Sunday, July 26, 2015

War and War Words - describing the enemy

I really enjoy linguistic analysis. I like looking at how words are used to frame a political stance and in time of war, the pickings are rich. As regular readers know, I am in Sana'a Yemen and have been following the political happenings in Yemen since before the Arab Spring Uprisings. Since the war began and there isn't electricity to keep up to date by the net or TV, I have resorted to my trusty little wireless.

I have been flicking between al-Masira (Houthi TV audio feed), Sam FM (Houthi sympathiser broadcasts), and Itha3at as-Sana'a (Sana'a government broadcaster). There isn't much else to listen to these days, even the Quran channel has disappeared.

As far as most people see in on the ground here, the Saudi Coalition attacked us unprovoked (unless you consider Houthi ranting hyperbole as justifiable provocation). So the Houthis have been able to capitalise on this and many Yemeni men particularly the unemployed flocked to join Houthi ranks in defence of the Yemeni homeland. I have been listening to the reports and noting the use of adjectives to describe the Saudi aggression.

In the first days, the coalition was simply referred to as 3dawan Saudi-Amriki, very soon that became 3dawan Saudi-Amriki Al-Ghashim. Ghashim means unjust, unfair, tyrannical, brutish. You get the idea. Personally I think this is a good description of the way the air campaign has bee conducted.

A few more days of al-ghashim and another adjective was added to the 3dawan - al-Hamaji. So now news readers were using 3dawan Saudi Amriki al-ghashim al-hamaji. Al-hamaji means uncivilised, savage or barbaric. This has been an important addition of adjectives as the propaganda moved to creating a picture of Saudi Arabia as being without civilisation or culture, as compared with Yemen's long history of civilisation and ancient archaeological sights.

During the first month, as most of us, even if we did not support the Houthis, were amazed by the arrogance of the coalition air strikes. The use of mutakabbir and mutajabbir were introduced into describing the Saudi led coalition. Both words mean arrogant. The words dropped out of common usage and a new word was used and is still in common use now in daily broadcasts. the word - al-burburi, meaning barbaric and uncivilised from the word Berber the native people of North Africa. We have a similar word in English - barbary. This word continued with the uncivilised versus the Yemeni civilisations and pride in country theme.

Around the same time of burburi came sahyooni which plays on the percieved involvement of Israel in these operations. One day the news reader was referring to the coalition and said, "al-3dawan Saudi -Amriki al-ghashim al-hamaji al-burburi alsahyooni, Ya Allah I need a new dictionary."

The clear winner in terms of continued usage up to this point in time is al-ghashim.

Next linguistic look will consider the use of adjectives to describe Yemenis enduring patiently amid the airstrikes and blockade.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Not Fasting Ramadan

