Category Archives: Links to love

Keep on rocking in the free world

I Voted - Election2008
Originally uploaded by yaznotjaz.

It is the eve of Election Day 2016. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will battle it out at the polls tomorrow, and, like much of the world, I am flabbergasted: How did we get to this point?? I want to remember how many of us felt during this season 8 years ago, as we waited to see if we were successful in electing Barack Obama as President of the United States, and even 6 years ago, as we evaluated Obama halfway into his first term as President. I don’t foresee I’ll feel any of the same unbridled excitement tomorrow — just relief or horror, depending on the results. But I want to share the post below, long-buried in my Drafts folder, so that we could remember what hope & happiness felt like.

Continue reading Keep on rocking in the free world

So in the morning when I’m waitin’/for the sun to rise

Tangier, Morocco, originally uploaded by yaznotjaz.

Those of you who don’t follow my Rockstar Links & Things over at tumblr (and why do you not?, is the question) are missing out on some lovely reminiscing going on today, so I thought I’d cross-post for you here.

If you click here, you can hear the Adhan [Islamic call to prayer] as recited by Yusuf Islam, a.k.a. Cat Stevens. Someone named aberjona posted it to tumblr with the following comment:

Awoke to this this morning. If I lived closer to the mosque I might feel differently at 5 am, but echoing over the wet rooftops, this sounds divine. Especially when I consider what other sounds Brooklyn manages to produce—anywhere, anytime.

bagcoffee responded with:

Atlantic Ave is one of the strangest and most amazing places in Brooklyn, if not just in downtown Brooklyn. It’s not just the ever-present Muslim community who populate the shops, sidewalks, and mosque. It’s the mix of everything and the ‘if you’re not paying attention you’ll miss it’ environments of city. When the mosque broadcasts the call to prayer, everything just stops and you remember your in a city that’s not just full of your expectations and experiences. There is something here that’s bigger than you. It’s bigger than your selfish desire.

I don’t think you can say you’ve lived in Brooklyn (or at least visited) and not heard the call to prayer at least once. It’s something stirring and more moving than anything else you can conceive of in this city.

And lawful:

Living in Egypt this becomes almost background noise, but sitting at the Pyramids at sunset and listening to it spread across Cairo and Giza was amazing. Same effect sitting on the walls of old Jerusalem on a Friday as the western part of the city starts to go silent and the Azhan starts to rouse the eastern.

Okay, now I’m homesick.

And I chimed in:

you all made me smile so much with your comments/reflections on the adhan. thank you. =)

even my little village in pakistan, where i lived for 18 months as a teenager, was filled with a dozen different mosques, and 5 times a day the call to prayer would come at you from all the corners of the village and reverberate throughout the neighborhoods. it was beautiful. when i visited morocco a few months ago, it was the same way, and i felt homesick all over again, too.

And writinggirl2writingwoman:

when i first converted, i lived in a city with a decent Muslim population and the adhan was called and could be heard in the houses. it was so beautiful and wonderful to me. i miss being surrounded by Muslims, not only for the loss of hearing the adhan (well, okay, i have it on my computer but that’s just not the same) but for so many reasons. the adhan exemplifies that brother/sisterhood to me, calling everyone to the prayer where we are all equal and stand & bow together before our Lord. i think of the story of Bilal, the first one to hold the job of making the call to prayer, and i can imagine what it must have been like in Medina as the “new” Muslims gathered together.

Fes, Morocco
Fes, Morocco, originally uploaded by yaznotjaz.

Whisper codes under the hush sky

What a mess (ii), originally uploaded by yaznotjaz.

Things I Have Wikipediaed in the Last Couple of Weeks (in No Particular Order):

-Amadou et Mariam
-Dera Ismail Khan
-inside baseball
-Ashleigh Brilliant

-Amanda Plummer
-Hasan Abdal
-Girl in a Coma

-Amel Larrieux
-Whatever, Martha

-Ganga Jamuna
-Amir Khusro
-electric slide
-The Hold Steady

-Sandra Day O’Connor
-Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye

-Serenity (Firefly episode)
-technocultural studies
-Ahmed Faraz
-Michael Ignatieff

-Regina v. Dudley and Stephens
-August: Osage County
-public ivy
-Jai Ho
-Kunal Kapoor

-Nirvana (Elbosco song)
-Rub el Hizb


What about you? Is your list as strange and scattered and amusing (to me, at least)?

