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March 27, 2004

“Subhanallah, we suck”

I’ve said this motto a couple of times in the past, even making it an away message briefly, only to have quite a few people take it in the wrong way. I’ve decided to bring it back… why?

Cause its my damn website.

Now that my childishness is over, let me explain why this has crept back into my vocabulary. Let me explain why you, dear noble reader, should also feel as indignant as I feel at this moment. I participated as a judge and word pronounced once again in the annual North South Foundation Regional Spelling and Vocabulary Bee.  This is a contest held by NSF for students of Indian origin to help motivate and encourage them to increase their language skills to better prepare them for standardized testing and higher levels of academia. It’s a competition I participated in as a child and I feel that it really helped me and many of the other kids that participated in such competitions.

Shameless plug –here’s an article I wrote about my reflections of the competition: http://www.northsouth.org/riaz.asp

Anyway, for the past 5 years I’ve tried to repay all that the NSF has done for me by helping out as an organizer and volunteer for this competition. And each year, it really amazes me how motivated these little kids are (obviously due to the encouragement of their parents) and how well prepared they are for these competitions at such young ages.  And each year, I try to tell the same parents that ask me for advice about their kids (what school should they go to, should they send their kids for hifz, etc) to enter their kids in these competitions as well. And each year, Moslem (once again never failing to amuse me with their irrationality) parents tell me that they dont wan’t to participate in a “Hindu thing”.  Of course, these same parents have no problems watching Indian movies and having lavish mehendis… gotta love the Muslim mentality: let’s not emulate the exemplary aspects of a people and let’s adopt their cultural baggage as our own… as the Guiness guy would say, “brilliant!”

Anyway, so the net result has been that Muslim students have had nearly no participation in these events over the years due to this ignorance and intolerance. And of course, Muslim kids have been the losers in the bargain, since they’re missing out on a chance to get a head start on their educational careers. All because of narrow-minded thinking and not willing to take the good from others. Seriously, the Prophet did say that “Wisdom is the lost property of the believer; wheresoever he finds it, he should take from it…” Right now, we’re definitely taking from others… except it’s not really wisdom.

Moreover, for the past two years, the regional contest has been held at a local temple/religious camp place in Burr Ridge called the Chinmaya Temple. Each time I was there, I was amazed and awestruck by how well-kept and maintained it was.  Muslims may have larger mosques and may talk big plans of big masjids (cough), but they never maintain them. Shoot, name a Muslim restaurant in Devon that maintains its sanitation and cleanliness for 2 days running. Dont even think about naming Italian Express as being clean, for I’ll shoot for you being facetious. But seriously, the place was immaculately well-kept; I asked how they manage this and they said that each member of the Temple is assigned a certain day to come in with some other members to clean the place up.  Subhanallah, IFS’s cleaning bill amount is prolly only known to Dogar Saab:

…and yet that place still never, really… looks clean. When’s the last time anyone came into clean up IFS on a scheduled basis like that? I remember one time I offered to vacuum (this was when I was a good kid, circa 9th grade) and I was told no, you’ll mess up… how the FRICK can one mess up vacuuming? Anyway, back to Chinmaya, this place was sparkling; even more impressive was the discipline shown by all the people who came to the function. For example, the temple rules (similar to masjid rules) dictate that one cannot enter the temple with shoes on, so they have the familiar shoe racks near the entrance. What took my breath away and really, as a Muslim, put me to shame, was how every single person had the discipline to put their shoes on the rack in an orderly fashion. Can you imagine this ever happening at any given masjid? Take a look at the warzone of shoes right outside the entrance to God’s house the next time you’re there to fully understand this; now imagine all the shoes on racks, perfectly lined up without any shoe monitor or anyone to remind them to do so to understand what I’m talking about.  Even the competitions, we started them (GASP!) on time and ended early… I cannot recollect the last time a Muslim event did that.  They had free refreshments (donuts, coffee, bagels and juice) and everyone lined up and only took what they needed and didnt rush or make a big fuss.  How many iftars and dinners have I seen wherein Muslims adopt a Darwinian “survival-of-the-fittest” attitude and swarm to get the best food and more food than they can reasonably finish. (We adamantly disavow Darwin and this theories, yet we exemplify “survival of the fittest” come food time.) Really, today I felt both awe and shame after witnessing the discipline and character of these people. And apart from religion, they’re really not that different: doctors/engineers/edumacated folks with funny accents who eat samosas (veggies, of course) and drive Lexuses yet have an enviable and remarkable amount of discipline and concern for others.

So where does this leave us? Let’s see what I’ve learnt today:

1. Our arrogance and unwillingness to associate with the positive aspects of other groups is severely hindering our progress, and more importantly, the futures of our children. Yet, we’re more than willing to embrace their cultural peculiarities

2. Membership, especially board membership, to a masjid should not be based on income, whether or not you’re punjabi (in the case of IFS), or other such idiotic criteria. We need to have a schedule for members of each masjid to come in and do things for the masjid and community on an assigned basis: clean the place, do some community service project, etc.  For board members, this work oughta be increased two or threefold.

3. Caramel pecan silk supreme is the best pie at Baker’s Square

4. After looking at the imitable character and discipline of others (as well as all other positive qualities that other exemplify), we should reflect within ourselves to see whether or not we too are displaying these qualities to the levels that others are achieving. If not, we need to get on the ball and have a friendly competition to ‘outdo’ them in works of charity, kindess, and societal amelioration.

5. To combat this lack of interest in such competitions, I have the vision of having a similar competition for Muslim students in the hopes that at least their parents will attend these and let their kids reap all the associated benefits. Bismillah, the work on this has begun already as of today. If you’re interested in this, contact me for more information.

6. Despite our self-criticism and loss of faith in our abilities, we must always continue to praise God, for it is only through the glorification of Allah do we lay the foundations for our moral and spiritual progress.

Hence, “Subhanallah, we suck”

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3 Comments
  1. Hey Kamran,
    This is Danny Choi from err.. orientation at UIC..
    heh I saw your AIM profile and found myself here. Probably means I should be studying or something.
    But yeah your post was interesting. : ) I wonder some same thoughts about the Christian community sometimes.
    Anyhow, hope things are well with you wherever you are.
    ciao.

  2. Salaam Kamran,
    Let me start with a big ameen/amen for all the above sentiments. We need to remind ourselves and each other to respect the masjid. Respecting the masjid begins by remembering that this is a place dear to Allah the moment we enter. It includes the idea that we should not bring anything foul into the masjid whether they be foul ideas, foul language, or foul things (i.e. scrubby shoes covered with layers of caked mud).And in the words of Mrs. Lovejoy, “won’t anyone please think of the children?”
    P.S. Wasn’t it nice of Danny to post? what a great guy, shout out to Mr. Choi, if you’re there. 

  3. Danny my man! How you been dude?
    Drop me an email at kr156@comcast.net or hit me up on AIM at kr156.

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