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For anyone on a diet (aren't we all), check out my wife's new blog: "making one third count"

Also, just updated the website-check it out.


March 22, 2010

I just wanted to congratulate Ahmad Yousaf (aka Ed) and Angie Zaki for getting their marriage finalized on Saturday. May Allah bless your marriage and may He make each of you a source of tranquility and mercy for each other. My wife and I took Ahmad in as our son (even though he’s older than us) and now he’s all grown up. Now I can say wifak to Yousaf with no asterisk at the end. Oh and speaking of wifak, you guys are invited for a game of Last Word.


Keep it on the Green Tiger

January 7, 2010

Fans of Tiger Woods feel as betrayed as Garth did

Read more…

Old Friend

October 26, 2009

He’s not like he used to be. How did the days pass by so fast? I remember watching him growing up, he could barely stand on his own. I was so worried that something as small as a strong wind could topple him over. But day after day, I would watch him through my window growing taller, sturdier.

I no longer worried about him getting hurt. In fact, I would use him as an example of strength and fortitude. It wasn’t just me; everyone would attest to his resilience. If chaos erupted, I knew his resolve would pull him through. Eventually, I practically relied on him for my very survival.

I saw him grow to a full adult. I saw him have children – tons of children. I saw his children grow in the image of their father. Just like him, they grew to be tall and resilient – a source of strength for everyone around them.

But now, he’s different. That youthful vigor he once exuded is now gone. The essence of life that once emanated from him has disappeared. His vibrant complexion has changed to a dull color. He’s become so frail. I can literally see him falling apart right before my eyes. He’s almost half the size he used to be.  I can no longer rely on him to protect me from the chaos of the outside world. I can no longer depend on him for my survival. He’s dying. I know he is.

But he’ll be back. He comes back every spring. Even though he does this every year, I’m always taken back by his annual transformation.

Everything in this universe attests to God’s Glory and leads us to Him if we just reflect. Through the change of the seasons, God shows us life, death, and resurrection.

It is He Who brings out the living from the dead, and brings out the dead from the living, and Who gives life to the earth after it is dead: and thus shall ye be brought out (from the dead). (30:19)

Every year, green turns to shades of orange, yellow and brown. The leaves die away and fall to the ground, lifeless. All that’s left is the tree trunk (which, by the way, is all non-living matter except the outermost layer)  and the unseen roots. The roots stay underground until the winter passes and then God calls the tree back to life as if it had never passed away.

[But] know that God gives life to the earth after it has been lifeless! [25] We have indeed made Our messages clear unto you, so that you might use your reason. (57:17)

As a Muslim, I believe that after one’s death and you are buried 6 feet underground, my soul will remain in a dormant state, until the Day of Judgment when God will call forth every soul back to life. See the similarities by any chance? God has made the Earth and all of a creation a means for us to know, understand, and worship Him.

Still not quite sure you agree with me? That’s fine, you can let it simmer inside your head for a little while, but I suggest you think about it before you go to sleep tonight.

39:42 It is Allah that takes the souls (of men) at death; and those that die not (He takes) during their sleep: those on whom He has passed the decree of death, He keeps back (from returning to life), but the rest He sends (to their bodies) for a term appointed verily in this are Signs for those who reflect.


October 18, 2009

Islam is universal and timeless. It is a way of life that can be implemented anywhere. It is progressive and a timeless classic at the same time. It is not defined by a people or by borders.

A recent article by  the associated press cites that pew report on Muslims population came up with these discoveries:

The global Muslim population stands at 1.57 billion, meaning that nearly 1 in 4 people in the world practice Islam…Germany has more Muslims than Lebanon, China has more Muslims than Syria, Russia has more Muslims than Jordan and Libya combined, and Ethiopia has nearly as many Muslims as Afghanistan.

“This whole idea that Muslims are Arabs and Arabs are Muslims is really just obliterated by this report,”

Did you read that? 1 out of every 4 people is a Muslims. How are you going to generalize anything about a quarter of humanity?

