Monthly Archives: August 2011

The Perfect-Storm to reflect upon!!!

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August 26-28th, 2011, C.E. will go in the record books, as one of the wettest Summer weekends in History, along with being within the month of August, which currently broke the record of the wettest Summer month in U.S. History, as well as being within the wettest Summer in U.S. History, on the east coast, NYC specifically, and the very first official Hurricane to ever touch down in NYC, during my lifetime. But, aside from all of the record-breaking feats that Hurricane Irene has accomplished this weekend, it should be due noted how dangerous this Hurricane actually is & could be. There are people who are excited about the news of a hurricane, fearful of it, worried, and all of that. But, what people are missing is the true reflection of the one who is the reason why hurricanes even exists.

No…..it’s not the warm Summertime jet-stream winds of the Mid-Atlantic, nor the dry western winds from the interior of the mainland that connect with these oceanic warm winds, not even the temperature of the water…..it is Allah, the Creator of the Wind, Water, Fire, and all of these other types of natural phenomena, who is in complete control over all of these various “forces-of-nature”. As a Muslim, I’ve read stories in the Qur’an, about various peoples, who were once destroyed, by these same natural disasters that we view as just novel natural occurrences. But, when something like a hurricane in in your face, and all you can do is watch & wait for things to either get better, or worse, a different type of reality begins to resonate in one’s mind & heart, providing that they’re a person of reflection.

Now, it’s very easy to just brush this off & say, “Listen, dude…..it’s just a “Category 1 Hurricane”…..no big deal!!!”. Yeah, okay…..one can say that. But, check this out: the People of Thamud, who were among the first Humans to make their homes within mountains & valleys, whose residential remains are still preserved, in the Mid-East, along the Jordanian-Saudi border, were destroyed by something that you can’t even see, it’s called a Thunderclap. Yes, these people, described in the Qur’an as having great power & strength, were divinely brought down to size, as a result of their immense arrogance, simply by the sound of Thunder. You can also look at the People of Pompeii, destroyed only by Volcanic-ash, preserved & encased in time, to show those who come after them what happens as a result of out-right disobedience to Allah.

As I’m pondering over the potential damage that this storm has to offer, I’m left in complete awe of Allah’s power, and this is just a very minute, example of that power, which He alone possesses. Witnessing this hurricane actually unfold & occur before my very eyes, compels me to seek out a true sense of humility. Here I am, a young, smart, great-looking, and popular writer, with a bright future ahead of me (yeah, ladies…..this is my personal plug-in…..I’m available…..holla @ya boy!!! :-]). Yet, I’m completely powerless against something made from two of the most initially gentle aspects of nature itself: Water & Wind.

It’s truly amazing how separately & normally, they’re the softest things that you can come in contact with on Earth. However, when their fury is unleashed by the command of their Lord, they can knock you dead off of your feet, break bones, shatter windows, destroy buildings & structures, and even kill…..in all honesty much like a Woman. Women are so soft, beautiful & delicate, but when their fury is unleashed, they are also destructive (just a humorous side-note by the way, I don’t want any females reading this to start forming witch-hunts, wanting blood & revenge for this…..relax…..seriously!!! I know that once this is published, I’m gonna catch mad heat for this). Anyway, back to the point of reflection, at hand: Volcanic-eruptions, Hurricanes, Typhoons, Tornadoes, Tsunamis, Monsoons, Earthquakes, all of these forces-of-nature are signs for the creation of Allah, to ponder upon His might, His control over all things, and the extent of His wrath, if we’re not obedient to Him alone.

Even in light of the recent tremor, that shook up the eastern seaboard, people have speculated that this was a result of the passing of the Same-Gender marriage act in New York State. Not that I personally doubt that, but, at the same time, we as Muslims live among Homosexuals, Christians, Jews, Atheists, Anti-Theists, drug-users, drug-dealers, pimps, prostitutes, and all sorts of other people, who say & do things which are against the commandments & prohibitions of Allah. However, we as Muslims must also serve as a beacon of light for these people, firstly, by being good Muslims ourselves. I mean, honestly…..if someone sees us doing the same things that they do or worse, they’re not gonna have any incentive to change who they are and/or what they believe, say, or do; this is why we are religiously obligated to be upon our best behaviour at all times.

There are several reasons for this:

1. Allah has made it obligatory for us, as Muslims, to practice what we preach.

2. We have an obligation to our families, neighbors, classmates, co-workers, etc., to be the best examples of what Islam is & who Muslims are.

3. If we are not upholding the previous two points, we’ll be destroyed right along with the same people whom we are condemning for their wrongdoing, because by virtue of the fact that we’re not providing viable options for people, referring to how they choose to live their lives, we will definitely receive any & every punishment that those people whom we criticize receive.

So, in closing, it’s really in our best interest, as Muslims, all around, to use these volatile weather phenomena to reflect upon our own faults, in order to commit ourselves to constant & consistent self-improvement & to be the best examples for the people, so that we help to save them as well as ourselves, in this Material-Existence as well as in the Hereafter.

GarethBryant/2011

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What the Hell is a “Muslim-Name”?!!!/There is no such thing as a “Muslim-Name”!!!

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Ramadhan 26th, 1432, A.H./August 26th, 2011, C.E., I had given the weekly Khutbah (Islamic-Sermon), for Yaym-il-Jumu`ah (The Day of Gathering/Friday), at Stony Brook University. After the Khutbah had ended, a Muslim man came up to me, probably in his early 50’s, telling me how great my speech was, then asked me what my name was. Naturally, I told him that my name was Gareth. But, for some reason, that wasn’t good enough for him. So, he asked me what my last name was, so I said my last name was Bryant. That still wasn’t good enough for him-Out of the blue, he asked me, “What’s your ‘Muslim-Name’?” And, I initially said to myself, “Oh, no!!! Not this again!!!” He then began asking me about how long I’ve been a Muslim & what not. So, we started having a discussion, that I have pretty often with other Muslims, that I really find annoying…..it’s called the “The ‘Muslim-Name’ discussion”.

