Lamya's Corner

"There was for Saba, aforetime, a sign in their homeland [Yemen] two gardens to the right and to the left . . . be grateful to Him[Allah] . . .But they turned away, and We sent against them the flood released from the Dams [Maarib dam]" (Qur'an. Saba:15-16)

Winner of the 2010 National Film Making Competition in Yemen March 31, 2011

Filed under: Articles on Yemen — lamyaalmas @ 9:27 am

In 2010 the British Council in Yemen ran a national film making competition called Zoooom. The aim was to find Yemeni amateur filmmakers with talent, determination, original vision and a passion for film making as a way of life.

This is the film that won the competition. For details please visit the blog associated with this film which is entitled  The Gift Maker

 

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Neighborhood Support Committee March 30, 2011

Filed under: Articles on Yemen — lamyaalmas @ 5:52 pm

In the face of the current attempt by the Saleh regime to take Yemen down the route of “Civil War”—or at least make it seem as such to the media and hence the world—it has attempted to arm disgruntled neighbors around the squares where protesters gather, and encouraged them to take on the task of protecting themselves against protesters. That coupled with the fact that neighbors around these squares do have grievances of their own, esp. in regard to easy and free access to and from their homes.  Neighborhood Support Committee aims to prevent Saleh regime plans of inciting a Civil War in Yemen, quell the fears of the neighbors, address their grievances, and bring about unity between all Yemenis.

Following steps must be taken:

1) Form a committee of members (both men and women) with good social skills who are dedicated to the above objective.

2) Make sure committee members are trusted among the neighborhood—strangers to them will make the task more difficult.

3) Women in the committee will help facilitate and address concerns of wives and children in the neighborhood—as Yemenis we all know that Yemeni women inside homes are a strong and affecting factor.

4) Listen to the neighbors grievances and make a note of them—literally take notes in their presence.

5) Apologize for all the hardships that they claim to have faced—do not try and defend the protesters actions and get into confrontation with them. Apologize, their space, privacy, calm and stability out of necessity has indeed been invaded—there is no denying that.

6) Educate about the objectives for the current uprising of Yemenis all over Yemen and the world. Have proof—videos, newspaper clipping, etc local and international—to show them it has indeed gained support.

7) Educate about the future implications of a Yemen free of this regime, and that they and their future progeny will benefit from it.

8 ) Educate about plans to transform revolution to topple regime into full blown civil war.

9) Raise awareness that their safety is as important to the protesters as it is to them, and that they are related. Let them know that offering their rooftops to thugs with snipers, and to carry out operations against protesters affects them as much as it does protesters. They are vulnerable to the live ammunition and nerve gas that they are using in the area.

10) Grant them free and easy access in the neighborhood by recording their names and providing to all search points in the area. Friendliness and welcoming gestures to them at the checkpoints absolutely crucial.

11) Guarantee that they will not be searched, but also explain that searches are to guarantee their safety as much as that of the protesters. But form log of names of people in the neighborhood to keep promise and provide to search points.

12) Set up tents at a distance from houses for free and easy access from and to their homes.

13) Support local shops inside the square by encouraging protesters to buy from them, and families of protesters as well.

14) Make a list of their needs, and create a team to help them cover those needs.

15) Kindness to their children—provide sweets, toys etc.

16) Visit them to see if they are doing well, or if they need help.

17) Keep them updated of impending attacks on the area, and guidelines and tips of what they can do to help. Include them in the objectives of the revolution.

Developed by Dr. Lamya Al-Mas

 

 

Outdated Saleh

Filed under: Articles on Yemen — lamyaalmas @ 5:50 pm

It took Zen El Abidene Ben Ali 23 years of failed leadership, a young and desperate man burning himself alive, and throngs of Tunisian protests on the streets among whom many were killed and wounded by his security forces to finallyunderstand. In his most popular speech “I finally understand” he said,

O people of Tunisia—both in Tunisia and abroad. I am addressing you all. I admit that the current situation in Tunisia calls for profound and comprehensive change. I finally understand you. I understand you all: the unemployed; the needy; the politician; and those asking for more freedoms. I understand you all.

Similarly, Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak addresses Egyptians out on the streets who managed to inspire him as they did the world,

I am addressing all of you from the heart, as a father to his sons and daughters. I am both grateful and proud of you for being the symbolic generation calling for change to the better, for dreaming for a better future, and making the future.

