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Islam reached the shores of Guyana during slavery when Muslim slaves from West Africa were shipped to work on the plantations and after the abolition of slavery, Islam was reintroduced in Guyana with the arrival of indentured immigrants from British India when more than 90 Muslims of the immigrants on board the Whitby and Hesperus were of the Islamic faith arrived in Guyana. Despite the many obstacles, these great ancestors forever changed Guyana’s landscape. They are the reason why Islam survived in Guyana today. Much later in the 1940s, that generation of Muslim and led by Muslim leaders of Guyana, including the head of the British Guiana Sadr Anjuman, Rahman Baksh Gajraj and many others ensured the further institutionalization of Islam at all levels in the country.

Muslim marginalization in the political dynamics of Guyana needs to be reviewed briefly by accessing Caribbean East Indian Diaspora studies. A review of literature on the East Indian Diaspora written by non-Muslims portrayed East Indians as a homogeneous group. The symbols of one dominant religious group are very visible, while the Muslim presence in Guyana remains largely invisible.  Other West Indian historians have also noticed the exclusion of Muslims in such studies; for instance, Sultana Afroz, Dr. Abrahim H. Khan, and two Surinamese scholars, Ellen Bal and Kathinka Sinha-Kerkhoff attempted to examine this marginalization and the latter two posed the following question to their readers in general, – “is the exclusion of Muslims because religion (Hinduism) is the core of defining the Indian Diaspora”?

Dr. Abrahim Khan in summarizing his review of Caribbean Literature asserts that the omission of the presence and experience of Muslims in the Caribbean is “…hegemonic in its presentation of Indian identity. It presents the East Indian population as a homogeneous socio-religious community which is sensitive to only one set of symbols — those of the Hindu tradition.”

Also, two films released some years ago - “Guiana 1838” produced by Guyanese Rohit Jagessar and “Jahaji Bhai”, a documentary produced by Suresh Pillai, an Indian national – both on the subject of Indian Indentureship, totally ignored the Muslims presence in Guyana. One would get the impression that Muslims do not live in Guyana.  While we commend these two gentlemen for their efforts in their productions, both omitted the fact that there were Muslims on board the Whitby and Hesperus that arrived from India to Guyana in 1838. Also, in an article written by Mark Ramotar on the results of the 2002 population census published on 13 October 2005 in the Guyana Chronicle, Mr. Ramotar provided detailed composition of the religious affiliations in Guyana; however, the percentage of the Muslim population was noticeably missing from his report, even though this breakdown was referenced by the Guyana Bureau of Statistics, it nevertheless was not deemed significant enough to be published in the government news media.

It is within these instances of marginalization of Muslims in Guyana, Muslim organisations need to reassess their goals, complement each other; and support a united front in approaching the government about this marginalization.   This could only be achieve if they are united just like in 1949 when two of Guyana’s prominent Muslim groups, the British Guiana Islamic Association and the Sadr Anjuman merged under the leadership of Moulvi Mohammed Ahmad Nasir and Rahman Baksh Gajraj. Furthermore, in the current PPP cabinet, there are two Muslims and none of the overseas ambassadors of the ruling government is a Muslim. Muslims have never held the presidency of Guyana, the prime ministerial-ship nor a senior portfolio such as foreign ministry. Guyana joined the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and yet to this day no Muslim has been appointed officially as ambassador to that group.  

One question that we would like to pose to our Muslim leadership is – What are you as individuals in general and as Muslims in particular doing to foster youths in your outreach programme to coach and encourage them to take on leadership roles in their respective communities but more importantly to represent the Muslim community at the decision-making political level?

Indeed there are other minority and disadvantaged groups such as Amerindians and women who are also marginalized in Guyana; however the focus is on Muslims which we chose to address especially that this is the month of Ramadhan.

Muslim contributes tremendously to the socio-economic sector of Guyana today. For a small minority, about 12% of Guyana’s total population, they account for a large percent of the trade and commerce. This tradition of entrepreneurship dates back to the Islamic culture they inherited from their ancestors and of course the heavy emphasis that Islam places on trade and commerce. Yet, Muslim are under-represented in the current government of Guyana and it could be concluded that it is the lowest ever in the history of independent Guyana. 

Today’s Muslims are quite different from those of the 1960s. Muslims today are no longer yoked with their East Indian Jahaji brethrens. There is a separate Muslim identify that exist in Guyana today and amongst the Guyana Muslim Diaspora. In this fast changing world, and aided by strong Muslim institutions in Guyana, the global communication revolution, the globalization of the Ummah, the rise of Islamophobia, no one party should think that they “own” the Muslim electorate of Guyana.

Muslim groups and their leaders should use the strong Muslim electorate to articulate their needs and representation in any government of Guyana, be it PPP, PNC or AFC. They should take a lesson from Suriname and Sri Lanka where Muslims in those countries are visible in the government and parliamentary decision-making process in those countries. A significant percentage of Muslims in Suriname are in the current government of President Desi Bouterse. Suriname also have many Muslim ambassadors - Liakat Alibux (Turkey and advisor to the president), Dr. Anwar Lall Mohammed (OIC and to the Ummah at Large), Nisha Kurban (Guyana), Marlon Muhammad Hussein (Brazil), Shantal Dhoekie (Netherlands), Amina Pardi (Indonesia).

