2016 – The Year Materialism Failed The Many

The year 2016 has been one of the most tumultuous of our generation. We have had unpredictable and shocking events such as Britain Brexiting (and Brexiting hard), Trump becoming President, and Leicester City winning the English Premiere League. We have suffered a multitude of celebrity deaths, Muhammad Ali being the most prominent one for myself. We have ongoing chaos in the Middle East, especially in Syria.  We have the rise and rise of far right nationalism all across the globe. We have reached an environmental tipping point when it comes to CO2 emissions. And we are now all living post-truth.

So bad was 2016 that actress Helen Mirren said “I think we can all agree that 2016 has been a big pile of shit.” Andy Zaltzman said 2016 “will be splatted into the history books in luminous, angry, confusing paint.” A more poignant assessment of 2016 came from Brendan Cox, husband of murdered politician Jo Cox, who said in Channel 4’s Alternative Christmas message that 2016 is “A year in which fascism, xenophobia, extremism and terrorism made us divided and felt threatened, from America, to Europe, to the Middle East and beyond.”

With all this going on I therefore found it interesting that in such a chaotic 12 months both Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin Welby, in their Christmas messages referred to how materialism is making the world more unbalanced. Yes they did mention the usual topics of suffering, war, conflict, community, and so forth, but they did strongly imply that our consumerist nature is causing untold happiness.

Even the Queen in her Christmas message alluded to helping others more than yourself. She said that, through the example of Christ, she can “see the value of doing small things with great love.”

There are two reasons why I am focusing on materialism (aka capitalism, aka consumerism). Firstly, I recently finished reading the book Revolution by Russell Brand. The book is an interesting read, especially the views on consumerism. I also watch many of Russell’s videos on his YouTube channel The Trews, from which many of his quotes below are from. Brand is one of those love-him-or-hate-him figures, and whilst I may not entirely love him, I certainly do have a lot of time and respect for him and many of his ideas.

Secondly, mankind has now officially entered the Trumpocene era, an era of climate change denial, enhanced division, conspiracy based governmental policies, and most alarmingly of all, pure unadulterated greed.

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So what follows is the usual smorgasbord of quotes, clips, and pics related to the topic currently buzzing around in my head, materialism. Enjoy!


Let’s start with a classic quote on the mediocrity of our existence from the classic book Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh (ignore the last bit please)…

Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television. Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players, and electrical tin can openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol and dental insurance. Choose fixed-interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisure wear and matching luggage. Choose a three piece suite on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked-up brats that you have spawned to replace yourself. Choose your future. Choose life…But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life: I chose something else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got heroin? – Irvine Welsh, from his book Trainspotting


A quote from Russell Brand that echoes Irvine Welsh…

You may be suffering from anxiety because you recognize that the outside world doesn’t seem to bear a relationship to your own personal value systems, and the things that you’ve been told that will work for you, the things that you were told to do to make life work for you, are proving fruitless: go to university, do this, do that, get a good job, get a bank account, get a car, it’s all going to work well. Well, no it’s not, is it? It hasn’t worked. And guess what? The people that told you that it would knew that it wouldn’t. They were doing it for their own values, not in a conspiratorial way, just simply that there’s an economic system that some people benefit from and they have a vested interest in keeping it running and you my friend are the fodder. – Russell Brand


Archbishop Justin Welby on the failure of progress…

The end of 2016 finds us all in a different kind of world, one less predictable and certain, which feels more awash with fear and division. Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney said three weeks ago, “Despite immense progress many citizens in advanced economies are facing heightened uncertainty…rather than a new golden era, globalisation is associated with low wages, insecure employment, stateless corporation and striking inequalities.” That uncertainty of our world, our feelings tells us that our values are in the wrong place. I learned last week of a family in one of our cities who lowered their child in a supermarket dustbin to scavenge for food before fishing him out. What will that family eat today? Economic progress, technological progress, communication progress hasn’t resulted in economic justice. It hasn’t delivered glory for us. – Archbishop Justin Welby, Dec 2016, from his Christmas sermon


Russell Brand on the modern places of worship…

Joseph Campbell, the cultural anthropologist…said, “If you want to understand what’s most important to a society, don’t examine its art or literature, simply look at its biggest buildings.” In medieval societies, the biggest buildings were its churches and palaces; using Campbell’s method, we can assume these were feudal cultures that revered their leaders and worshipped God. In modern Western cities, the biggest buildings are the banks—bloody great towers that dominate the docklands—and the shopping centers, which architecturally ape the cathedrals they’ve replaced: domes, spires, eerie celestial calm, fountains for fonts, food courts for pews. – Russell Brand, from his book Revolution


Pope Francis on Christmas being taken hostage…

Jesus was born rejected by some and regarded by many others with indifference. Today also the same indifference can exist, when Christmas becomes a feast where the protagonists are ourselves, rather than Jesus; when the lights of commerce cast the light of God into the shadows; when we are concerned for gifts, but cold toward those who are marginalised. This worldliness has taken Christmas hostage. It needs to be freed. – Pope Francis, Dec 2016, in his Christmas Eve homily


Russell Brand on not being you…

When in 2011 young people all over Britain seemingly spontaneously decided to break the glass and snatch the idols from the altar, it was condemned as nihilistic and antisocial. That may be the case, what is more antisocial and nihilistic is the imposition of such dubious idolatry. The unrelenting bombardment of consumer imagery, the intoxicating message that you are not good enough. You are too fat, spotty, and wan. You are not as fit as David Beckham or Beyonce, escape your life into this PlayStation, mask the stench of your failure with this fragrance, run from your debts in these gleaming new shoes. Don’t be you. Don’t be you. – Russell Brand, from his book Revolution


Russell Brand on the crazy shopping event known as Black Friday…

A religious holiday is being measured in terms of consumer success. I don’t want to sound like a seventeen-year-old but obviously that shows that our state religion, of the states of the United Kingdom, in the United States and the sort of secular Western democracies, is consumerism, which never presents itself explicitly as ‘this is our religion’ but it evidently is: this is how we see ourselves, this is how we talk to ourselves, this is how we express ourselves. Even formally religious impulses, like let’s come together, are expressed now by going out and buying a bloody great big television…Can’t you already feel the shadows of future evolved beings watching this and going “And this is why their society fell apart.” – Russell Brand, Nov 2016


Whether you like it or not, we are all complicit, especially those not interested in politics…

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Russell Brand on materialism versus spiritualism…

I myself felt that when you live in a world that is predicated on materialistic values and individualism, something deep within you knows that this is an erroneous ecological system and rejects it. So you feel like you’re not in harmony with the external world. The values of a materialistic society somehow don’t chime or resonate with your inner self…You get these objects, whether it’s trainers, a fast car, or a fancy famous lifestyle, it doesn’t nourish you spiritually, it never can do. – Russell Brand


Russell Brand on why materialism is causing some people to turn to drugs…

We live in a society that tells you that you have to be successful as an individual, that your feelings are secondary, that the way to solve all of your problems is by acquiring things. If you look at how often you receive that message over the course of a day it is bamboozling and baffling even to contemplate. Even if you stay in your house all day the message will hit you: you should have these trainers, this is what you should do, this is you should be drinking, this is what you should look like. It’s so perpetual that it exists as a rhythm in your head. We live in a culture that has closed the door on the mystery, that has closed the door on the metaphysical, that has closed the door on the spiritual, so all that is left is a kind of bleak mechanical nothingness that’s trundling towards the grave. And if that’s reality then I will bloody take drugs. – Russell Brand


I will leave you with Russell’s views on that Amazon advert that I thought was brilliant, but I am not so sure now…

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AN OPEN LETTER FROM A MUSLIM TO TRUMP

Dear President Elect Trump,

I hope you and your family are well.

Congratulations on a stunning win in the recent American presidential elections. This entire election campaign, the election itself, and the living-breathing-on-going-aftermath, have all left me gripped and horrified, and I am certain I am not the only one. Having said that, I really do hope you know what you are doing, especially when it comes to us Muslims. The reason for my concern is best highlighted in the following quote:

A clash of civilizations is truly brewing. But it’s not Islam versus the West, as right-wing pundits want you to believe. Rather it’s the Trump administration versus Islam. And no one is happier about this than ISIS and Al Qaeda. – Dean Obeidallah, from an article entitled We Must Fight The Most Anti-Muslim Administration Ever

Whilst your acts of anti-Muslim vitriol are too numerous to mention, a few highlights to bring to your attention are: wanting to ban all Muslims from entering the USA, saying “Islam hates us” openly and repeatedly, falsely claiming thousands of Muslims cheered in New Jersey when the Twin Towers fell on 9-11, choosing blatantly anti-Muslim choices for your government, wanting to profile Muslims and the surveillance of mosques, and we’ll end on your desire to have a national Muslim registry so you know at all times where we pesky Muslims are and what we’re up to.

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Despite this fear mongering, may I politely inform you that you will lose this clash. You will lose because you fail to realise that we Muslims are a hardy bunch. If you know anything about Islamic history then you will know we Muslims, like many other groups of people, like many other religions, we are survivors, resiliently so. We have been, we are now, and we will continue to be till God decides to pull down the eternal shutters on humanity.

Over the centuries we have endured many great hardships and heart-breaking insults, some of our own doing, some unjustly brought upon us. Know Mr President that over the centuries Islam has faced foes much tougher, meaner, scarier, and intelligent than your good self, enemies worthy of much more respect. Trust me, as sure as Brexit is Brexit, we will survive your Trumpocalypse. So let this blog post hopefully enlighten you a little of Islamic history, of the many things we Muslims have resiliently endured, as well as making it clear that we will survive…


HISTORICALLY…

We have survived the death of our beloved Prophet Muhammad in the year 632AD, which resulted in the schism between Sunni Muslims and Shia Muslims that still rages today.

We have survived some 9 crusades spanning 5 centuries, with the First Crusade arising after a call to arms by Pope Urban II in a sermon in 1095. It was in 1187 that the great Muslim warrior Saladin took back control of Jerusalem from 88 years of Crusader rule. I would urge you to compare how the Muslims behaved when they took over Jerusalem compared to when the Christians took control some 88 years earlier, and then tell me who the barbarians are.

We have survived the Italian poet Dante Alighieri and his early 14th century work Divine Comedy, considered by many to be the greatest literary work composed in the Italian language and a masterpiece of world literature. In this ‘masterpiece’ Dante insultingly places the Prophet Muhammad into the 8th circle of hell.

We have survived multiple invasions of Mongol hordes, most prominently the siege of Baghdad in 1258 led by the grandson of Genghis Khan. The siege saw the death of over 90,000 inhabitants and the destruction of the grand library of Baghdad, an event said to mark the end of the Islamic golden age.

We have survived the fall of Islamic empires such as the Rashidun and the Umayyad and the Abbasid and the Fatimid and the Ayyubid and the Mamluk and finally the Ottoman Caliphate, which was abolished in 1924. The political reverberations of this abolishment still ring through to the present.


MORE RECENTLY…

We Muslims have more recently survived the publication of deliberately inflammatory cartoons insulting our beloved and respected Prophet, published in 2005 by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.

We have survived the massacres at Sabra and Shatila in Lebanon, where in 1982 some 3,500 civilians, mainly Lebanese Shia Muslims, were murdered by Christian extremists.

We have also survived the Srebrenica massacre, where in 1995 more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed by Christians from the Serb army in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica. Kofi Annan, then Secretary-General of the United Nations, described this mass murder as the worst crime on European soil since the Second World War.

We have survived the death of hundreds of thousands of civilians killed from bombs dropped from 10,000 feet in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and elsewhere.

We have survived Salman Rushdie and his 1988 book The Satanic Verses, in which Rushdie deliberately insulted our Prophet, knowing full well what the reactions would be.

We have survived all the after effects that followed the death of Osama Bin Laden in 2011.

We have endured the collective punishment of Palestinian families for several decades, a concept you have taken further by threatening to kill the families of terrorists (or people you think are terrorists).

We have survived Bush and Blair and Bolton and Cheney and Wolfowitz and all those other dove destroying hawks (having said that, at least Bush did go to a mosque a few days after 9-11, where he called Islam “good and peaceful”).

We have survived the death in 2016 of the Greatest, Muhammad Ali, arguably the greatest sporting icon ever, and the ultimate response to anyone who (like yourself) questions whether Islam and western ideals are compatible or not.

We have survived the increased Islamophobia in the wake of 9-11 and 7-7 and every ISIS inspired terror attacks (which indiscriminately kill Muslims as well as non-Muslims).


WE WILL SURVIVE…

We Muslims will survive your hand-picked team of Muslim haters, people such as…

General Michael Flynn, your National Security Adviser, who has said “Islam is a political ideology…it definitely hides behind this notion of it being a religion…It’s like cancer…a malignant cancer in this case…We are facing another ‘ism,’ just like we faced Nazism, and fascism, and imperialism and communism. This is Islamism, it is a vicious cancer inside the body of 1.7 billion people on this planet and it has to be excised.”

David Friedman, your ambassador to Israel, who wants to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. You do know this will be a slap in the face to all Palestinians and that it will kill the two state solution, thereby derailing the already flimsy peace process and causing further middle east turmoil?

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Newt Gingrich, a key part of your transition team, who has said “Let me be as blunt and direct as I can be. Western civilization is in a war. We should frankly test every person here who is of a Muslim background, and if they believe in Sharia, they should be deported.”

Dr Ben Carson, your Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, who has said that a Muslim American should not be president unless that person agrees to “reject the tenets of Islam.”

Steve Bannon, your chief strategist, who let anti-Muslim rhetoric flourish during his time in charge at breitbart.com and whilst hosting a show on SiriusXM radio. Bannon also recently said “Darkness is good. Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That’s power. It only helps us when they (liberals and the media) get it wrong, when they’re blind to who we are and what we’re doing.” Seriously Mr Trump? Darkness is good? Is it?

Peter King, New York’s Seaford Representative and a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, who recently in a meeting with yourself encouraged you to launch a large-scale surveillance program of Muslims similar to those in New York after the 9-11 attacks (these were eventually scrapped by the NYPD after they were found to be likely illegal).

Allen West, an avid supporter of yours, who has said “We already have a Fifth Column that is already infiltrating into our colleges, into our universities, into our high schools, into our religious aspect, our cultural aspect, our financial, our political systems in this country. And that enemy represents something called Islam. And Islam is a totalitarian theocratic political ideology; it is not a religion. It has not been a religion since 622 A.D., and we need to have individuals that stand up and say that.” West also put up a Facebook post suggesting that you have hired James ‘Mad dog’ Mattis as your Defence Secretary in order to “exterminate” Muslims.


We Muslims will survive the hypocrisy of watching Muslims being called ‘terrorists’ and non-Muslims being called ‘lone wolves’ whenever there is a mass shooting.

We will survive groups like ISIS, Al-Shabab, and Boko Haram, groups who tarnish Islam and what it means to be a Muslim. Just because they call themselves Islamic does not make it so.

We will survive the ongoing massacre of thousands of civilians in Syria, where Bashar Al-Assad feels emboldened in his endeavours thanks to the support he gets from Russia, who themselves are emboldened due to your election to the highest office in the land.

We will survive the legal turmoil that surrounds hijabs and niqabs, and whether a woman can or cannot wear such things. Whenever the talk of hijab arises I am reminded on the following quote from Scottish comedian Frankie Boyle who, when talking about France wanting to ban the hijab, said “France be like ‘I support free speech, free expression. Unless you wear a veil. I CAN’T SEE HER NOSE!! ARREST HER! I CAN’T SEE HER NOSE!!’”

We will survive the continued support America has for various despots and tyrants around the world, despite the recent comment from Obama that America should no longer interfere in foreign elections (presumably now because you guys know how it feels).

We will survive your proposed Muslim registry and all that entails, including having to walk down the street wearing a visible symbol to let others know we are Muslims.

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We will survive all of this and more in the best way possible, and that is by following the advice of the Qur’an which tells us to bear our hardships with patience and prayer (Qur’an 2:153).


WE HOPE…

So where does all this leave us? It leaves us with nothing but hope.

We Muslims hope you read the various letters people have written to you, such as the letter signed by over 450 American Muslims who want you to know that “Muslims have been an integral part of the United States since its founding when the first slave ships arrived on its shores” and that “Americans who are Muslim contribute positively to every aspect of our society”.

We hope you also read the letter written by American Muslim Marwa Balkar, and the letter Michael Moore wrote to you where he declared “We are all Muslim.”

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We hope there are more people like Trevor Noah who said, in a recent episode of The Daily Show, that if there is a Muslim registry then all Americans should register as Muslim.

We hope that the brilliant American Muslim scholar Shaykh Hamza Yusuf is right when he says “Many Trump supporters are decent, hard-working people.”

We hope the citizens of Silicon Valley follow through with their promise to not build your Muslim registry database.

We hope you realize that Muslims in America and all over the world are just as fearful of terrorists as you and other non-Muslims are.

We hope your exponentially increasing ignorance of Islam and all things Muslim is not the cause of your inevitable ruin.

We hope you heed the words of former Japanese American internment camp prisoner and Star Trek actor George Takei who, in an emotional essay for the Washington Post, said:

The Constitution and the government exist in large measure to protect against the excesses of democracies. This is particularly salient when, in an atmosphere of fear or mistrust, one group is singled out and vilified, as Japanese Americans were during World War II and as Muslim Americans are today. How terrible it is to contemplate, once again, that the government itself might once more be the very instrument of terror and division. That cannot happen again. We cannot allow it. – George Takei

We Muslims hope Russell Brand is right about people in service perhaps standing up to people in power like yourself:

As the degeneration of our governing institutions becomes more blatant, more and more of the brave men and women that have sworn to protect and serve the people are going to see that oath runs directly adverse to what they’re being paid to do. – Russell Brand, from his book Revolution


Despite the many on-going hardships, with boundless optimism we Muslims will continue to be unwavering in our commitment to our Prophet, to our holy book, to our own kind, and to those strangers who help us with their kindness. I personally will continue with my faith because, as Haroon Moghul said on Twitter “I am in love with a God I cannot see, a Prophet who has passed, a paradise I may never enter, and a faith I cannot deny.”

As you can now perhaps appreciate, Islam and Muslims is a complex and multi-layered ‘thing’. It is not quite as black and white as you have made it out to be. Therefore perhaps you will give more thought to your motives and actions. Here’s hoping.

God willing Mr President, we Muslims will win you over not with bullets as you so fearfully suspect, but instead with kindness. I leave you with the words of academic Karen Armstrong (whose books you should really read):

If we are to do better in the twenty-first Christian century, Western people must learn to understand the Muslims with whom they share the planet. They must learn to respect and appreciate their faith, their needs, their anger, and their aspirations. – Karen Armstrong, from her book Muhammad: A Biography Of The Prophet

Your brother in Islam

The Bearded One

PAKISTAN LOVES CONAN O’BRIEN!

Just a quick blog post of funny videos that I hope you will enjoy, responsibly of course. Below are videos from Conan O’Brien, Kumail Nanjiani, Aziz Ansari, Donald Trump, David Cross, and others. Enjoy!


Pakistan Loves Conan O’Brien…


Kumail Nanjiani: The Muslim Cleric Who Married Me Was Into Beyoncé…


Aziz Ansari’s Pork-Fuelled Feud With His Parents…


Donald Trump’s First TV Ad…


Donald Trump’s New Anti-Muslim Ad…


A funny short 4-part web series called Guess Who’s Muslim…


Guess Who’s Muslim reminded me a wee bit of another 4-part web series, this time from the BBC called My Jihad, well worth a look on BBC iPlayer

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Finally, 2 clips from the brilliant David Cross, first clip talking about Republicans and Trump, and the second clip is a rather brutal joke (you have been warned)…

20 THOUGHT PROVOKING QUOTES

I thought I would take a break from the doom and gloom of all things recent, and instead just do a quick blog post of 20 thought provoking quotes. Enjoy!


A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject. – Winston Churchill

A gold medal is a wonderful thing. But if you’re not enough without one, you’ll never be enough with one. – from the movie Cool Runnings (1993)

A man does not have to be an angel in order to be a saint. – Albert Schweitzer

A problem is something to solve. If there’s no solution, it’s not a problem, so stop treating it like one. – Jonathan Tropper, from his book This is Where I Leave You

A rooster crows only when it sees the light. Put him in the dark and he’ll never crow. I have seen the light and I’m crowing. – Muhammad Ali

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A tree falls in the forest and no one puts it on YouTube. Did it really ever happen? – from the movie Point Break (2015)

As long as you’re talking, you’re not listening. – from the movie Creed (2015)

Asking Allah may not make the mountain smaller, but it can make the climbing easier. – Anon

Be proud of who you are, and not ashamed of how someone else sees you. – Anon

Be sure it’s your real self you’re showing. Because it is your real self that needs to be loved. – Daphne Rose Kingma

Beautiful people are not always good, but good people are always beautiful. – Anon

Careful the spell you cast…Sometimes the spell may last. – from the movie Into The Woods (2014)

Clothing yourself with the best character is more appealing than clothing yourself with expensive labels. – Mufti Ismail Menk

Do not depend too much on anyone in this world because even your own shadow leaves you when you are in the darkness. – Ibn Taymiyyah

Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people. – Eleanor Roosevelt

How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg. – Abraham Lincoln

How much is it worth to have a clear conscience? – from the movie Pale Rider (1985)

I am not a puppet, I will work against your strings. – lyrics from the song Money On My Mind by Sam Smith

I don’t normally talk about my religion publicly because I don’t want people to associate me and my flaws with this beautiful thing…And I believe it is a beautiful religion if you learn it the right way. – Dave Chappelle, a Muslim

If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals. – J K Rowling, from her book Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire

2 Brilliant Articles, 2 Surreal Monologues

We have just witnessed the most bruising political struggle in modern times. So brutal, in fact, that it prompted journalist Owen Duffy to call it:

The biggest upset in US electoral history…the most outlandish and acrimonious presidential campaign in living memory. – Owen Duffy

Gallons of digital ink have been virtually spilled in analysing this political event, an event beyond historical comparison. On my seemingly never-ending search (desire?) to find meaning, I continuously read articles and listen to various experts and opinion makers, all with their unique take on what happened, why it happened, and what next.

Recently I came across two rather brilliant articles and two very surreal monologues, which go some way in explaining the overwhelming sense of bewilderment many of us still feel (assuming it ain’t just me).

With regards to the articles, first up you have Graydon Carter, editor of Vanity Fair magazine, with his article Only In America. The article begins with the line:

Only in America could a man whose staff took away his Twitter account be given the nuclear codes. – Graydon Carter

From there on in it only gets better. Carter gives reason after reason as to why the election of Trump shows how America truly is the land of opportunity because (and this is just one reason among many):

Only in America could a man who kept a volume of Hitler’s speeches by his bedside rule over the second-largest Jewish population in the world. – Graydon Carter

Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

The second article is written by my favourite Muslim scholar Shaykh Hamza Yusuf. We Shall Overcome is an analysis of why voters perhaps chose to vote the way they did, and what we Muslims should do now that we all find ourselves dragged into this post-Trump era. The article begins with a quote from the Bible, and ends with the following positive and strong statement:

Reject the race-baiting, celebrate the progress, and work to bring people together under a banner of brotherhood and sisterhood, united in a struggle that goes on. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

With regards to the monologues, I recently came across two very surreal speeches from two of Britain’s finest comedians. Yes, these running commentaries are very surreal (you have been warned), but I feel that the surreal nature of both of these orations reflect the surreal shenanigans of the 18 month election campaign, and of the presidency so far.

First up we have Frankie Boyle’s American Autopsy, a BBC comedy discussion show hosted by the always controversial Boyle, which ends with the following eerie monologue from Boyle:

The second monologue is from the popular podcast The Bugle, hosted as always by Andy Zaltzman. Zaltzman tries, in his own bizarre way, to reassure listeners that everything will be just fine:

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As usual transcripts are presented below…

Before I go I want to leave your with this. You’ve got to look on the bright side. As I dropped my child off at school today I said “Be positive. If everything kicks off, that’s your blood type.” David Bowie was great at predicting future trends, wasn’t he? He always seemed to know what was going to be fashionable next. He had an unfailing sense for what the future would be like. And that is why this year he chose to die. David Bowie willed himself to die like a dolphin. Our civilization is coming to an end. Not at some theoretical point in the future but soon. [Removes the American flag from a box to reveal a bomb-like countdown clock] We have just under four months left. The death throes of humanity will be a carnival of indescribable horror, which I will know describe. We will see limbless men raping people with greased heads. Members of ISIS beheading themselves. James Corden continuing to perform an endless monologue, caked in the flung excrement of the 54th Southern Highlanders. At the zoo wild animals will form a dignified queue as they wait for the elephants to stamp them to death. Watching lions and tigers being trod on like grapes, humans will attempt to join them and the elephants will use their trunks to pull their heads off like champagne corks, to the ecstatic applause of the sea lions. The only currency will be the Vienna Boys Choir. 10,000 traumatized infants in makeshift lingerie will flee the Vatican like rats from a factory fire. For the people of Swansea life will go on as normal. The bloody pelt of Tom Hanks will be flown as a flag of humanities surrender to the inevitable. Alien spacecraft, seconds from earth, will turn around. God will avert His gaze in disgust, then send down His self-righteous son to be murdered again because He hates him. So please don’t waste time on petty rivalries and hatreds. That neighbour who annoys you, invite him round for a BBQ. Get drunk with him. Kill him. It doesn’t matter, he’s dead already. Life on earth is over and we can mope about it or we can enjoy the relief of knowing that nothing matters anymore. I don’t know about you but I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. After this I’m off to the National Gallery to fuck a Rueben’s. And don’t feel sad. You’re the lucky ones, you made it to the end of the game. The movie is over and we’re living in the blooper reel. I’ve buried a time capsule for the people of the future, and you know what’s in it? A pressure-sensitive land mine. Good luck rebuilding society with no legs. The very last chapter of human history will involve Richard Branson trying to flee the earth on a spacecraft, but as he blasts off he’ll feel my shotgun at the base of his skull, and my erection at the base of his spine. I will be the alien to his Sigourney Weaver. Anyway, I’m sorry that I won’t be with you for the coming struggle. In these final moments of existence I’m afraid I have better things to do than try to amuse strangers. Goodbye. – Frankie Boyle, from his BBC show Frankie Boyle’s American Autopsy, Nov 2016

Remember…it will all be fine. Don’t worry, it will all be fine. Possibly. Depending on who and where you are, and what your definition of fine is. And whether by all you mean not all. It’s just been a storm in a tea cup, admittedly a storm that has seen the democratic process and the concept of human dignity capsized and buffeted to within an inch of their lives. And in a tea cup that is the world’s most powerful nation. That is a big tea cup. A big, big tea cup. And we are all now going to be forced to drink that bitter, bitter tea for 4 years. That potentially poisonous tea. It is still just a storm in a tea cup. And look, the economic markets have been quite stable for the last few hours. That proves that everything is going to be okay economically and socially on a national and global for the next 4, sorry, 8 years. And yes that shattering sound you can hear, that is not the sound the glass ceiling being smashed to pieces. It was the sound of Vladimir Putin high-fiving himself in his own mirror. There is no point crying over spilled milk, even if that milk is spiked with arsenic and it’s been spilled directly into your mouth before someone forcibly holds your lips together and shouts “It’s democracy in action. If you don’t like it why don’t you fuck off to North Korea.” It will all be fine. – Andy Zaltzman, from The Bugle Podcast, Number 4004, Nov 2016

9 POSITIVE STORIES ABOUT MUSLIMS

You’ve got President El Trumpo thinking about his Muslim register due to his irrational fear of Islam (even a billboard can apparently scare him). You’ve got ISIS still rampaging around the Middle East. You’ve got murderous chaos still reigning supreme in Syria. You’ve got increasing Islamophobia everywhere.

All of this adds to a sadder sorrier state of affairs for us Muslims. It’s become so bad in fact that a recent headline from the Independent read Texas Men Train To Shoot Muslims And Dip Bullets In Pig Blood So Victims ‘Go Straight To Hell’. Good luck with that.

One would hope it does not get any worse than this, but I’m not exactly holding my breath. In order to counteract this growing wave of Islamophobia, please find below 9 positive news stories about Muslims that I have been collating for a few months now. Yes. Positive stories. About Muslims. They are out there if you look hard enough.

It was originally going to be a list of 10, as I was going to include a story about Zakia Belkhiri, a cheeky young Muslim woman who confidently took some selfies directly in front of far right anti-Muslim protesters in Belgium, thereby gaining notoriety as a bit of a renegade Muslim:

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However, it was later revealed that she was an anti-Semite. After some anti-Semitic Twittering from Zakia, such as “Hitler didn’t kill all the Jews, he left some. So we [would] know why he was killing them #fuckrs”, someone poignantly came up with this:

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And that’s why we are down to 9. Anyways, positively enjoy!


During Ramadan Muslims were very generously giving £38 a second to charity…

It is estimated by the Muslim Charities Forum that British Muslims gave approximately £100 million to charitable causes during the month of Ramadan this year. To give some context, that equates to approximately £38 a second…So say the Charity Commission.


Celtic fans raise more than £130,000 for Palestinian charities after flag protest…

Glasgow Celtic football club recently had a home match with Israeli team Hapoel Be’er Sheva, in a Champions League qualifier. During the match hundreds of Celtic fans showed solidarity with Palestinians by proudly displaying the flag of Palestine. Surprise surprise, UEFA did not take too kindly to this and fined Celtic for the display of such flags.

To continue with their support for Palestine, Celtic fans then went on to raise over £130,000 for Palestinian charities in an attempt to match the impending UEFA fine. Come on the bhoys!…More details from the Guardian.

celtic-flags


In our post-Trump era Muslim actor Mahershala Ali still has hope…

Stephen: You are an African American Muslim. How does that feel to be an African American Muslim today as opposed to how it felt a week ago [before the Trump election]?

Mahershala: I was just feeling in the clear from 9/11. So, you know, it took a long time to get comfortable, you know. It was a very difficult time because, look, I converted to Islam in like 1999 or 2000 and then, you know, 9/11 happened. So it was a really difficult time. And then now, you know, with someone who is kind of trying to reinforce this division, it’s challenging. Because, look, being an African American first, and then being a Muslim, like, those are two groups of people who feel misunderstood. And they feel like people who have been trying to fight to be accurately represented in and seen as full human beings and as equal and as people with something to offer as well. And so, it’s a very challenging time. But, you know, I believe and I have hope and there’s a lot of people out there doing a lot of good work. And yeah. So…fingers crossed moving forward. – Stephen Colbert, speaking to actor Mahershala Ali, a week after the Trump election


A British soldier stands up against Islamophobia…

A British soldier who lost his leg in Iraq has posted a powerful message to people “expecting racism” from him just because he “got blown up”…

More details on ITV.


A beautiful mosque has been rebuilt in Bosnia…

In the town of Banja Luka, Bosnia, the historic 16th century Ferhadija Mosque was torn down in 1993 by Serb forces in the then ongoing sectarian violence in the region. Recently, however, the mosque has been rebuilt and had it’s reopening ceremony, where several thousand people attended. Amongst many things happening that day, there was a message from the Prince of Wales that was conveyed to the mufti of Banja Luka, Dr Osman Koszlic.


A royally awesome school elects a Muslim prom queen in San Bernardino…

In December 2015 in San Bernardino, California, there was a horrific mass shooting where two Muslims killed 14 people and injured at least another 17. Fast forward four months to April 2016 and in the same county you have 18-year old Zarifeh Shalabi being elected as prom queen at Summit High School, just miles from the shooting…More details from the Huffington Post.

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The brilliant Samantha Bee speaks out against Islamophobia…


Amazon has just released this heart-warming advert about a vicar and an imam…


Finally, Sadiq Khan has been mayor of London for over 6 months now…

For several years the most high ranking Muslim official in Britain was the Birmingham based community leader Citizen Khan (a fictional person from a mediocre BBC sitcom). Well, not anymore, for now that title goes to the Muslim mayor of London Sadiq Khan.

Much has been written about Khan becoming mayor, below are just a few of the more interesting things I’ve come across…

He’s been standing up to Trump since day one…

Here is in in May, on the cover of New Statesman, being touted as the ‘anti-Trump’:

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He has also ruffled a few other right-wing feathers in the States, with the Drudge Report calling Khan the ‘first mayor of Londonistan’, whilst Breitbart had an editorial advocating how people should leave London now.