Not Fasting Ramadan It is a reluctant decision to make to not fast Ramadan due to illness. It is a reluctant reality for Muslims who look forward to Ramadan all year and then cannot fast. This is the experience of one Muhajir who faced this reality. During my first few years as a muhajir, I fasted with ease and rarely even suffered tiredness. One year I was invited to spend Ramadan in Yemen with other Muhajireen and their families, so I took up the invitation eagerly. Ramadan started and everything was fantastic. The fasting was enjoyable and eman filled, the worshipping was deep and time with Quran was abundant. I also enjoyed the time with the brothers. One night during the second week of Ramadan, we had BBQ meat for dinner and the meat was still a little pink inside – like medium rare. I only ate a small portion but it was enough to give me a bad bout of food poisoning. It was terrible, but I didn’t lose any days of fasting despite being ill. I didn’t improve after a week, in fact I got worse and felt all my insides were dying, on top of that we were in a village nowhere near medical facilities. So, the brothers got me a bucket full of Yemeni Sidr Honey still in the honeycomb. The smell of the sweetness when I opened the lid turned my sensitive stomach but the brothers coaxed me to eat the honey. The first bite and I was hooked – I couldn’t stop eating the honey and I finished the bucket full in 24 hours. (Sidr honey of this amount and quality still in honeycomb would have cost near $1000 retail. Alhamdulillah we were near a honey producing area and it was harvest season so we got a direct from the apiarist for almost free). The honey helped me back to health and I went back to my Gulf State job after Eid and a very enjoyable Ramadan despite the health problem. It took me six months to recover fully and I was left with permanent kidney damage. I was still able to fast a few more Ramadans but it was more difficult each year until I reached Ramadan 2012. I finished the whole fast but right in Eid I suffered a serious kidney infection. I recovered from the infection but my kidneys had had enough of fasting and I couldn’t even fast single days. I started a natural medicine regime for the long term and the deterioration stabilized but I still remain unable to fast. Even if I don’t drink water for a few hours, my kidneys start aching. Not being able to fast anymore was a sad and reluctant reality – to abandon fasting Ramadan. Islam is mercy and it is not there to damage us – we have alternatives for those physical unable to fast. I pay fidiya. What I noticed my first Ramadan without fasting was that I’d forget it was Ramadan because I wasn’t feeling it. I’d forget to read Quran, I even left tarawih a few times and noticed my level of worship compared with Ramadans before was much less. I just didn’t feel “Ramadany”. This Ramadan (2015), my second without fasting, I am double checking every day that apart from the fasting, I don’t leave any other of my usual acts of worship and time spent with Quran. This Ramadan I am abstaining from food but still drinking so at least I feel that Ramadan fasting feeling. Even though there is no reward with this – it is not fasting, but it makes me feel Ramadany to get up for suhoor and look forward to iftar with friends and family. This year we see the lands of the Muslims in greater fitnah than any time since the fall of the Caliphate almost 100 years ago. I ask Allah to bless us this Ramadan and make the Haq victorious over batil and to protect the Muslims from falling into oppressing or oppression and killing and being killed. We are in the midst of a zalzalah and we ask Allah that we are on the side of haq and strive in this duniya for the highest level of Jannat al-Firdaws. Amin

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Rain Continuing in Yemen

The military installation in my neighbourhood in Sana'a has been hit three times in less than three weeks, but last night they (Saudi coalition planes) put on a special 2 hour show. I thought they must have really totalled the joint but this morning when I left the house to go to work, I looked up at the artillery battery on the hill and it is fine, even the little huts remain. What on earth were they bombing?

When the bombing starts you get no warning. The planes are up high so you don't hear them, and all of a sudden you are floored as the windows blow open and all dust comes in. The noise shocks you and even if you don't feel scared, your heart rate does race and the adrenaline starts to pump. Last night I was cooking eggs when the first explosion blew open the kitchen window and gave me quite a start. I took my eggs, determined to eat them (such a waste to leave them to burn or go hard) and went into the other room thinking it would be safer, then those windows blew open with dust and an unnerving hot burst of air, so I went into my bedroom, and same again. Screw you bombs I am going to eat my eggs! I ate them but every time an explosion when off my stomach seemed to squeeze and I ended up with a punched in the guts feeling.

I sat there and made dua, listened and repeated the words coming out of the loudspeaker of the masjid - SubhanAllahi wa atoobu ilaik (Glory to Allah and I repent to You). After a while my ears and nose hurt from the pressure of the blasts and I wondered how the neighbours up the street, much closer to the blasts were fairing.

The bombing finally stopped, and everything was silent. I fell into a deep sleep and woke up to more bombs, alhamdulillah they woke me up for qiyam al-lail. My head ached - adrenaline hangover.

The whole neighbourhood was covered with black gritty powder and a few houses sustained damage and a few goats and sheep miscarried, but everyone was fine.

We all went about our daily chores today, kids were back in the street playing - no school! We all are calm, and continuing on as normal. The prices of food skyrocketing. A bag of rice costs me a weeks salary, and we aren't working at the moment because some of the workplaces have closed. Yemenis are very patient but deep down we are all worried what will happen next once the bombing stops.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Rain in Yemen

Assalamu alaikum wr wb,

There had been thunderstorms everyday for a week and I was curled up cozy in bed happy to be there with a thunderstorm outside. There was a lot of gunfire, but that is normal - wedding, land dispute, fireworks...then I reached my phone to see the time 3:08am, and some messages. "Operation Decisive storm, Saudi jets strike Sana'a."

We are now in the sixth consecutive day of strikes. The first few days were very targeted at military installations, but now things are getting a bit random. A strike hit a long standing refugee camp in northern Yemen, and in Yareem (Ibb governorate) many civilians were killed over night.

Many people have left Sana'a for their villages, but many have no where else to go and are stocking up on supplies of food staples. Many foreigners - students and workers are stranded in Sana'a unable to be evacuated.

We only expect things to get worse. Ground troops, food shortages, water shortages, illness...

This is a pack rape on Yemeni people while the political elite who cooked up this mess are safely out of the country.

For now, tape up the windows and stay cool. We can't do anything about it except make du'a. We have a fair idea of where this is heading...I suggest you read up on Akhir Zaman.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Muhajir Living through the Arab Spring

Before the Arab Spring political upheavals, muhajireen often faced arrest without reason just for being Westerners in their hijrah locations. Some muhajireen moved from place to place seeking visas and work with the main obstacle being the political security and intelligence offices.

I remember those days, we all were so worried every time we tried to renew our visas that the security/intelligence services would not stamp our papers. Sometimes they kept our passports for extended periods of time with no explanations. Sometimes they handed back our passports and sometimes they arrested us.

The beginning of the Arab Spring some of us felt a twinge of hope that maybe Islam would get a chance, but the main call was for democracy and "freedom" whatever they think that is, it didn't seem they were looking at all into Islam. The Arab Spring soon became bitter disappointment and many of our hijrah destinations dried up. Some managed to travel to other inshaAllah better places. I personally stayed in the same country for the entire Arab Spring period and witnessed the daily senseless killings. I saw bodies being piled up in hilux vans and sped off to hospitals. It was so senseless and there was no place in it for a Muhajir but to watch and make dua. It was not an Islamic fight, it was tribal, factional and personal in some cases; neighbour against neighbour at times.

I consider the Arab Springs to be failures but something that was necessary. Something like furqan - it sifted people into for and against in further polarised distances.  The more I read about Akhir Zaman (the end of time) the more everything that I see personally happening and what I see in the news from around the world fits very neatly into what Allah the Most High has already told us.

Now we are living in the "loot for your life" phase. Looting not necessarily people's belongings, but looting from those trying to grab the scraps left over on the plate. The people totally missed out on gaining any improvements - not even to return to the Deen as the way of living.

These days we are seeing fierce fighting and reckless killing in al-Sham, and fighting in Libya and in Yemen the sectarian divide between Sunni and Shia (which was once barely noticeable) is widening rapidly as Houthi Shiah rebels (with Iranian backing) sweep across the country. Before the Houthi take-overs AQAP was very quiet, but since the Houthis have devastated Sunni places of learning, many students, I dare say, have physically joined with AQ rather than just being sympathetic with them. Tribes vehemently against Houthis taking them over have also joined or cooperate with AQ. And of course the US drone strikes continue, now also hitting tribesmen who are cooperating with AQ, so in effect, America is helping the Houthis who chant publically "Death to America" but in private, there is nothing in their slogan.

As a muhajir living through these times, one feels an extra level of uncertainty and confusion of what to do. Frustration is building and decision making has taken on a whole new dimension. Stay, go , relocate, wait and see...Allah guide us!

I ask Allah to guide all the muhajireen wherever they are and put them in the best place for their duniya and akhira. I ask Allah to make us steadfast upon His Path.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Memories of Home "Sweet" Home

I mentioned in my previous post that Hijrah is tiring and requires dedication and strong faith.

Sometimes Muhajireen can feel so tired that they feel like "going home". I know I have these thoughts from time to time, especially at visa renewal time. Negative thoughts intrude and I ask myself why I torture myself so. But the reality is likely that I would be torturing myself if I packed up and went "home".

I asked another Muhajira who was thinking of going "home" to imagine home, what is the weather like, what are you doing etc,. I wanted to know if she saw home in the same non-reality as I did. When I think of "home" as a place to retreat to, my home city is always awash with sunshine and beautiful blue skies and I am enjoying her parks and gardens and the views. The other sister also had these imaginings in her mental picture of "home".

We imagine such amazing weather when in reality it is either stinking hot or freezing cold. We imagine the beautiful places when in reality we live in the poorest cheapest suburb. We forget the reality of how we were treated and why we left.  The grass is always greener...

I was wondering how many other muhajireen on a bad day imagine "home". Do you have lovely images or dark and miserable ones?

Where is home anyway? "Home" is Jannah, we need to keep ploughing along in this tiring duniya to reach it, and we cannot imagine it. Jannah is Home.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Hijrah for the Long Haul

Some time back a sister asked me if I would write an article looking at how Muhajireen felt once they had been Muhajireen for a long time. I would guess that it feels different for everyone.

 I have been a Muhajirah for around seven years now. How do I feel now? I feel tired, but I would probably feel more tired if I was still in my country of origin. However tired I might feel, I hear news from brothers and sisters living in the West and I dare say they are more tired than I.

What makes a Muhajirah feel tired are a mix of things. Some simpler of these are things like having to speak a language other than one's mother tongue all day, different food, different weather, different manners of people, lack of organisation, difficulties in accessing government services for papers or registration to study and so on. These are all shared problems of immigrants of all types; Muhajireen or otherwise.

Another thing that tires a lot Muhajireen is the malaise of the Muslim Ummah. When you live in a country where the population are Muslim you have some expectations from them at first, but as time passes you realise you should have no expectations from them except that they pass on the greeting of salam. The Muhajireen see the masses of the Muslims are SLEEPING and no amount of dawa about the events of akhir zaman will wake them. They pray their fardh prayers but the rest of the time are sleepwalking to the tune of the Dajjal.

One issue affecting many muhajireen is the turbulent political situation in many of the Hijrah destination countries. Although the politics may not affect us directly, the falling economies make us semi-dependant upon outside donations. Even for me with a Masters degree, cannot find a job that pays enough for basic expenses. 

Despite all this, a muhajir must always remind him or herself of the virtues of Hijrah for Allah's sake. I recommend any muhajir to keep up to date of the awful situation of our brothers and sisters all over the world. It is sobering and keeps us thankful to Allah for the blessings He has granted us by letting us achieve a great feat in worshiping Him.

In the Hijrah destination country, a muhajir can wear Islamic attire, can walk in the streets without harassment. A muhajir can pray ALL the prays in a masjid. A muhajir can raise his or her children in an environment that is not so saturated by commercialism, semi-nakedness, lewdness, and drug-use. A muhajir can find a job with Islamic segregation. When in Hijrah, a muhajir has many opportunities to learn Arabic and Islamic sciences and develop his or her own self. When in Hijrah, a muhajir can live the Deen more fully and become realistic in the implementation of Shariah laws.

Most muhajireen I know although tired, would hate to return to their countries. A believer hates to return to disbelief as he hates to be thrown upon a fire (Hadith).  (I am not suggesting that non-Hijrah is disbelief, I mean here to return to living amongst the disbelievers could be likened to being thrown on a fire).

Hijrah is real, and it continues, and will continue until the repentance stops and repentance will not stop until the sun rises from the West.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Hijrah to Turkey Update 2

Is Turkey the new go to place for hijrah? If you hang out in Istanbul you may not think so, but deep into the countryside you can find some excellent hijrah getaways. The people of Turkey are slowly becoming more practicing of Islam and many seek to study Deen, learn Arabic and memorise Quran and so there are many places open around the country to cater to local and foreign Islamic needs. Some of these Islamic centres are in beautiful serene areas offering idyllic Islamic learning getaways.
A fair number of the Islamic scholars and learned ones of Yemen have left Yemen since the uprising and Houthi Shiah takeover of the government and set up shop in Turkey. Some are working in Islamic centres around the country as well as setting up their own Islamic centres and schools. There is even word that Eman University is in negotiation to set up a branch in the country, perhaps the negotiations are speeding up now that Eman Univesity in Sana’a suffered a great blow when the Shiah rebels overran the city and took Eman University as war booty.