In Guyana, “the government in power is still not using Muslim effectively and efficiently to forge economic diplomacy amongst Islamic countries to bring needed foreign investors and capital joint-ventures to Guyana,” alleged one Muslim. The Suriname Government has set an example of how to involve the local Muslim community to improve relations with the Middle East. The Suriname government's delegation to the OIC, IDB, ISESCO and visits to Muslim countries always includes a member of the local Muslim community to these meetings. The government of Surinam has seen it fit to appoint a Muslim (Lal Mohamed) as representative to the OIC.

Should the Muslim seek new ministry of Muslim affairs; or call it the Ministry of Minority Affairs- Amerindian, Muslim and Women? Or should the Muslim unite and form a Guyana Muslim Majlis in order to seek political representation for their constituencies? Muslims can make a difference in Guyana, given the current political football being played out today.



It is a critical moment for Indian Muslims in many ways, not least because of the forthcoming general elections, the outcome of which could have serious, long-term implications for them, especially in terms of their security. For, if the current public mood stretches until the polling day in May, the new government in New Delhi will be led by the right-wing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which views the country’s 170-million strong Muslim community with deep suspicion.

Muslims, in turn, regard it as “communal” (anti-Islamic), citing, among other things, its role in pulling down the historic Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in northern India in 1992 to build a temple dedicated to Lord Ram in its place. The demolition of the mosque, in the full glare of television cameras while the government looked on, was a turning point in Hindu-Muslim relations, and its bitter legacy lingers on.

More ominously for Muslims in the event of a BJP victory, the new government will be headed by Narendra Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat, on whose watch hundreds – some say thousands – of Muslims were killed in 2002 in one of the worst anti-Muslim riots in independent India. A self-avowed “proud Hindu nationalist”, as he described himself in a recent interview with Reuters, Modi is accused of “initiating” and “condoning” the violence and is facing court cases. He is still banned from entering the United States for his alleged role in the riots.

Understandably, Muslims are on tenterhooks at the prospect of his premiership. However, it is also the case that quite a few Muslims plan to vote for the BJP for purely pragmatic reasons. They reckon that it is safer to go with the tide given that, ultimately, they have to “live with” the BJP and Modi. Sleeping with the “enemy” is their way of buying security.

This trend is a significant break with the past, when Muslims were guided more by emotions and ideological factors than practical considerations. The new Muslim mantra is: go where you get the best value for your vote irrespective of the colour of their politics. A smart strategy that is likely to break the notion of a Muslim “vote bank” that previously allowed supposedly secular parties, especially the ruling Congress party, to take their support for granted by exploiting their fears about the BJP.

Meanwhile, the same sort of pragmatism is driving a broader and more profound change in the Muslim mood, which is the theme of my book. A “quiet revolution” in Muslim thinking is brewing, driven by a young generation that believes that the community has had enough of what the writer Salman Rushdie has called the “politics of grievance”.

For the first time since independence more than 65 years ago, Muslims are starting to recognise that, for far too long, they have sought to present themselves as victims of solely external factors, such as institutional state bias and Hindu communalism, while failing to reflect on their own role in the community’s social and economic stagnation.

According to the report of an independent commission set up by the government, Muslims are at the bottom of the heap on almost every single social indicator. It is the result of a combination of reasons, including state-backed anti-Muslim bias. But, more importantly, it has a lot to do with the community’s own misplaced priorities.

For most of the past six decades, the Muslim agenda has focused largely on issues relating to their religious and cultural identity, such as the right to be governed by Islamic laws in matters of marriage, divorce and inheritance, etc, to the exclusion of more pressing development issues. But, as I point out in my book, that is changing, with young Muslims determined to move the community away from purely sectarian concerns on to the more secular bread-and-butter terrain.

A leadership crisis has dogged Muslims since the Partition in 1947, when the cream of Muslim society migrated to Pakistan. This created a vacuum that allowed a cabal of small-time, self-serving Muslim politicians and mullahs to step in and hijack the community’s leadership. Their agenda was simple: exploit its insecurities to get the vote by claiming to “protect” it from its Hindu “enemies”. They developed a vested interest in keeping the community backward so that it did not ask any awkward questions.

Gradually, Muslims withdrew into a shell and became isolated from the rest of Indian society. This fed into the right-wing Hindu campaign portraying Muslims as “insular” and unwilling to join the “national mainstream”. Young Muslim reformers are as critical of the Muslim right as they are of the Hindu right, both of which have been feeding on each other to create a climate of mutual suspicion and hate. They say they want to draw a line under the past, rid the community of its self-styled leaders and concentrate on issues that affect everyday lives.

Notably, it is the young women, often dressed in hijabs, who are driving the change. Contrary to the stereotyped image of the Muslim woman, they are educated, articulate, conscious of their rights and have aspirations that are no different from those of any other modern Indian woman.

In a sense, Indian Muslims are having their own “spring”. It may not have the shape of an organised movement, and people are not going around waving banners, but it is genuine, widespread, and it looks like it is here to stay.