William Shatner sent him a great tweet (which only makes sense if you’ve seen Star Trek II The Wrath Of Khan)…

As did Hillary Clinton…

Homa Khaleeli sees this appointment as a massive step forward in the fight against Islamophobia…

What a relief. For the past few months it’s been hard to get my head out of my hands long enough to watch the news. And it’s not just the celebrity deaths that have depressed me: 2016 has not been kind to British Muslims. Channel 4 painted us as polygamous, sexist homophobes in its documentary What British Muslims Really Think. Donald Trump told us we would be banned from the US – and went on to clean up in the primaries. And through it all there was the steady drip of poison from Zac Goldsmith’s London mayoral campaign. So the news that Sadiq Khan has become London’s first Muslim and first ethnic minority mayor couldn’t come at a better time…A Muslim mayor of London might not end the Islamophobia in British politics – any more than Obama’s win cured racism in the US – but it offers a moment, at least, of hope. – Homa Khaleeli

People are sharing this poignant anecdote about Sadiq Khan and a Qur’an…

Khan gave an interview to the Evening Standard in May 2015. In it he spoke about becoming a member of the Queen’s Privy Council in 2009. The swearing in ceremony involved a bible:

The next day Buckingham Palace rang about his appointment to the Privy Council: “You’re going to be sworn in before the Queen, what sort of bible would you like?’ I said: ‘I swear on the Koran, I’m a Muslim’. They said: ‘We haven’t got a Koran, can you bring your own?’ So I went to Buckingham Palace with my Koran and afterwards they returned it and I said: ‘No, can I leave it here for the next person.’” – from the Evening Standard, May 2015

Some funny comments from Adil Ray and Frankie Boyle on Have I Got News For You…

Frankie: This is the election of Sadiq Khan as London mayor…Did you follow the London mayor debate?

Adil Ray: I did, yes, followed it with great delight. But on behalf of all Muslims, and that’s what I do, as a Muslim we talk on behalf of all of us. And there is 1.6 billion of us and I’ve spoken to them all before we came on tonight. We’re not very happy because he’s not a proper Muslim. No beard. In fact, you’d be a better Muslim than Sadiq Khan, I think…If you’re wondering where my beard is, they wouldn’t let me through security with it…

Frankie Boyle: There was quite a sad moment where Paul Golding, who is the head of Britain First, he turned his back on Sadiq Khan during his acceptance speech. I thought it’d be good if he’d accidentally turned to face Mecca…

Adil Ray: We wait now as Muslims to see what Sadiq Khan’s got in store. He’s been in a week and we’ve not seen any evidence of King’s Cross changing to King’s Abdullah’s Cross, or Buckingham Palace losing the ‘ham’ bit…Bucking Palace I think would work…

Julia Hartley-Brewer: I interviewed Sadiq Khan…and I said to him, “Would a victory for Sadiq Khan for the London Mayor be a victory for Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party?” And Sadiq Khan said, “Is that the time?”

Adil Ray: What, was it prayer time, was it? Get used to that, get used to that. Sadiq Khan can walk out of any interview, any time. “I’ve got to go, sorry, it’s prayer time.” Good on you, Sadiq.

Comedian Raz says ‘thanks’…

With Khan now as mayor of London, Asian comedian Raz has pointed out a somewhat negative side effect for all the other Asians in the UK:

6 Videos That Explain Hair Force One

He has only been El Presidente for a few days and yet he has, surprise surprise, backtracked (or rowed back or ditched) many of his flagship bizarro promises. It seems that moving from campaign rhetoric to implementable working policies is not that easy. Who knew?

For example, he has rowed back scrapping Obama-care (probably after meeting Obama and being told some harsh truths). He seems to have changed his plans on jailing the Crooked One (even though his BFF Rudy Giuliani is still hinting it may happen).

He has also backtracked on banning Muslims, building a wall (some of it may now be more fence than wall), taxing China at 45%, ripping up the Iran nuclear deal, bringing back waterboarding (the Attorney General’s office has told him this is actually illegal), and many others.

trump-hair-force-one

My personal favourite was his constant cry to bring back law and order: the recent mass demonstrations across America, with many arrested and one person shot, clearly show Trump may also have problems in this area.

Anyways, like many of you I too have been trying to make sense of this all. 2016 has seen many changes. We have lost Prince, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, Muhammad Ali, and now we have lost the ideals of western democracy. Brexit and Trump are clear indications of the rise of nationalism and…you know what, why don’t I just let others more qualified to analyse this President Trump phenomenon…

Also well worth perusing is film maker Ethan Coen’s list of people he “thanks” for Trump winning. Yes, he is being sarcastic, bitterly so. Anyways, on to the videos, enjoy (as much as one can)…


A bit of context…Stephen Colbert explains what really motivated humiliated Trump to run…

After the election…Seth Meyers emotional remarks on President Trump…

Jonathon Pie brutally takes the liberal left apart for their role in all this…

Samantha Bee gives her angry yet measured next day reaction to Trump winning…

Dave Chappelle gives his unique take on life in the post-Trump era we all now live in…

Finally…Russell Brand on what we should do now…