I’ve been a Muslim for 15 years; but, in spite of the fact that I’ve been a Muslim for this long, it’s still a pain-in-the-neck, to constantly explain why I don’t don an Arabic/Arabized name, to someone who’s born a Muslim or comes from a Muslim family and/or country; and, for some strange reason, they always find it so damn baffling that reverts to Islam, such as myself, do not change our names, when we become Muslims. It’s almost like people look at people like me as though we’ve done something wrong. Lately, I’ve been very stern about having people refer to me as Gareth Bryant, my actual name, as opposed to a pseudonym that many of my fellow reverts don as names, to fit-in as Muslims, as a result of some huge religious misconception. It’s basically like this: for the most part, people view you as not being really down, until/unless you have an Arabic name or Arabized name, which to be very honest is rather insulting.

I get really tired of people giving me those “You’re not Muslim-Enough” faces, when I tell them that my name is Gareth Bryant, as opposed to “Abu Uwais”, “Hatim”, “`Abbas,”, or the typical default name “`Abdullah”. It’s like people are saying that in order to have your Islam validated, you have to choose one of these pseudonyms, or you’re not doing something right. It’s also an indicator of cultural inferiority, sending the completely wrong message that only names of Arab origin are Islamically suitable names for Muslims. The person that I was referring to earlier, when we were talking actually asked me why I haven’t chosen a “Muslim-Name”.

It’s like a  typical “dog-chasing-its-tail” paradigm, having to explain over & over & over & over again, that a name doesn’t make a person a Muslim, rather their beliefs, statements & actions make them a Muslim. Unfortunately, that’s not good enough for most Muslims or people generally. In all honesty, this whole precedent of having a person change their name when they become a Muslim is actually a Bid`ah (a Religious-Innovation), unless the following conditions apply:

1. A person is only Islamically allowed to change their name, if their name has an Islamically unacceptable meaning (relating to polytheism, or blasphemy, for example), or a negative meaning generally.

2. A person is only Islamically allowed to change their first name, not their last, because of the issue of holding on to your family name, as a link to your own personal lineage, which is very important Islamically.(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.4, V.1 & Chpt.33, V.5)

Unfortunately, people get so caught up in this fallacy of wanting a “Muslim-Name”, as well as just wanting to fit-in, that they end up violating both of these conditions that I’ve just previously mentioned, to the extent of having all of their official documentation changed from their real names, to these unnecessary pseudonyms. This phenomenon is so extreme, that when people become Muslims, it is stressed that people choose these Arabic/Arabized pseudonyms, either right before or right after they becomes Muslims, insinuating that changing one’s name is in fact part of being a Muslim, when in fact a name has absolutely nothing to do with being a Muslim. This sends a very negative message:

1. It gives people the assumption that changing one’s identity as an individual, via changing one’s name, is the only way to become a Muslim.

2. It gives people the assumption that only Arabic/Arabized names are acceptable names for a Muslim to have, which goes back to something that I’ve already mentioned, about cultural inferiority, that Arab culture is the only valid culture for a Muslim.

The name-change is the stepping stone to all other unnecessary cultural changes that a Muslim partakes in, from what they wear to how they think, to how they generally behave. They begin to get programmed into accepting all-things Arab, fueling the fire of biased ethnic & cultural superiority, where in fact, Islamically, there’s no ethnicity/culture that is superior to another, or that takes precedence religiously over another. As a matter of fact, I know people personally, who have not become Muslims, just because they did not want to change their names, because they assumed, based upon the statements & actions of the Muslims, that conforming to Arab culture, via a name-change, was part of being a Muslim.

My argument is very simple: being a Muslim is predicated upon defining & improving one’s status as a Human being, via worshipping Allah, the Creator of the Universe, not about conforming to a foreign culture & thus donning a foreign identity, via a pseudonym, which has no fundamental religious basis Islamically.

Gareth Bryant/2011

The Brass Crescent Awards 2013:

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Salam/What up?

Please, nominate “Gareth Bryant’s Writing Page” for the ninth Annual Brass Crescent Awards!!!

The Brass Crescent Awards is an annual awards ceremony that honors the best writers and thinkers of the emerging Muslim blogosphere (aka the Islamsphere). Nominations are taken from blog readers, who then vote for the winners.

What are the Brass Crescent Awards? They are named for the Story of the City of Brass in the Thousand and One Nights. Today, the Islamsphere is forging a new synthesis of Islam and modernity, and is the intellectual heir to the traditions of philosophy and learning that was once the hallmark of Islamic civilization – a heritage scarcely recognizable today in the Islamic world after a century’s ravages of colonialism, tyrants, and religious fundamentalism. We believe that Islam transcends history, and we are forging history anew for tomorrow’s Islam. These awards are a means to honor ourselves and celebrate our nascent community, and promote its growth.

I’m trying to get nominated for both “Best Muslim Blog” & “Best Writer”. Please, support me…Here’s how: On the nomination page below, type in for Blog Name : Gareth Bryant’s Writing Page…for Blogger: Gareth Bryant…for Category: Best Writer or Best Muslim Blog

Here’s where to vote:

http://www.brasscrescent.org

The Top-Ten reasons why I would be the perfect Baby-Daddy:

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1. I’m a Muslim, who believes in Allah & the Last-Day.

2. I would give you the honor of being my wife before having children with you, as opposed to just being my personal, sexual plaything.

3. You would never have to worry about getting caught up in any unnecessary “Baby-Momma Drama” because I don’t believe in having babies all over the place.

4. You would never have to harass me, or take me to court over child-support. I believe in taking care of my own children.

5. You could rest assured that I would always be a good example for my own children.

6. I would give my children all of the love & care that they deserve.

7. My children would never have to worry about where their next meal is coming from, or where they’re going to live.

8. I would make sure that my children would have all of the advantages in life that I have had & that I’ve never had.

9. My children would always know that I was always there for them.

10. You would never forget how hard I would work to be the best father for my children.

#I’m just sayin’!!!

Pro-Life Vs. Pro-Choice: Where do the Muslims stand?