Excerpts from India’s Muslim Spring: Why is Nobody Talking About It? by Hasan Suroor

Let me confess that this is not the book I set out to write. The book I had in mind was about the unchanging face of Muslim fundamentalism in India. But barely a few weeks into research, I discovered that I was completely on the wrong track. The big story staring me in the face was quite the opposite – that is, far from flourishing, Muslim fundamentalism was actually dying a slow death. As I travelled across the country and spoke to people, I found that, over the past decade (the period when I had been away from India), there had been a profound change in the Muslim mindset. Today’s Indian Muslim, I discovered, was altogether a different species – educated, aware, wiser, less sectarian and more pragmatic – than the one I had known for much of my life.

Away from the sensational headlines about Islamic extremism, a quiet revolution is taking place. The Muslim discourse has moved on from an obsessive focus on sectarian demands (does anyone remember the last big debate on Muslim Personal Law, for example?) to the more secular bread-and-butter issues. Where once the dinner table talk in Muslim households was unremittingly negative and pessimistic (it was all about how Muslims were being “crushed” and trampled upon, and had no future in India), today it is about change and looking forward.

≥≥≥

There is a new generation of Muslims who want to rid the community of its insular and sectarian approach by concentrating on things that affect their everyday lives: education, jobs, housing, security. They despair of mullahs and self-styled Muslim “leaders”. And they speak a language that is modern and forward-looking. Their interpretation of Islam stresses inclusion and tolerance. They abhor the use of violence in the name of Islam.

≥≥≥

Living through the worst phase of Indian Muslim fundamentalism from the 1970s through to the 1990s, I never thought I would live to write its obituary. The depressing prospect of having to live the rest of my life in a climate of competitive Muslim-Hindu fundamentalism, feeding on each other in a toxic double act, was one reason why, at an age when many migrants contemplate returning home, I decided to take a break from India and moved to Britain. I simply couldn’t take it anymore.

At one extreme, there was the creeping Hindutva-isation of India, with a resurgent Hindu Right flexing its muscles, and at the other, a wave of Muslim fundamentalism dragging the whole community deeper and deeper into a long, dark tunnel of isolation, at the end of which there appeared to be no light. Their actions reinforced the image of Muslims as a backward, intolerant and insular community that refuses to join the national mainstream. With such friends, Muslims didn’t need external enemies. It did their work for them. The Babri Masjid fiasco was as much the doing of chest-thumping Muslim “leadership” as it was a calculated act by the right-wing Hindu middle class, to humiliate Muslims.

Arbitrary fatwas based on the most regressive of interpretations of Islam were commonplace. I heard of more fatwas in the 1990s than I had in the previous half century. Those who didn’t agree with the fundamentalist view were denounced, portrayed as wardrobe ‘RSS [a right-wing Hindu nationalist organisation] stooges’, and hounded. That was then. A decade later, there is a sea change, thanks to the coming of age of a new generation of Muslims – less excitable and wiser – having learnt from the follies of their predecessors. And certainly more realistic about their place in a Hindu-majority India. All you need to do is to get out a bit more, talk to people, listen to the voices around you, and you’ll discover how refreshing the air smells today than it did all those years ago.

≥≥≥

An outsider just arrived in AMU [Aligarh Muslim University] is likely to be misled by the sight of hijab and burqa-clad young women into believing that they are a conservative, backward-looking bunch.

But most are highly independent, articulate and more liberal than many of their male peers. In fact, my research tells me that the average Indian Muslim woman today is generally more progressive than the average Muslim man.

At AMU, I found that, almost on every issue of significance – from the , author of India’s Muslim Spring In of identity and fundamentalism to how they saw their place in India – there were many more female liberal voices compared to men.

In group discussions, men had a rough time, as women robustly challenged their views. Their claims about Islamic dress code for women were greeted with furious accusations of self-serving, selective interpretation of Islamic injunctions.

At one such gathering, when a young attendee, Ahmar Afaq Ali, a law student, said that it was compulsory in Islam for all women who regarded themselves as “good Muslims” to wear hijab, he was bombarded with questions about his knowledge and understanding of Islam. “Where did you read this?” retorted Saima Kareem, an undergraduate. “All that Islam says is that women should dress modestly, but it doesn’t lay down a dress code. It is men and the mullahs who keep telling us what to wear. Islam doesn’t say that you stop being a good Muslim if you don’t wear hijab or show off your so-called Muslim identity. I am no less a Muslim than those who wear hijab or burqa.”

≥≥≥

It was not only in relation to their own personal freedoms that these girls so boldly and articulately challenged the boys. They took them on over a whole range of issues affecting Muslims – the real reasons for their educational and economic backwardness; the persecution complex they suffered from; their understanding of secularism and their future in India.

As someone who has reported about AMU for some 30 years, on and off, I noticed a massive change in the attitude of its women students.

Not only are today’s female students more progressive in their outlook, they are willing to speak their mind in public. Rewind to 20 years ago, and they would have raged privately, boiled with impotent anger, but they would not have had the courage to speak up.

≥≥≥

Over the years, the so-called ‘Muslim debate’ has polarised around two extreme viewpoints – the fundamentalists at one end of the extreme and left-wing progressives on the other, both talking ‘at’ each other rather than to the broader community.