I really thought that we had reached a point, at least in New Jersey, where people realize that there are all different kinds of Muslims and that they are just like everyone else. At the Muslims football league by Summit, a lady was asking about our league while she was waiting for us to get off the field so her child’s soccer game can start. When she found out that it was a Muslim League, she said “Oh, can you guys all join the army. They need people who know Arabic to translate.” Saief Abbassi (our all star lineman) replied “Most of us actually don’t know Arabic. The majority of guys here are of Pakistani origin and the rest are second generation Arabs who can’t speak or read Arabic very well. “

Last week, while I was at my brother’s house, a Cablevision rep whose been helping him switch from Verizon Fios stopped by. As he was going through all the contract details and walking through the different services he mentioned the channels and handed Anas and Hana a list of channels. Hana asks the guy if all the football channels are included. The guy looks at the two of them confused and goes “Football? You mean like American football?” So they respond ” umm, yeah. Football.” The guy, with the most confused look on his face, says “Honestly, I did not expect that. You guys just threw me a hug curve ball. I’m gonna be talking about this at the office.”

But you know what, I would have been ok with some broad generalizations about Muslims. For instance, if we were known for ANY of the following characteristics that God describes Muslims as in the Quran:

YOU ARE indeed the best community that has ever been brought forth for [the good of] mankind: you enjoin the doing of what is right and forbid the doing of what is wrong, and you believe in God… (3:110)

Sadly, the majority of Muslims nowadays are not a single community, not enjoining the good, forbidding the evil or truly believe in God. What has come true is the saying of the Prophet (pbuh) as narrated by Abu Dawud:

The people will soon summon one another to attack you as people when eating invite others to share their dish. Someone asked: Will that be because of our small numbers at that time? He replied: No, you will be numerous at that time: but you will be scum and rubbish like that carried down by a torrent, and Allah will take fear of you from the breasts of your enemy and last enervation into your hearts. Someone asked: What is wahn (enervation). Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him): He replied: Love of the world and dislike of death.

Then again, I guess I’d rather people know us as Arabic speaking futbol fans rather than our current condition of scum and rubbish.

In the Land of Tigers

October 2, 2009

I spent the weekend after Eid with the wifey in Columbia, Missouri, best known in these parts (aside from being the hometown of Hend and Rehab El Buri) for the University of Mizzou, which is best known for its sports teams, the Mizzou Tigers. See the connection. Columbia, Missouri = The Land of Tigers. Trust me, they take their tigerness seriously. (They have “paw prints” instead of user id’s and a tiger tail for their cars.)

Alhamdulillah (Thank God), the weekend was fantastic for all the normal reasons. This time I went down with my b-i-l and s-i-l , Zaied and Rehab, which gave it an added flavor, and also made the trip there and back very enjoyable. It was great to see my in-laws again. They’re always so nice and hospitable. I really feel at home there.

Islamic Center of Central MissouriAfter Friday prayer, a young boy walked up to the mic with a confident swagger and said “Assalamu alaykum. My name is Ali and I am in the first grade. The Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam said : la darrarra wa la dirrar. The Prophet said…” and then Ali’s swagger transformed into a blank stare.  All of a sudden his practicing had alluded him and he stood there dumbfounded in a mosque full of adults staring at him. Then, a little girl strolled up to Ali, whispered in his ear and then as Ali’s swagger returned, she walked back to her father. Ali continued “Neither harm yourself, nor harm others. Assalamu Alaykum.” As Ali sat back down, everyone was smiling and feeling warm and fizzy inside. It was by far the cutest thing I’ve seen in  a while.

