Monday, June 21, 2004


Have I mentioned that I know a young gentleman with a middle-eastern sounding name whose name turned up on a watch list and had to show his face to an SFPD officer the last time he was travelling internationally?

And this past weekend, he's taken up a new hobby--rocketry, building, with a person who is a Pakistani citizen, his first model rocket and turning up for a launch with the Livermore Unit of the National Association of Rocketry [].

Do you think this gentleman should be checked out by the FBI? The DHS? Kept on a watch list? Interrogated to make sure he's not up to something funny?

Would it help if I told you that said gentleman was born on April 12, 2000 in New York city? []

Thursday, June 17, 2004

The Morning of 9/11

Heard some NPR during lunch outing. []

On the morning of 9/11/2001, it turns out, only two (groups of) people in America actually knew what to do and did it:

  • Dick Cheney
  • The passengers on Flight 93

  • Cheney actually ordered the Air Force to shoot down Flight 93. And the passengers literally paid the ultimate price to save either the White House or the Capitol.


    There are definitely conclusions there. But let's leave it at that for now.

    Postscript; November 8, 2005
    Here's an update on that:

    James Carroll of the Boston Globe (quoted here via the International Herald Tribune) point out that what Cheney did might have been a usurpation of power--and says it was unnecessary. I guess we'll have to wait a bit longer for history to provide even more context...

    Monday, June 14, 2004

    On Secularism: Enough Already!

    One of the perennial discussions on "Secularism" drove me to write this:

    In my view, the problem is that most people that express views for or against "secularism" today--especially South Asians--equate it with being against the very existence of religion in any realm. Whether they will admit or not--even to themselves.

    The phrase, folks, is separation of church and state--not destruction of one or the other. Just like the indepedence of the three branches of government and the media from each other does not mean we should abolish, say, the courts.

    Personally, I think the word (secularism) is at best a red herring or a red rag, and at worst the biggest, most unfortunate, most distracting, and irrelevant concept we have in the discussion of how society can and should be made better. The "secularists" use it as some kind of high holy concept they wrap--dare I say hide--their anti-religion emotions and passions in [notice I don't say logic or rationale? it's intentional]; while the "religiousists", if I may call them that, use it as some kind of bugbear and code word for satanism.

    A pox on both houses!

    For they both only use the discussion to try to further their own ideas--not to make the life of humankind any better.

    Mazhab thoe buss mazhab-e-dhil hai; baqee sub gumraahee hai (the only (true) creed is the creed of the heart; all else is heresy), as a South Asian poet once said; and frankly, neither today's "defenders of Islam" nor the "enlightened liberal thinkers" act like they have a heart--they have rationales and logic, they have right on their side, they have truth, history, geography, anthropology, sociology, neonatology and every other kind of -ology. No heart.

    A pox on both houses!

    For if you don't have a heart, sir, you're heartless. And if you are heartless, you fit neither my understanding of the words "Muslim" or "Hindu" or "Christian", nor my understanding of the words "enlightened" or "liberal".

    Can't we all just ... do something for the common human? Insan1? Remember that concept? Huququl Ibaad2 anyone? The tired, the poor, the huddled masses, anyone?

    1. Urdu, Hindi, and Arabic for "human".
    2. Huququl Ibaad: One of the fundamental principles of Islam is the dichotomy of "Huququllah" and "Huququl Ibaad". That is , the Creator [Allah] has some rights [Haq, right; plural, Huquq] on the human [namely to be worshipped, obeyed, etc.] and just as important are the Rights (Huquq) of Creation [Ibaad; literally "worshipper"], which a human must observe: everything from the rights of one's family over one's time, love, and resources; the rights of neighbours (not necessarily *Muslim* neighbours, mind you) towards each other; the rights of all things great and small, basically, to be treated right. People that watch these things closely might have noticed Gen. Musharraf mention this concept--especially in some of his earlier speeches to the Pakistani People right after 9/11; and, more importantly, some of his statements on these issues *before* 9/11.