In the process, the centrist viewpoint, which is what the majority of Muslims hold, has been lost. Political parties must seek out moderate young Muslims and groom them in leadership roles. If the political class and the media do their bit, Indian Muslims can look forward, finally, to be led by people who can take them in the right direction. Just as it is true of a nation, so it is of a community, that it is only as good as its leadership.

Even as I am optimistic about the future of Indian Muslims, history cautions us against jumping the gun too soon. The most promising of revolutionary movements have fizzled out while our ‘Muslim spring’ has not even taken the form of an organised movement yet. The only thing that can be said with certainty at this stage is that things cannot get worse than they have been so far. When you start from such a low base, they can only get better.

• Extracts taken from India’s Muslim Spring – Why is Nobody Talking about It? Hasan Suroor (Rupa Publications, Dh145).

Read more: http://www.thenational.ae/arts-culture/author-hasan-suroor-young-muslims-leading-quiet-revolution-in-india#full#ixzz2tDz2ock9

On the occasion of hosting The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) 9th Meeting of the Heads of Islamic Cultural Centers and Associations in Latin America and the Caribbean, Guyana joined ISESCO, further consolidating its ties with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) which it joined in 1998.
 
 
President Donald Ramotar, First Lady Deolatchmee Ramotar, ISESCO Director General Dr. Abdulaziz Otheman Althwaijri and CIOG President Fazeel Ferouz in discussion at the 9th Meeting of the Heads of Islamic Cultural Centres and Associations in Latin America and the Caribbean
On Monday, Dr. Abdulaziz Altwaijri, the Director General of ISESCO, held talks with President Donald Ramotar and members of his cabinet, including Foreign Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett and Dr. Frank Anthony, Minister of Culture and Sports.  During that meeting Guyana joined ISESCO becoming the 52nd member of that group which is an organ of the OIC.
 
Neighouring Suriname, a member of the OIC is also a member of ISESCO and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB). Last week the IsDB approved a loan of US 60 Million for its health sector of Suriname.
 
Guyana is also keen to join the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) and is interested in Islamic banking and finance.  A meeting between Mr. Abdelrahman Elzahi, an expert in Islamic banking and finance from the IsDB and Guyana’s Ministry of Finance, the Bank of Guyana, and banks in the private sector will also take place during the 3-day conference.
 
During the opening session of the ISESCO meeting on Sunday, Donald Ramotar urged the organisation to deepen fraternal ties amongst members and engage in culturally sensitive dialogue given in Latin America and the Caribbean. “It cannot be an abstract or merely philosophical exchange.” He added that he had great confidence of dialogue’s ability to “bridge differences, dismantle barriers and discard stereotypes”.

President Ramotar urged religious leaders not to be oblivious to the issues affecting their societies. Ramotar a strong advocate of a free Palestinian homeland alluded to the Palestinian struggle for an independent homeland since 1948. President Ramotar also described various religious conflicts around the world as being rooted in economics, and urged the gathering to raise their voices in solidarity with those fighting for their dignity according to the Guyana News Agency (GINA).
 
As well on Monday, Dr. Altwaijri and President Ramotar discussed plans to boost the fields of educations, science, communication and culture with assistance from (ISESCO), at the Presidential Complex.
 
According Dr. Altwaijri, ISESCO is considering a proposal for the establishment of an Islamic educational centre in Georgetown for the training of teachers, vocational training, and curriculum developers that will assist the government of Guyana in the education sector.
 
He said support will be extended to scientific research and high performing students, from both sexes who will benefit from scholarships. “This is a responsibility that ISESCO will carry from its side,” he said.
 

The Foreign Minister of Guyana, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett was absent from the recent 40th Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Council of Foreign Minister Meeting in Conakry, Guinea, on December 9 - 11.  Guyana did not participate in the meeting.  Rodrigues-Birkett was slated to attend the Conakry OIC CFM meeting but never made it to the West African nation.  The Guyana seat was empty; however, neighouring Suriname was represented at the meeting.
 
It would seem that there was no plan put in place to have a replacement to represent Guyana at this important meeting. Maybe Rodrigues-Birkett could not arrange for a replacement to be sent to Conakry after getting news of Nelson Mandela’s death. She flew to South Africa where she joined the president of Guyana to attend Mandela’s memorial service.
 
Especially that Guyana continues to face territorial disputes with both Venezuela and Suriname; it would make sense to have Guyana represented at large international forum such as the OIC, which is a grouping of 57 countries.
 
The government’s foreign policy has come under fire for placing  too much trust in the leftist leadership in Suriname and Venezuela.  Naturally, the interests of their nations come first and not always will these leftist leaders remain in power. The respectful opposition in those countries is less sympathetic of Guyana’s narrative. This is why it’s necessary for Guyana to have a wide range of political allies from across the world.
 
Attending meetings of the OIC are important  small steps to solidify political and economic ties with rich nations of the Islamic bloc such as Qatar, the United Emirates, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan or some of the growing economies of Africa are not being exploited because Guyana is not using the OIC forum to its advantage well.
 
