The first time I read about “The Taqwacores” was in Sandmonkey’s blog. Later on he’d tell me about a video he watched of the bands crashing an ISNA show (ISNA = Islamic Society of North America). “A band of Canadian Pakistani lesbians?! At an ISNA event?! No way!” was my reaction. He giggled… and he was right!
The following two posts (both by Westerners writing about their experiences in Sudan) are extremely fascinating. The observations they make come naturally to them since they’re outsiders. Our culture is foreign to them.
As a Sudanese, it’s difficult for me to spot the things they highlight. Much of what they note is as normal to me as breathing is. It’s just part of everyday life. There’s simply nothing to be observed.
1. A Sudanese Feast: Rob Crilly blogs about how he felt like a king when his trusted Sudanese guide invited him to his humble home for a feast. In Sudan this kind of hospitality is a normal obligation. It’s not a favor. When guests visit, you have to take care of them.
It’s fascinating to find a non-sudanese devouring our local cuisine or blogging it with such a passion
To which Rob replied:
It’s great food. I’d say it has more in common with the Middle East than the rest of Africa, which makes a great change from my usual fare
Very true. Especially since he had this feast in Khartoum which is in the Arab/Afro-Arab dominated Northern part of the country.
Family and Marriage
2. closer than… a cousin?: This is a post by a Western aid worker in Sudan. I think he’s American. He doesn’t share his name but he sure does share insightful and accurate insights about the concept of family in Sudanese culture.
Many Diaspora Sudanese raised abroad or who have spent a significant time overseas don’t adhere to these traditions very strictly but do however maintain them to a large extent. I know my family does, but not so much when it comes to the issue of marriage… fortunately!
I know, I know, the title of this post sounds like an advertisement. Well, it is! Erm, kind of. Hell, you can consider this an endorsement. Why? Because I’m a huge fan of the “modification” I’m going to tell you about.
Mike is a friend of mine. He’s from Wisconsin. Met him a few months ago at a party and immediately liked him his invention.
He’s the co-founding brain behind…
a shisha like no other, a hookah that satisfies and makes you smile…
It’s the result of discovering the joy of shisha in Wisconsin, becoming a huge fan of hookah smoking by the time he was living for seven months in Egypt and then deciding to reinvent the whole thing after significant research. It’s known as “the first modern American hookah“.
I believe some Middle Easterners will not like the hobohookah and will consider it some kind of cultural rape. Worse still, they may even call it American imperialism. As for me, I like it. I love seeing this kind of cultural fusion and creativity. Plus, I enjoy my regular dose of shisha fruit flavors and the wonderful “vitamins” they contain, only now I consume them with style.
There have been many mixedsignals coming from the US in regards to matters on Sudan and Darfur. Those gave me some serious headaches and after much thinking it occurred to me that there are struggles within the US government regarding what the exact policy towards Sudan should be.
Today I came across the following from Sudan Tribune:
The special envoy is none other than Andrew Natsios. He resigned. I know. Surprise of the century.
Natsios has a thorough understanding of the conflict from many angles. I praised him for that but he certainly did raise my eyebrows with his remark about Darfur not being a case of genocide anymore, which basically contradicts what Bush says.
“If given the opportunity to work directly for and with President Bush, and not get entangled in the staff-level internecine turf wars, he has a real chance of making a difference in Sudan,” said John Prendergast, a former Clinton administration Africa expert who described Williamson as a “heavyweight diplomat.”
Those are three different names it goes by. I’ve experienced it many times and I seriously miss it. Here’s a video from Ikbis (the Arab Youtube) of a few Egyptians in Sudan enjoying an encounter with a gigantic dust storm.
It might seem odd to many (especially Muslims), but I am deeply intrigued by Ayn Rand. Up until recently, I only knew small bits of information about her and the views she espoused. Lately though, I find myself getting acquainted better and the more I read, the more I’m fascinated.
The woman was tough and confidently outspoken. In this video she makes a number of solid points.
Her words left me wondering though.
As a Muslim I have trouble accepting human reason purely and solely as my guiding compass. Our intellect isn’t perfect. Reducing our existence within the elaborate order of our universe to mere coincidence seems far-fetched to me. I don’t believe it’s all some random accident.
In comes revelation. In too (and along with it) come numerous questions and hence the need to use human intellect in order to attempt to answer those questions – some of which are highly troublesome. Many get answered. A few others – Free Will Vs Predestination for example – have no intellectually satisfying answers. In comes faith.
