Archive for April, 2006

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10 Things on My Mind

April 29, 2006

I know I know. I’ve been a bad blogger. I just haven’t felt like writing anything lately. Well, here are 10 things currently on my mind.

1. My expected new addition, inshaAllah (Please pray for us — and tell Umm Zahra to go to the doctor!).

2. The house issue. We’re still thinking of building a house or perhaps buying one. I’m starting to think it’s more trouble than it’s worth. I’ve been reading fatawa about mortgage. Very interesting indeed.

3. Iran. In all its complexities, Iran still has a right to decide its own future. It is a sovereign nation, and the thought that the U.S. is intending to attack it (possibly even with nuclear weapons) sickens me. The day it happens, the entire world will change, for the worse.

4. Had some good food I bought at the masjid today. Indonesian chicken with basmati rice (I hope that chicken wasn’t actually from Indonesia).

5. I am wondering if XGL will ever become something standard on the Linux desktop. It runs fine on my nvidia-powered Motherbrain, but how about an ati-powered iBook? Quite a mess.

6. Zahra watches Chicken Little (the movie) about four times a day.

7. I’m on chapter 12 (page 140) of my book. It’s weird because I don’t think I’m even almost finished. There’s so much more story to tell.

8. Something is seriously wrong with the passenger-side door on my car.

9. I successfully curtailed attacking ants with baby powder, with very few casualties. Yes, a humane ant-repellent.

10. I’m really getting into this graphic novel thing. Naturally, my kids (patrons) are getting into it too. I have a lot of them on display. Now I just need to buy more. I think I need two separate budgets: one for other books and one for graphic novels. Seriously, they are super-popular in my library.

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Misguidance Financial

April 24, 2006

I hate to write negative things about Muslim organizations, but I also feel it is my duty to warn people about questionable business practices so that they do not fall for the same traps as I have.

We have recently had dealings with a company called Guidance Financial Group. They describe themselves as a company that will “provide you with Sharia-compliant financial products that are competitive and of the highest quality.” I am not about to question whether or not their products are “Sharia-compliant.” What has become questionable are whether or not their services are of the “highest quality” as they purport.

My wife, who is pregnant and was hopeful to buy a new house that can accommodate our new addition was unfortunately misguided by “Guidance.” We both were led to believe that we had been “pre-approved” for, what their representative described as “100% financing” on a home. In other words, we would not have to make a down-payment because of our good credit.

Under this unofficial promise, we proceeded in finding a home, eventually settling on building, as Guidance had instructed us to do. After spending many days of our precious time, we finally made a decision and then spent an entire day choosing a house model, colors of floors, bricks, siding, and my wife was particularly excited about a garden bath tub that she wanted for our bathroom.

After all of this, Guidance said that they would have to run two more credit checks, but they didn’t expect anything to go wrong. After all, I am only one person. How could I have “different” credit, right? It was only then that they started asking for more things: driver’s license number, bank statements, and a multitude of other privacy invading information. But I can understand why they would need that information since they were preparing to enter a contract with us.

Today, the representative called and said that we did not get approved for the promised 100% but that we might instead have to pay a 3% down payment, which would have been about $3,485. My wife and I both cringed. That was exactly the reason why we had not looked for a house with other “Islamic” companies, because they required as much as 20%. Apparently “Sharia-compliant” finance is only for the wealthy. Other Muslims are not qualified. And that was the ultimate outcome. He called again and told us that my credit was apparently even worse than he thought, so we would have to pay 5% or over $5,000.

Now, here is the worst part. I have very little credit. I’ve never owned a credit card, never had a loan. In fact the only thing we have is a car lease, which I had to cosign on because of my lack of credit. Yes, folks, no credit is worse than bad credit. I’d expect such a philosophy from a secular institution. What disturbs me is that Guidance Financial Group claims to be Islamic ,and yet they operate on the same twisted standards. Here they were punishing a fellow Muslim for NOT having entered into interest-bearing loans and credit transactions, which I apparently need in order to be 100% approved for “Sharia-compliant” financing. I will send them this blog post, inshaAllah, and pray that they seek forgiveness for the way they have wronged us. I am sure they will defend their actions, but the bottom line is that they deceived us. They led us to believe one thing and then finally told us another.

The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said that there are four signs of a hypocrite. If any of them is present in a person, he has a trait of hypocrisy, and if any person has all four, he is a hypocrite.

1. When he speaks, he lies.
2. When he makes a promise, he breaks it.
3. When he enters into an agreement, he violates it.
4. When he has an enemy, he is immoral and unjust to him.

I am not trying to spread (fitna) by making this public, but as I said, people need to know. I am neither recommending nor discouraging anyone to use Guidance Financial, only to warn you of the consequences of believing their sales pitch. If they cannot be honest from the beginning, one must question how reliable they would be as a financial service provider.