Brass Crescent Awards 2008

I’m a bit out of the loop with Blogistan these days, which is why I was surprised to realize today is the deadline for submitting nominations for the fifth annual Brass Crescent Awards.



The Brass Crescent Awards, a joint project of altmuslim and City of Brass, 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.


Nominations close today, so go get some links in!
My favorite part of the Brass Crescent Awards every year is discovering new weblogs. More links to add to my ever-burgeoning GoogleReader list! (Dude, so much for trying to be productive.)

“Things that will get me disinherited in short order”

I posted the following link/letter to tumblr a few days ago, via Anjum and Preeti. You should be adding our tumblr feeds to your RSS reader of choice (because we are awesome, clearly), but, in case you neglect to do so, here is the awesomest email ever, in its rocking entirety, written by Karion. All my Rockstar Links & Things are posted over to tumblr these days, but I feel this deserves to be shared here, too – and totally merits a smashing HIGHFIVE.


preetalina: And I say it as a simple American. :)

anjum: That email? Thank you. I say that as an American, & as a Muslim.

robot-heart: cvxn:karion:

Some context: my mother forwarded an email that had the “Obama is a secret Muslim, look at all his Mulsim friends, also a terrorist in his spare time” type of crap. I kind of lost my shit and sent the following – as a reply all (everyone in her address book).

Maybe this is difficult to see from your perspective. Let me give it to you from your kids.

This email is bullshit – all of the claims are demonstrably false and all are just a thinly veiled racist slur against Obama. Fifteen minutes of independent research will tell you that. The argument that “this is the other side” is downright pathetic, for if this is what ‘the other side’ has to offer, it is nothing more than racist, hateful, fear-mongering bullshit.

But from our family’s perspective, it is much worse that you are passing this shit around. You and Dad have lived in Muslim countries for almost all of your 30 years abroad. In that time, you have not been persecuted, harassed, harmed or otherwise molested for being American or being Christian. To the contrary, you have prospered. You have been able to worship in countries that DON’T have a free exercise of religion clause, and you have been able to do that without any harassment. Do you not realize that you have been a foreigner in these countries and been permitted to live as Americans do? With little regard to the local culture and customs and laws?

So when you pass along these utterly bullshit, racist, fear-mongering emails, you are kind of thumbing your nose at all of that and playing into the worst part of our country. You are spreading the “fear the Muslim” thing, even though Obama isn’t Muslim and even if he was, you both know better. You have lived it. You have lived with Muslims for nearly three decades. You haven’t been burned at the stake for being Christian. Dad hasn’t lost his job because of an infidel. Your house wasn’t burned down for Christmas lights. You have been privileged to live a Christian life in some of the most Muslim countries in the world and no one has harassed you for it.

Why on earth you cannot take your “Christian” message of tolerance and your 30 years of experience and not call bullshit on this type of political rumor is completely beyond me. It is, quite frankly, horrifying. How did your four kids learn this and you didn’t? How did we all learn to independently research and inform ourselves while our parents forward these junk, bullshit emails? How is it that we can all see this for the ignorance that it is, and yet our parents, who are supposed to know better, don’t?

Look, I can understand Dad’s support for McCain, given the Naval Academy thing, although I suspect if Dad actually read about McCain’s time at the Naval Academy, he would be pretty disgusted. I see no similarities between McCain and Dad whatsoever, and I am really proud of that. I doubt you’ll read this, as it is longer than a People think piece, but you should read this article in Rolling Stone. It is remarkably well-sourced, but it is also ten pages. That is longer than the attention span of most people who forward these kinds of emails:

Make-Believe Maverick: A closer look at the life and career of John McCain reveals a disturbing record of recklessness and dishonesty”

Mostly, I just wish the two of you would actually use some of your experiences over the past 30 years and speak up. I am not saying support Obama, but just think critically, and denounce the kind of bullshit that you are forwarding. Write an email denouncing Obama using objective facts if you are so inclined. But don’t be part of the ignorant class. Your kids expect so much more of you.

Born by the river in a little tent

I’ve been doing a lot of listening to Sam Cooke lately, thanks to Suheir Hammad’s reference to him in her poem, Daddy’s Song. It took me a few years, but I finally decided to check out who exactly he was, and, whaddaya know, he sang beautifully. I would have just shared this on tumblr, but I’m not sure just how many of you actually click around over there [add it to your RSS feeds, crackstars!]. So, here’s some music and poetry for you:

1. Sam Cooke: A Change is Gonna Come

2. Suheir Hammad: Daddy’s Song

That part at the end, where her father blows her a kiss? The best.

