Thursday, April 29, 2010


Yesterday morning (it is presumed), a very dear member of the Minnesota Muslim community passed away in his sleep, quite unexpectedly. He was young, had a wife and 6 children—one of whom is just two months old. He was a founding member of Abubakar as-Saddique Islamic Center in Minneapolis, the largest mosque in Minnesota and the gathering place of many of my friends. His Janazah, or funeral prayer which took place today, was the largest many of us have ever seen in the U.S. If I had to guess, I would say at least 3,000 people attended after receiving hardly any advance notice. May Allah reward them.

Abdiweli Mohamed Yusuf will be missed, but his mile-wide smile will not be forgotten. We always called him "the tall guy" because most of the board members' names started with Abdi, as most Somali names do, and for a time, we couldn't keep all of them straight. Now, I don't think I could ever forget the name of this kind, jovial, and good-hearted brother.

I have been sad in the last 24 hours thinking about his mother, wife, and kids and the grief they are experiencing right now, but every time I think of Br. Abdiweli, it's his big grin that keeps popping into my head. I guess that's his lasting mark on us, aside from the tireless service he gave to the people at Abubakar for the sake of Allah.

The death of this young, healthy, and happy man is just one more reminder that we are not immune to the will of Allah—that He will give and take as he sees fit. However, we also have a responsibility as members of society to use the knowledge, compassion, and reason He gave us to make the best of our time here as well as use our own free will to make the choices that determine how we spend our time in the hereafter.

People always ask me, "How can there be a God when all of these bad things happen to good people?" and I say, "How can there not be a heaven for them in which to spend eternity?"

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

DMV laffs

This post is just for fun. I had to renew my tabs and I always think the MN DVS site is so funny. Here's the home page image:

This makes me want to drive a Cadillac through a swirly flowchart neighborhood. Slow down when you see pointless gradients, people. It could save a life!!

If you have other funny government-run websites to share, please do.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Arabic 3, Quran 1—look out world, here I come!

I started my Arabic 3 class today, which will also have a Quran 1 (reading) class attached to it starting in week 5.

This is like, a major accomplishment for me because these classes are only 10 weeks long each and it's taken me almost two years to get to Arabic 3. I took a session off for Ramadan and other things, then my dad got sick and I missed so many of level 2 that I repeated it last time.

If you know me, you know that I am extremely busy (even if you don't know me, you must have guessed by my posting infrequency) and really don't have time for a weekly three-hour class. However, this blog is all about motivation, so I'm going to list all of the reasons why I want to keep going so that I don't flake out on any more sessions (I don't count helping my dad as flaking out FYI):
  1. I want to read Quran and understand the real meaning—not just the English translation, which is not technically the Quran.
  2. I work for or serve on the board of three Muslim organizations. Since Muslims come from all over the world, the only common language you can usually count on is Arabic. If I am fluent, I will be able to talk to a lot more people, especially East Africans, in my work.
  3. The language is beautiful in the way it sounds, the way it looks, and in its complexity/simplicity—I can't really explain, but I love Arabic.
  4. I am always starting things and not finishing them. I am sick of being the one who gets all excited, spreads that excitement around, and then ends up slowly backing out because I can't handle it/am lazy/lose steam.
I'll start posting about my progress here from time to time, but for now, take my word for it that I know the alphabet and vowels/writing rules, can read words and sentences, and am slowly adding grammar and vocabulary.

Monday, April 19, 2010

For those of us who ALWAYS make too much tea

Okay, I am paranoid when it comes to tea.

I am scared that I will not use enough water and there could be a time when I don't have a full cup. I could measure the water first, but it's just not in my blood to measure anything unless I am baking. I just can't do it! Plus, it feels like a waste to make one cup of tea when I know I can get three or more from one tea bag if I play my cards right.

So what to do with the leftovers? Well, since I make mine spiced with cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon (YUMMERS!) which allows me to hang out with the East Africans and Desis, it's pretty easy to make iced chai from this. Some of you already know how this works, so if you have variations to add, please feel free!

