<![CDATA[The Georgetown Gazette]]>https://www.georgetowngazette.com/articlesRSS for NodeMon, 08 Aug 2022 19:05:18 GMT<![CDATA[“Fight for Education for All”: Malala Yousafzai to Georgetown students]]>https://www.georgetowngazette.com/post/fight-for-education-for-all-malala-yousafzai-to-georgetown-students625b2e4648fa0519707fdcfcSat, 16 Apr 2022 21:01:58 GMTLe Dong Hai NguyenDuring a visit last week to the School of Foreign Service in Qatar (SFS-Q) on the side of the 2022 Doha Forum, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai called for continued advocacy for the rights to education for girls. “We should not let the Taliban or any extremist group misuse religion to keep girls and women out of school,” said the 24-year-old educational activist to an audience of students in Professor Leonard Williams’ introductory course on American politics (GOVT-020).

Ms. Yousafzai highlighted that 130 million girls between the ages of 6 and 17 are out of school, half of whom are from sub-Saharan Africa. She urged the global community to recognize this as “a global human rights issue” caused by many factors such as social norms, climate change, the lacking infrastructure, and conflict.

The Nobel laureate also expressed her satisfaction with the shared declaration of the Doha Forum panel, which stated that the Taliban’s banning of girls from school had no basis in religious belief or practice. The diverse panel, of which Ms. Yousafzai was a part, included leading Islamic scholars and analysts.

Malala receives a book from Dean Wilcox

Students in Professor Williams’ class appreciated the opportunity to not only hear about Ms. Yousafzai’s life and work but also to gain deep insights into educational advocacy. Kamilah Idris (SFS ’22), an educational advocate from Nigeria, was able to ask for Malala’s views on at-home training programs. Kamilah believes these programs provide benefits for girls but could reinforce social restrictions at the same time. “This is why I believe it’s important to have these conversations and discuss these topics because together we can provide solutions that can be adapted into our own contexts,” said Kamilah, who is also the president of the SFS-Q African Students Association.

“Students loved having the chance to hear from her. Malala spoke about her life and work, and her passion for promoting educational opportunity,” said Dr. Williams. “Her experiences certainly helped set the stage for further class discussions on the significance of the course topics on civil liberties and civil rights, and of individual freedom and fair treatment in the U.S.”

Dean Clyde Wilcox thanked the Pakistani activist for her visit and presented her with a scholarly biography of Fatima Jinnah, an activist and one of the leading founders of Pakistan. The book, titled “Fatima Jinnah: Mother of the Nation,” is the first scholarly biography to tackle her life in full and was written by Dr. M. Reza Pirbhai, Associate Professor of History at SFS-Q.

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<![CDATA[The Protagonist]]>https://www.georgetowngazette.com/post/the-protagonist6259df0f31450126816ace6bFri, 15 Apr 2022 21:10:21 GMTSamantha Isabel N. FacunThe pull of the tide—

The distant call of a siren’s song—

A torrential downpour—

A vehement thunder follows—

His eyes trained upon the manic waves; a silent storm brewing

His heart caught in between the shore and sea; a decision is made

He descends deeper and deeper and deeper

Until his breath could no longer compete with the voices that swam to and fro

He paid no mind to the stillness of those around him

Dull and vibrant shades of blue faded from in and out of view

In the distance, he heard the call of a siren’s song

But still;

He descends

Until he could no longer feel the pull of the tide

Nor could he hear the vehement thunder above the shore

And as his feet touched the sand, he saw it

His eyes settled on the stark white glow

Like a mother holding a child, he cradled what he had found

The descent was all for this moment

Nevermind the way the light left his eyes

Nevermind the way his heartbeat came to a staggering slow

Nevermind the way the voices in his head ceased after winding up and down so long—

It floated up to the surface, leaving him in icy depths

But the darkness wasn’t unbearable; it was welcomed

If he closed his eyes, he could almost hear the thunder disappear

He could almost hear their cheers— cries for joy

He could almost hear the waves stilling into serenity

He didn’t know he had been sinking for so long

Author's Note:

Inspired by the Myers-Briggs Personality type, ENFJ or “the Protagonist”, this poem explores both the strengths and weaknesses of this personality.

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<![CDATA[Fears of Death in the Land Occupied]]>https://www.georgetowngazette.com/post/fears-of-death-in-the-land-occupied6259de4220b5686c13d4f698Fri, 15 Apr 2022 21:08:08 GMTMaliha KhanDeath is depressed in her lanes,

Alone she grieves over the unknown graves.

She wails as the unshrouded corpse yearns for a goodbye.

“My mother awaits me” he cries!

The half-cooked dish still brews in the pot,

Still, it waits to be served.

They have not heard the news yet!

This is his address

Let it be known!

Death is scared to walk through her familiar alleys

Encounters scare her!

Terrified of her next visitor

She wonders,

Will it be the father or the child?

She is horrified by the look

The innocence of the bloodshot eyes

How long will she suffer?

Can she bear to see it again?

Can she endure the cries?

As she left a silent funeral

Another shot was fired!

Whose voice is it this time?

Will it be the widow, the childless mother, or the unwed bride?

Author's Note:

My name is Maliha, a sophomore from Indian-occupied Kashmir. This poem is written within the context of Kashmir and its occupation by India. It is about the forced disappearances and killings of thousands of Kashmiris by the Indian army, and the unmarked graves of thousands of Kashmiris who disappeared--never to be found again.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Georgetown Gazette, the School of Foreign Service, or Georgetown University.

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<![CDATA[They’re Not Coming Home]]>https://www.georgetowngazette.com/post/they-re-not-coming-home6259dc0fb0e4f805ce36a091Fri, 15 Apr 2022 20:58:42 GMTSalma DarwicheAmidst the mounting stress brought on by studying for finals and coping with burnout, the light at the end of the tunnel for most international students is being able to go home for the summer. During the few hours they devote to packing their suitcases, cleaning out their dorms, and saying their goodbyes, they feel their exhaustion transform into elation. Yet, the fast-paced walks across airport terminals and heeding final calls to board is an experience several international students will have to forego this summer, involuntarily. The reality is, they’re not coming home.

They’re not coming home and if they choose to, there’s a chance they won’t be able to return. This is the case for hundreds of international students across the globe from countries such as Afghanistan, Myanmar, Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, and recently, Ukraine. They aren’t numbers or statistics we read in headlines, they aren’t distant figures seen only through our screens. They are individuals we walk past every day, sit next to during lectures, and share tender conversations with in the hallways. They are sons and daughters that will not wake up to their names being called in the perfect way only one’s family knows how to. They will rest their heads against pillows but let their eyes dart anxiously, reading article after article reporting on their homelands’ troubles. They are safe where they sleep, observing cautiously from a distance. But what does safety mean if it’s a word whose definition you can’t extend to your loved ones? What does safety feel like when you grow too consumed by the guilt of comparative suffering to feel it at all?