Even mentally deranged and crude Moamar Al Qaddafi who managed to isolate Libya and Libyans from the world, had some words for the Libyan opposition. His speeches have oscillated between magnifying himself to hyperbolic degrees to abasing Libyans and calling them rodents, drug addicts, international relief beggars, and finally traitors for calling on the international community to impose a no-fly-zone on Libya.

As for Yemen’s Saleh, which ironically in Arabic means among other things ‘adequate’, has been anything but; he hasyet to directly address the protesters who are asking for him and his regime to step down. By protesters I mean those out on the streets in 12 cities in Yemen, who don’t belong to any political party. Those who have sacrificed their blood to their cause, and whom Saleh claims are being taken advantage of by parliamentary opposition parties. Those he has on different occasions called drug addicts, murderers, power seekers, civil and tribal warmongers, Al Qaeda loyalists, Islamists, separatists, secessionists, and traitors to external forces such as Israel and the USA. Those on whom he has assumed illegitimate and incompetent leadership for 33 years, only to catalyze their nation’s decline to below every standard measure of development. Whose state coffers he has emptied into his personal bank accounts leaving Yemen today bankrupt, consequently making it the poorest country in the region. What is there left for him to say? There is no doubt that he is suffering, among other things, from a crisis of trust in anything Saleh.

So, he has settled with:  1) speaking about protesters rather than to them; 2) Appearing in edited and televised scenes in which he delivers speeches to his paid loyalists; 3) Expressing disinterest in nominating himself for another term, while simultaneously cautioning that his absence would plunge Yemen into irredeemable chaos [what chaos can possibly compete with his poor legacy in Yemen?]; 4) Spinning conspiracy theories of tribal, secessionist, Al Qaeda and other imaginary conflicts; 5) Revising his plans to step down, times ranging from the end of 2011, beginning of 2012, the elections of 2013, to indefinitely; 5) Hiring thugs and mobilizing security forces to kill protesters on the streets and then declare national days of mourning for victims. Saleh is an obsessive-compulsive liar and only understands the language of the ‘Janbiyyah’ [dagger] hence his tactics in dealing with the current crisis in Yemen. Even if he wanted to address the peaceful protesters otherwise, he in earnest wouldn’t know how.

Saleh has proven that he is an inadequate component for the establishment of a civil society in Yemen. He has literallyreached his expiration date as have other dictators in the region. Hence, his new message to the protesters sent as usual through a third party, “I tell those who appear in the media asking others [meaning him and his regime] to leave, to leave [my] Yemen.” Saleh  finally understands that  he cannot co-exist with the tides of change sweeping over Yemen, asking for freedom, justice and dignity. Simply put,  it’s Greek to him.

 

 

“. . . we don’t know what those people want,” says American ambassador Gerald Feierstein

Filed under: Articles on Yemen — lamyaalmas @ 5:47 pm

Western politicians view the people of Yemen today through one lens; a lens Edward Said calls “Orientalism” and what we call today Neo-Colonialism. Unfortunately, what spews out of their mouths are narcissistic views that reek of the ‘us’ versus ‘them’ stench. In an interview with the Yemen Observer the USA’s Ambassador to Yemen says with selfish concern,

We want to see a peaceful transition; we want to see Yemen moving forward to a new reality, but it’s got to be done in a way that maintains some kind of system and some kind of peaceful transition, and so far, saying that the masses are on the street, it doesn’t give us anything to work with, because we don’t know what those people want. [Yemen Observer]

Let me tell you Mr. Ambassador who “those people. . . ” are? They are the beggars of Yemen who have perhaps run, hobbled, and shuffled in humility towards your car as it stopped at a traffic light. Begging you for change to secure theironly meal for the day? Did you ever see them? They are the children of Yemen who abandoned school to take on what your country internationally condemns child labor? They are the “child brides” of Yemen who raise your country’s TV ratings.  But did she ever tell you that she was sold because her impoverished family could not afford to pay off their debt, or find a means to put food on their table; all this while her president is one of the richest men in the world? Did you per chance wave at the children of Yemen climbing mounds of trash looking for scraps of food to quiet their growling stomachs?

No.

