious holidays. In the movie "The Chronicles of Narnia," the evil White Witch turned Narnia into a perpetually cold and wintry land where Christmas was banned until she was defeated. What a sad, long winter it would be if we Americans unwittingly distilled our diverse religious celebrations into a neutral, nondescript "Happy Holiday.",0,5931968.story From the Los Angeles Times This material is made available in an effort to advance understanding of humanitarian, education, democracy, and social justice issues, religious issues, etc. It is belived that this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law.

December 24, 2005

A Little Something to Make You Go...Awwwwww!

I've been meaning to do a blog post on this all week! Take a peek at this's guaranteed to make you go, "Awwww!!" *wink* Enjoy!!

December 21, 2005

Here's a Thought...Volunteer Your Way Through the Holidays!

If you are a Muslim living in the United States, or a revert looking for a way to still share in the holiday spirit of peace and good will towards mankind, or just in need of something to help you get through the transition of feeling at a loss because: (1) You have no family or your family members are far away from you; either physically and/or emotionally; (2) You don't know any other Muslims in your community with whom you can associate to help you get past the holidays, since, as a Muslim you are not (or as a revert no longer) participating in the religious aspects of the holiday season, or "Christmas"; (3) You live in an area where there isn't a masjid nearby; (4) You want to maintain the essence of the "holiday" season by doing something positive for mankind in general; (5) You have some spare time on your hands; (6) You are simply looking for an opportunity to practice the Islamic teaching to occupy your time in doing good deeds, or; (7) You don't have any plans for Eid-ul-Adha! Please visit!! You can begin your search for volunteer opportunities right here: Customize your search to select from opportunities in categories like: Advocacy & Human Rights, Animals, Arts & Culture, Board Development, Children & Youth, Community, Computers & Technology, Crisis Support, Disabled, Education & Literacy, Emergency & Safety, Employment, Environment, Health & Medicine, Homeless & Housing, Hunger, Hurricane Relief, Immigrants & Refugees, International, Justice & Legal, Media & Broadcasting, Politics, Race & Ethnicity, Religion, Seniors, Sports & Recreation, and Women. You can even be a virtual volunteer! Just use the virtual opportunity search found here: As a virtual volunteer you can utilize your computer, Internet connection, phone, and/or fax. VolunteerMatch makes volunteering excuse free! To date VolunteerMatch has provided 2,349,861 referrals, and has offered 34,553 opportunities in association with 37,174 organizations!! Explore the multitude of opportunities available and see if there is a place where you can make a contribution today! Imagine the blessings to be found in representing Islam with the face of a Muslim, ready, willing, and able to show that we are truly a people of peace, love, kindness, understanding and charity. Abu Musa Al-Ash`ari (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (PBUH) said, "Giving in charity is an obligation upon every Muslim". It was said (to him): "What about one who does not find (the means) to do so?'' He (PBUH) said, "Let him work with his hands, thus doing benefit to himself and give in charity.'' It was said to him: "What if he does not have (the means) to do so?'' He (PBUH) said, "Then let him assist the needy, the aggrieved.'' It was said: "What about if he cannot even do this?'' He (PBUH) said, "Then he should enjoin good.'' He was asked: "What if he cannot do that?'' He (the Prophet (PBUH)) said, "He should then abstain from evil, for verily, that is a charity from him." [Al-Bukhari and Muslim] "Every good deed is charity." [Al-Bukhari] Happy Volunteering!!

December 20, 2005

How Many Countries Are in the World?