These forums also allow Guyana the opportunity to promote economic diplomacy to bring badly needed investments and economic aid from those countries.   It can help to advance bilateral talks and get to know the leadership of these wealthy countries that can open a line of communication with their leaders.   Guyana’s membership in the OIC, which allows for such, is not being used to its best. Suriname on the other hand, has offered to host an OIC office, and has embarked on a two-year (2014 -2015) Interim Member Country Partnership Strategy (MCPS) with the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) to contribute to the development priorities of the government of Suriname.    The IsDB will contribute about 100 million dollars to support various health, education and transportation projects in Suriname under that agreement.   Recently, Suriname joined the OIC Food and Security Programme.   Paramaribo has attended all major OIC meetings since the Bouterse administration took office in 2010 and Suriname is now benefiting from the OIC and the IsDB.  Further, and without any presidential trips to the Middle East, Suriname has secured investments from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Guyana continues to lag behind.  Guyana’s haphazard presidential trips to the Middle East have brought no foreign direct investment to Guyana.
 
This questions why Guyana did not join the OIC Food and Security pact especially that the PPP Regime in Georgetown claims to place heavy emphasis on agriculture.  As well, Guyana to date is not a member of the IsDB, a move that former President Jagan initiated with the IsDB when he was in office.  An IsDB office in Guyana or Suriname may become a reality if Guyana joins the bank.
 
Guyana’s presence in Guinea would have also help salvage President Ramotar’s bombastic statements he made at the UN in September about Egypt and Syria without fully weighing the Sunni/Shia rivalry led by Iran and Saudi Arabia and its implications for Guyana.  This made news in the Arab press. His bold statement could cost Guyana politically and economically.  Suriname’s statement on the same issues at the UN by its Foreign Minister, Winston Lackin was tempered, shrewd and prudent.
 
As well, it would have been wise as promised to send a high delegation to Conakry, especially that Guyana still does not have diplomatic relationship with many African states, and many are members of the OIC. This would help to shore up Guyana’s ties with Africa, homeland of many Afro-Guyanese.
 
Africa is on the rise economically and slowly dictatorship is fading there.

SPLASH!

Salaam All
 
Are you tired of dropping rocks in the well and never hearing a splash?
 

Are you flat-out shocked by the number of people -- many of them holding prominent corporate positions, representing public institutions, religious organizations or employed in service-oriented endeavours -- who ignore emails, and telephone messages.

Let's call this version of the "no splash" phenomenon "The Decline of Common Courtesy." In this age of instant communication, it must be asked:

How hard is it to reply to an email or phone call?

How hard is it to write a response as simple as: "I received your inquiry. I do not wish to be interviewed." Or, "I got your message. I don't want to be bothered." Or, "Thanks, but no thanks." Or whatever!

And if no other courtesy, at least a polite "No, thank you."

Technology seems to have added more layers of distance and impersonalization even though we're supposedly more connected. Are we seeing courtesy and conversation fall victim to technology? Is technology the GOD that failed?

Emails and phone messages at least deserve a response, even if the answer is not what the sender or caller would like it to be.

"Thanks very much for getting back to me," I replied to someone who did answer my email recently, adding: "You'd be surprised how often people don't take the time to respond."

"Communication is important to me," the person responded, "and the fact that you were thoughtful enough to write will always get a response from me."

Splash!

If we sit down at set of sun,
And count the things that we have done,
And counting find
One self-denying act, one word
That eased the heart of the one who heard;
One smile most kind,
That fell like sunshine where it went,
Then we may count that day well spent.

But if, through all the life-long day,

We've eased no heart by yea or nay;
If through it all
We've done nothing that we can trace,
That brought the sunshine to a face;
No act most small,
That helped some soul, and nothing cost,
Then count that day as worse than lost.

Shamal: So how was your day?
 

Salaam All
My God, how lovely was the rain this morning...how lovely last night as one lies in bed listening to its eternal melodious music...music that produces such a sublime experience of calm. So deeply meditative....it's at such divinely given times that one reflects on where their life's at and makes decisions on what it means to live for more than this world. To give in this world and to receive in the world to come!!! O God! As you shower us with the blessings of rain on this earth; also shower us with your blessings of mercy & compassion.

As I splashed myself back home my soul filled with delight as I recited what is simply the best poem that I have read on Rain. And I also remembered Singin' in the Rain, a 1952 musical comedy & the famous dance routine in which Gene Kelly sings the title song while twirling an umbrella, splashing through puddles and getting soaked to the skin. The difference was that I did not have an umbrella.

Let’s dance through Gibran’s poem, Song of the Rain, drenching ourselves with sweet inspiration.

I am dotted silver threads dropped from heaven

Nature then takes me,
 
to adorn Her fields & valleys.

I am beautiful pearls,
 
plucked by the daughter of Dawn

To embellish the gardens.

When I cry the hills laugh;
 
When I humble myself the flowers rejoice;

When I bow, all things are elated.

 The field & the cloud are lovers

And between them I am a messenger of mercy.
 
I quench the thirst of one;

I cure the ailment of the other.

The voice of thunder declares my arrival;
 
The rainbow announces my departure.

I emerge from the sea,

Soar with the breeze. When I see a field in Need
 
I descend & embrace the flowers and

The trees in a million little ways.

 I touch gently at the windows with my

Soft fingers, and my announcement is a

Welcome song.
 
