Sunday, November 28, 2010

Non-Arab Arabs

So while Katrina Kaif looks much better saying it, I also have to say it.

"What's my name?"

It's not Misbah, Misba, or *horror* Al Misbah.


I hate it when people come to me and say "Why do you spell your name as Mezba, it should be pronounced as Misbah."

"Why," I will ask, knowing the reply.

"Well, it's really 'mis' in Arabic, not 'mez', so you name should be-"

IN CASE YOU ARE TOO DUMB TO NOTICE OR SEE BEYOND YOUR BEARD this is the English language and I am spelling my name in English and I will spell it the Way I Want It.

Imagine a guy name Paul having this conversation.

"Sorry, it's actually 'Ball' in Arabic and not 'Paul' as we don't have a 'P' sound so you should spell your name as 'Ball' really."

Last time I checked, you spell people's names the way they want it to be spelt and pronounce it the way they want it to be pronounced.

Muslims from the subcontinent (India-Pakistan-Bangladesh) all suffer from an inferiority complex where they want to be very Arab. I don't know why, an Arab isn't much better than a non-Arab (I didn't say it, the Prophet did). Yet, in their zeal to be "more Muslim" they will give every kid an Arabic name. This 'zeal' is most evident in Pakistan.

In Bangladesh, surprisingly, we still have few stalwarts who will give their children Bengali names. They are not Hindu, nor Muslim, but Bengali names. Names that have some good meaning, or is cultural.

And then the problem starts when they meet these non-Arab Arabs.

"Why is your name Mala? That's such a Hindu name."

"Why is your name Moushumee? OMG that is SUCH a Hindu name."

The last from a guy called Sameer who puts "Sam" on his resume.

No, it's not a Hindu name. Broaden your horizons a bit. Sheesh.

One should carry a placard.

"Hi, My name is Moushumee and I am NOT a Hindu."


Friday, November 26, 2010

Careful what you say ...!

So I am there at the office with my brother to pick up some papers and a package. it was 4.30 pm. At exactly 6 pm I had the badminton court booked.

I stared at my ticket stub. It said 560.

I looked up at the LCD display above. It said "now serving applicant 540".

Twenty people more, I thought, how bad could it be?

It was bad. It was so slow.

"What's the time?" My brother, and badminton partner, asked me.

"4:45 pm." I glanced at my watch and replied.

"Uh oh." He quickly calculated. "It will take us 40 minutes to go home in rush hour. We will be cutting it close."

"If by 5 we are ready to pick it up ..." I left the sentence unfinished. We would just reach home in time. Perhaps.

"Now serving customer 559." The LCD said.

"It's 5 o'clock." My brother announced, quite loudly.

"Yeah," I replied. And then I added, not realizing, in a VERY loud voice, "The countdown has begun."

Quite the wrong choice of words when you are at an embassy to pick up your visa ...

Monday, November 08, 2010


I recently read of the plight of a house owner in Markham who cannot sell his house because it is no. 4, which is "death" in Cantonese [source].
“Tetraphobia,” fear of 4, entered their vocabulary.

Having a 4 in the address can lower a home's value — "Agents estimate anywhere between $25,000 and $35,000," Graham Canning says.
The article mentions that the area was predominantly Anglo when the owners first moved in, but now is mostly Chinese (Hong Kong immigrants) - many of whom won't buy if there is the number 4 in the house address.

Now to me, this is quite silly. It's like the old joke where "so-and-so heard that 80% of accidents happen near one's home, so he moved". I then read some of the comments left by readers. Here's one:

Canada has been accommodating immigrants so long, that accommodating Canadians somehow fell off the map.

So says someone poking fun of an immigrant superstition, when you will not find a floor number 13 on most Canadian buildings! In fact, there is one condo in Scarborough where there are no floors that are numbered 4, 13 or 23!

In Bangladesh, most superstitions I grew up with tended to be fears of the dark. So for example you don't cut your nails after evening, you don't look at your shadows at night or if someone is lying on the floor, don't step over them. Some are pretty common sense but others are quite ridiculous - for example if your right hand itches you will have some money coming in!

So perhaps one should give the house owner some itching powder and get him to sell the house to a non-Chinese person.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Why Muslims Should (Not) Vote (Democrat)

Today, all the Facebook statuses of my politically active American friends are encouraging everyone to go out and vote. "Make your voice count!" They say. And most of them are recommending the Democrats.

It's not hard to see why someone would prefer the Democrats. The alternate (Republican/Tea Party) are vehemently anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, anti-racist by their acts, views and opinions. America today is a sad country, and a terrible place to be a Muslim. But, and this is a strong reason, are you really making your voice count if you are voting a Democrat, just to stop the Republicans?

In Nevada, for example, you have to vote for Harry Reid, the Democrat leader, who said publicly he does not want the mosque in New York to be built. And I ask, what is the difference between him and a Republican?

In fact, the very pathetic condition of the US political system is that you really have only two choices, Democrat and Republican, who are not really very different. And for Muslims, the outlook is worse. The Republicans hate you and will never benefit you, while the Democrats know you will vote for them regardless, and therefore doesn't court you for support.

So, if you really want to make your voice count, make an honest vote. If your Democrat candidate has truly spoken out supporting Muslims and supporting issues you care about, then vote for him (or her). However, if your Democrat has also joined the Republicans in opposing Muslim interests, or not taken any action on issues you care about, don't vote for that candidate. Make the candidate feel (write a letter or email) as to why you did not vote for that person. The candidates should know that your vote has to be earned. There's a bunch of other candidates running (who may not have a chance of winning) but would appreciate your support (and if there's no one, don't vote).

You as a Muslim are not responsible for changing the world for the better, you as a Muslim are only responsible for making an effort to do so. Success (and failure) comes from Allah.

Don't fear the Republicans. They can do what they want, they can plan what they will, Allah is the Best of planners. Muslims have been there long before them and Muslims will be there long after they are burning in Hell.

And, in case they really take America down the drain, you can always move to Canada. We have a real political system. And health care.