It’s quite easy to fall into the abyss of self-inflicted guilt when you compare your situation to that of people your age, to people who speak the language you do, and who walked the same streets growing up that they continue to walk today under completely different circumstances. Whether these circumstances were brought on by civil war, forceful takeover, decades-long invasion, or extreme poverty and instability, they make coming home —in the worst-case scenario— a rendezvous with death. As liberating as opportunities to flee may be, the guilt and uncertainty that clouds one’s mind blurs the true nature of such opportunities. The plan is always to return, however, no one plans for conflict. Four years turn into eight, then ten, until you can only talk of memories from the homeland in the past tense.

Such realities are not unique to those who specifically leave their homelands for their higher education. The guilt of living in the diaspora is not subject to a timeline; it does not have a solid beginning or end. For many of us immigrants, being born and raised on safer grounds as a result of our family’s well-calculated decisions often feels like we struck a pot of gold that we were unfairly led to. It is as though we have ‘cheated’ fate without having to take any action and simply reaped the benefits of our parents’ tireless work. So we stand indebted to our parents and occasionally envied by our relatives back home, repeatedly reminded of how much our gratitude must weigh on the scale of life. The dilemma continues as we depart from academia and begin building our careers, laying down roots in the process. Where should these roots be planted? How far can we let them grow?

Loving your land is one thing, living there is another. It is a physical presence many long to have without the emotional burden that eats away at their well-being. No matter how loud they play their ethnic music, no matter the intensity of the traditional scents they diffuse around them, they’re not coming home. They will persevere through this summer and perhaps the next, they will withstand their harsh realities for as long as the forces outside their control dictate. They will return to their status as students, a title they are infinitely grateful for, and sharpen the weapon that is their education. They will sacrifice parts of themselves so that the futures of the people they had to leave behind are greater for it.

Where mindfulness flows, they will be recalled by their friends, peers, and teachers thousands of miles away in tugs of sympathy and hope. We will be reminded of the passions that drive us to learn, to help, to truly be women and men for others. We will pray for them, appreciate the blessings they could not, and reaffirm our moral responsibilities to the world. We will not rest in our own homes, not entirely, not until it can be said: they are coming home.

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<![CDATA[Here Are the Biggest Changes to the Cafeteria this Year]]>https://www.georgetowngazette.com/post/here-are-the-biggest-changes-to-the-cafeteria-this-year61b6268421d5f50016d7181fFri, 10 Dec 2021 21:00:00 GMTLe Dong Hai NguyenName Change

Earlier this semester, the Global Cafe branch in the Humanitarian Building was renamed to "O Street Café" in homage to the DC campus' Leo O'Donovan Dining Hall—simply known by Hilltop Hoyas as “Leo's”—and in honor of the 47th President of Georgetown University, Leo J. O'Donovan.

The name change also comes with "an updated menu and updated branding around the cafeteria," according to an email from Amanda Look Sarmiento, Assistant Director of Auxiliary Services. This includes an expanded menu with additional meal offerings, daily specials, as well as an updated salad bar and à la carte menu. As a step towards a more environmentally-friendly campus, biodegradable containers and cutlery were also introduced in place of previously plastic ones.

Increase in Buffet Price

Some students, however, suggest that the new branding is a distraction from some new unpopular changes to the cafeteria this year. Paula Achim (SFS’23) complained to the Gazette that the increase in price for the full buffet, from QAR25 last year to QAR30, has forced many students to return to the QF dorm, where an identical buffet costs only QAR24.

In response to the concerns raised by students via the Gazette, the Office of Facilities Management (FM) explained in a ,November 18th email that the price increase is due to “inflation” and the expansion of the menu. FM also said that O Street Cafe has “larger portion size” and “higher quality” than the meal at HBKU and QF dorm. However, independent observation by the Gazette suggests that the portion size at the dorm is identical, if not bigger, than at O Street Cafe.

In the same email, FM confirms that price “is not going to reduce” and has released a “,Did you know?” presentation with tips on how to “get the best bang for your buck.” O Street Cafe also encouraged students to confirm what the price will be before ordering since the pricing can be confusing at times. For example, for QAR23, you can choose “Combo 2” which consists of a salad and a main course. For the main course, however, you can only choose 1-2 hot buffet items; if you get more than that, you will be charged the full combo price of QAR30.

End of extended hours trial

For the past month, the cafeteria had experimented with new operating hours, closing at 8 pm instead of the usual 5 pm. Between 5 p.m. - 8 p.m., only "grab-and-go items, beverages, and made-to-order coffees” were served." In an email on December 1st, however, FM announced that O Street Cafe has ended its extended operating hours trial “due to insufficient sales” and will return to the normal operating hours of 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Questions and concerns regarding the cafeteria can be directed to Amanda Look Sarmiento at ,al1352@georgetown.edu.

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<![CDATA[SEA Club hosted “Squid Game”-inspired Dalgona Candy Challenge]]>https://www.georgetowngazette.com/post/sea-club-hosted-squid-game-inspired-dalgona-candy-challenge61b62776affc100016a6baacFri, 10 Dec 2021 21:00:00 GMTLe Dong Hai NguyenOn November 24, the Southeast & East Asian (SEA) Club at Georgetown organized the “Dalgona Candy Challenge” at the Red Square. The event was attended by over thirty Hoyas and received support from the events department, who helped to decorate the event into a “Squid Game”-inspired themed set.

Participants in the event are given a piece of dalgona candy and asked to carve a shape out of it–such as a circle, a bread, a triangle–without cracking it. Winners are awarded Asian instant noodles, and all players are welcomed with traditional snacks from the region.

A truly “homegrown” production, the dalgona candy was made right here in our dorm by members of the SEA Club. “It was a learning experience,” said Nusaybah Maszlee (SFS’24). “Our first try making it was a disaster; it was too sticky and even burnt! Eventually, we managed to figure out the technicalities. The third try was perfect–I guess practice makes perfect is true after all.”

Participants praised the event’s authenticity and its uncanny resemblance to the "Squid Game" series–from the background music to the “player eliminated” sound effect, and of course, the candy itself. Dayana Amandossova (SFS’24), a winner of the challenge, said, “the candy challenge was a great way to destress before finals week! I enjoyed the event and the prizes and hope to see more of such fun with the SEA Club in the future!”

Besides the Dalgona Candy Challenge, the SEA Club also hosted a Kahoot Quiz to test Hoyas’ knowledge about Southeast and East Asia on November 22. The top three winners received vouchers to the Virgin Megastore. According to Juan Carlo Landayan (SFS’24), the club plans to host more exciting events next year, such as Lunar New Year and Asian Cuisine Food Trips.

Follow SEA Club at ,@seaclubguq on Instagram.

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<![CDATA[The Chaos of Midsummer Chaos]]>https://www.georgetowngazette.com/post/the-chaos-of-midsummer-chaos61b626d5eedf47001608a947Thu, 09 Dec 2021 21:00:00 GMTShaheer LiaqatThe summer of 2021 was an eventful time in Pakistan, for it was when the highly anticipated web series, “Midsummer Chaos”, landed in Pakistan. A youth-led project, Midsummer Chaos came with the promise of revitalizing a media industry that was constrained by censorship, nepotism, and fierce competition from Indian and American offerings. The series pays tribute to web-based over-the-top (OTP) services like Netflix and Amazon Prime by being distributed online via Youtube. It was meant to carry the narrative of the youth of a country and reflect their aspirations, challenges and concerns. It was to set right an industry in a rusty decline and inject new talent into the media scene of Pakistan. It would wag its finger in the face of television powerhouses like HUM and show them the power of youth.

The consensus, however, is that “Midsummer Chaos” was a dumpster fire.

The show follows a group of friends and acquaintances as they hobble from one crisis to another. Sameer and his friends represent the elites of Islamabad and proudly carry all the narcissistic and frivolous traits of this social group. Each of them is defective in their own individual, American-derived and caricatured way. Alaina is living two lives as she hides her liberal lifestyle from her conservative family—an interesting storyline that was sadly dropped soon after its introduction. Sameer suffers from anger management issues. Kaira is back in Pakistan from Canada and is presumably gay—another storyline that was dropped. Haris is worried for Sameer and his mental health; they have spent their entire lives as friends, but it turns out they were actually step-brothers all along.

Just your normal Islamabad crowd.

The storyline of “Midsummer Chaos” is incoherent. One leaves every fifteen minute episode feeling utterly confused. There is some pseudo-metaphysical speech, some music from fringe bands, some explorations of single-dimension characters and then rinse and repeat. The dialogue is lackluster at best and seems like a hodgepodge of mystical self-help pulp fiction. The marketing around it is also worth talking about. “Midsummer Chaos” was marketed as being about a group of teenagers “that have just gotten done with high school and their shenanigans over the summer before college.” Yet, the show featured none of the light-hearted, rom-com elements that it promised to its audience.

The show, however, did expose the vast network of nepotism that belies the social structure of Pakistan–ironically not via the content of the show, but because of the shenanigans surrounding its production. The most attractive narrative of “Midsummer Chaos” is that it was supposedly being made by youngsters hustling on a shoestring budget. That was false, however. Through money and connections, “Midsummer Chaos” was featured multiple times in Pakistan’s largest newspaper, DAWN, and got media coverage that extremely talented bands and content creators could only dream of. This speaks mountains of how connections and cronyism in Pakistan can get you in all the right places. After the show bombed and became a trend on Twitter as people expressed their utter disdain for it, the people associated with the project actually seemed to relish the negative attention. Attitudes such as this will only make Pakistani society a degenerate race to the bottom.

Besides all these things, what is particularly bad about “Midsummer Chaos” and merits special mention is how dislocated it was from the zeitgeist of Pakistan. That it portrays the youth of Pakistan as partying maniacs instead of being hardworking young people trying to carve out their future in a rigid and crazily competitive society is really egregious. It could have talked about so many real and interesting things about young people in Pakistan. We could have seen young people slumming in tuition centers preparing for the competitive MDCAT medical exam or the Civil Services exam in Pakistan. We could have seen them hitting the gym to prepare for the army’s ISSB entrance tests—a popular option for many in Pakistan. We could have seen young people reminiscing about the golden days of high school and coming together for a last hurrah before hopping onto a plane to go and study abroad. All these are authentic stories of hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis, and “Midsummer Chaos” seems to have done a disservice to them in pursuit of an edgy storyline.

You can stream all episodes of “Midsummer Chaos” on the ,Qissa Nagri Youtube Channel.

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<![CDATA[Road to being Homo Deus]]>https://www.georgetowngazette.com/post/road-to-being-homo-deus61b62308fe4d6400168383d7Wed, 08 Dec 2021 21:00:00 GMTTVGWe all have heard about Neuralink. The majority of people have considered Neuralink to be an ambitious project that has the potential to heal even the most incurable of diseases. However, others assume that the core mission of this project is to control humans. But what exactly is Neuralink? A threat to humanity? Or the beginning of a new age of development in medicine and medical treatment methods?

Neuralink is a brain-machine interface technology that sinks electrodes into the brain, and then uses a chip to communicate with computers placed outside the skull. It was first surgically implanted into the skull of a pig named Gertrude. By using this chip, one will be able to control computers. It will also help with the study of electrical signals in the brain and may arrive at solutions that can cure various medical problems.

There is a chipset called the N1 chipset that is installed into the skull: it is 8mm in diameter and has multiple wires housing electrodes and insulation for the wires. These wires are surgically inserted into the brain using a robot. According to the company, the wire is as thick as the neurons in the brain and thinner than a strand of hair – around 100 micrometers in diameter. To compare, imagine the diameter of your hair, and then divide that by ten.

According to the President of Neuralink, Max Hodak, it is even possible that more than one device can be implanted to target different sections of the brain. At first sight, the Neuralink project may look like the technology that we see in “The Matrix”. For example, in “The Matrix”, by using the advanced technology, people are able to learn new skills and develop themselves. Although the Neuralink will not help us learn martial arts like in ”The Matrix”, it will help cure a lot of diseases and ease our lives. Moreover, The Neuralink can send and receive signals through the brain and control machines. Since that is just the first step, you can possibly control basic devices like your smartphone, computer or even maybe type a message to your girlfriend to show your love just by using your thoughts. Sounds cool? But this is not the end of it.

The main question is, how does the technology that the Neuralink uses, actually work? To understand that, we need to understand the way the human brain works. Our brain sends information to different parts of our body using neurons. These neurons in the brain connect with each other to form a large network and communicate using chemical signals called neurotransmitters. This reaction generates an electric field. We can record all of these reactions by placing electrodes nearby. These electrodes can then interpret the electrical signal in the brain and translate them into an algorithm that a machine can read. This way, Neuralink will be able to read what we are thinking and find a way for us to talk to machines without even opening our mouths. The goal of the N1 chip is to record and stimulate electrical spikes inside our brain. We will also be able to learn different skills using a dedicated app.

Let’s talk about the uses of Neuralink. ,The company said that the initial phase of the project will focus on helping the healthcare industry. The machine will be able to help paraplegics with simple tasks like operating a phone or interacting with a computer. It may also be used to treat epilepsy. In an interview, Elon Musk said that the device could possibly help someone regain their eyesight even if they lost their optic nerve. He said that this technology, in principle, will be able to fix anything that is wrong with the brain. Musk added that Neuralink can also be used to restore memory, speech, and movement of the paralysed person. ,According to the company, we will also be able to interact with people even without talking. The most recent revelation by the company is about how users will be able to stream music directly into their brains. This will require a ,link to be attached to the back of the ear, directly communicating with the Neuralink to stream music. In the realm of artificial intelligence (A.I.), there is no limit. Imagine the possibility of not needing a physical communication device like a phone or a smartphone to connect with people. The idea of telepathy doesn’t seem far-fetched with technology like this.

This brings us to the next major concern: drilling a chip into the skull. Naturally, people have numerous reservations about whether even the problem arises with the question of whether even the most skilled human hand can handle such an immense operation. The answer is that a human hand can’t, but Neuralink will use its specially developed robots to carry out the quick and precise insertion of the device into the cortex. The Neuralink robot will insert the module into the brain using a microscope and needles the size of 24 microns (a micron is one-millionth of a meter). These needles are so small that you can't easily spot them with the naked eye. According to the company, there could be 10,000 electrodes inserted into the brain, but of course, there will not be any antenna or wire protruding from the skull. The robot has been designed to ensure that the device is inserted into the brain without touching any veins or arteries. A single failure or mishap can result in the patient’s death seeing as it is the most sensitive part of the body.

We are entering the realms of the A.I. at this point. Thanks to today's science-fiction movies, people are afraid of technology and its potential. Neuralink might be the bridge that connects human beings to the next level of artificial intelligence but many people might still have reservations about a computer chipset inside their brains. As of now, the technology has not been tested on humans. The first living being to have undergone this procedure was a rat and a monkey. We have absolutely no idea of the problems that this chip can cause to the human brain. There are also concerns that if the device is connected to the internet how will we be protected against the hackers who might try to steal data directly from our brains. And what is stopping a person from spying on another’s thoughts through the device? The chip can be removed anytime, but that is not the best solution for these problems. Still, it is too early to talk about the benefits and drawbacks of this project as nothing is tested or proven yet. But it is still a matter of time. As of now, we can just sit back and enjoy the unlimited human imagination.

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<![CDATA[Muslim Women Don't Need Your Saving]]>https://www.georgetowngazette.com/post/muslim-women-don-t-need-your-saving61b1bcc7cdca09001631c436Wed, 08 Dec 2021 08:24:20 GMTMaliha Khan“You don’t have to wear that thing, you’re free to take it off!” How many times have Hijabi women had to hear that? While the people saying this may believe that they are doing a favor upon the woman by saving her from this oppressive piece of cloth issued by an oppressive belief system, they do not realize how oppressive their ideas are. In the last few decades, there has been a widespread notion that Muslim women need to be saved and rescued from their religious believes and practices, particularly by Western societies and institutions. However, as emancipatory as this idea may seem, it restricts Muslim women from freely expressing their religious identity, beliefs, and choices. Muslim women do not need their life choices to be dictated by the West. Neither are they asking for such an intervention that the West doesn’t even have the authority to do.

One of the reasons why this idea of saving Muslim women is problematic is that it stems from and reinforces the misinformed stereotype that Muslim women are submissive and docile members of society that are incapable of any independent thinking. To say the least, this idea is very essentialist in the sense that it groups all Muslim women into this category of helpless and submissive women thereby stripping them of any form of individual agency. It assumes that Muslim women either are too helpless to fight against their own oppression, or are too naive or “brainwashed” to see that they are oppressed. This assumption has been debunked by Muslim women time and time again. To begin, Muslim women have shown participation and excellence in different fields, demonstrating that it is not they who lack the agency to act but rather it is the rest of the world that needs to shift their focus from saving them to recognizing their achievements. While in conversation with some female Muslim students, they expressed that the notion of rescuing them from their own faith is very degrading to them. They emphasized that Muslim women are very capable of distinguishing between what has been imposed on them and what they choose for themselves. One of the students pursuing her Ph.D. at Oxford University states, “Muslim women have critically engaged with their own faith, undertaking hermeneutics of the religion, both reinterpreting and reclaiming it at the same time.” Scholars such as Saba Mahmood, Amina Wadud, and Fatima Mernessi are prominent scholars who are reinterpreting the Islamic beliefs from a female point of view and thus reclaiming their beliefs. When it comes to religion Muslim women have actively been taking up positions of authority ranging from studying, interpreting, and teaching religious texts to taking part in Islamic movements. The Mosque movement in Egypt or reclamation of the public spaces in Sudan are examples of such active participation in religious and socio-political movements. This is not to say that Muslim women are not oppressed by men, their cultures, and societies. For most females, patriarchy has seeped deep into their religious practices. However, the patriarchy that oppresses many of the Muslim women also oppresses other non-Muslim women. Objectification, lack of right to one’s own body, wage gap, etc., are some of the problems that women in the West face. Women as a gender have been historically and globally oppressed. Thus, female oppression is not something uniquely exclusive to the Muslim world and the oppression faced by Muslim women does not exist by virtue of them being Muslim.

Another very problematic element of this notion of saving Muslim Women is its Eurocentrism. It is based on the belief that Muslim women are oppressed when compared to Western women and can be liberated only through Western values thus holding the Western ideas and values as the standard for freedom. This essentially reinforces the idea that the Western or European ideas and culture are superior to others and so only they can provide rights for females and pave way for feminism, female agency, and autonomy. Commenting on this idea, a female Muslim student at Georgetown University in Qatar said that she feels like the Western people who claim to be “saving” Muslim women look at our experiences relative to their own, without considering our different cultures, socialization, and beliefs. A person’s individual values and beliefs shape his/her idea of freedom. My idea of freedom is suitable to me and cannot be the same as that of someone else. This brings me back to the idea that this phenomenon of “saving” Muslim women are often counterproductive to its initial intent. When people attempt to save a Muslim woman from her beliefs they do not consider the idea that it may be this woman herself who has chosen this belief and such lifestyle. Thus, by telling her to “break free” from her religion you are not liberating that woman but dictating to her what freedom is like and what freedom to her should look like. This fundamentally clashes with the basic feminist ideologies that are used to defend this entire enterprise. The supposed saviors of Muslim women fail to understand that feminism does not have any fixed definition or meaning. Feminism essentially stems from the fact that women are historically and globally oppressed and therefore there is a need to eradicate that oppression and pave the way for their freedom. However, the meaning of oppression is different for every woman: the way a black woman experiences oppression will not always be similar to the way a white woman would experience it. Likewise, the way an upper-class woman faces oppression is not similar to the subjugation of a lower-class woman. Therefore, since oppression manifests in different ways for different women, freedom from said oppression will also be different. Thus, feminism can mean a variety of things depending upon a women’s experiences and identity. Feminism, therefore, can exist and does exist in Muslim spaces as well.

It is these diverging experiences that allow women to have their own definitions of freedom. For instance, coming to the question of covering one’s body, for a lot of women wearing clothes that reveal their body is an expression of freedom. And being a feminist myself, I believe this choice should not be questioned. However, personally, I express my bodily freedom by covering my body and my religious freedom by wearing the hijab. Contrary to popular opinion these actions don’t feel oppressive to me but are liberating. I feel powerful in choosing who gets to see my body. Objectively speaking, both decisions are an expression of freedom, however, Western feminism fails to recognize the second one as such. The Western media and entertainment are evidence of the failure of recognizing the choices of Muslim women. We often see Western media portraying the hijab as a symbol of oppression, patriarchy, and backwardness. On the contrary, Muslim women believe that the hijab is an expression of their religious freedom and their relationship with God. However, the Western media chooses to be ignorant of this reality and continues to misrepresent Muslim women and Muslims in general. TV shows or movies such as Elite, Hala, and Cuties demonstrate this and continue to portray Muslim Hijabi women as oppressed and they achieve the epitome of their freedom when they take off their hijabs and embrace the Western practices or when a white boy comes to save them from her oppressive beliefs.