Here's how to make awesome iced chai and save $3.75 at the coffee shop:
  1. Boil too much water with one or two tea bags (black... I like English Breakfast but I know the purists will freak out on me for this) and one each cardamom pod, clove, and small chunk of cinnamon.
  2. Let it simmer until it's a nice dark tea color, but not too long—maybe a minute at low boil.
  3. Drink your cup of tea however you like it (I like one spoon of sugar and some type of milk). Try it Desi-style with evaporated milk for extra richness.
  4. There is nothing worse than watery iced chai. YUCK. Pour the leftover tea into an ice cube tray and freeze so you can chill your chai without adding water. Save cubes in a plastic bag so they don't get funky in the freezer.
  5. The next time you have leftover tea (the next day because you again made too much!), store the remainder in the fridge.
  6. When you want iced chai—and you will often in the summer—mix the tea with sugar, milk (my favorite is actually with Silk Original Flavor soy milk), and add some of the tea-cubes.
Viola! Iced Chai. Once you get rolling, you will almost always have some tea-cubes and chilled tea in the fridge/freezer. I really think it's as good as what you can get in the coffee shop and you can make it without dealing with an over-bubbly barista (unless you are one yourself, then that's your problem, not mine).

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Three-Hour Tour

I worked late (until about 7:00) today, but still, I was able to do the following in about 3 hours after getting home and settled:
  • Went through all my mail and recycled about 10 pounds of flyers and envelopes.
  • Sorted, washed, and dried two big loads of laundry (including rearranging all of my clean top-tier scarves on the drying rack that is their home).
  • E-filed my Federal tax return online.
  • Got mad that State would cost another $37 (I don't remember this last year!) so I deleted it from my return and filled out the return myself using the MN form M1 PDF. It was worth $37 for sure. It is actually kind of satisfying to stuff eight pieces of paper into an envelope and affix three stamps like my mother has done all her adult life.
  • Paid all of my bills (I like writing checks out!)
  • Completed the 2010 Census (I like filling out forms too... see above). I don't really care about the Census at all but it's postage-paid so whatever.
  • Listened to a wonderful lecture on the major sin of gossip by Bilal Assad, one of my favorite sheiukh.
I may be a procrastinator, but I can make things happen when I try real hard.


Monday, April 5, 2010

Soreness as an indicator of progress

This past weekend, I took off for my hometown to help my mom get her house ready to sell ... for the third time :)

Despite a lot of roadblocks and a major fish fry on the deck Saturday night, we were able to do the following in three days:
  1. Clean out the Den/Computer Room/"Courtin' Room" (my dad's name for it) which included no less than a million of the following: Harley Davidson tchotchkes my dad swears are "worth a lot of money"; actual floppy disks including "Mouse Setup II" from like 1992; and VHS tapes, DVDs, and books people drop off for my mom which she never wanted in the first place (I am one of the guilty parties).
  2. Take a load of stuff to the thrift store and only come out with one toy, 3 books, and a "new" desk for the den to replace the awful particle board thing they had.
  3. Scrape the REALLY OLD wallpaper still scarred by cat scratches from a cat we had over 15 years ago and paint/paper the room in a lovely new color with fake wainscoting wallpaper. Trim will come later, according to my dad's promise.
  4. Clean out yet another room full of trash, home decor, and fabric my mom's been saving for way too long. My little sister took it all to the dumpster at her apartment building, so don't tell anyone.
  5. Dismantle another particle board beauty—the entertainment center from my dad's gun room (don't ask) and throw it in the pile to be burned out at my cousin's place (are you getting the redneck vibe yet?).
  6. Scrape poster putty from my childhood room's ceiling. I stuck it there to hang the glow-in-the-dark stars so it's fitting that I stood on a ladder to peel it all off.
  7. Sand and paint the walls and ceiling in that same room that got "fixed" by my sister and an old boyfriend who also wisely decided to paint it a dreadful purple. It's now a lovely Dutch Boy "popcorn" white.
This was all accomplished while my dad, jilted by friends who were supposed to take him away for the weekend, was alternating between providing color commentary on our work, arguing about what we were throwing away despite his assertion that it's all my mom's junk, and screaming at us for accidentally disconnecting his cable in the middle of the 4th 3-hour long classic car auction he'd watched over the weekend.

I want to give my mother credit for not taking the rest of my dad's pain pills and giving up. I also want to give my dad credit for not throwing me out. It was stressful for him and the weekend culminated in my little sister getting a flat tire in his driveway which he had to help her fix with a bad back/jack combo. He somehow pulled it together and finished the job.

Here's to everyone who has ever tried to fix up a 100 year-old house with 55 year-old inhabitants.