May Allah guide us all, including Guidance Financial Group, to worship Him alone and to follow the Sunnah of His Messenger (May Allah bless and grant him and his family peace).

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I just spoke with the representative from Guidance, and they clarified one point:

They claim that they are required by law to do only one credit report and that they cannot do the other two until they have an application for a house.

My problem with that is that they are still basing their entire trust of another Muslim on an already flawed system. That system relies on credit reporting done by companies that charge interest and determine someone’s “good credit” based on how well they manage their interest.

I asked him if their trust of me is based solely on that credit report. He said, “We have to base it on something.”

Indeed they do. Why not base it on what Allah has revealed? I have lived in the U.S. all my life. I have no criminal record. I’ve had a steady job for 6 years. I’ve paid rent on various apartments and have never been late for 7 years. I have a family, two cars, insurance, and I’ve never caused a car accident. There are plenty of honest, just ways of determining if someone is reliable. They chose to rely on an unjust system, and I therefore stand by what I have said.

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Baby Jedi

April 23, 2006

Baby Jedi

“You will give me candy.”

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Mawlid Festivities

April 16, 2006

Today, at the Zainabia, we had a pot-luck lunch for the Prophet’s Birthday (may Allah bless him and grant him and his family peace). We prayed at the Zainabia and then took all of the food and the kids to the park. The park that we went to is very beautiful. What I did not expect were so many other families to be there. I had forgotten about Easter.

Zahra loved the park. I pushed her on the swing for at least 30 minutes, and she never wanted to stop. Umm Zahra and I had to take turns pushing her. We tried to get her to swing her legs and swing herself, but she was content being the little princess. 🙂 After she got out of the swing, she ran all over the park from end to end, not caring how far away from us she ran. I had to chase her all over (which she loved). Then, we found a squirrel sitting near us, watching. Zahra wanted to run up and touch it, so I had to hold her.

Some of the other people played soccer, and a lot of the other kids played on the playground. Most of the elders, of course, sat, ate, and talked.

Overall, it was a good outing. The only disappointing thing is that there was no one there to speak about the Prophet. We really need some leadership in this community or someone not too shy to make things happen.

They showed me the building plans for the new Zainabia. It has just about everything. Most impressively, the men and women have equal prayer space, and it is side-by-side (with a partition in the middle). None of that, women locked away in a room or in the basement kinda stuff you see in many masajid. May Allah make the venture a successful one.

I forgot to take pictures of today’s events, so you’ll have to use your imagination.

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Antz

April 16, 2006

We’ve had some little visitors lately, and apparently Zahra is terrified of them. Whenever she sees ants, she screams and runs away. She’s not afraid of thunderstorms, the “Were-Rabbit,” or the dark, but ants, they scare her. And I’m not talking about the big black ones, just the tiny brown ones.

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As-Salaamu 'alayka Ya Aba al-Zahra

April 12, 2006

Mawlid an-Nabi

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The novelty of novel writing…

April 11, 2006

…has worn off. You know, there is something about writing a book, I mean actually consciously choosing to write one, not the kind that gets compiled after you realized that you had thousands of pages of random thoughts, that becomes ritualistic. I’ve written since I was a child, but it has always been sporadic at best. I never actually sat down everyday and wrote. Throughout high school, I dreamed of doing just that, of being a writer, but the path to it eluded me. When you first start to write a novel, it is kind of cool, cute, and fun. You can imagine it being finished but cannot actually gather enough thoughts together to ever get it done.

So, you hear people all the time saying, “I’m writing a book about…” Yet, that book never emerges from the depths of their poor confused mind pits. Instead, what might have been a wonderful idea and an enlightening read, turns into ashes under the phoenix of “reality.”

So, here are I sit, on chapter 7, well beyond the “3-and-out”, “would-be”, “coulda-been”, stage. If I stopped now, it would technically be a book. I could write “to be continued…” at the bottom and publish it. And that’s when it becomes work. The novelty wears off, and I am faced with a real task, a real deadline, a pile of notes, research, and references, and an unfinished book. Now, I’m moving a chapter-every-three-days, while the first three chapters took two years. It’s not as fun, neat, cute, or cool, but it is much more rewarding. I am inching closer to the ultimate goal: (no, not to have a best seller), to tell a story from beginning to end.

How many times have we started stories and not finished them? Heck, my book might suck completely, but it’s the thrill of finishing the story, of realizing how the characters will end up, even as I write it. Now it’s like the characters have taken on lives of their own. I don’t even know what they might do next. I am no longer writing the story; they are.

So, when the pages of the Golden Scrolls are finally bound between two covers, God willing, I can look back on this blog post and chuckle at how dramatic and naive I was. Until then, the daily ritual continues, of sneaking away during odd hours of the day or night to slip into an imaginary world, one that might even have a happy ending.