Finally, the world needs to accept the agency of Muslim women and believe that they can recognize and point out their own oppression and decide how to they want to express their religious identity. We do not need a white savior to “free” us from our hijab or liberate us from our beliefs. We are capable of making our own decisions and can differentiate between what’s right for us and what is not. Therefore, people and societies that have adopted a savior attitude towards Muslim women need to reevaluate their ideas of freedom, oppression, and agency. It will be crucial towards eliminating the widespread misinformed stereotypes about Muslim women thus paving the way for the recognition of Muslim women as capable social actors equal to their counterparts in the West— a recognition that is long overdue.

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<![CDATA[The Woman Emblazoned in Gold: Social Justice Taken to our Screens]]>https://www.georgetowngazette.com/post/the-woman-emblazoned-in-gold-social-justice-taken-to-our-screens61b1bddb2df81400161dbfa8Tue, 07 Dec 2021 21:00:00 GMTSamantha Isabel N. FacunImagine a world where people’s fates solely rely on one individual — a young woman.

The young woman standing in front of an assembly — emblazoned in gold — blindfolded, a sword in one hand, and heavy scales on the other. She stares down at those who look back up at her, all of them gazing at her with unwavering hope, waiting with bated breaths for her to give the final verdict. In this world, the people have always been taught that this is the way through which justice is delivered; it is held in between her hands. It is only this way. The verdict is given and the masses are present in order to experience such an exchange where the woman’s words are the law itself. And in a way, this is what we also think of when we attain social justice. How it should be taken to court in front of a great audience, how the jury is there to listen intently to their pleas and arguments, and how the final verdict rests on the hands of the judge while the one on trial simply stays quiet while their minds are reeling and hearts are racing.

This has been the common ideal that has existed in our society throughout history and has been tirelessly utilized. Countless lives have been saved and destroyed within those halls: families torn apart and brought together — where the truth is only what each one wants it to be, and where justice prevails if one can prove the innocence they claim to possess. What goes on within those halls is proof of how the world thrives on power, belief and our incessant need to prove the capabilities of humanity itself — as grim or as shocking it may be.

However, times have changed and so have our means to attain social justice. With the rise of technology and as we have ventured deeper into the digital world, we have developed the need to take social justice not to court, but to our screens. In the 21st century, social justice has been digitized and has altered the way we see the woman emblazoned in gold. Instead of verdicts and arguments, the defense and offense comes in the form of tweets and posts that have littered our timelines and feeds. People have switched out cardboard signs of protests for hashtags of uproar in order to garner attention and propel countless movements. Such movements include large-scale uprisings that have gained international headlines such as the, Black Lives Matter movement, ,#MeToo movement, and ,Stop Asian Hate movement, to more contained but relevant cases in the realm of pop culture and ,#cancelculture.

The internet has also given a way for people to share their own cases in hopes to be heard by the people. Survivors have come forward to share their stories on social media platforms so that they may attain the justice they deserve against people who might have hurt them or would want to. And in this new-found form of social justice, the internet offers something the court may not always extend: the comfort and aid of anonymity. By sharing their stories, people have gained access to communities that are willing to hear their cases and even take the prosecution into their own hands via the double-edged sword phenomena known as #cancel culture. It has, needless to say, fostered a unique place wherein people are able to say what they want and participate in helping others. Once an issue has garnered enough supporters, there’s very little that can be done to stop a movement from propelling forward — taking justice, not to the streets but to the screens of many and is no longer limited and confined by a single room or a single judge.

Has this made the truth more accessible? It could be, as it has certainly opened the doors for more people to learn about cases and movements and it has paved the way for many more to write their own thoughts on the matter and generate even larger momentum. It has helped bring people the attention they need and has delivered information in front of the right people, but like many other social phenomena that exist within our world, there will always be disadvantages and other stories that should be told. Social justice within social media may not always be correct and is therefore a double-edged sword. Information will spread like wildfire, it will tarnish people’s names with no chance at redemption.

It is a question of what we can and will do with the power that we’re expected to freely wield, especially on the question of anonymity. While it protects us, it is also something that can be weaponized. People are able to post and do whatever they wish without experiencing any consequences. And it’s no question that not everything we see is the truth, and like the events that happen within the four corners of a courtroom, we must criticize and question if certain information is trustworthy or not. After all, we’re speaking on a person’s entire fate or at least an aspect of it. The details we see will not always be what we expect and sometimes we find ourselves forcing the truth, perhaps even one that’s not really there.

As stated, our world thrives on belief and power. And once the internet has been placed right in the palm of our hands, we are able to do whatever we want with the information we see online — to propel it forward with our own beliefs, to twist the narrative, or to ignore it altogether. Such is the beauty and the danger of 21st century social justice. It amplifies and it enables just as much as it enslaves and endangers. The choice will always be how much power we can utilize and are willing to give in — these could be the things we take into consideration before.

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<![CDATA[The Small Moments]]>https://www.georgetowngazette.com/post/the-small-moments61ae8fbab0134600166f362cMon, 06 Dec 2021 22:34:25 GMTUmaima AhmedThe restless poignancy that she has been feeling over the past 2 weeks only escalated this Tuesday. The perplexed and sporadic emotions of unsettling despondency increased that dejected agitation, that feeling of boredom and apprehension which was all so intricately linked that her brain could not disentangle this giant mess of sentiments. Deep down in her heart, she could fathom the ongoing anxiety that had completely blanketed her, suffocating her slowly and gradually; she could grasp the main determinant of the unconquerable and laborious woefulness. Being away from the comforts of her home in a foreign land with no close friends as those back in her home country, the college anxiety had really taken over her life. The calm composure and the cheerful demeanor on the outside offered an escape from the distressing thoughts that would engulf her like a cloud of thick, dark smoke, not allowing her to get rid of its sharp clutches. Meeting the deadlines, doing lengthy assignments, giving exams, participating in clubs and organizations, handling the six-hour-long job, and volunteering in a committee had altogether started to induce a sense of oppressive monotony which was slowly slipping into a humdrum of tasks that appeared endless.

However, today she was going to battle the multitude of gloom-ridden emotions in the best possible way by focusing on the “small moments” in her life. Having only recently read a book that delineated the ways of acquiring contentment and happiness in one’s life, she was going to follow the promising route that the book explicated. The central scheme of the book was to really live in the moment, all kinds of enjoyable, anticipatory, and thrilling moments, that people effortlessly tended to overlook in their lives, since they occupy a preponderance of time being engrossed in thoughts that are usually out of their control or bring desolation and dullness. During the day, she tried concentrating on all the lectures that her professors gave while also gaining additional information via the myriad websites and articles to aid her in participating well in class; the effect on her frame of mind was only palpable to her as she felt a bit better about the day since it started in the morning. In the afternoon, as she settled to have lunch with her friends, she, for the first time, noticed the joyous rollicking laugh of one of her friends as he (the friend) hurried to cram the last bits of the food since he had a class right after the lunch break.

