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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Gender identity: thoughts on a Canadian couple's parenting style

Admittedly, this composition is hard to write, and I have even wondered if it was necessary to even write about this issue. In the end, however, it seems necessary to speak on this. A reader sent me the following link: [url] http://www.parentcentral.ca/parent/babiespregnancy/babies/article/995112--parents-keep-child-s-gender-secret[/url]which interviews a Canadian couple who have decided to raise a "genderless baby" named Storm! The reasoning behind such a move is given in the following excerpt from the article

“When the baby comes out, even the people who love you the most and know you so intimately, the first question they ask is, ‘Is it a girl or a boy?’” says Witterick, bouncing Storm, dressed in a red-fleece jumper, on her lap at the kitchen table.

“If you really want to get to know someone, you don’t ask what’s between their legs,” says Stocker.

When Storm was born, the couple sent an email to friends and family: “We've decided not to share Storm's sex for now — a tribute to freedom and choice in place of limitation, a stand up to what the world could become in Storm's lifetime (a more progressive place? ...).”



The article goes on to say that the "liberal" couple's two sons have been raised in a similar fashion, they pick out clothes from both boys and girls sections of the stores, and seem to have been nurtured in such a fashion wherein its acceptable to wear hair styles and colors generally associated with females.

It's certainly true that gender roles and identifying markers are largely subjective, in the sense that cultures have varying norms and styles associated with males and females respectively. In the Middle East, men wear the Jalabiyyah. It's a long [to the feet], one piece tunic. The traditional depictions of Jesus has him wearing a white Jalabiyyah-type cloth. Yet, in an American context, it may be seen by many unfamiliar with other cultures as a woman's dress!

Yet, as the article itself points out, there is no mistaking the genitalia of a person. As a baby grows, their gender will be apparent, and this is certainly true in the onset of puberty.

Rebellion against nature


While we admit that gender identifying clothes/habits/tastes vary according to cultural norm, the whole premise of "not identifying the gender, allowing the child to choose their gender" is a form of rebellion against nature! In the modern world, where we see ourselves as having control over every aspect of life, we have a deficit in terms of our connection with what's real.


What happened to the days when kids loved to play outside? These days, everyone wants to have their children [or more accurately, the children themselves desire] to play video games, music and games on their phone, chatting and using twitter, rather than engaging on a social level. We depend on electronic media and seemingly isolate ourselves from the natural world.

Of course, we have to admit that, from a religious standpoint, this is one of our objections to homosexuality. Procreation cannot take place between two men or between two women, it can only happen in a relationship between a man and a woman. Homosexuality is inherently against nature. Yet, what we are talking about, the complete elimination [or at least marginalization] of gender from identity, especially of a child, is a whole other ballgame. It's worse than simply having a sexual preference that's unnatural! These parents, what are they setting their children, especially the baby named Storm, up for? How will the children themselves have healthy lives when they are living in a situation wherein they are raised with a thought that keeping secret one's gender is a virtue?

It is our hope that the parents will see that their choice to use their children to preach an agenda of gender elimination from society will have devastating emotional and psychological consequences, and correct the situation before its too late. It is also our hope that in general, humankind will return to having natural, healthy relationships, both with each other and with the planet in general.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Some pictures




Salaam, Shalom, Peaceful greetings: I have been asked by many readers to share some pictures, so here are a couple.

These are pictures from our local Mosque, Toledo Masjid Al-Islam [or simply 'Toledo Masjid"]. The main prayer hall is over 2000 square feet, and is decorated with the Al-Faatihah in the Qiblah wall [Al-Faatihah is Quranic chapter #1, central to prayers], while the borders are decorated with the 99 names of God as given within the Islamic tradition. Note that all of these texts are utilizing gold leaf. The sign outside has at the top the Quranic expression "And the remembrance of God is the greatest [source of power and inspiration]" [Q 29:45]. All are welcome. Toledo Masjid is at 722 East Bancroft, Toledo Oh. 419-241-9522, Toledomasjid.com

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Lingering concerns: implications on the death of Osama Bin Laden

The last three days have seen- quite justly-much discussion in the world following the Sunday raid on a compound in Abbotobad, Pakistan [Three hour drive outside of Islamabad, the former has been wrongly described by US officials as a "suburb" of Islamabad] that led to the point blank shooting death of a reportedly unarmed Osama Bin Laden, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attack on the US.

Governments and organizations worldwide have rushed to offer their congratulations to President Obama for authorizing the mission, at great political risk, these words of felicitation have even come from political foes, such as Sarah Palin.Spontaneous celebrations were seen outside the White House, in New York at the WTC site, and throughout college campuses and public sites all over the nation.


Bin Laden death changes nothing

The whole world has seemingly been captivated by details of the raid, the living arrangements for the fugitive, and his "respectful" burial at sea. Yet, the truth of the matter is, is that Osama Bin Laden was largely irrelevant to the Muslims! He was widely seen as a perpetrator of violence against not only Western targets, but also against Muslims. Indeed, the ideology he believed in essentially makes Takfeer [declaring Muslims as non Muslims, which, in the view of those making the declarations, justifies their deaths and confiscation of property]. Pakistan has suffered THE most at the hands of these type of ideologies.

