The Hajj Apology Letter —A Complete Cop Out from Actually Apologizing

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Sep 252014
 

The Hajj Apology Letter —A Complete Cop Out from Actually Apologizing

An Op-Ed Piece by Hammada El-Mahsen

@TheokraNews

#HajjForLife

Hajj emailI 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?

Jun 262014
 

United Nations Diplomat Pleads with ISIS to Join Tinder—Says Meeting Hot Single Girls Might Quell Violence

By Annissa Gorani

@TheOkranews

Screen Shot 2014-06-26 at 9.50.59 PMBaghdad (Iraq)—A diplomat for the United Nations urged radical insurgents, ISIS, or the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, to halt its month long conflict in the Middle East by subscribing to the wildly popular mobile social application Tinder.

UN representative Tarek Mahmoud Sheikh, who has been in talks with ISIS Chief Communications operative Rashed El-Wakel, insisted the jihadist group, which in recent weeks has taken over large portions of northern and western Iraq, needs to divert their attention elsewhere. He suggested Tinder as an outlet to their insurgency revolt where they could spend time chatting online to interesting women primarily in the United States.

“ISIS is run predominantly by young men who are mostly single and active. But they are also surrounded by dudes all day,” said Sheikh. Why can’t they just take the time to meet some nice ladies and focus their attention on getting to know someone?”

ISIS is a group of Sunni jihadists who seek to create an Islamic state in eastern Syria and northern Iraq based on sharia law. Thus far, the group has captured territory from the outskirts of Aleppo in eastern Syria to Fallujah in southern Iraq. But while ISIS has made international news as an added layer of instigators to an already turbulent region, Sheikh has seen the opportunity to bring technology and attractive women as a relief to the mind-numbing casualties of conflict.

“It’s really, pretty simple. The men in ISIS have never had chances to explore and see the brighter side to life because of their environments and upbringing,” Sheikh said. “With Tinder, they can relax and stop thinking about how to raise hell. They can actually act like red-blooded American guys and just kick it with some friendly girls.” However, the idea of utilizing the social site known for arousing the flirtatious curiosity of millions of twenty and thirty-something minds hasn’t gone over well with the ISIS leaders.

“It’s never going to work. Why would our men want to give up fighting and start messaging cute blondes in London,” said Dean al-Maliki, Central Weapons Logistics Commander of ISIS, who was appalled but did register with Tinder. “I’ve gone on to the site about ten times, and in no way did I see anything that I was like really into, like a lot.” Al-Maliki, 48, did admit he gets mildly excited when he receives Tinder emails from new people. “I’ll receive four or five a day,” he said, using “Love Will Keep Us Together” by The Captain and Tennille as his inbox ringtone.

A spokesperson for Tinder did not respond to calls from The Okra, but released a press statement encouraging all militant groups to put down their guns turn on their mobile phones and access the application where all “your fantasies can come true” with a few clicks of the buttons.

While Sheikh has not confirmed if Tinder has been accepted as a band-aid solution to alleviate ISIS fighting, sources have told him it’s definitely on the table as a possibility with unconfirmed reports of ISIS soldiers getting in trouble from squad leaders for staying up at night and talking loudly with college girls on Tinder. “We’re not giving up on ISIS. We have to believe that some really good looking girls can be a part of the solution and help these men stop fighting.” He went on to recommend that Tinder could be also helpful to the Syrian government who for over two years has gone ballistic on their own people. “If we can’t use social networking as a tool to find peace, than maybe beautiful adventurous girls who like to laugh and want to get to know you maybe our next hope.”