All can hear, but only

The sensitive can understand.

 The heat in the air gives birth to me,

But in turn I kill it,

I am the sigh of the sea;
 
The laughter of the field;

The tears of heaven.

 Filling your souls with my beauty.


The rain sweeps before us with all the drama of a Shakespearean play. Pounding thunderstorms, magnificent, glittering raindrops, perfumed breezes, that magically transforms fields & trees into an extraordinary green, designed as if by the hand of some Great Artist. And it is. The rain, the sun should ingrain in us a deep & sensory awareness of nature’s shifting moods. Weather’s brooding omnipresence should fuse in our imagination with God – as if it were God’s Great Face we glimpse behind the wind, rain & clouds. And it is.

I spoke to my sister in Canada...she said with dread, it was -3 degrees...I laughed because my soul was filled with beauty...as I told her I was just dancing in the rain...how jealous she was.hahaha

Sometimes, when you do things that don’t compute in this life…when all the odds are stacked up against you and you dance in the rain anyways…it gets kind of lonely. But you know what?
 
As followers of God, I think that’s what makes it so right and freeing too. And the more we learn about this strange, short little life we live… the more we will see that dancing in the rain is not just a cutesy metaphor for being a free spirited person who throws off inhibitions and carelessly twirls around in the midst of life’s hardships.
 
Weigh the options of what truly matters in this life, and what doesn’t…and then powerfully and boldly and passionately live out what you believe with every fiber of your being…that’s the most worshipful rainy day dance party if I ever heard of one.

Shamal...Rain is the mercy of God: "With this water God revives a dead land.

Such will be the Resurrection." Quran (50:11)
 
Keep that in mind!!!

Last week, as Muslims worldwide, celebrated Eid Ul Azha, we penned a letter to the media on an historical petition dating back to 1896 which was filed by a number of Muslim merchants to the Combined Court of British Guiana requesting financial assistance to construct a mosque and a school. There is no need to rehash the contents of said letter which is self-explanatory and available online for readers.  However, from a cursory glance at some of the comments (from George Cave of 17th October 2013 to SN), a number of individuals automatically deemed our letter as “racist” and that one group is always seeking victimhood because we brought attention to this historical document.
 
Needless to say, in response to some of the comments, we would like to share a few extracts from papers we did a few years go on African Muslims in British Guiana, many of whom were at the forefront of numerous slave uprisings.  It is an established fact that enslaved West Africans first brought Islam to the shores of British Guiana. Among them were peoples from the Ashanti, Mandinga, Hausa, and Fulani nations. The Mandinka and Fulani languages were written using the Arabic script and we learnt from several documented sources that there were many slaves who were able to read and write the Arabic script (as recounted herein). And from the Fulani people, Guyanese Muslim became know as “fullahman,” and which is still being used to describe Muslims in Guyana today, though for the most part not in a very pleasant context.
 
The institution of slavery coupled with the brutal conditions on the plantations, made it impossible for Muslim slaves to break for the required five times a day prayers or to observe the month long fasting, the Eid-ul Fitr, Eid-ul-Adah and other auspicious celebrations. This brutality led to several rebellions the first in 1763, led by Kofi, an Akan. While Kofi (meaning born on the Jummah) may or may not have been a Muslim he could read and write the Arabic script which was evident from some of the letters he wrote to Governor Van Hogenheim.  Most of his ‘lieutenants” going by their names were supposedly Muslims – Accara; Atta and Quabi, the latter two were from the Akan tribe and were brought to Berbice a year prior to the revolt, they were “ship brothers” chained together on the Dutch slave-ship, de Eenigheyt (A.J. McR Cameron – “The Berbice Uprising, 1763”).
 
Some of the slaves involved in the 1823 Demerara Slave Rebellion were also Muslims. According to Emilia Viotti da Costa in her book “Crowns of Glory, Tears of Blood,”  a driver from one of the plantation (Brothers), a slave by the name of “Bob”, was a Muslim, and was known as the "Mahometan." During the trial of the ‘ringleaders’ one of the slave who testified against them was a Muslim who demanded to take his oath the Islamic way.  Also, according to Norman Cameron in his book “150 Years of Education In Guyana (1808 - 1957)” about “two Mohammedans” Romeo and Jason were ordained by the Christian missionary on Plantation Le Resouvenir as deacons; Romeo was ordained in 1808 and Jason in 1814.
 
 
Over time, the slaves were literally stripped of all semblances of their native life, their respective languages, traditions and religious observances of the land of their birth. Thus, by the time slavery was abolished in 1834, there was very little presence of Islamic practices left among the Africans. Nonetheless, up until the early 1830s, a number of Africans still bore their Islamic names such as – Bacchus, Mohamed, Mammadoe, Mammadou, Sallat, Mousa, Hannah, Sabah, Feekea, Russanah, etc. This evidence can be found in the Berbice Gazette, in which the names of a number of runaway slaves were listed during the years 1808 to 1810.
 
Despite the loss of most of their Islamic practices, evidence of the Islam was referenced in the early 1800s in several books ascribing to materials written by the slaves in the Arabic script that were found on the plantations. Thomas Staunton St. Clair, a British soldier stationed in Demerara, in his autobiography titled, “A Soldier’s Sojourn in British Guiana, 1806-1808”, made reference to a rebellion planned in 1807. The overseer came to know of the plot from a young slave girl he lived with whose father was one of the ringleaders. Ringleaders were found in possession of a piece of paper written in Arabic with details of the alleged rebellion.
 