    Monday, June 07, 2004

    The Gipper

    One of the most tempered reactions I have seen to Ronald Reagan came from a gay journalist in Los Angeles. From Yahoo News:
    Jon Beaupre, a gay journalist and Los Angeles radio talk show host who is HIV (news - web sites)-positive, said Reagan's death "brought mixed feelings."

    "The fact that he reflected the values of a lot of people was unmistakable. Clearly, Ronald Reagan was a man of principle and integrity," the 51-year old said.

    [Full article at]
    Having said that, I had reason to say yesterday that two of the strongest formative influences on people like me were Ronald Reagan and Ziaul Haq. It occurred to me that over the last year or so, I have repeatedly discussed with my peers from Pakistan that our formative years were spent in an environment that was controlled and shaped by General Mohammed Ziaul Haq.

    A lot of what we did and didn't do; a lot of what happened to us; a lot of what we had the opportunity to do and not to, from our dating habits and opportunities—or the lack thereof—to the lack of dance parties and the profusion of political parties and the plethora of "religious parties" and the movements around us, from the "Kalashni-coats" [American army-style jackets] some of our peers wore as a mark of political affiliation, to "chaadhar aur chaar-diwari", can we deny the influence and how much society around us was shaped by Gen. Zia?

    And behind it, just another step, was Ronald Wilson Reagan, the 40th President of the United States. It was his administration that backed Gulbuddin Hekmatyar over others in the Afghan War--or let Gen. Zia's subordinates do that....

    There I kinda stop. All I can think of is that back in 1997, when I first joined a discussion group/mailing list for people in my profession, I responded to a "holy war" raging on another topic with the following retort:

    Subject: Jihad fi Sabil il Platform
    From: Sabahat Ashraf
    Date: Tue, 11 Feb 1997 15:22:55 EST

    [the subject is my way of saying "Jihad for the sake of the Platform"]

    Now that we *are* having a holy war, I thought I would throw in a set of fundamentalist "na'ray" as we call them in the subcontinent.

    Take your pick of slogans:

    Leader: Tayba r' Tayba!!
    Chorus: Tayyyyyyyba!!! [favourite war cry of the subcontinent's fraternal version of the Ikhwaan—just one 4 feet high skeleton of a guy with a wispy beard leading about 10 Jamaatis in this chant can throw the fear o'God into you, believe me.]

    Leader: Dhayaar-e-haq, Dhayaar-e-haq!
    Chorus: Ya Nabi kay saaray haq!!
    [which approximates to
    Leader: The Limit of The Truth
    Chorus: All the Truths of saying "Oh my Prophet"]

    That last is the fanatic Sunni reply to Shia cries like:

    Leader: Nara-e-Haidari!
    Chorus: Ya Ali!!
    [which approximates to
    Leader: The Slogan of Haider (another name for Ali)
    Chorus: Oh Ali!! (the grandson of the Prophet; main figure in the Shia dogma and canon]

    Meanwhile, on the other side of our AK-47-infested [courtesy of Cap Weinberger, Al Haig, George Shultz, and The Gipper] campus were the Reds going:  

    Surkh hai, Surkh hai; Asia Surkh hai!! [Red! Red!! Asia is REd!!]

    to which our Bhai-log ["brothers" -- the Jamaatis mentioned above] went:
    Sabz hai, Sabz hai; Asia Sabz hai!! [Green! Green!! Asia is Green!! -- Green being the colour of Islam]

    Well, mes amis, mi amigos, my colleagues, what we always said to these guys was:  

    Surkh hai na Sabz hai: Asia koe Qabz hai!! [Red nor Green; Asia is constipated]

    [Full post at:] ---------------------------------

    Anyone else care to comment? For and against? This might be a good time to get a lot of this on the table? Let's vent, discuss, let it out... please comment using the link below.

    Thursday, June 03, 2004


    What Would Gore Have Done?

    That is a question I have often asked folks, especially American Muslims that froth at the mouth about the Muslim "Bloc Vote" for Bush last time around.

    In the following clip, is where I have heard the first serious analysis of this: