The Hajj Apology Letter —A Complete Cop Out from Actually Apologizing
An Op-Ed Piece by Hammada El-Mahsen
I tried to avoid it because it made me cringe. But there it was again on my Facebook newsfeed, the same time as it was last year. There were half a dozen. All of them had the same cliché melodramatic voice of pity laced with a solemn request for forgiveness. I like to call them the ‘apology letters’; posts from scores of Muslims who seek to repent before they embark on the annual pilgrimage, the Hajj.
The letters come in many packages. Some provide compositions with polished English and grammar to demonstrate a more serious tone. Others simply write a few sentences expressing regret and bitterness towards others—these are the ones that are done usually prior to boarding the plane which will take them to Saudi Arabia and eventually, Mecca. But they all deliver a rather cold and impartial objective. A few years ago I asked a friend what made him send such a formal letter through a social media outlet just before he left for Hajj. He said it was convenient. There’s nothing to it. Simply draft a post, review it for grammar and shoot it out to f friends who are led to believe that the act of sending a memo so “heartfelt” would be satisfactory for those recipients that apparently felt hurt at some point in their lives by the sender. It’s a great little setup.
Repentance is a big deal in Islam. It’s practically required that you reconcile, resolve any ill-feeling towards a family member or friend especially before you partake in Hajj. Common sense would lead us to believe that a process of actually meeting the party(s) who you had an altercation with would be beneficial in reconciling any grievable differences. Perhaps a phone call would suffice if a face-to-face was out of the question due to say, wide geographical separation; even an email directly to the source would be a step up. But a default letter made out to the public asking for forgiveness? Are you serious?
It seems as if Facebook, Twitter and Google have carved out their own niche, by making a rather earnest act, which is without a doubt, very tough but courageous thing to do, into nothing more than avoiding the dirty work. Conversely, maybe people are perfectly fine receiving a notice from a ‘frenemy.’ They could treat it as admirable and go along their day knowing well that they were provided an apology shared with another 300 people, many of who never even had a problem with the author. It could also be that these recipients will be doing the very same thing when they decide to attend Hajj.
I suppose it’s a defense mechanism. Saying you’re sorry takes a lot of balls. Everyone assumes its easy, until they have to do it. The worse the situation, the harder it is to say I was wrong. But isn’t that what we’re supposed to do? Who decided to go on auto-pilot by mass mailing an apology letter? And how is this in anyway being remorseful? War and Peace author Leo Tolstoy once said, “I sit on a man’s back, choking him, and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by any means possible, except getting off his back.” In other words, it’s easy to convey a feeling of remorse allow others to assume that we are channeling sorrow while we rejoice in their appreciation for conducting an act of dignity. But nothing has been done to truly alleviate the weight. If a friend had problems with you, why would they think that a letter directed at no one could serve as a solution?
We’re all so tuned in with the online world that nowadays, much like texting, it’s not about the message, so much that it’s about a message. It has no substance, just a point. It’s accepted for intention rather than a possible means to an end. Society changes as we move forward. What we did last year seems antiquated. We don’t normally follow things long enough in the fast pace world to cherish the moment. We surrender to future. But that doesn’t mean we relinquish our principles and even moreso, our ethics. Don’t get me wrong. It would be lovely to go through life by mitigating our relationship conflicts from a distance. The artificial use of technology substitutes for emotional reality. We quell our innermost fear by providing it with a placebo that tells it to take it easy and that there is a way out of here. Most ominously, we’re interpreting what we are supposed to do and making it “convenient.”
Okra readers let us know your thought: Would you ask for forgiveness by sending out a mass Facebook post before you went on Hajj? Or is it not cool?
Three Coca-Cola Executives Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize after Making Muslims Smile
By Farookh Balsarah
New York City (NY)—Three advertising executives from the gargantuan global soda maker, Coca Cola, were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize after a Muslim woman wearing a hijab appeared in their 1 minute Super Bowl commercial.
The ad, entitled, “America the Beautiful” took liberty at showing a variety of religious and ethnic minorities in the country with the message that the favorite soft drink of choice is shared by a pluralistic and diverse society but who all live and share the same happiness in the United States.
“Omaha!” shouted Jeff Electrick Head Copy Editor of the commercial which has already received over 2.2 million hits on YouTube since its debut this past Sunday. “If I knew that all it took to get considered for a Peace Prize was to get some dame wearing a scarf on her head to smile at the camera for one second, I would have been Mother Teresa’s level 10 years ago!”
Along with Electrick, 41, senior creative director Clark Lyte, 42, and junior copywriter Dennis Orkestra, 31, were given recognition and nominations although all three are considered as one potential recipient for the award.
To make Muslims smile has been a concerted effort by multiple international organizations, including the United Nations who has found the task rather cumbersome considering the constant blame Muslims are subjected to on a daily basis. A recent Gallup poll showed close to 77% of Muslims are disgruntled by their image in the media specifically being blamed for terrorist threats, violently objecting to derogatory Islamic cartoons and ruining birthday parties.
“As our world becomes smaller with the advancement of technology, we face a severe epidemic of frowning Muslims. They remind me of Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh,” said former United Nations Secretary-General Koffi Annan. “I believe Coca-Cola has taken the right steps to get us there.”