More of my Suheir Hammad favorites (via a comment I left on Maddie’s photo a few weeks ago):

We Spent the 4th of July in Bed

Not Your Erotic, Not Your Exotic


First Writing Since (my absolute favorite poem of hers)

Everything here is a reflective surface, even dirt, even fire, even skin

Not mitthai
Not mitthai, originally uploaded by yaznotjaz.

I’ve spent the last month or so on what we flickr rockstars have all, in regards to our respective deadlines and dramas and to-do lists, been referring to as Getting Important Things DONE. What this means, of course, is that I’ve been distracting myself by spending far too much time browsing the internetS and overburdening my firefox browser with the number of tabs I keep open at one time. (The other day, I had 86 tabs open in one window. It was slightly ridiculous.)

I would share all those links and things with you here on the weblog – as I do once in a while – except I’m half-afraid Ayan will come along and call it “fake updates,” as he is wont to do. Plus, I don’t like cluttering the main column with links (that’s what the writing’s for), and I can’t figure out a way to properly share it all on the sidebar without jacking up the careful placement of everything else that’s already there.

SO. I’ve created an account for sweepthesunshine on tumblr, which shall be my repository for rockstar links&things. Go check it out! It’s linked right at the top of this website, so you can find it again. There’s an RSS feed for it, too, so you can keep track of the mish-mash I’m keeping track of. So far, there are lots of images and quotes and music, and things that intrigue me and make me happy. It’s all shiny and glittery and colorful. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. This thing is quite addictive, dude.


(Post title is a line from Leslie Harpold’s piece on California, some of my most favorite writing. Check out more about that here.)

It’s spelled like this – and they call me ‘yaznotjaz’ for a reason

Rockstar & sunshine & scribbles
Rockstar & sunshine & scribbles, originally uploaded by yaznotjaz.

The past couple of months, I kept getting emails reminding me that the domain needed to be renewed by February 17. So, I took care of that – on Valentine’s Day, no less, because I really do lowve you, internetS, and especially Blogistan – and we’re covered all through 2009 now. So, I guess this would be a good time to update, yes?

I’ve missed you, Blogistan, but I’m a fickle one and have been spending too much time hitting “refresh” on flickr. (I really should stop with that. It’s killing off my productivity.)

I’m back now, though, and will get started on publishing all those posts sitting around in my Drafts folder. I should tell you about Ottawa (and Philadelphia and DC, and those blue slurpees I found at the airport in Dallas), and Toronto, and why I hated January, and what I’m doing with my life these days. So much to catch you up on, Blogistan. Seriously, you’re totally outta the loop.

First, a couple of things to get out of the way:

1. For the person who found my weblog through a Google search for jussmeen, you make me upset. Why’d you have to go and spell it with a J? Only one beautiful person was ever allowed to pronounce my name like that. She’s not around anymore, and I miss her dearly, but that doesn’t mean you can step into her shoes. Stop it. (Also, it’s pronounced like this: yahss-MEEN. With a Y. I won’t mind too much if you mess up the rest of it, as long as you start it off with a Y. The J is blasphemous. I’m just sayin’.)

2. For the person who found this weblog through a Google search for utilizing nap time, you made me laugh. You might appreciate this old post about my undergrad days. I would have graduated with a degree in napping, if I could have. If you want to get all technical about it, I followed that Google search and found an article entitled, How To Design The Perfect Nap. The author takes six well-timed naps per day, can you believe it?

There were a bunch of other things I was going to discuss with you, but it takes a lot of effort to get back into the swing of updating a weblog after two months of being away. This is tiring stuff, Blogistan. I think I need a nap now.

I’m so tired, I’m so tired/I wish I was the moon tonight

Orange you glad the sunshine waited for you?
Sunshine-y orange, to cheer me up on rainy days like today, by yaznotjaz

Sometimes when I am bored or tired or stressed, I hit “compose” on a new email window and type nonsense. Like this one at work today:

This is one example of the ways in which we can collaborate on projects based around shared issues and common concerns. There are a multitude of ways in which we can work together to further the scope of such efforts across the Bay Area. This decreases significant misunderstandings and combines our emerging efforts with existing ones, so as not to ‘reinvent the wheel.’ What is wonderful to witness is the emergence of a new movement that finalizes the —

What the hell that means, I have absolutely no idea. It’s not supposed to make sense. It’s a complete free-flow thing, so get off me.

Today was a typical Monday – the kind of day that makes you disgusted that the week has only just begun, with no end in sight. I’m still trying to catch up on the hundreds of work-related emails that piled up while I was off on vacation, gallivanting around in the cold [more photos to add, and I will write about the trip, too, I promise], so I rescheduled this morning’s meeting to tomorrow instead, and breathed a sigh of relief. And then I remembered a conference call I have on Wednesday. I don’t understand why we can’t just conduct business through text-messaging, dammit. Is that really too much to ask?

These days are all about drama and stress, but it shall all be over by early January. Or, at least, that’s the way it plays out in my head. For some reason, Desi music cheers me up, so I was good to go after a lunch break spent listening to Kawan, Ali Zafar’s Sajania, Do Anjaane Ajnabi [from the Vivah soundtrack], and this one, which I know only as Track05. Anyone familiar with who that is? [I’m the only person I know who is so “Ehh, vatewer” about YouTube; I rarely ever click over to the website when people share links with me, and I can’t believe I just spent so much time looking up all those songs for you all. Geez freakin’ louise, yaars.]

Speaking of lunch, I bought a sandwich from the deli at the grocery store (and two jars of gelatin-free marshmallow cream! and cinnamon rolls with frosting!) and then, after waiting in line for an interminable amount of time while impatiently shuffling my feet, I realized that I had already paid for my items. I’m losing it, yaars. LOSING IT.

I came back to the office to find a package from someone I had met at a conference in Chicago, back in October. He sent me dark roast Ugandan coffee, organic and fair trade – “Not Just a Cup, But a Just Cup” – from the Thanksgiving Coffee Company. They are rockstars, and you should buy coffee from them. I love the wonderfully-written, conversational bio of the CEO, Paul Katzeff, here [you have to keep clicking through; there are several pages]. The coffee they sent me is called Mirembe Kawomera:

Mirembe Kawomera (mir´em bay cow o mare´a) means “delicious peace” in the Ugandan language Luganda. It is the name of a Ugandan cooperative of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian coffee farmers.

You can read more about the coffee cooperative on their own website, where Paul also shares the story of how the Thanksgiving Coffee Company agreed to become the buyer/roaster for Mirembe Kawomera:

I couldn’t believe my good fortune. I was the recipient of this call because 40 coffee roasters heard this story and declined to purchase before tasting samples. They were focusing on the product so they missed the story. For me the story was inspiring at minimum. People of faith finding hope through coffee. Choosing cooperation in a world torn up by intolerance. I said, “OK, I’ll buy it.” “How many sacks do you want?” she asked. I could hear in her voice her plea, her compassion, her fear, her innocence, and her dedication, all born from what was much much more than the experience of the starry-eyed girl I had assumed she was when I first picked up the phone.
On the plane I remember thinking how 40 coffee roasters had to miss the significance of what these people had done and were doing in order for Thanksgiving Coffee to get this opportunity to support what in our time could become one of the greatest stories ever told – and through the selling of the coffee, to strengthen and build a cooperative that could become a shining light of beauty for all to see and be inspired by.

On July 12, 2005 the coffee arrived in the US after six weeks “on the water.” An arrival sample was sent to us. We “cupped it” and it is good, real good, and it fills my heart with hope.

Did I mention you should support this effort? Buy some coffee, rockstars.


Update: I asked a friend, who knows his Desi songs, about the Track05 referenced above. Because he likes to push his luck in not getting fired from work, he downloaded the song right then and there, and checked it out for me. Verdict: “It’s a remix of Channa Ve, sung by Kunal Ganjawala, but originally a Pakistani song.” So, there you have it. Get yer own YouTube links!

The sound that’s counted so many days, so many days

Carnaval - San Francisco
Flutes at the Carnaval, San Francisco, May2007, by yaznotjaz

I need to clear up all the tabs I have open in my laptop window, so I’ve decided to share with you all the things I’ve been viewing and reading today (this is, of course, just a sneaky way to use this as a placeholder post of sorts and bookmark all my new favorite links).


You Don’t Mess With the Zohan: A Mossad agent fakes his own death so he can move to New York and become a hair stylist. [Am I the only crackhead who really wants to see this movie?]