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The issue of Abortion has and will always cause significant controversy among all people, regardless of religious beliefs, political stances, cultural traditions or social affiliations. Whether for or against it, there will always be debates over this topic. This issue has become one of the most debated subjects concerning people around the world, as well as in the United States. It is my attempt to clarify the Islamic position on Abortion. Although, there are many Muslims who may not share my views, I want to make it very clear, based upon sources from the Qur’an & Prophetic-Tradition, in order to prove my point. In order to get a clearer picture of the entire issue, it would only be fair to define Abortion, from the Linguistic/Medical perspective, in order to have a better understanding of the entire process.

Abortion:
The expulsion of the Fetus, from the womb of the Human female. This is usually done surgically, or manually, resulting in the Fetus being physically removed, from the womb of the Human female.1

This is often done, for several of the following reasons:

1. The potential mother-to-be experiences complications during her pregnancy. Thus, causing serious health risks, possibly life-threatening, to the respective mother-to-be.

2. The potential mother-to-be was either a victim of Rape/Incest. Thus, causing her, or her relatives to rid themselves of the reminder of the rape (i.e. ridding themselves of the potential child).

3. The potential mother-to-be may have gotten pregnant, without planning to. She may be afraid of having the responsibility of bring another life into this world, as well as taking care of it.

4. Also, either her family, or her significant-other (husband, boyfriend, lover, etc.) may not want her to have the baby. Thus, placing immense pressure upon her to make a decision, which would be in their personal favor. The parents of this female may think that she is too young to have a child of her own. While her significant other may not want to be a father yet, or ever, or just not with her.

Now, on the surface (as on a Universal level), these are probably all acceptable reasons to abort a child. However, from the Islamic perspective, there are many issues at hand. This is mainly due to the fact that as Muslims, we believe that Allah alone creates life. Knowing this, then how can anyone just take the liberty of taking something out of existence, when they were not even responsible for it coming into existence?2

We all know that in order to take someone, or something out of existence which already exists (such as Humans & Animals), you have to kill it. According to Islamic-Law, killing is an act of Worship. Since killing is an act of worship, then a Human does not have the right to kill whoever or whatever he wants. Whoever or whatever they do kill must be in accordance with the Qur’an & Prophetic-Tradition.3

What I intend to present is whether or not the reasons people have abortions are valid or not, according to Islamic-Law.

Analyzing the reasons for Abortions:

1. In the case of the Fetus causing a health risk, or death to the potential mother-to-be, then there is no harm in having an Abortion. The reasons are very simple: according to Islamic-Law, self-preservation is valid. In a situation of this nature, it becomes crucial that the potential mother preserve her own life, since she is already alive. As for the Fetus, then there is no sin on the woman, or those who advise her under these circumstances, to eliminate it.

2. In the case of Rape/Incest, then the Fetus should most definitely be spared. Why should the Fetus be eliminated, because its potential mother was a victim of Rape/Incest? It is not the fault of the potential child-to-be, that it was conceived under this condition. If anything, the potential child is just as much of a victim as the potential mother. Every Human has the right to live, even before they are born.4

Rather, it was the fault of the sick bastard who committed the Rape/Incest. Realistically, if anyone is to be killed, it should be the one who committed the Rape/Incest. After all, it was they who deliberately decided to dehumanize someone, by robbing them of their sexual-integrity.

Also, less than 10% of all women, around the world, who get Abortions are in fact Rape/Incest victims. In the U.S., it’s even lower…..less than 5% of all women, who get Abortions are in fact Rape/Incest victims. Now, they want the quick-fix, the Abortion. This basically sends a message to your child that: “As long as I don’t get pregnant/get someone pregnant, I can screw whoever the hell I want….yessss!!!” They are now programmed to use the following rationale: In order to avoid the responsibility of caring & providing for another Human (which I helped to produce), the ultimate way-out is going to a Doctor and solicit their Medical expertise, in murdering your unborn child.

3. In the case of an unwanted pregnancy, it should also be kept. Why should a child have its existence snuffed out, just because its mother & father didn’t want it? The whole reason why guys & girls have to deal with unwanted pregnancies is because of their own foolish choices. So, basically, a male & female can have sexual-intercourse all they want. But, when a baby is on the way, then they are just given the liberty to get rid of the their child, like some worn-out clothing?

This is so wrong!!! Then, you have these parents, who don’t really care about how many times their children have sex, who their having sex with, whether or not they are practicing safe-sex, abstinence or getting married (Marriage of course being the best possible option).5

The youth have basically been given a free-hand, to act exclusively upon carnal impulse, instead of their parents or communities cultivating them with values & morals/ethics. All until someone gets pregnant. Only then, are these types of parents on the war-path, wanting retribution. It’s too late for all of that now!!! You should have been better parents!!!

My closing remarks would just be this, any Muslim or Non-Muslim, who reads this must really ask themselves: “After learning all of this, would or should I still support Abortion?” That is all that I leave with you, to think about. If nothing else, just think of yourselves. How would it make you feel, if you were that unborn child, who was denied their right to live? How would you feel, if your parents saw you as just a nuisance, or just some piece of garbage, ready to be trashed? How would it make you feel, if your parents disregarded you, to such an extent, that they were willing to kill you, just so they would not have to care for you? If you really just think about that, it’s really messed up.

Anyone who reads this, should know very well how precious life is, and it should not just be wasted. Just because an unwanted pregnancy occurs, does not give any of us the right to erase that person from existence. I know that it’s easy for me to be against Abortion, because I’m a guy. But, just try to think about the unborn child who is suffering. Keep in mind that Abortion inherently is a very inhumane & brutal procedure to begin with.

Even in the case of Incest or Rape, realistically, the one who was sexually violated is not going to feel any better about herself, just because she had an Abortion. The Abortion itself is not a fair compensation, for the fact that she was robbed of her dignity. Honestly, that’s not even justice. The sexual offender does at the very most ten years, and he is free, to live the rest of his life. However, the victim is forever emotionally & psychologically wounded. These wounds never heal sometimes-My point is to take the children, who are also victims, into strong consideration. Abortion is not reversible!!! When the damage is already done, it’s too to change one’s mind.