On a side trip from studies, there are many interesting places to visit from beautiful natural areas to bustling traditional markets to ancient ruins and archeological sites were we can see and reflect upon the people of the past. How they were once mighty empires and now rubble for us to see the evidence of time and that all real honour is from Allah and He bestows it upon whom he wills.

The muhajireen community in Turkey is a diverse array of Muslims from all around the world. You are likely to find someone from your country and possibly even you city living in Turkey as a Muhajir. Turkey is possibly also an attractive Hijrah destination for those who want Hijrah but need ongoing medical treatment. Many of the Hijrah destinations would not be suitable as the health infrastructure is poor. Turkey could be a preferable destination for medical needs rather than Jordan or the Gulf States (UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain).

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Has the Ship Sailed?

I wanted to post some time ago to urge those who want to make Hijrah to go for it before the doors are closed and the roof capped and you become trapped in the lands of the disbelievers. I was reminded that I hadn’t posted this article when I saw recent news from the West of new legislation in their “War on Terror” to be passed prevention and prosecution for anyone trying to travel to a country with known terrorist activity.

This legislation was proposed by the USA and approved by the UN security council. This comes as a response to the numbers of citizens of Western nations traveling to join groups fighting in Syria and Iraq. There are a lot of countries where terrorist activities are or may be carried out. Apart from Syria and Iraq, there is Turkey (lots of people use it as a staging area), Yemen, Somalia, countries around Somalia, Libya, countries around Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Philippines, Indonesia…

So, has the ship sailed for those who had not taken that step, that jump to Hijrah? Are the doors sealed and Hijrah hopefuls stuck forever in the lands of the disbelievers? No, not necessarily. Where there is a will there is a way and Help from Allah the Most Merciful.

Rasool Allah (peace be upon him) said, “Hijrah will not be cut off until repentance is cut off and repentance will not be cut off until the sun rises from the West.” (Declared Sahih by al-Albani) In another hadith Rasool Allah says, “Hijrah will not be cut off so long as there is Jihad.” (Also declared Sahih by al-Albani)

These new laws are a test, and should not deter you from your Hijrah plans, in fact they should encourage you as you see how they seek to contain the truth of Islam and prevent Muslims from practicing their faith completely.

We should all take heed of the great fitan that are upon the Ummah and become well conversant with the events of Akhir Zaman and prepare ourselves accordingly for worse to come.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Hijrah Destinations Update - Yemen - Issue 4

For all the people who email me about studying in Eman University - it is closed and the Houthis (shia milita) looted the whole place. To be honest I hoped they'd burn down the poor students accommodation. They weren't fit for dog kennels. Anyway, place closed for now and no news on rebuilding plans. It is just wait and see.

As a result of the Houthis taking power, the situation is tense and anything Sunni, Salafi or Islahi (ikhwani) is being looted and dismantled. You would not likely get a visa anyway. Some Western States have put restrictions on travel to places with known terrorist activity such as Syria and Iraq and Yemen also fits the bill, although the terrorist activity (as according to the West, by AQAP) is not a lot, and some mob were able to march into town and take over so perhaps AQAP will get busy again against the new leadership. (The previous political potheads are still in place visually, we see them on TV and in the news addressing the people but the balance of power is with the Houthis). Some Western states are even threatening to prosecute any Muslims trying to travel to these places without a really good reason.

The best way to get into Yemen is to have a job ready in country, and a job that you specialise in and therefore you are really needed here.

The universities are all closed at the moment as well as some government offices.