You know, I found this really cool little blog add-on, which some of you may have noticed, that tracks visitors by the country they've popped in from. This little gadget just fascinates me! So, on noticing that there have been visitors to my blog from 55 different countries, curiosity got the best of me, and I finally succumed to the itch and ran a search on the number of countries in the world. Many an astute geography student probably already knew the answer to this question, however, I am guessing that there are just as many of us out here that didn't already know the answer so here it is: P.S. You can get your own neocounter here. After the 14-day free trial period you'll have to subscribe if you want to maintain the full customizable version, otherwise, the neoboard will revert back to the "free" version. The good news is the subscription fee is nominal - $5.95 for 6 mos. or $8.95 for 12 mos. From Matt Rosenberg, Your Guide to Geography. May 3 2004 By Most Accounts, 193 is the Correct Answer. A very frequent geographical question is "How many countries are in the world?" Different numbers pop up when one inquires or reads about the number of countries in the world. Each source you use often yields a different answer. United Nations There are 191 members of the United Nations. Unfortunately, the number 191 is too often used to represent the number of countries in the world. Although this number represents almost all of the countries in the world, there is still one country (the Vatican City) that is independent and has chosen not to become a member of the U.N. U.S. Department of State The United States' State Department recognizes 192 independent countries around the world. Their list of 192 countries reflects the political agenda of the United States of America and its allies. Missing from the State Department's list is one entity that may or may not be considered a country, depending on who you talk to. The One Outsider Taiwan meets most of the requirements of independent country or state status. However, due to political reasons, it fails to be recognized by the United States and much of the rest of the world. Taiwan was actually a member of the United Nations (and even the Security Council) until 1971, when mainland China replaced Taiwan in the organization. Taiwan continues to press for full recognition by other countries, to become "part of the club" and fully recognized worldwide but China claims that Taiwan is simply a province of China. Thus... Your Guide considers there to be 193 countries, which is probably the best current answer to the question, "How many countries are in the world?" unless Taiwan is officially absorbed into China at some point, in which case the answer would be 192. However... Recognize that there are dozens of territories and colonies that are sometimes erroneously called "countries" but don't count at all - they're governed by other countries. Places commonly confused as being countries include Puerto Rico, Bermuda, Greenland, Western Sahara, and even the components of the United Kingdom (such as Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and England - sorry folks, they're not countries, states, or nation-states). ©2005 About, Inc., A part of the New York Times Company. All rights reserved.

December 14, 2005

Chillin' with the Birds on a Somber Afternoon

I've had pets of one kind or another throughout my life...the first being a beautiful grey kitten named Smokey. Then came along Suki, Peanut, Skeeter, Benji, Tracy, a second generation Benji and Tracy, Lacy, Charlie, King, and Kong, Myrtle, Blaze, Christy, Dancer, and Tigger...and I'm sure I've missed a few! *lol* But of all the animals I've had, from cats, dogs, chickens, ducks, horses, turtles, and even a squirrel, I've never had, but have always been fascinated by talking birds. I've known a few people over the years with birds that could talk, and have recently become keen to have one I could teach English to in order to have someone else to talk with besides my husband! *just kidding!!* So, anyhow, yesterday afternoon I was wandering around the souk and came upon a little shop where I stopped to hang out with the birds. The guy on the right (picture above), was absolutely entertaining...or that is...entertained with himself! *lol* This bird was just whistling up a storm, every kind of whistle you could imagine, and non-stop at that! I couldn't help but chuckle as I stood watching and listening...this, of course, peeking my interest once again in becoming a bird owner. *smile* But...for as much as I yearn in my heart to have a pet in my life again...the pain of the loss I felt when my last pet fell ill and had to be put to sleep...well...was just about more than I could take...and I just don't know if I can bring myself to subject my heart to that again... Owning a pet is a big responsibility...and my last experience showed me particularly, that if your life/living situation isn't stable, you shouldn't try to bring a pet into your home. It's not fair to the animal...and in the end only leads to heart-break. So, even though contemplating pet ownership again has been on my mind the last few days...I know it's not the best idea right now...and what makes the longing sort of worse is...every time I go outside I see cats...but there's not a single one that you could pick up and cuddle, because they're just 'yard' cats. Sad, it is. Just sad. Okay, time to take my melancholy self on off to bed. Besides, Windows is trying to install an update and I keep getting this little pop-up window telling me that in order to complete the installation Windows will be restarted in 4 minutes and 59 which you can click on the "restart now' button or the "restart later" button. Well...I've come to know, after clicking on "restart later" about a dozen times, that "later" is only like...five minutes! Annoying darn thing...later means LATER darn it! *lol* Alright...catchy'all later...