1. TheFreeDictionary.com, Dictionary.com, Merriam-Webster.com

2. Noble Qur’an: Chpts. 17, V. 33 & 60, V. 12; Tafsir-ul-Jalalayn, Safiyy-ur-Rahman al-Mubarakfury

3. Noble Qur’an: Chpt. 6, V. 151; Ibid.

4. Ibid

5.WHO.int

Gareth Bryant/2012

Somalia (The Anatomy of a Tragedy):

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I shouldn’t have to reiterate what’s gruesomely obvious, but it seems that I must: significantly large populations of people, living in four countries in the Horn of Africa: Ethiopia, Djibouti, Eritrea, Somalia, are currently facing one of the most devastating famines ever seen in recent memory & possibly in the entire history of the African continent itself. One country particularly, Somalia, has the most to lose as a result of this famine getting worse. Somalia has indeed suffered the most in the Horn of Africa region from this terrible famine, for several reasons: the lack of U.N. relief aid getting into Somalia, the severe the lack of accessibility into this country (making it basically impossible for on-the-ground assessments, as to who needs the most help in Somalia, so relief aid can reach the proper places & people in the first place), the result of over twenty years worth of carnage, murder, political imbalance (which has ruined the political and financial infrastructure of this entire country, making Somalia completely unable to deal with the severity of this famine on their own). Ever since 1991, the Somali people have been given not only the short end of the stick, but, they haven’t even been given a stick to hold on to, for any potential hope to come their way. Unfortunately, they are the perpetual victims & subjects of massive abuse, externally by the international-community, as well as internally, by even their own people. The Somali warlords, ruling with iron fists & fear, who control food, water, life & death, etc., preside over autonomous pocket-sections all over of this nation, as if they were like the notorious mafia chieftains, who ruled America, during the prohibition-era.

One of the most tragic realities of this whole affair is that since Somalia hasn’t had a stable central government in two decades, this has given these ruthless, tribal-warlords a free-hand, to rob, rape & pillage their own people, without any form of accountability. And, because of this unchecked oppression, Somalis are left with little options for survival, because quite frankly, no one seems to care. I mean, there hasn’t been a great international out cry at any U.N. general assemblies that I’ve heard of as of recent, or any move to rid the nation of Somalia of its tyrannical warlords. In Iraq, all you had to say was “WMD’s”, and the U.S., along with her “gong-ho” coalition forces were right there on the scene, like they were the members of Marvel Comic’s “The Avengers”, or D.C. Comic’s “The Justice League”. In the early 1980’s, during the Reagan-Administration, the moment that the U.S. got wind of Socialist/Communist influence expanding beyond Cuba & into Central America, particularly in the republic of Nicaragua, the U.S. gladly gave support, via military/intelligence, arms and money to the Contras (who would in our modern political context be classified as “terrorists-groups”), to do battle against the pro-Socialist/Communist Sandinista government.

I just wonder…..with all the U.S. & U.N. confirmations of “terrorists-cells” & “terrorists-groups”, loyal to “Al-Qaeda”, having swept threw Somalia, with their authority virtually unchallenged by the Democratic/Western-world…..why hasn’t there been a great move to relieve Somalia of its warlords & to help bring stability to this 20-year long war-torn nation?!!!

Is it because the U.S. is still sour about that ass-whippin’ that the U.S. Military was served, early on during the Clinton-Administration in the early 1990’s, by Somali rebel forces…..could be. Or, maybe, it’s because the whole “Al-Qaeda in Africa” story (which is just as much a sham as the whole “WMD” fantasy in Iraq) is an excuse needed to not go the extra-mile, to help these people-Like in the case of Rwanda: a million people were slaughtered within three months, while the “civilized-world” just sat back, and enjoyed the show, like it was a cool made-for-T.V. “Movie of the Week”…..probably.

Or, last but not least, it may just stem from the old colonial mentality of not wanting former prized colonial possessions of the “Dark-Continent” to rise and be economically & politically independent nations, to be forces-to-be-reckoned-with in the world, because the former colonial masters of Africa would no longer be able to further rape its land and/or its people of their innumerable resources…..yeah, I think this is the reason.

But, whatever the reason, the excuses for not giving the Somalis, or any other country help in times of crises like this are pathetic, despicable, and are no longer acceptable, and in truth, they were really never acceptable to begin with.

There a lot of other people here to blame for the tragedy that is Somalia’s current plight. I mainly blame the Muslim-World itself. From an Islamic perspective, these oil-rich Muslim/Arab royal families & kingdoms have enough wealth in their individual & national coffers, to rid not just Somalia, not just the Horn of Africa, not just Africa, not just the rest of the Muslim-World, but the entire globe of starvation. In fact, it’s their inherent religious obligation to do so, just because they have more, while others have less.

But, why has hunger still remained an undisputed champion in our lifetimes, in a world of unprecedented human wealth & possession-There’s plenty for all, but it seems that no one wants to share, because they just don’t care.

Gareth Bryant/2011

Gareth Bryant’s Top-Ten advices for Muslim College-Students:

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1. Make sure that the reason that you’re going to College is not because your parents want you to go, or just because that’s what everyone expects you to do. Go to College to one, exclusively please Allah, by doing something positive & productive, which will give significant meaning to your life. Two, then, go to College, so that you’ll end up with practical tools, which will help you navigate throughout the rest of your life, and will help to yield benefit for others as well, not just for yourself.

2. Make sure that you are married, try to get married if possible, either before going to College, or definitely within your first year. College has a lot of challenges, particularly, when it comes to things like sex, dating, and all-things related to the opposite gender, or even the same gender, relative to our current society. Unfortunately, many of us who are Muslims, are not positively indoctrinated with the thoughts of being married at young ages by either our parents or communities, which become big problems for us, as we venture into the real-world-Trust me, I’ve been there…..not being married during my College years has had some very negative results, but that’s another article, for another time. So, it is of the utmost importance, for us as Muslims, to be able to shield ourselves from these types of temptations that exists at institutions of higher-learning. And, unfortunately, most of us have already been exposed to so many of these types of temptations, way before being College-bound. In short, protect yourself, from those types of negative forces, at all costs.