In 1836, Reverend John Wray in several of his diary entries made mentioned of slaves singing and reciting verses from the Quran which they had committed to memory. He also wrote about one in particular – Toby, a Hausa Muslim who was found to be literate in Arabic and could also read verses from the Quran. Wray was very impressed with Toby’s thirst for learning and following encouragements from Wray, Toby converted to Christianity and was given the Christian name Thomas Lewis. Toby became one of Wray’s most diligent scholars. After Toby was given his freedom, he received a scholarship to study in England, and upon his return to Guyana, he started a school in Union Chapel in New Amsterdam.
 
In another incident Wray recounted the last funeral rites given to a slave woman on her passing: “… just as the slaves were carrying the remains of an old Negress, with deep lamentations and superstitious rites, to burial…; they departed just after being entertained with a song in Arabic, sung before the house by an aged negro Mohammedan who, in his own country, had been a parson (otherwise known as an Imam) he furnished each visitor with a copy in Arabic of what he said - the first words of their sacred book.”
 

Such men as Toby, Romeo and Jason became revered Christian preachers in British Guiana after they converted to Christianity.  Interestingly enough, while the first Moravians missionaries arrived in Berbice in 1738,  the plantation owners refused to let them ‘Christianize or preach’ to the slaves for obvious reasons. Even in 1805 when a Wesleyan missionary arrived in Demerara with the intention of ‘teaching’ the slaves the Governor insisted upon his departure on the next boat. It was not until 70 years later in 1808 when Reverend John Wray arrived in British Guiana upon request by Hilbertus Hermanus Post, a Dutchman and the owner of Le Resouvenier plantation on the East Coast of Demerara that the slaves were slowly being ‘schooled’ in the Christian faith.
 
We trust that these short snippets of documented evidence will give the readers a glimpse of some of our forgotten heroes who fought and made the ultimate sacrifices to preserve their human dignity, while others it seemed had forgotten their humanity (the slave masters). Reminding the readers that recounting one’s history, either from a standpoint of ethnicity or religious persuasion, does not automatically deemed an individual a racist.
 
Sincerely,
 
Shabnam Ally
Ray Chickrie
Salaam All
 
It's my first anniversary...and as anniversaries go, my God, tonight I am gonna party. hahaha
 
So the best way to celebrate is to let you read this letter by a doctor. But before that many of you know that I went wheat-free last October. And what a reversal in feeling aches and pains...in feeling "old". My God I feel so "young" again. Wheat (in the form of breads, pastas, cakes, rotis) is poison. Let me repeat WHEAT is POISON!!!
My son, mother, brothers, sister and quite a few friends have QUIT and all have a wonderful story to tell. What is stopping those of you who have heard and shrug your shoulders...are you that addicted???
 
Look, read the letter of a doctor and there are many more who are recommending that people stop eating this poison.
Here are two points to keep in mind as you read:
1. All my patients who adopted the wheat-free diet have showed significant improvements in their health
2. NOTHING comes close to the power of wheat elimination to restore health and weight in so many people. I virtually stopped prescribing drugs for people because so many conditions previously “requiring” drugs got so much better or went away.

 
I had written an email that the school canteen stop selling wheaten products to the children. I make that call again. Let the Board of the school study Dr. Davis' blog and book, and as they are all smart people let them implement a more quality diet to the children. SIMPLE: Fruits; fruit drinks (stop the Pepsi, Coke, soda crap). The children's health is as important as their education. Sell healthy food and make money...and better than the money, have the joy of knowing that you are contributing to a healthy nation. Let's not wreck 'em early on.
 
Shamal...lalalala...told you am gonna party wheat free...hey Za, give me a piece of that Cadbury,,,hey hey another bite pleaseee.
Texas doctor discovers the power of Wheat Belly!
Posted on October 21, 2013 by Dr. Davis

Dr. Mahdavi Ampajwala, a family practice physician in Plano, Texas, wrote Dr. Davis a wonderful letter detailing her wheat-free experience and what she is witnessing as she incorporates wheat elimination into her medical practice:
 