– A weblog dedicated to photos of Abandoned Couches: Such a simple and lovely concept

– Somehow, I came across Imran Malik, who goes by Rockistani on flickr. Of course I had to click over! I followed the profile link to his band, the Fatsumas. My favorite bit was the weblog post entitled, A New Member [no permanent links; scroll down to the November 5, 2007, post, currently third down from the top], where Imran talks about the vintage combo-organ he found in Islamabad. I smiled so much (and bounced up and down in my chair a little, fine, I admit it) when I realized that Imran’s YouTube link to the previous owner of the organ was none other than Sardar Ali Takkar. I love Takkar [YouTube doesn’t have a link to one of my favorite Takkar songs, Lakha Wakhte De, stupid YouTube], and that link, among other things, just made my day.

– The Fatsumas’ website led me to their MySpace, and then somehow to the MySpace page for Arif Husain/Brewnote. I first discovered Arif’s music through the Sepia Mutiny post last year, and loved his cover of the Smiths’ There is a Light (you can download mp3s through his MySpace page as well as his website). He also has an introspective and thought-provoking weblog, which I’ve spent too much time reading this evening – including this post about his music teachers, and this one entitled Behind Dumpsters. Check out the photos on Tuesday Afternoon Snack, with its reassuring caption that translates to, Mother, see, I am eating well.

Paduka: Feet & Footwear in the Indian Tradition

– via Baraka: A million learn to read in the ‘world’s fastest literacy programme’:

The free courses, funded by the British Government, proved so popular trainers had to turn away up to 15,000 women. Even so, at current capacity (teaching 18 women at each location in three batches of six, limited by the number of laptops) more than 2,000 illiterate women will become literate each month.
The experiences of the women provide a vivid argument for the importance of literacy. Asha is married and in her twenties with a two-year-old son. She was completely illiterate. At the end of the 30-day course, she said: “My husband used to consider me good-for-nothing because I was illiterate. He would never include me in taking decisions. But now that I can read, our whole relationship has changed. My husband treats me with respect. I am now for the first time a part of the decision making in our house.”

Eboo Patel‘s article: Ayaan Hirsi Ali & Muslim Dirty Laundry:

When I wrote an article for this website a few months ago called On Muslim Antisemitism, a Muslim friend of mine remarked, “What you say is true, but why do you have to air our dirty laundry?”

I stared at her in disbelief. Did she really think that the world was unaware of our dirty laundry?

The sad truth is that too many people think it’s the only kind of laundry Muslims have.


A lesson for mainstream Muslims: Whenever you don’t offer a theory of the problem, someone else will. When there is a vacuum of information about a hot topic and you don’t fill it, other people will aggressively move in.

Too many mainstream Muslims believe they have only two options in the face of the current discourse on Islam: angry indignation or stony silence.

I believe there is a third way. It is what University of Michigan Professor Sherman Jackson, one of America’s leading scholars of Islam, calls ‘Islamic literacy’.


To mainstream Muslims everywhere: When we act and speak with compassion and conviction and knowledge, even about our ‘dirty laundry’, we are following the straight path of our faith, educating those with genuine questions about Islam, marginalizing people with destructive agendas, and doing our part to build a world based on understanding and respect.

xvm‘s photo, Welcoming the new year on Lac Poisson, has been my favorite one today. The experience sounds so beautifully, mind-clearingly awesome, although my little Californian self is shrinking in dismay from that vast expanse of snow and ice.

– Two other interesting flickr photos I recently came across:
1. Bobby Painter, dealer in Rickshawable Bollywood Kitsch
2. Where is your hemline? [a poster displayed at Brigham Young University in Utah]

– Fabulous post by Anna at SepiaMutiny: No Business Woman, No Cry.
Two things to highlight:

Realizing that “this is not working” is not the same as “I am a fuck-up”.


…when it’s least tolerable, the hyphen in our identity becomes a tight rope.

– Malcolm Gladwell article from the New Yorker: Examined Life: What Stanley H. Kaplan taught us about the S.A.T.

– And, finally, two heartwarming articles to round it off all rockingly:
1. Karma Kitchen’s Stories of Raw Generosity, from the CharityFocus weblog (because I haven’t mentioned lately how much I lowve these folks)
2. The ACTS OF KINDNESS section of the Toronto Star