3. Study as hard as you can. Don’t go to College to just chillax!!! You’re there to learn something significant, which can bring benefit & meaning to your life. Don’t try to be the class-clown, or the cool dude, because one, that never pays off, and two, 9-10, you probably were never that cool or amusing while you were in High School. So, really, you’re merely just putting up a front, just because you may be in an environment where no one really knows you, so you can re-invent yourself. But, that’s they wrong way to do it, because that’s not who you really are. Just go to College to do what needs to be done, which is learn.

4. Pick a major in College that you’ll really want to do potentially for the rest of your life. Don’t let your parents, or your community choose your major for you, because they’re not the ones who are going to have to sit through these classes, struggle day & night, to get the very best grades…..you are!!! So, make sure that it’s something that you want to do & also something that is going to yield benefit for yourself in the real-world.

5. Don’t let four years go by, before picking a major. In fact, you should be so disciplined, that you already know exactly what you want to do, before you even get to College. The worst thing to do in College is waste time. And, let me tell you, I’ve seen it happen…..dozens of my very own class-men, who switch major, after major, after major, which did nothing, but get them stuck in a sucky major that they never really wanted in the first place, and it got them a degree that they can’t even use, because that’s not what they wanted to even do.

6. Make sure that you are always in good company. Make sure that your primary source of friendship/companionship in College are good Muslims. I can speak from my personal experiences-I went to a private, Jewish-sponsored College, Touro College to be exact, and when you go to private Colleges or Universities, especially ones that are religiously-based, they may not to privy, with students establishing religious-based students clubs, especially if those student clubs are Muslim student clubs. And, I started College in ‘02, on the eve of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, so political tension & disfavor towards Muslims were still pretty high. And, being that the College that I went to was a Jewish College, obviously, having an MSA (Muslim Student Association) there was not flying. So, it’s no surprise, that when I tried to establish an MSA, at Touro College, I got shot down, immediately.  And, to add insult-to-injury, most of the Muslims that I knew were even ashamed to admit that they were Muslims in public, which was very disheartening for myself, who made a specific intention to become more religious, once I got to College. So, it was like I was a Muslim by myself, the Muslims who publicly rep’d being Muslim were pathetically few in number. Because of not having that sense of Muslim community at school, it made things very difficult for me as an individual Muslim, to stay strong & hold on to my own Islam, which eventually led the way to a lot of negative College-style elements, that I ended up welcoming with open-arms. The point is: get to know as many good Muslims as possible, and be connected to an MSA. If your College or University doesn’t have an MSA, or won’t let you have an MSA, one make anyway, even if it has to be off-campus. When you need advice about how to navigate in the College environment, or if you’re at a low-point in your Islam, or even if you have some personal problems that you really need help with, let the Muslims be your strength-Just be together & united with the Muslims, because in College, the Muslims all we have really.

7. If your College or University offers religious-based student clubs, then, make an MSA, immediately, or if your College or University already has an MSA, then by all-means, join immediately (reasons why, see 6)!!!

8. Be a Muslim who represents Islam & Muslims properly. While you’re at school, take this grand opportunity to be someone whom Non-Muslims can always go to, for info. about Islam & Muslims. These people really want to know what Islam is & what Islam isn’t. They must not & should not get their info. about Islam & Muslims from people in the media, who are gonna purposely speak negatively about Islam & Muslims, just because they have the platform to do so. We are the ones who have the responsibility to properly represent our own way, in a pure, unadulterated context, free from all negative bias, supported by media mud-slinging. These people have a right for us to be the best examples of how Muslim truly are & we are obligated by Allah, to be the best examples for the people, at all times.

9. When you’re not busy studying all the time, go out & have some Halal fun!!! Just because we’re Muslims, doesn’t mean that our lives have to be full of boredom. After class, or on the weekends, enjoy some extra-curricular activities, like playing sports, going to play pool, bowling, etc. There’s most definitely wiggle-room for your College experience to be filled with great times & memories. But, just remember to be a Muslim, wherever you are. You’re at an age now, where you know full-well, what a Muslim is not supposed to be like & what a Muslim is not supposed to do. So, just truly try your best, to be the Muslim at all times & you’re straight.

10. Always make Du`a’, that Allah always guides your decision-making & allows you to make the most Islamically compliant, wisest & intelligent choices during your tenure at College.

Gareth Bryant/2011

Washington’s plight (The dilema that is the National-Debt):

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This whole mad scramble for cash, by the U.S. government should make the American people ponder deeply about the severe condition of our national economy, as well as how we’re being viewed in the world right now, as a sinking ship. However, one thing that has not been pondered over is this: have any of these blue-chip companies (like Goldman Sachs, or Citigroup, for example), who’ve received billions of dollars from Washington, to keep their businesses afloat, ever volunteered to help get the U.S. out of her estimated $14Trillion debt to other countries, businesses, private investors, etc.?

The answer should’nt surprise any of us, the answer is hell no!!! To be honest, why should they bail the U.S. out? I mean, it’s not their fault that the U.S. Congress is so enthralled to the whims of big-business, via campaign, and lobbyists monetary purse-strings, that keep them in Congressional positions for so many years, while they allow Wall Street to screw Main Street, with no vaseline.

Washington very graciously, based upon the power of fear that our economy would surely collapse had these big companies not received bailout money, gave Wall Street the keys to the vault of the U.S. Treasury, and allowed Wall Street to rob the American people out of $700Billion that they didn’t deserve anyway, because they’re supposed to be able to get themselves out of the mess that they made. And, come to find out, these companies gave their top executives annual bonuses, purchased private jets, sponsored lavish events, all in the name of getting away with highway robbery, at the expense of the American people, as well as the current expense of our national economy. But, the incredible irony is the following: our national economy is still out of wack & on the brink of failure-So what good did all of these Federal bailouts, to all of these companies do anyway?

We could really use that extra $700Billion, which was shelled-out to Wall Street, right about now. But, where do you think this is going to come from? Not the blue-chip conglomerates, not from the Fortune 500 companies, not even from the banking & investment sectors, which owe their current survival to U.S. bailouts. No…..it’s all goin’ to be comin’ from the pockets of the American people…..again…..as usual…..as always.