Muslim Leaders Attend Washington Fundraiser—Brag About Posts and Bowling with Dalai Lama

 POLITICS  Comments Off on Muslim Leaders Attend Washington Fundraiser—Brag About Posts and Bowling with Dalai Lama
Feb 282014
 

Muslim Leaders Attend Washington Fundraiser—Brag About Posts and Bowling with Dalai Lama

By Ahmad Muneer
@theokranews

rockstar imamsWashington (DC)—Close to 30 American-Muslim leaders, mostly under the age of 45, were present at the Dialogue for Interfaith Council Symposium’s (DICS) 3rd annual fundraising dinner last night to discuss the success of their Facebook posts which ranged from modest brag ado to all-out narcissism.

The event, held at the Four Seasons Hotel, generated more than $85,000 which would go towards the leaders’ Facebook page so they could purchase more ‘likes’ in order to help raise awareness about themselves and the extraordinary things they tend to do every few hours of the day.

“I think its fantastic people came out for the great cause to love me,” said Riyaz Murtaza, a civil-rights attorney from Chicago with a Facebook following of 30,000, mostly from Nigerian sheepherders. “I want my fans to know that they mean everything to me. Last month I dedicated my climb to Machu Pichu with an orangutan strapped to my back for them.” Murtaza, who acknowledges himself as the Muslim Don Draper, also confirmed he taught the monkey Arabic to expand on his Islamic knowledge.

“I’m pretty happy with myself,” smiled Abid Al-Fawdi, a social activist whose credentials include an online self-help book on gardening and two interviews with Fox News on the Muslim swimsuit, the Burqini. “I was actually in Hong Kong earlier this week bowling with the Dali Lama, when I realized I had to be here. If it wasn’t for the business class upgrade I received, I probably would have been too tired to attend this function.” Al-Fawdi, who during a Q&A session, sported a Babushka which allegedly was a recent gift from former Soviet Union’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Andrei Gromyko (Gromyko has been dead since 1989), said he thinks it’s important American Muslim leaders get the attention they deserve because of their knowledge. “Let’s face it—King Kong ain’t got nothin’ on me! Leaders are a rare breed because we know more than most Muslims. Therefore, we need to have the spotlight.” When a reporter asked him what ‘more’ did he know, Al-Fawdi arrogantly responded “well I know I have more Tweets than you.”

American Muslim leaders have been under fire recently for demonstrating an attitude which borders on swagger and cockiness in media blogs and posts, characteristics that were unheard of with their predecessors. Some of the younger ones have been criticized for supporting just about any politically correct organization because its “cool” and blogging ambiguous philosophical quotes like teenagers who’ve smoked weed for the first time.

rock star leaders 2As a result, many have felt the need for the experts on Islam to minimize the number of updates on their latest and greatest conquests. A handful of protestors demonstrated peacefully outside the hotel lobby with signs expressing their disapproval. “Do people actually consider them as intellects?” said Fareed Shamil of Bethesda, Maryland. “I followed Murtaza on Facebook for a week while the Gaza Flotilla raid was happening in 2010. Instead of some insight to the actual incident, all he kept posting were pictures of his socks that he bought from Target and how uncomfortable they were.” Shamil asserted the new Muslim evangelists have gone overboard with their fame and are actually making it tempting for others to become part of their fraternity. “They’re basking in some demented form of rock stardom and telling us about the fun they are having. If it’s really true—than where do I apply?!”

By far the biggest moment of the evening was when CNN reporter Zayd Hamadullah showed up in a limousine driven by his wife, wearing a leopard-print Nehru jacket, a Fez and Armani sunglasses. Taking a cue from legendary Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders, Hamadullah, a.k.a PrimeTime walked into the gala shaking hands with the throngs of onlookers and flashing peace signs. “That’s right baby—the show is here,” the 27 year-old said.

While discussions among a few leaders did turn serious as there was concern on the possible shortage of new bragging material, most stayed positive and felt confident that their fan base and level of commitment as douchebags on social media sites would only increase in 2014. “This isn’t going to be like The Jersey Shore,” said Mohid Barir, Director of Urban Community Development for the Council of Arab Islamic Relations (CAIR) and a self-described Muslim intellect despite not having a degree in any Islamic subject. “We’re not going away. We’ll be on television more, at speaking events and writing more posts about our escapades of deep sea fishing on a yacht in St. Tropez. This is how we connect to other Muslims and let them know that we are their representatives to the world.”

