Forthcoming

"Freeing yourself was one thing; claiming ownership of that freed self was another." author Toni Morrison (1931- 05.08.2019)

“If I tell the story, I control the version. Because if I tell the story, I can make you laugh, and I would rather have you laugh at me than feel sorry for me”; Nora Ephron, author/comedian

"Make your story count". Michelle Obama

"Social pain is understood through the lens of racial animus". Researcher/author Sean McElwee writing in Salon, 2016

"We are citizens, not subjects. We have the right to criticize government without fear."  Chelsea Manning; activist/whisleblower

“My father was a slave and my people died to build this country, and I’m going to stay right here and have a part of it, just like you, And no fascist minded people, like you, will drive me from it. Is that clear?” Paul Robeson; activist/singer

“We have a system of justice in this country that treats you much better if you're rich and guilty than if you're poor and innocent”. from civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson

“This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak today?” Frederick Douglass, WHAT TO THE SLAVE IS 4TH JULY? 07.05.1852 (full text in blog)

Senator Elizabeth Warren "We're a country that is built on our differences; that is our strength, not our weakness"

 

"We are more alike than we are different"v  Maya Angelou

As a Black writer, I was expected to accept the role of victim. That made it difficult in the beginning to be a writer.      James Baldwin

I often feel that there must have been something that I should’ve done that I didn’t do. But I can’t identify what it is that I didn’t do. That’s the first difficulty. And the second is, what makes you think you’re it?   

         Harry Belafonte, activist and singer at 89

 

It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble; It's what you know for sure that just ainst so.

Mark Twain

 

You can't be brave if you've only had wonderful things happen to you.

Mary Tyler Moore

 

 You can’t defend Christianity by being against refugees and other religions

Pope Francis:

 

"I don't have to be what you want me to be". Muhammad Ali

"The Secret of Living Well and Longer: eat half, walk double, laugh triple, and love without measure"  attributed to Tibetan sources

Recent audio posts include interviews with Rumi interpreter Shahram Shiva, London-based author Aamer Hussein, South African Muslim scholar, professor Farid Esack, and Iraqi journalist Nermeen Al-Mufti's brief account of Kirkuk City history. Your comments on our blogs are always welcome.

 

Select Books

Brick Lane

by Monica Ali
Reviewed by

The boundaries of inventiveness are continually being challenged and breached in literature. How glorious. The latest such outbreak is in the writing of Monica Ali. Brick Lane, Aliís first novel, is a complex and satisfying piece of writing. Only recently, 5 years after its publication, I sat down to read this young womanís work. What a thrill.

I knew that since the appearance of Brick Lane, Ali achieved wide recognition. But this book still astonished me; it is more than the work of a good storyteller. It is a multi-layered story with a new kind of heroine, a British immigrant, a woman, a Muslim. (Aliís characters in this novel are only excelled by those of Hanif Kuraishi.)

Brick Lane invites us to taste immigrant experience in full splendor. This novel blends fantasy, family conflict, letters from a sister in Bangladesh, and the ever so slow maturity of our heroine Nazneen. Nazneen had an inauspicious birth in the homeland, and was taught to ĎendureíÖ everything (at times infuriating for the reader.)  When swept into a marriage that lands her in London, she clings to that philosophy. Nazneen tolerates a failed husband Chanu who, although clumsy and pompous, clutches a commendable philosophy. While this does not bring him success in England, he speaks some truths.

Following the downturn of Chanuís fortune and the emerging independence of Nazneen, we meet a host of believable, refreshing characters in the London council estate where Nazneen resides. Each one, whether a forlorn family doctor and his wild wife, neighborhood women who range from the naÔve to the cunning to the dreamy, her own truculent daughter, her hapless lover, fills in the British immigrant landscape.

Perhaps in an attempt at political reality Ali has Nazneen stumble into an organizing meeting of local Muslims. One the surface they represent hope... and danger. This may be Monica Aliís attempt to acknowledge real threats faced by disillusioned British Muslims. The eventual collapse of the group may be the authorís way of ridiculing immigrant Muslim leadership. Or it may serve to send our heroine elsewhere.

The heartwarming letters to Nazneen from her sister Hasina in Bangladesh may be another message from the author. Hasinaís compassion tells us that humanity survives there, even though it may be missing from the lives of Bangladeshi in the UK. If Hasina can overcome what has befallen her at home, surely there is redemption for Nazeem.

          Our Muslim author also skillfully weaves the reality of migrated Islam. The people of Brick Lane are not pious Muslims (not at this point in the story), but their prayers and practices are ever present, in fragments, in a vague memory of home, in terms of habit, constantly interrupted by unimportant daily preoccupations. All religion-related episodes in the story tell us that everything in this arena of their lives is unsettled and unreliable. Nevertheless, our heroine can and does finde meaning.



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"The extent to which you resist is the extent to which you are free. Allah says in the Qur'an that Allah does not change the condition of a nation unless they change what is in their own selves."

Imam Jamil al-Amin

Tahrir Diwan

a poem.. a song..
poem "A Woman Who Reads Poetry"

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Flash
poems
poem Algeria: Qur'an Recitation
Algerian Sahara , by Sufi brothers

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Book review
Diana Abu Jaber's
Life without A Recipe
reviewed by BN Aziz.

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