Archive for November, 2007


Top Ten Books I'd Take to a Desert Island

November 24, 2007

Warning:  Umm Yasmin induced this:

1.  Survivor’s Guide to Desert Islands  (if that doesn’t exist, someone should write it).
2. The Qur’an
3. Nahjul-Balagha
4. Any book about Mulla Nasruddin (I’ll need humor and some spirituality rolled into one).
5. Survivor’s Guide to Escaping Desert Islands (yes, definitely)
6. Mathnawi (Maulana Rumi will comfort me on my lonely nights)
7. Essentials of Islamic Metaphysics (since I’ll have time, I can finally try to figure out this book).
8. A book with blank pages (so I can write my own)
9. A Thousand and One Nights (I love the stories, and it just sounds appropriate)
10. Survivor’s Guide to Accepting that You Will Not Be Rescued, including the 3-step easy guide to learning any island language so you can marry the native girl stranded on the island with you.


Writer's Block

November 23, 2007

Yes, I haven’t been writing anything…anywhere.  I don’t know what to write, or maybe I have so much to write that I can’t figure out what to write first.  At any rate, here’s some advice for all you budding writers:  When you get stuck with writer’s block, just start writing.  It doesn’t matter what it is or if it even makes sense.  You just have to keep writing.

That is all for now.


She's One

November 10, 2007

Our youngest daughter had her first birthday party last weekend.  Click on the picture below to see more.


DWN (Driving With Niqab)

November 6, 2007

It has been a while since the issue of women wearing niqab in a driver’s license photo has been in the news, but a co-worker of mine recently brought it up to me. He, of course, was in favor of the Florida ruling that a particular woman was not allowed to keep her license because she refused to retake her photo without her veil after 9/11 .

For those unaware, niqab is a complete covering where only the eyes are visible. My co-worker’s argument and the argument of the state of Florida, is that, after 9/11, police need to be able to quickly and easily identify “terrorists?” The word terrorists is in quotes because I have serious doubts about their line of reasoning.

It is flimsy at best. First, there is no law on the books in Florida preventing a person from getting a license without a photo at all, let alone a veiled photo. Revoking the woman’s license was illegal, but they got away with it for the same reason Bush got away with illegal wire-tapping: fear. Americans are afraid, and nothing represents their fear more than a Muslim woman wearing a veil. She is mysterious, shady, and probably a terrorist in the making (if not one already). Right?

I, like most Muslims, do not believe that the niqab is required by shari’ah, but a minority of Muslims do. And is not this a country that upholds the religious rights of all, even a minority of a minority?

There are really two questions:

1. Are photos truly a reliable form of identification?
2. Will having photo identification in any way curb terrorist activity?

The answer to both is no, and here’s why:

1. People have the ability to change the way they look very easily.  Women do it all the time.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a woman after a year or so and could hardly recognize her.  Different hair, different make-up, even a little plastic surgery, and a tiny little driver’s license photo is useless.  The truth is that a photo is completely unreliable and there is no way of knowing that the person who took the photo was indeed the person the license claims to be.  Why?  The BMV does not require photo identification.  As long as you can produce a social security card or even a piece of paper saying you once had a social security card, you can claim to be anyone.

More reliable identification methods include fingerprints and, guess what, eyes.  Yes, iris and retinas are very hard to fake.  Unlike faces and hair, you can definitely ID someone based on their eyes.  In order to accommodate niqab, all the BMV would have to do would be to take a zoomed-in picture of the woman’s eyes.  She’d have no way to fake her identity.  In fact, it would be more reliable than photos.  The flaw is not in the claim against taking the photos but in the concept of photo identification itself.  It is unreliable, and my second point further illustrates this.

2.  You’re a criminal on the run.  The police are after you.  You’re in disguise.  You’re carrying photo identification?  Uh, no.  Criminals don’t do this, and trust me, terrorists definitely don’t do this.  Even after 9/11, the authorities still couldn’t identify the terrorists.  They had names and photos, but the names were as common in the arab world as “John Smith” in America and the photos could have easily been forged.

Furthermore, if a niqabi was really prepared to commit a terrorist attack, why would the lack of a driver’s license stand in her way?  She could hop on the next bus downtown and blow herself up.

The truth is that the objections of the state of Florida, of my co-worker, and of anyone else claiming that if a woman fails to show all of her face for a driver’s license photo, “the terrorists win,” are just spreading FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt).  It is not based on anything credible, relevant to criminal justice, the war on terror, or the first amendment.  It is simply another way the government is taking away our freedoms.  Today it is the freedom of a young veiled Muslim woman, but tomorrow it might be blue-eyed, blond-haired, Christian Sally from Newport, Indiana.  Then, we’ll see if people are so quick to dismiss the First Amendment we all claim to hold dearly but very rarely defend when it comes to the “other.”


Al-Quds Day 2007

November 4, 2007

Here is a full report of the demonstration in London for Al-Quds Day this year in Ramadan:

available at


Universal Morality

November 4, 2007

I forgot to mention that I’ve published the first in my four part series on Universal Morality: Blood, Property, Honor at

Please read it and let me know your thoughts.


You think your children are smart

November 1, 2007

…but they’re just copying stuff from the Internet and pasting it into their research papers.  See, we Librarians know the truth.  We see what your kids do when you aren’t around.

I hate it so much, hate it, hate it, hate it, hate it, HATE it….almost as much as I despise Halloween.

And that is the end of the matter.