Nov 082013
 

Houston Imam Gets Hooked, Cooked and Fried in Unbelievable Catfish Hoax

By Farookh Balsarah 

Houston, TX—Move over Manti Te’o. You’ve got company.

imam in shock after MTV show Catfish shows up at his doorA prominent young and upcoming Imam who was hailed as the Hamza Yusuf of his generation has taken an indefinite leave of absence from chaplain duties at his mosque after a popular television program discovered the alleged woman he met online and planned to marry, turned out to be a 48 year-old male Pakistani cab driver from Chicago.

Faisal Kazmi, the Imam at the Islamic Society of The Woodlands, an affluent suburb of Houston, was in shock when the staff of Catfish, the wildly successful MTV show which investigates suspicious predators of online dating, showed up at his house with the bad news that the beautiful and good-hearted girl of Oakbrook, Illinois he met through a friendly internet chat was in fact, Hamid “Boats” Boatwalla, of West Rogers Park, Chicago.

Said Boatwalla laughing hysterically , “this was the greatest prank I have ever pulled off in my life! I can’t tell you how many Facebook friend requests I’ve gotten since last week. How do you you like them apples!”

5809_Abu_Dhabi_Taxi_Driver

Hamid “Boats” Boatwalla– I’ve made so many friends as a result of this prank!

“This is super embarrassing” an emotional Kazmi said. “I thought she was real. We had plans to get married, start a family and lecture one other. I can’t believe it was some dude who drives taxis. I got totally catfished.”

“He was pretty devastated,” said Quinn Halliday, associate producer of Catfish, who indicated Kazmi, 25, started to sweat profusely when the findings report was disclosed. “I thought he was going to faint.”

The story began almost 6 months ago when Kazmi was on a WebEx forum explaining Islamic banking with a group of Muslims. One individual, a person by the name of Shakka Khan from Dallas, was very eager to listen to him.

“I didn’t think anything of it at first and was flattered that this Muslim woman was asking me all these questions on Islamic mortgages, which personally makes no sense to me, but was doing my best to provide her with information” said a still devastated Kazmi smoking a Newport. “It felt great to be important and people can count on your knowledge for spiritual guidance.” Eventually, both Kazmi and Shakka exchanged contact information which soon matured into emails, swapping photos and online chats. According to Kazmi, it felt real. “I can’t tell you how excited I was about all of this.”

New-Beautiful-Islamic-Hijab-Veil-Trends-Muslim-Women-2013-5

The first picture sent from Shakka Khan to Kazmi.

Kazmi acknowledged that texting and tweeting soon turned into phone calls. “She had the sweetest voice,” he cringed. “If your back was turned and he sang  “Single Ladies”, you would swear that it was Beyonce.”

After 7 weeks, the Houston native and graduate of Baylor decided he was ready to take it to the next step requesting to meet her several times in some public setting. But Shakka allegedly was shy and did not want to rush into things. Kazmi needed help. He decided to seek out his Uncle for advice. “I told him that I love Shakka! He told me that he did too. I was confused with his comment until he told me about Shakka Khan, the popular 80s platinum R&B artist. And then it just hit me.”

With the help of some friends, Kazmi decided to contact the producers of Catfish, who were intrigued by the story.  “Quinn [Halliday] and I just looked at each other and we kind of knew where this was going,” said Michael Olsen, co-producer. “Shakka Khan-wow.” After conducting some research and internet forensics, the Catfish crew tracked down the cabbie to be the originator of the hoax.

Boatwalla, who proudly confessed to the prank couldn’t believe how long the gag lasted. “I’m baffled man. I mean here’s a guy who obviously is smart, grounded and very disciplined. Love is truly blind.”