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Post conversion to Islam…

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     I was born and raised in the U.S., served and retired from the Navy after 23 plus years and then subsequently converted to Islam around 2005. I settled in Malaysia after re-marrying and absorbed my new culture whole-heartedly. The following comments are not intended to be inflammatory– only observations of both cultures and experiences.
     As a Christian (pre-Islam (PI)), I would go to church whenever I had time on Sunday or maybe onboard ship if they had a lay person because there might not be a preacher. Growing up, my mother would send us to Sunday school and church– I always found that part interesting, sending us to church rather than bringing? As a culture, I’ve observed that it’s basically ok to party, drink, have sex or pretty much do whatever I want — within reason of course. For example, party at the club til 3 or 4 A.M. in the morning and then wear the same suit to church the next morning at 11 A.M.  But otherwise, everything was happy with world and my surroundings.
     As a muslim now, the things I described above are not possible. To make judgements isn’t the point, only an observation aimed at letting people understand the cultures and thus, possibly making the world a better place. When I meet people now and they ask where I am from and go through all the obilgatory questions and greetings– many will comment and say, “…oh you’re a convert”; I often ponder when they say it as if to suggest you’re not a real muslim I guest. I come back with what do you mean, we both worshipped the same God (s.a.w), the God (s.a.w) of Ibrahim (Abraham)? They say yes, but it’s different as the Holy Quran is the last book and true word and his messenger is Muhammad (phuh). I reply yes, but I’ve always worshiped the same God (s.a.w) you have… anyway, that’s an interesting conversation.
     The culture and things in Islam seem to be all encompassing, i.e., everyday and five times a day there is a prayer and Azan (call to prayer); Friday being a special holy day and mandatory for men to attend– Friday Prayer. In between, there are many other celebrations and events from the birth of children, Muhammad to fasting and many others. It’s total immersion and involvment. People, young and old, memorize the Quran (Hafiz) and recite it often. Some say this creates a global sense of community and always ensures the book lives forever without being edited as any editions would be noted by the many witnesses and reciters world wide– ingenious. This methodology would not be possible in Christianity.
     Why I decided to write something about this was to get a look into both cultures to try and make the leap as to if peace between muslims and christians was generally possible! In the literal sense of the word– no; but, if we say co-exist– yes. I think one has to agree to disagree and let others live there lives as they see fit– again, within reason. The problem with this idea is that reason itself comes from a place of culture– which itself (culture) suggests an inward looking view and suggests it’s not possible to see those free ideas outside the culture as reasonable or normal! So coexistance seems to be our best chance at “peace.” However, when that peace is based on what’s called international norms framed and modeled on Western values– how is peace possible, palatable or exceptable to those outside that Western system? Seems those in power may not really be concerned about peace, but rather the imposition of certain frameworks! There are terms and words for this, but I won’t mention them here and now– what are your thoughts?

Categories: Community Building

Community building where to start?

November 20, 2011 Leave a comment

I guess the first thing I would ask anyone proposing to be about community building is what is your vision for the community? If you can’t see or envision it, you sure can’t build it!

There’s the mission, plan and strategy that must be a combined effort that involves the commuity and leaders. If people are not part of the solution, they’ll surely be part of the problem. The there’s the tactics and follow-up for achieving what was just conceived… make no mistake– follow-up and through is a learned skill that not everybody can stomach or have!

Leadership! I salute anyone brave enough t get in front and “move things forward”; least appreciated and most disrespected people I know! But still they do it. That’s what’s required!

Categories: Community Building

Fair Trade: things we can do to help other people

August 6, 2011 Leave a comment

Commenting on a video of a local San Diego cable host, Mr. Walter Davis, I saw from my uncle’s fb page

Mr. Davis’ guest, Mr. Schmidt says when talking about Fair Trade and what we can do, “…don’t do any harm and ask, are we part of the problem?”

I never heard of the saying before hearing it in the video, “…boarder as a semi-porous membrane where money goes North… and… migrants follow the money!”

I like this guy, he lays it right out in terms you can understand– plain english! Fair Trade La Mesa.

Be part of the solution, once aware– then what? I mean we gotta eat and I don’t have the means ourselves to produce tomatoes, coffee or what have you? Solution? Become farmers ourselves? I think not! I have no idea what I’m doing as a farmer– probably use the wrong fertilizers myself.
Aha! Look for the Fair Trade Certified label– easy to get? I’ve never seen it, maybe never looked cause I didn’t know it existed (ignorance is bliss, or just plain ignorance!). How about the price and/or economies of scale; If  companies produce more coffee, it’s cheaper, right? How much cheaper than co-ops?

Anywhere to find that data?

We’re in the worst economic situation in centuries, everybody’s looking for cheaper prices in bad times.

Mr. Schmidht gives you the formula, (1) organize as groups, (2) say what you want– look for Fair Trade products (one product first), (3) make it happen by following through.

Other links: http://www.fairtradetownusa/org/towns/ca/la-mesa or

http://fairtradesusa.org  

http://fairtradesd.blogspot.com http://www.meetup.com/sdcommunitycoalition

Categories: Community Building

Niagara Community Center meeting 17 Feb 2011

February 19, 2011 2 comments

Having watched the video, much of what needed to be said was said but like any discovery phase or initial phases of a project or undertaking– follow-up and follow-through are paramount! Leadership! I’m a retired Naval Officer (LCDR/ 04E, like a major), married and living in Malaysia now and offer a planning and implementation tool I learned about in the U.S. Navy during my more than 23 years of service) called a Plan of Action and milestones (POA&M); when you need to get the job done, this tool can really help. Use MS Excel (columns as shown): Date/Event No./ Short Description of Issue and required action to resolve fully/Entered by/ Point of contact/ Completion Date/ Status (%)/ Remarks

I can help with this and have attached a sample…poamNCC17022011RevA

Categories: Community Building

Community building

February 13, 2011 2 comments

Once upon a time, people really cared, talked to one another and help each out… or at least that’s the way I remember it when I was a kid. Maybe when I became an adult, I can finally see the truth; very few really think they can make a difference so they have this why bother attitude?

Categories: Community Building