Maybe you saw the suppressed tears of a widow on the narrow streets of Yemen, with child at her hip and another holding her hand, knocking at strangers doors asking for hand-downs for Eid?  Or maybe you were witness to a young woman being sexual harassed in public by sons of government officials, only to be brushed off and declared “guilty of being out in public.” “Surely it was all her fault. She should have stayed home.” No dignity for the women of a nation once by three queens, at a time when Yemen was called “Arabia Felix” [Happy Yemen].  Today, Yemen is sad.

No.

Mr. Ambassador “those people” are Yemen’s 60% of unemployed youth, desperate for jobs, and the employed living on $2 a day. Surely, you must have seen them line up for hours at your embassy’s gates. Or maybe you’ve seen them in the US, waiting on US Immigration to glance favorably on their applications for asylum. Their stories pregnant with torture, deprivation, persecution, oppression, and injustice. You must have seen them as US airport security roams its hands over their bodies, gloats at their naked images as they go through body scans, and rummages through their luggage. Those that western media points their fingers at whenever they hear a ‘bang’. They are the youth of Yemen illegally crossing into Saudi Arabia in search of a better life, despite the perils of border security and life as illegal immigrants. They are the youth of Yemen living abroad in every nook and cranny of the world, out of despair that Yemen would ever value them and envelop them in her embrace.

No.

those people. . .” are the people in the southern part of Yemen whom Saleh spun hostility against by calling them “separatists” because they refused to be treated like second, third, and fourth class citizens. They dared to protest when he entitled himself to their lands and resources—as if they were his personal spoils of war. Theirs are the lands that Saleh opened up as breeding grounds for Al Qaeda, and their waters for pirates.  Al Qaeda in Yemen has a tag that reads, “Made by Saleh.”Among “those people . . .” is the Hirak movement of the south sprouting out of despair in a united Yemen or one that would ever be Saleh-free. “those people. . .“ are the Houthis in Yemen, against whom Saleh has waged six civil wars literally blowing them back to the stone age; depriving them of any identifiable feature of modern day society.

No.

those people. . .” are the farmers of Yemen abandoning their coffee crops that Ottomans once exported through the port of Mocha to the world. Those lamenting their agricultural prominence among their neighbors with arid lands, and surrendering their fertile lands and depleting water sources to grow the worthless stimulant qat. those people . . .” are the sailors of the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean who are short changed for their catch, that are exported to fill officials pockets while their families and their people starve.

No.

those people. . .“ are Yemenis drowning in corruption of legendary proportions. Its tentacles spare no foreigner or national.  “Welcome to Yemen the land of bribes” is the message that travelers to Yemen at all international airports and seaports are welcomed with. And government offices are notorious for draining the life out of  Yemenis, for anyofficial paper they are entitled to.

Mr. Ambassador, do you still not know “what those people want?” Let me break it up for you in terms you understand, “They want the right to freedom, justice and pursuit of happiness.”

By Dr. Almas

 

The mountain was asked, “Why are you so high?” It answered, “Because the valley is low.” March 20, 2011

Filed under: Halaqa Notes — lamyaalmas @ 1:42 pm

What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘quality’? A product or service maybe offered by a company usually accompanied by the phrase “getting your money’s worth” or “getting more for your buck”? Yes, to an extent it is true that the ‘seal of quality’ should be on all brands produced by Muslims for profit. Yet, that is just part of it. How about ‘you’ branded with the seal of quality? How about you receiving the seal of approval from Allah (SWT), and stamped with a seal that reads “Muslim of Quality.” Wouldn’t that guarantee insha Allah that whatever emanates from you is of quality?

Allah (SWT) says in the Qur’an, “How often a little community has overcome a much larger community by the permission of Allah. And Allah is with the patient. . .” (2:249).And to further drive this point home in another ayah Allah (SWT) addresses the Muslim army in the battle of Hunayn saying: “God gave you victory on many a battlefield. Recall the Day of Hunayn, when you fancied your great number but it did not help you one whit. So, the earth, for all its wide expanse, narrowed before you, and you turned fail and fled. Then God made His serenity descend upon His Messenger and the believers. . . ” (9:25). On close examination of these two ayat in the Qur’an and a quick birds-eye view of glorious moments in our Islamic history, the myth of success lies in numbers is shattered. Yet, many Muslims today rant and rave about the fact that the numbers of Muslims is on the rise, which is true no doubt, yet this rise in number does not translate into the strength and success of this Ummah among others. They are many but as the Prophet (saw) describes them in his famous hadith, “Rather, on that day you will be many, but you will be like foam, like the foam on the river. . .” [Saheeh: Related by Abu Dawood (no.4297)]
The brands of Muslims, although available and in surplus, is unfortunately ‘not of quality’. They are the valley so low as opposed to being the mountain so high, as the title of this post suggests. More importantly they have chosen to be so.