The ad executives said they had no idea the impact a one second cameo by a Muslim woman would have and began to get tweets of appreciation from thousands of Muslims during halftime of the Superbowl. Notable tweets were received from the Prime Ministers of Jordan and Indonesia, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the head of Hezbollah. Al-Qaeda simply wrote- “Thanks for the props Coke. Got the warm fuzzies.”
“We were eating at Taco Bell after the game, when I received a text from our boss that read ‘what the f**k did U do!’ He had a lot of exclamation points,” said Orkestra who was certain the commercial was a bomb and that he would most likely get fired. “I told Clark we should get our things from the office now because I didn’t think we would be allowed back to work. But man, was I wrong.”
On Tuesday, former President of the United States, Jimmy Carter submitted a nomination at the deadline on behalf of the ad group, Eletrick Lyte Orkestra, to the Norwegian Nobel Committee for consideration on the annual award which has been previously given out to heads of states, religious figureheads, and global activists. If selected, it would mark the first time an individual/entity from a highly profitable and exploitive company would receive the laureate.
“Finally someone made us smile,” said Umair Basha, Assistant Communications Director for the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). “It’s nice to have one of your own in a mega commercial.”
Since the beginning of the week Coca-Cola shares have continued to rise on massive optimism particularly fueled from billionaire Muslim investors who feel special that someone has acknowledged them in a positive light. Despite not realizing Coca-Cola’s marketing team had discovered the American Muslim demographic to be one of the wealthiest based on per capita, most Muslims are thrilled they may be taken as part of the American family.
Coca-Cola is allegedly now working on a new ad with the Taliban which will reenact the storyline from their 1979 classic commercial featuring “Mean” Joe Greene only this time the Hall of Fame Pittsburgh Steelers’ defensive end will be replaced by a Taliban soldier who has just beaten the shit out of a high-schooler for reading a book. As he completes his treacherous flogging, a 7 year holding a bottle of Coke offers him the drink to quench his thirst, to which the soldier smiles and gives his machete to the kid in exchange. Coca-Cola denies this report.
Bored FBI Pull White House Petition Prank—collects 7 years of data on American Muslims in less than 2 weeks
By Adnan Hussein
In an attempt to relive the glory years after being disenchanted with politically correct blah-blah, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) admitted today the recent White House petition to grant Eid al-Fitr, the religious celebration observed in Islam, as a Federal Holliday, was just an old gag to collect new data on Muslims in the United States.
“That was easy,” said FBI Deputy Director Larry Crosby to a raucous and jubilant crowd of field agents, U.S. Marshalls and reporters. “No, it was easy! Too easy!! I’m done. I don’t want to play no more.” Crosby, wearing sunglasses and a cowboy hat, told the packed conference room of more than 500 he didn’t realize a simple tactic, first administered in the 1960s through the covert and sometimes illegal FBI operations known as COINTELPRO, could still be effective. “Back then our Godfather J. Edgar Hoover had a plan to exploit the Black Panthers, KKK, The NAACP, and The Weathermen. I’m proud to say we have carried on the tradition of infiltration and successfully accessed thousands upon thousands of personal information from American Muslims.”
“We got 7 years’ worth of data in less than 2 weeks,” said Janine Epstein, FBI assistant communications analyst for Eastern Division. “Boy, Larry is a maverick. And all he really wanted was a little fun.”
Because of constitutional guidelines, a new referendum to the Privacy Act and a strict policy to government ethics mandated by the White House, monitoring any ethnic or religious group has to be methodical, appropriate and approachable for an audit. The FBI said after such rules were enforced they got bored with surveillance and digging up little tidbits on Muslims.
However according to FBI sources while at a retirement party last October for Senior Director of Operations Mike Fitzgerald, Crosby and his team indulged on the idea to pull a prank like the old days to see how far they could go. It was then suggested to setup a supposed online White House petition. Asked why they targeted Muslims for the joke, one anonymous agent exclaimed “come on—Muslims get so serious about everything. They‘re passionate people, but have no clue when it comes to getting punked. I mean they can’t even figure out The Okra. How are they going to figure out a fake online petition?”
In December of last year, FBI informants acting as teachers at a Virginia high school, identified and persuaded three junior high school Muslim girls to send an op-ed piece to the Washington Post, which conveyed their heart-felt desire to grant the Eids as Federal Holidays. They encouraged Muslims to sign an online petition which would be sent to the White House.
“As if the United States is going to give two religious holidays, which mind you, float every year, a federal status!” laughed Crosby. Ridonkuless!” While not enough signatures had been collected for the White House to “ponder” stamping Eid a federal Holliday, more than 83,000 Muslims did provide their home contacts which made the prank a success.
“This is really a betrayal to me and the Muslim community at large,” said Qasim Hamada, Secretary-General for The American Muslim Strategy and Alliance. “How dare they use us for their own amusement. This was a serious bid to recognize a major Holliday—and it’s not Festivus!” Hamada said his organization will boycott all support to the FBI for future homeland investigations and demands an apology.
“Oh come on!” said Crosby. “It was a joke. Lighten up. It’s not as if we’re going to solicit your information to anyone. We promise to keep it with us forever.”