One of her closest friends chattered a lot while eating, always making ludicrous yet hilarious jokes to keep her group of friends amused. Only after a long time did she realize that she was blessed to have such magnificently warm and cordial people in her life, something she had been failing to realize and appreciate for a long time. The cafeteria staff also had their own seemingly elated as well as a peculiarly chaotic life during the bustling lunch hours with one of them shouting on top of his lungs to direct the orders to the kitchen followed by a lady and a young guy pacing back and forth from the kitchen to the main dining area to deliver orders. The whole lunch scene was amusing for her to watch, as she observed how everybody had their distinct lives with all of them being absorbed and captivated in it. Towards the evening, against all odds, she decided to head to the beach which was around a fifteen-minute walk from her residential hall, and that was the best quick decision she made because it allowed her to explore the beauty of nature that she had become so oblivious to over the past few weeks. Everything was soothing about that place; from the fine-grained dark brown sand to the cloudless, yet blissful blue sky, to the majestic and seemingly everlasting ocean with all the beauty of these elements of nature being culminated with the setting of the calm, golden sun. Allowing herself to look into life with attentive and optimistic eyes made her appreciate the beauty of life, all hidden in the simplicity of the smallest experiences.

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<![CDATA[Life coming back to normal]]>https://www.georgetowngazette.com/post/life-going-back-to-normal61ae8e92e802720016bbb2a4Mon, 06 Dec 2021 22:30:07 GMTAzmeh ZamanTaking the first step outside the house to go to university this year was unforgettable. It was the first time in a while where I stepped outside the house wearing something other than my sweatpants. Absorbing the sun’s rays while witnessing the world around me felt as if I was being recharged. I sat in my car and flipped through all the social media apps possible throughout the ride in anticipation of the first university-related post. I was a bird who had been trapped in a cage and was now spreading my wings to fly. I never thought hearing cars honking and the noise of traffic would bring such joy; it was a sign of life going back to normal. Although panicking about being late to class was stressful, it took my mind off of the global crisis we all are dealing with. As the university is allowing in-person classes I am starting to have a routine of waking up and getting dressed for the day ahead. There is still a fear of the unknown and a lot of uncertainty. While I have been meeting my friends and colleagues outside and going back to campus, I still have to wear a mask and constantly stop myself from hugging anyone which makes me wonder whether this is the new normal.

Ever since the pandemic started, I have had no sense of time. An entire school year was spent online where half of the time I was shopping online on my bed- which also became my workspace. Finally, my workspace has been shifted from the bed to the library where I enjoy spending most of my time. Initially, sitting in class and seeing people’s faces in person felt as if I was watching Zoom using 3D glasses. You could compare it to when in movies the characters jump off the screen.

However, entering university after the year online definitely increased my social anxiety. In the beginning, I was constantly thinking, ‘if only I was on zoom, I could turn my camera off so that no one would be able to see me.’ But the idea of reading physical books in class never seemed more exciting. Whenever I wanted to speak in class I was constantly looking for the unmute button on my laptop without realizing that I just needed to raise my hand. The internal boost of energy and motivation I got by studying on an actual campus was addicting. Every moment my eyes were away from my laptop I would be observing all the hustle and bustle around me: people ordering their food, walking down the stairs, or simply sleeping on the sofas and even seeing the spiraling sculptures floating above my head. I was enjoying every scene of this movie and it didn’t seem like it was ending anytime soon. During the pandemic, I had taken the experience of studying at campus and learning in classrooms for granted.

Although the future is scary, it also feels exciting because it can’t get any worse than this. Covid felt like something from a dystopian novel, a setting I did not even imagine in my worst nightmares. The future may be uncertain but by getting vaccinated, applying my Bath&BodyWorks hand sanitizer, and wearing my Georgetown mask, I have never felt more prepared. Hopefully, Covid goes away but until then, all I can do is hope for the best.

In the beginning, I did struggle with dealing with the pandemic. But I couldn’t turn to anyone because they were all in the same position as me. No one knew what this was and how to deal with it so who could I have turned to? But I realized that at the end of every dark storm is a bright rainbow. Most importantly, it has been a lesson for me about life always being unexpected and being grateful for the little things.

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<![CDATA[Baghdadi Evening]]>https://www.georgetowngazette.com/post/baghdadi-evening61ae8c9edb9bef00164e2d42Mon, 06 Dec 2021 22:25:02 GMTNoor AloukatiThe Baghdadi evening was on the 18th of November and was the Iraqi Cultural Association's very first event. The club received support from the organization Voices of Iraq and, of course, the events department at Georgetown. The event began with an opening speech from vice-president Areej Raad and a Kahoot game hosted by the club president Alak Raad quickly followed. Iraqi music sounded through the speakers, Iraqi games were played, Iraqi food was served, and an Iraqi dabke was performed. A Turkish dance and Palestinian dabke were also performed! This event, as the opening speech expressed, intended on mirroring what an evening at Baghdad would be like. Underneath a night sky illuminated by fairy lights, Georgetown students and students/visitors from outside the University took part in various aspects of Baghdadi culture. People who attended also got a chance to win one of six exciting prizes from the raffle. Friends and classmates at Georgetown, with their well wishes and laughter, all represented why the event was as memorable as it was. It truly wouldn't have been the same if a single person who was at the event, playing whatever role they played, weren't a part of the equation. The Iraqi Cultural Association hopes to organize more events in the future. But until then, our club remains incredibly grateful for every single word of encouragement we received for this one. Let's continue exploring Iraq's culture bit by bit together!

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<![CDATA[Autumn Calling]]>https://www.georgetowngazette.com/post/autumn-calling61ae89689803880016dd1eeeSun, 05 Dec 2021 21:00:00 GMTAlannah FelixHave you seen the recent sunset skies?

With the cottony clouds and lovely hues?

Golds and blues now shimmer in our eyes

To herald autumn, that lovely muse!

And with the autumn comes a chill

A welcome break from the summer sun;

To some a menace, to others a thrill -

A time to unwind now that summer’s done.

“It’s good weather, come and see!

The autumn winds are calling me;

Join me for some coffee, a cup o’ tea

Or does a walk sound more to your fancy?”

“Grab a book, soak in the sunshine

Against the windows in the library?”

“The outdoors beckon, the breeze’s divine

How ‘bout a lazy stroll right by the sea?”

Whatever you do, wherever you are,

Autumn’s here to up your downs

So there’s no need to look too far

To see the best of nature around.

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<![CDATA[When Distance is Not Enough]]>https://www.georgetowngazette.com/post/when-distance-is-not-enough61ae8a597da9e800166a89cdSun, 05 Dec 2021 21:00:00 GMTSalma DarwicheThere were days we prayed side by side

Watched as our congregations lessened

Noted gaps left by those who died

Souls stolen in mere seconds

Recalled now only in past tense

By journalists with no moral sense

A ceasefire, in name alone

Safety, a privilege unknown

To those that chose to stay,

To those that could not flee

Their fate as those that could—

Distance does not set you free

Eyes fall on body counts in bold text

A citizen one day, a martyr the next

Glorified by the media for only days

Yet the memory of the fallen never stays

Commemorating massacres to no avail

The guilty know well to hide their trail

Under rubble withers their witness fighting mortality

But delay their salvation till the state of fatality

We turn to screens, searching for clarity

Untouched by shrapnel yet felt as pain may be

Accepting the unchanging course of all that should—

Distance does not set you free

Silence, though not the peaceful kind

Left our minds by anticipation confined

Searching for movement in the living

Any sign their eyes may be giving

Yet extinguished hope does not return

corruptio optimi pessima* we learn

Are we to blame? Our naive error

Believing space dissolves our terror

In voluntary exile strikes the epiphany

It was long till we understood—

Distance does not set you free

*The corruption of the best is the worst

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<![CDATA[Eternal Stories Amongst the Gods]]>https://www.georgetowngazette.com/post/eternal-stories-amongst-the-gods61ae8af813b6110016073c88Sun, 05 Dec 2021 21:00:00 GMTEileen BenedictInang Bayan Ko (My Motherland),

How does it feel to be blessed?