This was the topic of our past Circle of Light Halaqa in which we reflected on the story of Talut and Jalut (Saul and Goliath) in Surat Al Baqara ayat 246-251. We witnessed Allah filtering the Children of Israel through submitting them to a number of tests, and extracting from them a generation of 313 who were qualified for Allah’s promise of success. We concluded that in essence the weakness of our Ummah is not because of the power and success of other nations, but because we have not yet met the criteria for Allah (SWT) to grant us the pre-ordained success of the believers. We too wondered if our Muslim personalities were missing those same quality traits that disqualified huge numbers among the Children of Israel in the Talut and Jalut story. Those personality traits that qualified the ‘few’ as Allah (SWT) calls them were: 1) courage 2) determination; 3) discipline; and 4) loyalty. So, we pondered on ways to incorporate them into our daily lives so that with each day we could come closer to receiving that seal of approval that reads “Muslim of Quality” that would qualify us for the favor of ‘success’ that Allah (SWT) has bestowed on believers in the past and promised those of the future.

So, here is the activity/challenge we decided on. Every month, each one of us would take on a 30 day personal challenge called “30 day Muslim of Quality Project” which would focus on five categories: 1) Spiritual; 2) Physical/Health; 3)Knowledge; 4) Habits/Manners; 5)Activism/Volunteering/Charity work. Sisters Zakya, Bahja, Idil, Amal and I put together a schedule to help you all out. Click 30 day challenge for the document.

In each category you will determine 3 goals to focus on in 30 days. For instance, Spiritual: praying Fajr on time, reading morning and evening Adhkar, reading Surat Al Kahf on Fridays, praying Quiyam Al Layl 3 times a week, fasting 3 days this month, reading a page of Qur’an after every prayer etc.; Physical/Health: exercising for an hour every day, substituting coffee for green tea with every meal, incorporating 1 fruit and 1 vegetables per day; Knowledge: reading a book of quality a week, reading tafseer of 1 ayah per day, learning about 1 name and attribute of Allah (SWT) per day, reading a hadith a day and applying it etc; Habits/ Manners: whether it is ridding of yourself of bad ones or picking up good ones. For example, stop procrastinating on homework and dedicate 2hrs to homework every day after fajr prayer, clean my room once a week etc.; Activism/volunteering/charitable work: tutoring others in language, Qur’an, or any skill Allah (SWT) has blessed you with, volunteering in soup kitchen or food shelf etc.

Pick and choose your challenges, and make sure that you stick to them. Here are some tips the sisters shared:

  • Make sure your challenges are realistic–don’t get over ambitious. Keep them real, few and prioritize. For instance, praying Fajr on time is more important spiritually than fasting three days a month.
  • Make sure your challenge is well defined–for instance, “Strengthening my trust in Allah” is vague. So, rather “In order to strengthen my trust in Allah, I will take on the task of educating myself on one of the Names and Attributes of Allah” every day.
  • If you are going to be working out for instance, make sure you include how many times a week, for how many hours. The more defined the more likely you will stick to it.
  • Keep a journal entry–of no more than 1 page a day–to reflect on the accomplishments or under accomplishments on any given day.
  • Encourage yourself in whatever way you see fit, such as buying yourself a new journal for instance.
  • Make sure you incorporate your monthly goals into your daily schedules.
  • Make sure you keep your schedule where you can see it. Post it on your wall and make sure you give yourself a “green check mark for ACCOMPLISHED”  “Orange check mark for ALMOST” and “Red check mark for NOT ACCOMPLISHED” for a particular day.

Please share your thoughts by commenting to this entry and feel free to share with others. Our goal is that every Muslim on the face of this earth be a mountain so high and never a valley too low. Jazaakum Allah Khayr.