The U.S. Congress has recently managed to pass a bill, which was signed by President Obama, to raise the U.S. debt-ceiling higher, in order to prevent a national financial default, which would officially make the U.S. bankrupt. But, still, how is Washington supposed to solve their ever-evolving problem, of spending what they don’t have to spend?!!! Also, how is Washington planning to diminish its trillion-dollar debt, providing that this debt-ceiling can even be raised any further? Now that our government is on the brink of national bankruptcy, where should Washington go, to get its share of bailout funds? Who is going to bailout the U.S.?!!! Will it be all of these private institutions, whose base of operations are in the U.S.? Or, will it be all of those third-world countries, who receive billions of U.S. monetary foreign aid? Or, could it be the IMF? Hey…..at the rate that things are going in the U.S. right now, it’s not a bad option, if the opportunity presents itself!!!

That is, in fact, the $14Trillion question: who’s gonna take on this massive task of ensuring that our national economy doesn’t go belly-up?!!! The entire world still has Washington under a microscope right now-From Obama trying to get re-elected as President, while still having to deal a shabby American economy & two war fronts (which did not end with the announcement of Bin-Ladin’s death, which is the whole reason why thousands of U.S. troops & billions of dollars worth of weaponry were used in both Afghanistan & Iraq, to seek out terrorists-cells & WMD’s, right?), the stalemate decisions about raising the debt-ceiling in the first place (which had initially gone nowhere fast in both the chambers of the House of Representatives & the House of the Senate, previous to this very recent bill that has been passed to raise it), to the walk-out by Rep. Boehner & his personal tug-of-war/cat-fight between himself & President Obama about the whole debt-ceiling issue-This whole financial mess has been just like a typical cheesy soap opera, but with trillions of cash on the line.

What makes this situation worse, on an international scale, is that other countries who are in competition with the U.S. (like China or India for example), could not only loose confidence in investing in the U.S. economy, but, could also use this potential tragedy for the U.S. as an opportunity, to make themselves the next top-dog economic superpower, which would obviously change the entire global economic & political landscape of the world. These are truly trying times for Washington, and the U.S. Congress had better get things together, before things get a lot worse.

#I’m just sayin’!!!

Some Brief Islamic-History (the dismantlement of the Ottoman Empire):

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It is no accident that the recent revolutions, which have occurred in Tunisia & Egypt, and have swept across the entire Arab-World, to places like Bahrain, Yemen, Syria & Libya, have occurred close to the 100th anniversary of the toppling of the Ottoman Empire, the last officially recognized global ruling body over the Muslim-World. In 2022, it will be 100 years, exactly, since the Arab revolt against the Khilafah (the global Islamic political-system, based upon the Shari`ah [Islamic-Law]), with the help of European imperial powers (namely the United Kingdom & France), became the leading factor in the destruction of the Khilafah. Now, with all the chaos that exists within the Muslim-World today already, coupled with uprisings, as well as potential global insurrection of the current kingdoms & republics of the Arab-World, one has to wonder, “How are all of these happenings in the Arab-World going to play out?!!!”. Well, if you’re a person like me, who’s well-versed in the prophecies of the prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), concerning the trials & signs of the Last-Day & studies History, or just use the basic intellect that Allah has given all of us, you’ll be able to see that something big is about to hit the fan-No one will be able to ignore this reality, nor its everlasting affects upon not only the Muslim-World, but the entire Human race.

Why am I, or should I be even bringing this up, one may ask, and with good reason. I mean, am I a scholar on any religious or secular grounds, no. Am I an expert political-analyst, no. Am I an expert social commentator…..again, no. But, you better believe that I still know what the Hell I’m talking about!!! In light of all of these recent happenings, there has been a mad scramble among Muslim/Arab leaders to pacify their populations, to try their best to keep the thoughts of insurrection out the minds & hearts of the people. Particularly, the oil-rich Gulf-States (Saudi, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, The Emirates, Qatar), who have the most to gain out of stability in the region, and the most to lose if true revolution in the Muslim-World goes physically viral. The Gulf-States, in all honesty are on every one’s “shit-list”, for so many reasons.

If Allah wills, I’ll only mention a few:                                                                                 
The ancestors of the current Arab-World monarchs only rebelled against the Ottomans because they were not Arabs (yes, contrary to popular opinion the rebellion of the Arabs against the Turks was exclusively racially-motivated). They felt ways about being ruled over by Non-Arabs, so with the help of the European imperial powers, they succeeded in destroying the global unity of the Muslim-World, which has contributed to about 90% percent of all of the atrocities that have inflicted the Muslim-World for the past two centuries (both the 1900’s & the 2000’s) Two, their ancestors were the main on-the-ground military opposition to the Ottoman Empire, which made it easier for the European powers to flank the forces of the Ottomans, during World War I. Three, the natural resources found in the Arabian Peninsula, which according to the Prophet Muhammad (Peace upon him) is one of the three things shared by all Muslims (I’m referring to the petroleum right now) were divided among the future kingdoms of this region and became tightly controlled by the elites of these kingdoms (mainly the royal families themselves, and those in their financial/political inner-circles).

Now, the rebellions in Tunisia & Egypt are really rubbing the Gulf-States the wrong way, that’s why they tell their government-controlled scholars to propagate “Be patient with the Muslim-Leaders”, and so many other geo-political slogans of pacification-they do not want to be overthrown like their ancestors overthrew the Turks, really simple. But, they really have to watch their backs, especially since the leadership in Egypt is up for grabs.

The Egyptians have not forgotten that Saudi, along with the other Gulf-States lent absolutely no support to the Arab countries fighting the State of Israel, during the 50’s, 60’s, or 70’s. And, they have not forgotten how Saudi deals with other Muslim/Arab countries, with total oblivion and disregard. They view themselves as the supreme leaders of not only the Arab-World, but the Muslim-World, only because they have authority in the most important places on earth, Makkah & Madinah. However, the official regal title of “The Custodian of the two Sacred Mosques” is always enough to make any Muslim country think twice before invading Saudi. But, the Saudis may not be able to cash in on those religious chips, if revolution goes physically viral.