To be able to dance with Idianale in the rice fields,

And have Agwe’s rivers purify your sacred crest?

Inang Bayan Ko,

How does it feel to experience wonder?

To revel in Apolaki’s infinite morning star,

And rejoice with his sister, Mayari, your nightly defender?

Inang Bayan Ko,

How sad you must have felt,

As the vicious Bakunawa swallowed the moons

…The tears you must have shed; the sorrow you must have dealt

As the Mansisilat tore families apart,

As the Manggagaway wrought illness upon your land,

As the Mangkukulam rained fire on your houses,

As the Hukbulan slaughtered your people at his hand.

Inang Bayan Ko,

When the merciless Sitan plagued you,

Punished you with a pain you could barely endure,

I saw you lift your tear-stained face, display emotions so blue.

Inang Bayan Ko,

Bathalang Maykapal roared at the tormenting discord;

Healing rain fell from the heavens,

And all at once, your vibrant life has been restored.

Inang Bayan Ko,

Once again you rejoice with Idianale, Agwe, Apolaki, and Mayari

Frolicking and swaying along to the winds of Anitun Tabu,

Your happiness spreads throughout rivers and seas, plains and valleys!

Inang Bayan Ko,

How does it feel to be free?

To create all that you can create,

To be all whoever you wish to be?

Inang Bayan Ko,

Oh, how I love your embrace!

You are the epitome of godly beauty,

And your everlasting soul the core of your ethereal grace.

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<![CDATA[Sustaining Habits during Ramadan]]>https://www.georgetowngazette.com/post/sustaining-habits-during-ramadan614cab289bb608001655c359Wed, 12 May 2021 17:51:02 GMTJ…بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “Do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately and know that  your deeds will not make you enter Paradise, and that the most beloved deed to Allah is the most regular and constant even if it were little.” (Sahih al-Bukhari 6464)

سَدِّدُوا وَقَارِبُوا، وَاعْلَمُوا أَنْ لَنْ يُدْخِلَ أَحَدَكُمْ عَمَلُهُ الْجَنَّةَ، وَأَنَّ أَحَبَّ الأَعْمَالِ أَدْوَمُهَا إِلَى اللَّهِ، وَإِنْ قَلَّ

With Ramadan approaching, many of us may be planning to start doing more good deeds to become closer to Allah and make the most out of this blessed month. It may be consistently doing morning and evening dhikr, reading more Quran every day, or waking up for tahajjud prayer. Oftentimes we are sincere in these efforts and we taste the sweetness of ‘ibadah but after Ramadan ends these habits slowly fade from our consciousness without our realization. As this Ramadan approaches, we must make the sincere and conscious effort to be mindful about performing these good deeds consistently and making them a part of our lives. 

Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) said: “If the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, would perform a deed, he would be firm in it.” (Sahih Ibn Hibban 2646)

كان رسولُ اللهِ صلَّى اللهُ عليه وسلَّم إذا عمِل عمَلًا أثبَته

How can we be more like the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him? Oftentimes we are overambitious and end up burning out. We are not firm in our actions, but rather go through phases. To be sure, highs and lows of iman are completely natural, but what helps us get through those rough patches are the good habits we have already built. 

To get there, we must first think about our foundations. Perhaps we are even lacking in our obligatory deeds. Are we praying on time? Do we concentrate and take our time in our prayers? Again, we all must individually reflect on this. 

For some of us, it may be that we have a bad deed that we must get rid of. These habitual bad deeds are very dangerous because they become so ingrained in our lives that we don’t even realize how they are stacking up against us. We must reflect on how we treat our parents and our siblings, if we are using bad language, if perhaps we are listening to or watching obscene things. Each one of us is different, and we all must sit down and reflect on what we can do to abandon these vices, for after all “Successful indeed are those who purify themselves” (Surat Al A’la 87:14). قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَنْ تَزَكَّى

Before we take any further steps, we must ensure that our foundations are solid. After that, we can begin stacking good deeds on top.

We must always push ourselves to be better each year. If we feel like we are already doing enough, that is a very bad sign because there is always something more to do. Make sure that you tell yourself a specific goal that you want to achieve. Pick at least one habit that you want to begin doing this Ramadan which you will carry with you for the rest of your life.

Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “Do not be like the person who stood to pray in the night, then later abandoned it.” (Sahih Al-Jami’ 7945)

 لا تكُنْ مِثلَ فُلانٍ كان يقومُ من الليلِ ، فترَكَ قِيامَ الليْلِ

Oftentimes, we rely on our external environment to keep us firm on our good deeds. It’s quite easy to do pious actions when all around you people are engaged in the spirit of Ramadan. When you are fasting, when you are doing taraweeh, when you are engaging in charity, these are all ways that your soul is being purified. But can you maintain the purity of your soul when the next semester comes around, and you are being buried under assignments, projects, and midterms? 

What we must do is achieve that state of heart where Allah is always our priority, where we keep the akhira constantly at the forefront of our thoughts. We need to have the internal strength to keep us firm no matter what the circumstances around us are. After all, Allah looks to see the state of our hearts, not our external environment. 

How can we avoid burnout in these circumstances, but still aim to do more? Oftentimes, we all start out with good intentions, but we set ourselves up for failure. We tell ourselves that we will add a dozen rakat of sunnah prayers at once, or that we will start reading a juz of Quran a day when we haven’t even incorporated these habits into our lives in the first place. When we introduce a new habit, it’s important that we start small so that we can sustain it in the long term and solidify its place in our day-to-day life. After that, we can begin to add to these deeds. Start off reading whatever amount of Quran you can, a page or half a page, but make sure to stick to it until it becomes a part of your routine that you cannot do without. After that, begin to add more pages, rakat of prayer, or whichever deed you aim to improve. Shaytan wants us to give up before we even start, but it’s better to do a little bit each day than none at all. Slowly, we find ourselves adding to these good deeds inshallah.

We ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to keep us firm and to cleanse our hearts. We must all make a sincere du’aa to Allah to help us this Ramadan. Surely when you call out to Allah, he listens. He knows what is in your heart and if he sees that you are sincere, he will help you. And without the help of Allah, none of us would succeed.

Here are some du’aas that we should repeat during Ramadan and after:

يَا مُقَلِّبَ الْقُلُوبِ ثَبِّتْ قَلْبِي عَلَى دِينِكَ

Ya Muqallibal qulub, thabbit qalbi ‘ala dinik

O Turner of hearts, keep my heart steadfast on your religion.