The Question is, on which do we rely more, faith or reason? By default the answer to me is most definitely reason but that may change sometimes depending on what exactly we’re discussing. I however certainly prefer to rely on reason more than faith. One thing is for sure though, I don’t exclusively subscribe to either one or the other and I’m definitely not in favor of faith being the dominant factor in matters of the state.
Let’s do this and that because God said so? Hmm… No thanks. I prefer a strict system of Shura in place resulting in a representative democracy. Of course it would be completely useless if the majority relied excessively on faith anyway and there were no constitutional limits to protect peoples’ rights.
The aforementioned is related to ideas of mine written in a previous post:
What constitutes knowledge and what doesn’t to a particular society? In the West there is a higher emphasis on empiricism rather than revelation. In the Muslim world, the emphasis is instead generally on revelation.
I don’t believe I’ll ever reach a satisfying answer to the Free Will Vs Predestination issue. Philosophers have wondered about it and debated it for thousands of years to no true avail. I don’t expect to have better luck (ah, don’t even get me started about the idea of luck).
I have two choices. Give up. Or have faith.
I choose a third option. To have faith while I simultaneously delve deeper in hopeful pursuit of satisfying answers and “aha” moments.
A few nights ago I was at a party and networking function for social entrepreneurs. The MC’s accent sounded American to my ears and so during the break, I approached, curious to know which part of the United States she was from. Stupid move. The reply was very defensive.
“I am not American. Not American. I am not from the United States. I’m Canadian.”
Moral of the story: If you want to piss off Canadians, assume they’re Americans. You may actually succeed.
During my conference trip two months ago, I sat next to a very friendly lady on board my flight from Chicago to DC. After landing, I took out my passport and as I opened it, she noticed the Arabic writing inside.
“Where are you from?” she asked. “Sudan” I answered. We continued a normal conversation but when it was time to disembark from the plane, she suddenly looked me straight in the eye and said something along the following lines: “You know, not all of us are like that. We’re not all like that. I never voted for him. Not once.”
She sighed. It was obvious. She was upset. There was no mystery to it. Letting me know was her way of finding some comfort.
And so she looked at me one last time. It wasn’t what she said but how she said it. “I can’t believe they prefer to kill Iraqis rather than let gays get married.”
I kept quiet for a few seconds, smiled and politely replied “I know”.
Moral of the story: Some liberal Americans may want to become aware of the number of Arabs and Muslims who are fans of gay marriage.
Two-thirds think America should have stayed out of Iraq. Just under a third feels relatively unconnected to Israel, while those who affiliate with Jewish institutions and synagogue life tend to feel much more connected. And 98 percent think anti-Semitism is a problem in the Muslim world.
The first part I highlighted in bold contradicts what the Arab street thinks. The second isn’t surprising.
Asked if, “in the current situation,” they favor the establishment of a Palestinian state, 46% of American Jews say they are in favor, with 43% opposed. Yet when the same poll asked whether the Arabs’ goal was the “return of occupied territories” or the “destruction of Israel,” 82% agreed with the latter description.
Interesting. At least we can be 100% sure that we share one thing. Pessimism.
… is a new blog that has been added to the blogroll under “Sudanese Bloggers”. Head over boys and girls to show some love and support.
This blog is dedicated to promoting Sudanese arts and culture as well as highlighting the impact of infectious diseases on communities in resource-constraint settings
For a while I was depressed by the lack of growth. We can do better. We have to do better. If you come across a Sudanese blog that’s not listed in the sidebar, please let me know. We need to pull-in whoever is out there and make them part of the conversation.
PS: After a super long absence, Hipster finally returns to the blogosphere.
I’ll call it “photo of the day”. I found it at Miss Egyptiana’s blog. It displays a very comfortable coexistence between the secular and religious. There is the big umbrella of freedom under which exists mini-”freedoms”. Think about it.
You’ll find other pieces of art bearing strong similarities here, here and here.
Location: Deep, deep down the orgasmic rabbit hole of epistemology.
The Bio of Awesomeness: Fundamentalist Muslim, turned hippie Sufi and fan of science. Total blogging junkie since 2006. Social entrepreneur and digital media and marketing consultant. Proud Sudanese and cultural nomad. Author of upcoming book on Islam and new media. Pro-democracy guitar-strumming activist. Loud and drop dead gorgeous. Fan of integral theory and spiral dynamics. Sarcastic Afro-Arab goofy genius. The High Priest of Mischief. Welcome. You've Been Warned! ;)
Click Play Below & Watch the Video Trailer for My Book, My Isl@m: How Fundamentalism Stole My Mind and Doubt Freed My Soul