Now, let’s go back to the whole point of this article:                                                    
The enemies of Allah have a plan for the Muslim-World, to make it more religiously, socially, and culturally secular. They do what Muslims won’t: they study History, and learn from the mistakes of others. Also, they plan things out thoroughly. Their execution of what they plan is truly remarkable, yet we’re still asleep. My brothers & sisters: WAKE THE HELL UP!!! There are things happening that are not in our control, that only Allah can save us from. But, we have to be ready, and stop living with our heads in the clouds!!!

Gareth Bryant/2012

 

Islam is my life & Fashion is my passion:

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I remember when I first became a Muslim, like so many us who reverted to Islam, I went through the whole “change your name”, change your look, and essentially change who you naturally, culturally are, as a person nonsense, and so-on. After my little street-life/party & drug-scene stint, I decided that I needed to be more religious. So, after High School, I dived head-first into the Salafi-Movement. Honestly, the Salafi-Movement, initially, was a very positive thing for me personally, mainly because it propelled my religiosity, my general pursuit for Islamic knowledge, and compelled me to take Islam a lot more seriously than I had been taking it previously.

However, like so many others, who got swept up by the religious glamour & grandeur of the ideals of the Salafi-Movement (which are actually valid when properly implemented with justice), the problem was that I had begun to change in ways that were contrary to the very fundamental teachings of Salafiyyah (The Way of  the Salaf: following the religious examples of the Sahabah, the Companions of Prophet Muhammad [May Allah be pleased with them all-together] & the two generations of the Tabi`in, the Followers of the Companions [May Allah mercify them all-together]). I began to acquire this superiority-complex, which was encouraged by many of the so-called “Salafi Scholars” & popular Salafi-Propagators & “Students of Knowledge”, (the likes of Rabee` ibn Haadee `Umayr Al-Madkhali, and his subordinates, like Dawud Adib, Mustapha George, etc.), to view other Muslims, who either did not make the claim to be Salafis (those who claim to adhere to Salafiyyah) or were just not Salafi-enough, as being less Muslim than ourselves.

Then, before you know it, I was just another, ignorant & arrogant youth, just running my mouth, insulting other Muslims & people in general who were not even Muslims, with the complete green-light given to us by the Salafi leaders in our respective communities. Not only were we taught that all Non-Salafis were off-track religiously, but also, we were indoctrinated with the monstrous fallacy that the only true persons of knowledge were the “Salafi-Scholars”, from Saudi & graduates from Saudi and/or Saudi-funded Universities, or scholars & “Students of Knowledge”, from other countries who were “Salafi-Sanctioned”, and that the only way to practice the Sunnah (Prophetic-Tradition) was to do it the way the Salafis said to do it, which became so extreme-Everything that was done, from the way that I thought, to the way that I walked, to the way that I wore my clothes & especially what types of clothing I wore, were all controlled by the teachings of the Salafis-This became staple/default indoctrination (i.e. if the Salafis/Saudis didn’t do it, it’s not from the Sunnah).

We were all warned to not be like Non-Muslims, so this whole “Not imitating the Kuffar” wave came into play (the word Kuffar is the plural of the Arabic word Kafir, which means Disbeliever [someone who disbelieves in Allah, or any other crucial Islamic core theological belief, or or someone who rejects any major theological and/or religious tenet of Islam]). We were told that this was necessary for us to maintain an “Islamic identity”, but in all reality, it was nothing more than a typical control-mechanism, which meant that anything that was not Arabized and/or Saudified was therefore “Non-Islamic”. So, I went from being a free-thinker to being a robot, from being a leader, to being a religiously manufactured follower, we went from wearing sneakers to sandals, from fitted-caps to Kufis, Kiffayahs & Turbans, from GAP jeans to Daffah Thawbs (Arab long-body/full-body garments for men), from shorts to Izars (male waist-wraps/man-skirts), from Puma socks to Khuffs (Arab leather-socks). From 2000-2003, I had went back-and-forth, between Arab-dress & my regular cultural-dress. It became more & more difficult to decipher which dress was really for me.

I had to make a very serious decision, whether to keep this new-found Salafi-culture, or to revert back to my regular culture. I then decided to actually investigate this whole issue of “Imitation of the Kuffar”. I found out that what I was being taught was not at all, what was being projected by the Salafis, the truth, when it came to “not imitating the Kuffar”. I ended up learning that when it comes to fashion, from an Islamic perspective, the regulations of dress for Muslim men are not as extensive or conservative as it is for Muslim women, mainly because the parameters of our `Awrat (Private-Areas) are not the same as the `Awrat of the women, the `Awrat of men are only limited to what lies between our navels & knees, whereas the `Awrat of women extend to every part of their bodies. In fact, as long as a Muslim man doesn’t wear gold, silk, images (things primarily with eyes), transparent clothing, we can realistically wear whatever else that we want.

So, after learning this, and with me being me, I said to myself, “Fuck dis shit…..Imma wear what the Hell I wanna wear!!!”. Then, all Hell broke loose in the Salafi-World for me. Just because I didn’t want to dress like an Arab, I was ridiculed, mocked, made to feel uncomfortable, unwanted, ostracized, and it wasn’t until these events (I’ll explain some of them in a minute) took place that I realized that the Salafi-Movement was just like Roman-Catholic Christianity. Instead of a Pope, you have the King of Saudi Arabia, who even though is clearly in his religious practice a Non-Salafi, and if not the King of Saudi Arabia, would most definitely be considered & called a Hizbi (Religious-Heretic), the de-facto top religious figure, by virtue of the fact that every religious edict that comes out of Saudi must be personally approved by the current King of Saudi Arabia, or it’s not a go.

Then, for the first time in a long time, I started to actually think about what I was doing and what I had allowed myself to get into. I began to realize that this was exactly the way that Christians taught us how to act, just do…..don’t question, don’t challenge, and if you do, you’re not a good Christian. Well, it was just like that back in those days with the Salafis, if you questioned anything, or question any Salafi-Scholar, Salafi-Propagator or Salafi “Student of Knowledge”, then you were no longer considered a good Salafi or Salafi at all.