اللَّهُمَّ جَدِّدِ الإيْمَانَ فِي قَلْبِي

Allahumma Jadid Al Imaan Fee Qalbi 

Oh, Allah renew the faith in my heart

رَبَّنَا لَا تُزِغْ قُلُوبَنَا بَعْدَ إِذْ هَدَيْتَنَا وَهَبْ لَنَا مِن لَّدُنكَ رَحْمَةً ۚ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْوَهَّابُ

Rabbana la tuzigh qulubana ba’ada ith hadaetana wa hab lana milla dunka rahmata innaka antal wahhab

Our Lord, let not our hearts deviate after You have guided us and grant us from Yourself mercy. Indeed, You are the Bestower

~

Disclaimer: This advice column is written by university students. We do not claim any scholarly background nor religious authority. We offer practical advice based on our own experiences in reconciling our commitment to Islam with modern challenges. Though we base our advice on credible Islamic sources, we urge you to further explore the issues that are discussed. We can offer advice and starting points for further inquiry, but ultimately Allah alone knows best. Whatever is good is from Allah, while error is from ourselves.

Have a question or suggestion for next week’s topic, or want to submit an article yourself? Write to us at guqmsa@georgetown.edu.

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<![CDATA[God Knows Best]]>https://www.georgetowngazette.com/post/god-knows-best614cab28dd425b00166ac1a4Wed, 12 May 2021 17:45:18 GMTAbdullahWe often feel very sad and lost even for the smallest things: “Why is my life this bad and his good?”, “Why would this happen to me?”, “I wish it was better than that.…” In short, we rebel and are dissatisfied with our lives at certain points. 

Let me tell you a story to illustrate what I mean.. There was an old man who made a living out of fieldwork with his horse. Once, his  horse ran away and the old man’s neighbors said: “Oh, what a pity that the old man’s horse ran away! How is he going to make a living man? How is he going to feed his family now?” All the neighbors were worried but the old man said: “Yes, I had a horse, and I made a living out of it, and it ran away. But, I don’t know if this is for the better or the worse. God knows best.” 

After four or five days, the horse that ran away brought with it an untamed mare. The neighbors all exclaimed: “Oh, this is so good that the old man’s horse returned, and moreover, it brought an untamed mare with it! He had one horse, now he has two!” The old man said: “Yes, I had one horse, now I have two. But, I do not know if this is for the better or the worse. God knows best.” As the mare was untamed, the old man’s son wanted to tame her. While trying to do so, the mare threw him over and he broke his leg. 

After hearing about this event, the neighbors said: “Oh, the boy was the old man’s constant helper in everything. How bad it is that he broke his leg while taming the mare!” The old man replied: “I know that my son broke his leg trying to domesticate the mare, but I do not know if this is for the better or worse. God knows best.” 

After some time, there was a war in the region, and all able-bodied people had to go to war. The old man’s son could not go to war because he broke his leg. Many neighbors were sad that their sons were going and they said: “How good it is that the old man’s son does not need to go to war because he broke his leg!” The old man replied: “It is true that my son cannot go to war, but we do not know if it is for the better or worse. God knows best.”

That is why, whenever things happen in our lives, be they good or bad according to our interpretation, we should not make fast conclusions out of them. We should rather rely on Allah and always have faith that anything that befalls us is from Allah and He is the most wise. In fact, we do not know what those events may bring later on. It will all be revealed sooner or later whether it is good or bad. After all, didn’t Allah know each and every soul and his fate before He even created the world. What an honor knowing that your identity, name, gains and losses were all within the knowledge of the Most Wise before the Earth took its shape. Rely on Allah, for He knows you past, present, and future and trust His plan, for His plan is the most wise.

#muslimstudentsassociation #ramadan #religion

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<![CDATA[Do Not Despair, My Girl]]>https://www.georgetowngazette.com/post/do-not-despair-my-girl614cab286741410016de9bc1Wed, 12 May 2021 17:15:22 GMTShadoof“Do not despair my girl…” you once told me. “Learn to trust people, learn to love, learn to smile even when it hurts, and always keep your heart on your sleeve…”

Your words echo in my head even after 5 years of separation every single time I replay my life’s videotape. You were a wise woman, you were my inspiration, my tame light of hope when I was hurt yet curious to know if there is a chance of recovery out there. “…Keep your heart on your sleeve…”, you told me. And I did so, but I waved my sleeves in vain, to the vain people, to the vain achievements, to the vain desires. And how could I know to whom I should extend my arms? How could I find the right person who will embrace that heart that I kept right there at the edge of my sleeve? How could anyone even begin to understand this gift I gave them? How could I know what you meant, if I did not know myself that this heart is not, in fact, mine?

That heart that beats non-stop day or night, that heart that skips faster when someone begins to caress it, that heart that aches when it is afflicted by indifference, that heart that is ready to stop when it witnesses its counterpart pass away…that very heart in fact is not mine….how amusing… isn’t it? How many times have I dropped it, picked it up from the dirt, washed its wounds, and then placed it back on my sleeve, only for it to be taken and dropped down again by someone. That someone, that entity, that cruel creature that dropped my heart so many times into the pool of vain desires, vain pride, vain happiness, vain veneration; that entity I later realized was Dunya. Ah, how alluring she was, how beautiful, how inviting, yet she proved to be cruel and deceiving. “I gave her my heart,” I thought, “it was right there right on my sleeve, isn’t it what she wanted, why would she play with such mercilessness?” Yet again, how could I not know that that heart was not mine, and I could not dispose of it the way I wanted. It took me a while to wrap my head around the fact that something that sits so deep inside of my own body, something that beats in unison with my own breath in fact is not really in my possession. That heart that I thought serves me, was in fact serving Allah. Since the moment when that lump of flesh was created and the soul has been breathed into it, it never belonged to me. That heart that keeps beating for the appointed time period is actually the creation of the Most Exalted, the Most High. That heart that was given to me for a while can be truly caressed only by the hands of the Most Loving, of the Most Gentle.

You told me to keep my heart on my sleeve and I am still keeping it there ya maa…  But my arms are not extended in front of me anymore, they are extended up to the sky, and to Allah, I belong, and to Him alone, I will return.

#muslimstudentsassociation #ramadan #religion

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<![CDATA[Station Unknown]]>https://www.georgetowngazette.com/post/station-unknown614cab29d878f00016ce1c5fFri, 07 May 2021 13:31:51 GMTMaliha KhanLoss of judgment,

was it the departure of my thoughts?

The reckless train keeps moving on

With a passenger stranded

No ticket, no luggage, 

Sitting on the bench is a hollow cauldron

The ride to the station 

The steps to the platform

All was staged by someone else.

The passenger had arrived at the stop assigned;

It was not her stop.

She looked for the exit door;

It doesn’t exist – read the sign.

There is no train back;

The train forward left.

Was she left behind?

Commuters buzzed around;

Each revolving along its track,

Each with a ticket of their own,

They kept moving on.

The passenger is still stranded. 

She cannot move. 

All is stationary, 

All is at a halt.

Did movement cease to exist?

Or is it the loss of judgment?

#journey #Poetry

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