December 12, 2005

Scenes from an Afternoon Walk...(12/13/05)

I ventured out after Asr today on a quest to find a few items from a short mental list, and in keeping with my decision to turn left instead of right this trip *smile* I found myself in a bustling little neighborhood surrounded by small vegetable and fruit stands, bakeries, grocery stores, butcher markets, and a series of little walk-up restaurants (a/k/a a local souk!). It was such a nice afternoon, the weather amazing considering that it is mid-December; you don't even have to wear a sweater outside yet! Subhan'Allah. There were only a few things remaining on my shopping list when the adhan for Maghrib sounded. Deciding to scout out a masjid instead of waiting until I returned to the apartment for salat, I stopped to surmise my surroundings. One of the nice things about living in a country where Islam is the predominantly practiced religion is that you don't have to look too far to find a masjid! Al-hamdulillah! Turning to my left and then to my right, within eyesight of either direction I found the familiar minaret, the only thing left to do was make a decision as to which direction to walk. I started out the afternoon's adventure with a left turn, so it just somehow made sense to continue left. What I found inside the masjid was such a nice surprise, so much so that I just had to snap a few photos. I've been in many a masjid with tile lined walls, but the walls and ceilings of the entire three floors of this masjid were hand painted. It was simply beautiful. I hope you enjoy the pictures, insha'Allah.

December 11, 2005

Here's a Bright Idea...

Go to Yahoo or Google (whatever your favorite search engine might be) and type in the search box "*your name* Needs" ... the quotation marks are important because they make it an exact match. For instance, since I'm Aishah I'll type in: "Aishah Needs" Pick your 3 best results and enter them in the "comment" section. I think the name "Aishah" made my list short...there were only four results in the search: Here are my three: (1) Aishah needs to buck up! (2) Aishah needs some friends! (3) Aishah needs me to be able to run around with her! Okay...this is what I do in Egypt on a boring Sunday night, as I sit closed up in my room because the main part of the apartment is filled with people speaking Arabic and I don't...sweet's a good excuse to not have to *visit* for five hours! *lol*

December 07, 2005

What Are You Grateful For Today? (12/07/05)

Al-hamdulillah for new slippers! *smile* My dear sweet mother-in-law knitted these and presented them to me today! Awww...aren't they cute?! Now my toes are snug and warm! Thanks Mom! I'm also grateful today in knowing that my adopted daughter, Hanane, is on her way to Colorado with her husband to start a new and fresh chapter in their lives. I pray Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala allows their safe journey as they will be on the road for about four days, and I pray that the new opportunities they will find in Colorado will breathe new vitality into their relationship, and that all things good will be facilitated for them wish ease. Above all I wish for them peace and happiness in this life and in Jannah. Ameen. I love you for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala my daughter. ~Mum

The HollyDazzle Day

By: Pamela K. Taylor Okay, this is one of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard... Newport News, Virginia, is getting ready for their annual Christmas celebration, except they aren't calling it that. They're calling it "Hollydazzle". And instead of lighting the Christmas tree, they'll be lighting the "Tree of Illumination." Who do they think they are fooling? Does anyone really imagine that American Jews drape their menorahs with holly garlands during Hanukkah? Or that Muslims put up trees (of illumination or any other sort) to celebrate Eid? Or maybe that Hindus hang ornaments off the many arms of Kali each December? Of course not! And when all the folks gather around the tree down in Newport News, waiting for the firemen to light it up, will any of them really think how beautiful the Multi-faith Tree of Illumination is going to be? Heck, no! Christmas trees are Christmas trees; celebrations where you light trees are celebrations of Christmas. Changing the name doesn't change the nature of what you are doing; it just makes a mockery of multiculturalism and the separation of church and state. The government should either get out of the business of holiday celebrations or they should practice true multiculturalism. Since the vast majority of Americans do not want the government to stop celebrating events important to their lives -- even my atheist friends and family celebrate holidays like Christmas and Easter -- the solution, clearly, is not to eliminate holidays, but to have public celebrations that actually include other faiths. Pretending that Christian traditions can be universal under a different name won’t pass the muster. It offends Christians, who rightfully do not want their holidays watered down into some meaningless, politically correct verbiage. And it offends non-Christians because such renaming is clearly nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt by some to maintain the status quo – that is to have the government continue celebrating Christmas and acting as though Christianity were the state religion, just disguising it under obfuscating titles. True multiculturalism is welcoming many different celebrations, customs, and holidays. It’s lighting a Christmas Tree one week, and lighting a Menorah the next. It’s hanging Ramadan lanterns in October and Christmas decorations in December. Some public institutions are already doing this. My children's elementary school, for instance, had winter holiday parties that were truly celebrations of winter traditions. The walls of the school were decorated with posters depicting Divali, Ramadan and Eid ul Fitr (which at the time fell near Christmas), Chinese New Year, Kwanza, Hanukkah, and various incarnations of Christmas. The parties often included songs, games, or crafts from different cultures. Children were invited to talk about their own celebrations. Our federal government has demonstrated another model – maintaining Christian traditions, while adding celebrations of other faiths to the calendar. The President still lights the National Christmas Tree, and the White House still boasts the largest wreath in Washington DC. But the President also hosts an annual Ramadan Iftar – the dinner to break fast. During Hanukkah, the White House displays a Menorah and hosts lighting ceremonies. He sends greetings to the Chinese community on Chinese New Year, and the African American community on Kwanza. That is the way government celebrations should be handled – with acknowledgement of the diversity that makes this country vibrant, and with respect for the principle that the government should not prefer one religion to another. Whether it is in one unified celebration that incorporates aspects of many faiths, or in a multiplication of celebrations doesn’t really matter so long as it is a substantive move towards inclusiveness. Lip service – coming up with feel-good names that fool nobody, and don’t please anybody – simply isn’t good enough. Copyright @ 2005, Pamela K. Taylor Pamela K. Taylor has been writing since childhood. While she makes a living free-lancing, editing, and writing copy, her first love is fiction, particularly science fiction. She is currently shopping her first novel, Beyond the Pleiades, and simultaneously working on four more. She also serves as Publications Officer and Acting Director of Islamic Writer's Alliance. Visit Pamela K. Taylor on the web at or Author's Biography: Direct Link to Article:

December 06, 2005

Doing A Good Deed Amounts to Charity

On the authority of Abu Musa Al-Ash'ari who reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "Sadaqah (alms) is enjoined on every Muslim." They (the people) said, "Suppose one cannot afford it?' He said, "He should work with his hands so that he may benefit himself and give in charity." They said, "If he cannot work or does not work?" He said, "Then he should help the oppressed unhappy person (by word or action or both)." They said, "If he does not do it?" He said, "Then he should enjoin what is good." They said, "If he does not do that?'' He said, "Then he should refrain from doing evil, for that will be considered for Him as a Sadaqah (charity)." (Reported by Imam Al-Bukhari Hadith no. 6022 and by Imam Muslim Hadith no. 1008)
  • The phrase “charity is incumbent on every Muslim” does not signify that giving charity is obligatory, rather it is, according to the unanimous agreement of scholars, a merit that every Muslim is encouraged to foster. Charity originlly signifies giving out of one’s property or money voluntarily. The obligatory Zakah can also be termed as Sadaqah (charity), to show that each giver of Zakah should be keen to achieve Sidq (truthfulness) when giving Zakah.
  • This Hadith states that every good deed or word is counted as a charity. Likewise, abstaining from doing evil is counted as a charity.
  • The Hadith also urges Muslims to work and earn lawfully, in order to have money from which one can give charity and save himself the humiliation caused by begging.
  • The Hadith urges Muslims to do good according to their means; if a certain good deed is difficult to achieve, one can turn to that which is easier for him.

December 04, 2005

There's no place like home...

I came across this image of a painting that reminded me so much of home...especially during this time of year, that I just couldn't help feeling compelled to share it with you! I was born and raised in Michigan, and spent many of those years living in the countryside of a small town. I remember many a winter day and scenes like the one depicted in this painting that reminded me so much of home... The house that we lived in was on lake front property, surrounded by woods and a wide variety of wildlife. I used to ride my horse on the winding trails of the surrounding area and I remember a stream similar to the one depicted in the painting. It was nice to be momentarily carried back to a place in time that seems now so far away, and the memory of moments where I experienced serenity much like that captured in this wonderful painting. Sunrise Splendor Observing the beauty of Yellowstone [National Park of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, USA] unfolding in the early morning glow, sunshine warming last night's extremely heavy frost is a sight few are privileged to see.

December 02, 2005

And the lights went out!

Okay, like it is 1:21 am Saturday morning here in Egypt. I have been working diligently on trying to get caught up on S4D new member introductions. In the background I've been watching a movie on cable. I'm about to finish the last introduction. The movie is in its, like, last, maybe 2 minutes. and the electricity goes out!!!! Hello!!!! Wait just a minute!!! That's not even nice!!! GRRRRRR!!!! So, two minutes into the next movie, opening credits still running... the electricity comes back. The good news is...the last new member intro has been sent out!!! I am caught up!!! Wahoo!! Yippee!! Hooray!