I have found an answer.
Finally, there’s a resource I can recommend with confidence. Dr. William Davis’ book, “Wheat Belly,” has given me the ability to help those patients who come to me looking for a way to improve their health and lifestyle.
Many of my patients ask for advice on effective nutritional strategies for weight loss. Oftentimes, they are looking for an answer besides ‘exercise and a healthy diet.’ Many of them tell me that they work out four or five times a week and eat healthy, but do not see any change in their weight.
This book is for everyone who is looking to transform their health and wellness and, in particular, for folks who are struggling to shake of that excess weight. The book focuses on the effects of modern wheat and carbohydrate intake on one’s health. Dr. Davis highlights the discovery that obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, etc. have all been on the rise since the low-fat diet came to light two decades ago. He also explains that since the use of genetic modification through hybridization, the grain is not the same as it was in the 1970’s.
As a native of India, I grew up with a diet consisting of rice, vegetables, and the occasional chicken, fish, or egg. After coming to the States, I acquired a taste for bread in the form of wraps and sandwiches etc., and thus wheat entered my diet. A few months into my new lifestyle and food intake, I began to experience severe allergies, regular sinus headaches, and eczema. My baby was being breastfed at the time and developed eczema by the time she was 6 weeks old. I began to suspect my new wheat intake. I made sure I ate only whole grains, but I continued to experience fatigue and weight gain. I gained an unwanted 18 pounds (went from a size 2 to 6).
I hired a personal trainer with the goal of losing 12 pounds. I lost 6 in about 6 months times. This was all with what I thought was a healthy diet and exercise routine 6 -7 times a week. After all that effort, it was disappointing to see no improvement in my energy level or loss in weight. This is when I came across “Wheat Belly.” A colleague recommended it to me in March of 2012, and I decided to take on the wheat-free challenge in April. I have continued since then, and have seen an incredible transformation.
I lost ten pounds in the first six weeks and dropped 3 sizes. My energy level was higher than ever before. I saw improvement in my previously troubled sleep habits. I used to wake up with aches and pains; now that was all gone. My appetite was reduced; I no longer craved food. To date, the weight I lost has stayed off. I didn’t even have to go to the gym every day. I felt like an entirely new person, and my experience empowered me to help my patients in their weight loss journeys.
Not a single weight-loss conversation with my patients goes by without my recommendation for “Wheat Belly” or the Wheat Belly Blog. I make sure that my patients receive a copy of “Wheat Belly Quick & Dirty” article from the blog. All my patients who adopted the wheat-free diet have showed significant improvements in their health, as well. I intend to continue referring my patients to this book in hopes of improving their health, as much I was able to improve my own.

 
Dr. Davis: Ah, priceless! Thank you Dr. Ampajwala. Your open-mindedness will make you a better practitioner who will deliver empowering messages of health to your patients.
As Dr. Ampajwala is discovering, NOTHING comes close to the power of wheat elimination to restore health and weight in so many people. I virtually stopped prescribing drugs for people because so many conditions previously “requiring” drugs got so much better or went away.
This is revolutionary: If there is a healthcare crisis going on that threatens to bankrupt the country, I believe what we have here is an answer that, because the benefits are so astounding and apply to so many people, has the potential to slash healthcare costs–and suffering–by a huge margin.

Salaam All
Is there anything which topples people on their faces into Hell other than the harvests of their tongues.
If we were to bridle our tongues 3/4 of the world's problems would immediately disappear.
 
Today, Eid ul Adha, is a day for INTROSPECTION. Let's examine what leaves our mouths...we are careful that we put in halal...but we are careless what comes out which is mostly haram.
 
If when we SPEAK we are aggressive, assertive, domineering, overbearing, spiteful, hostile, blunt, obnoxious, vicious, dogmatic, pushy, loud-mouthed, stubborn, demanding, manipulative, egoistic, driven, overwhelming, threatening, scary, tough, brassy, boisterous and turbulent. Stalking thru persons with such tongues is cold & biting rage. This leads to a life littered with broken dreams, broken promises, broken relationships, broken wings.
 
The MAJORITY of a person's sins emanate from their tongues.
 
May God help us to brighten our character thru the purification of our tongues. It's a sacrifice worth mountains of gold...or shall we say, it's worth HEAVEN.
 
Shamal...it's also a day for retrospection (no matter how busy we are)
Guyana and Suriname’s ties with the Islamic Republic of Iran, one of the richest countries in the world, may pay dividends, especially if US /Iranian ties normalize in light of dramatic developments recently. For the first time since 1979, a US president and his Iranian counterpart have an open line of communication.

US President Barack Obama and the president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, recently had a telephone conversation. Last week, US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart, Javad Zarif, for the first time since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, held bilateral discussions on the sidelines of the 68th United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Presidents Obama and Rouhani have been exchanging letters for some time now. The tone between Tehran and Washington has definitely been cordial and mutually respectful; especially in that Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei approved these overtures. And just a few days ago, the Iranian Majlis (Parliament) voted overwhelmingly to approve Rouhani’s diplomatic initiative with the United States.

It is the most serious indication that US-Iranian ties may improve now that President Rouhani is serous in solving the nuclear issue. However, this could all be derailed by powers such as Saudi Arabia and Israel, who prefer to drag the US into a war with Iran, according to media reports.

These developments could very much affect Guyana and Suriname’s ties with Iran because a more moderate leader in Tehran makes it easier for stronger Caribbean Community (CARICOM)/Iran relations, which can translate into tangible economic aid to the region. Both Suriname and Guyana are members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) like Iran. Guyana and Suriname are also members of the Non Aligned Movement (NAM), which Iran currently chairs.

However, small states such as Guyana and Suriname should be shrewd in dealing with the turbulent Middle East, especially as it relates to the Sunni and Shia rivalry. Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon make up the so called “Shia crescent.” While, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, and the Gulf Arab Kingdoms are predominately Sunni Muslims. However, there are considerable numbers of Shias in Bahrain, the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. These people, the Arabs, Persians and Turks, have very different narratives of history and on regional conflicts today.

Read more .......

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