Moreover, the Arab world has witnessed great changes. The dictators, both the darlings of Western interests [such as Hosni Mubarak and Tunisia's Zain ul'Abideen Ben 'Ali] as well as their traditional foes [i.e. the maverick "Brother leader" Mu'ammar Al-Qadhdhafi] are basically on their way to the wayside. The peoples of the Arab world have finally realized that they CAN be successful at changing their leaders and changing the system that has, for so long, deprived them of political freedoms, economic opportunities, and social justice. This change was in no way inspired by Bin Laden's views or similar ideologies[ft.1].


Part of the appeal that Bin Laden may have had in the past was two fold [A] He was seen as a Robin Hood type figure, a rich man from a wealthy backround [one needs only be in Saudi Arabia for one hour before seeing the family name on one building or another] who abandoned a comfortable life to join in struggles against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. [B] The undeniable fact that the majority of the Muslim world, and especially the Arab world, has suffered setback after setback, not to mention the usurpation of Palestine, at the expense of native [Arab] Palestinians, leading to constant wars, invasions, military attacks, the disruptions of economies, etc.., coming from outside. A situation that people get tired of.


These problems, briefly outlined in Line "B" above, are still largely unresolved. Indeed, the recent decision by Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah to reconcile and form some sort of united government has led to Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu to actually say "You cannot have peace with both Israel and Hamas". Kashmir still exists as a problem, which has been unresolved since partition. Western support for dictatorships that crush local aspirations in the hopes of securing Oil interests still pose a problem. Pakistan, while a US ally, still feels the almost daily drone attacks on villages, and Afghanistan still suffers from conflict.

Rather than celebrating the death of a single man, policy makers have to look beyond that, and address the REALISTIC CAUSES THAT ALLOWED SUCH FIGURES TO COME INTO EXISTENCE IN THE FIRST PLACE. {fT 2}


Killing Bin Laden in such a fashion will prove counter-productive


As of date, government officials have not yet announced whether photos of Bin Laden's corpse will be released. There has already been at least two unofficial pictures I have seen, one of which looks nothing like him. Others have made similar observations, and of course there will be conspiracy theories about what happened for years to come. To avoid all of that, it would have been better to capture him alive and have him stand on trial, for the whole world to witness, or at the very least, for the American public.

To just send in a military group into a house, in Pakistan, without the knowledge or permission of Pakistani authorities, shoot him in the head, shoot some others, and then dump his body in the Ocean, appears just as it is, a vigilante' move, one which leaves the door open for revenge by Bin Laden supporters, for more resentment, even for those unsympathetic to Bin Laden, to the US, leading to more and more problems which, quite frankly, the nation cannot afford.

It has been pointed out that he was never officially indited on charges relating to 9/11 in the first place. Be that as it may, he WAS charged in connection to the attack on the USS COLE, as well as the attacks on the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. He could have stood trial for those!


Conclusion


What's done is done! Nothing can change what happened Sunday in the early hours in Abbotobad. It is our hope that, just as Afghan President Hamid Karzai pointed out, this will lead to the ceasing of air attacks on sites in his nation [and Pakistan as well, we may add], and the end to the war in Iraq. The residents of those nations don't need it, neither do US soldiers need it. The wars have placed an incredible burden, both human and financial, on the United States. It is only in the best interests of all concerned that such ventures cease and desist, so we can have a peaceful world.

Footnotes


[1] One of the videos which started the Egypt protests, leading to the overthrow of the Mubarak regime, was that done by a woman, asking viewers to come protest the arrest of some friends and the beating of others. She spoke of "honor" and other such themes, and quoted the Qur'an, urging people to stand up. I have been unable to find this video again, perhaps a reader can find it and post it in the comments section. Regardless, the Takbeer, religious chants and Quranic references were all made at various points by the protesters during the process which ultimately led to the unseating of Mubarak.


[2] While issues surrounding Palestine and other US foreign policy choices are big factors leading to terrorism, other issues include left over resentment of colonialism, local grievances, and- to an great deal, the rise of sectarianism in the Muslim world. The latter is usually blamed on "Wahhabism", being exported by Saudi Arabia to other nations. Heavily focused on theological purity, Neo-Salafis and Pseudo-Salafis have been blamed for much of the problems within Pakistan, wherein Mosques of various sects [Shi'i, Ahmadi and other Sunnis], as well as shrines and religious processions, have suffered both gun and bomb attacks. In the years following the US invasion of 'Iraq, Sunni-Shi'ah warfare was especially tense, although it has died down somewhat in recent times. Many observers have made claims that various Western interests were actually instigating such feuds, and while there may be some truth to this claim, there is no doubt in the mind of this writer that many of these actions were perpetuated by Muslims against other Muslims!