Okay, here’s when things got hot-and-heavy for me: As a result of my new-found fashion independence, I was immediately black-listed as a rebel, heretic, and everything else a Salafi never, ever wants to be called. This got so bad, that I almost ended up getting into fist-fights, with several Muslims, over this whole fashion issue, and to add insult-to injury, Mustapha George (whom I mentioned earlier) had actually tried to call me out during a Khutbah (weekly Islamic-Sermon given on Fridays) no-less. He had named his Khutbah for that week, “The Ettiquites of the Mosque”, when he explicitly said, “A Muslim brother should not come to the Mosque, like he’s going to a party.” Now, it was very obvious that he was taking a clear shot at me, by virtue of the fact that I was the only person in the Mosque that day, not dressed as an Arab. So, people actually started looking directly at me. This is just one particular example of how people tried to handle me, just on the issue of fashion.

These experiences from my life as a Salafi (by the way, I officially renounced being Salafi back in 2007) taught me some important things: One, be Muslim, without trying to be other than your true self. Two, don’t let anyone tell you to believe, say or do anything, regarding the practice of Islam, without exclusive, explicit proof from the Qur’an & Prophetic-Tradition-That was the main problem among the Salafi youth, being indoctrinated to don a culture that is not only foreign to them, but also having no Islamic relevance, and unfortunately, it still remains a problem that has purposely not been fixed, because some people always want dominance over others, which is pretty damn sad.

Now, on to my clothing line that I had attempted to start: In spite of the Dark-Ages of my life as a Muslim, I acquired the intense need to express myself fashionably, as a Muslim first, but also as a man of my times, as an Urban-Dweller, as a Hip-Hopper. I love fashion, and since this is the case, I feel like I’m obligated to be a fashion trend-setter, for each & every Muslim, living in Non-Muslim countries, shackled to a foreign interpretation, understanding & practice of Islam, which brings Khaleeji Clothing Co. into play: Rashaan Rashid (the brother that I had tried to get this clothing company off the ground with) & I had seen the need for Muslims (Muslim men particularly/especially) to be able to be Muslim, and at the exact same time feel to dress as they please, without being made outcasts, for not conforming to a cultural dress that is not theirs.

It is so important for Muslims in the West (Non-Muslim countries specifically) to take ownership over their own practice of Islam, the first way to acquire authentic knowledge, in the context of the Arabic-Language, to free ourselves of being shackled to any peoples’ or country’s relative, subjective, culturally biased interpretation, understanding & practice of Islam (i.e. learning the Arabic-Language, so we will be able to equip ourselves with the tools to go into classic Islamic works, to gain benefit for ourselves, as opposed to relying upon biased/inaccurate translations of classic texts, or relying upon biased/inaccurate translated lectures & classes) which takes a little more time, and another way is to free ourselves from being unnecessarily & unjustifiably fashionably shackled to any foreign peoples’ or foreign country’s clothing.

And, this is exactly what Khaleeji Clothing Co. had aimed to accomplish at the time: To give Muslims in Non-Muslim countries the confidence to dress the way that they want to, without scrutiny from those who don’t even live among us, yet have influence/control over us. We want Muslims to know that as long as whatever you’re wearing is Islamically-Compliant, then no one else, Muslim or Non-Muslim has the right to have an opinion about whatever you choose to wear, period.

When my business partner first approached me with the idea of helping him with starting this clothing line, I was honestly very apprehensive. I’ve seen a lot of Muslim clothing companies in the past, and those coming up, and I wasn’t very impressed, because I just saw that a lot of Muslim clothing designers were just revamping and/or modifying Arab-style trends. I wanted to be as distant from Arab-clothing, as well as Arab-style fashion influence as possible.

But, then I started to let the whole idea of me becoming a clothing-designer grow on me. I began to envision that I would have a perfect opportunity to display Islamic-Fashion, in a suitable context, for Muslims outside of the Arab-World. It became very important for me to speak on behalf of Muslims, who want to be Muslim of course, but don’t want to feel that they have to be Arabs, in order to be Muslims. In fact, I remember having a tense discussion/debate/argument, with another Muslim, about the whole idea of Islamic-Fashion. He had asked me, “Hey, when did Muslims stop wearing Kufis?!!!”, and, of course as only I can responded sarcastically, “When we found out that Kufis are not religiously required!!!”. That started this long, drawn-out talk, between two brothers & myself, basically they were double-teaming me about this issue, they were clearly pro Arab-domination, while I wasn’t. It even got to the point where one of the brothers said, “African-Americans don’t even have a culture.” (keep in-mind that he himself was an African-American). This literally knocked me off of my feet!!! I was so disgusted by his statement, which intensified the already deep-rooted tense conversation between the three of us.

The more that I gave the idea of being a part of this clothing company a thought, the more I began to realize that I could push a completely different mindset, that is very revolutionary. This new mindset would compel Muslims outside of the Muslim-World/Arab-World to accept the obligation & opportunity to define themselves in an Islamic context, instead of having foreigners defining them. The last thing that we as Muslims in Non-Muslim countries is to be told how to dress.

As Muslims in the West, we need to be defined by our current condition, which is not only unique in the history of Muslims, from among the Ummah (Nation/Community) of Muhammad (Peace be upon him), but also unique to our own outlooks about the world & life, outside of the Muslim-World/Arab-World. Yes, we are all Muslims, but we don’t have to think the same, talk the same, walk the same, act the same, or dress the same. Being unique is very important for a Muslim, and a Human being generally. Our individuality is what makes us who we are, and our uniqueness has value, and that uniqueness must & should be celebrated, not denigrated, by ethnic/cultural dominance, which has absolutely nothing to do with the tenets of Islam.

This is why Islam is my life, and Fashion is my passion: My existence in this Universe & my life on Earth, as a Human being, is predicated on worshipping Allah, the Lord of the Universe, and Fashion is something that helps me, as a Muslim, to acquire the freedom to express myself as an individual, without being worried about whose approval I have to seek. I no longer worry about how people view my fashion-sense, and I no longer wait or seek the unnecessary religious scholarly & not-so-scholarly approval of anyone: If I wanna wear jeans & tees, then Imma wear jeans & tees; if I wanna rock a two-piece or three-piece suit, then that’s what I’ll rock; if I wanna sport a cardigan or track-jacket, then Imma sport a cardigan or track-jacket.

Gareth Bryant/2013