It turns out that every Friday, one of the students from the Islamic school shares a hadtih with everyone. The more I thought about it, the more I felt that it was something that wouldn’t fly in most Jersey mosques. I feel like there is less mercy in our hearts here in North Jersey. I was sitting in Eid prayer and the speaker, may Allah bless him and reward him generously for his effort, made a mistake out of nervousness. He said Ali ibn Al-Khattab instead of ibn Abi Talib. The uncle sitting in front of me, with an almost disgusted tone, goes “Heh! Ali Ibn Al-Khattab? Puh! ” and just gets up and leaves. If this is how the reaction to a respected adult is, then what is going to be the reaction to a first grader? How many uncles would put up with a kid stumbling through a hadith? How many people would actually give the child the time of day? How many uncles would be willing to sit for an extra few minutes to build a young child’s self esteem? And most of all, how many of us would be wise and merciful enough to send our own son or daughter over to whisper a reminder in the shaken boy’s ear instead of shouting, or even worse, simply  grumble and get up when he stutters? Us North Jersey people recognize that we’re just harsh, but we embrace it instead of struggle against it. God says in the Quran about the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh):

And We have not sent you but as a mercy to the worlds (21:107)

and it has been narrated that the Prophet (pbuh) said:

Those who have mercy will receive the mercy of the Most Merciful. Have mercy on those who are on earth, the One in heavens will have mercy on you

We are the messengers of the messenger. Where is our mercy? Maybe I have this whole “land of the tigers” thing mixed up.

Mizzou State Statue

The Mizzou Tiger statue at the Columbia campus. No joke.

Cute and Cuddly!

September 22, 2009

89 days.  Don’t act like you don’t know what that signifies, I know you’ve been counting the days since my last post.

SO why the long unannounced absence? What events have transpired during the long silence?

  • Move to Paterson
  • Marriage
  • Canada Honeymoon
  • Beginning of Ramadan
  • GMAT Exam
  • End of 30 Nights program
  • Ongoing application process to Masters program

You’re probably saying to yourself: “wow, if all that happened and he didn’t post anything then something big must have happened now for him to post something.” Yes, something big has happened: Eid Al-Fitr. On this momentous occasion, I thought it was only appropriate to give my audience a gift-and what better gift than a new post 🙂 Read more…

The winding path

June 25, 2009

It’s 3 in the morning and I’m wide awake. I’ve had a bunch of points bouncing around in my head for a little while now that I’d like to write down. I’m not sure if it will all make sense, but God willing, I’ll be able to achieve my goal by the end of the post.
Every now and then, I’ll have to drive somewhere for work. On one day, I went with my supervisor to a botanical garden that was shutting down. Even in it’s desheveled state, I could tell how beautiful the place was. Anyway, we were talking on our way there and it turns out that he first met another colleague of ours in 1985 as her T.A. while she was still studying for her Masters degree  – that’s a year before I was even born!

On another ride, I went down to Flemington with one of the professors to pick up the department van that was being serviced. My only encounter with this professor before I started working in the Biology department was when I was about to graduate. He was the advisor who would make sure you’ve taken all your classes and are ready to graduate. He had a reputation of being a mean person and I never took any of his classes because I heard tons of people failed them each semester. Of course, that perception of him changed drastically since our relationship changed from student and teacher to colleauges. During our talk on this hour longe ride, I discovered that his first wife was very sick and unfortunately past away over a decade ago. He had so much debt racked up from the medical bills that he had to pick up extra jobs and that’s how we wound up doing the advisor thing that made us first cross paths. What’s more interesting thing is that I discovered that he taught both my supervisor and the other colleague as undergrad students.

At this point I came to realize something – I’m really young. I turn 23 in the middle of this November, so I guess I am pretty young. You’re probably reading this and you’re confused as to why this seems like such a revelation to me. The thing is, I don’t feel young. I feel like I’m a seasoned veteran of life. I feel like I have gone through alot, and if you’re close enough to me and know me well, you’ll probably agree.

The realization of my youth left me with two conclusions:

  1. What the Hell am I talking about? I’ve barely seen anything yet! Life tends to be an uphill battle and I’ve barely begun my journey. Say I live to 65 (what my father believes to be the  life expectancy for all Idelbi men), that means I’ve only experienced a third of the hardships I’m set to face, and that includes the half of my life that I was being pampered for and had no clue what a hardship was even if I was experiencing one. Alhamdulillah there are millions of people who would love  to switch places with me. I mean, I live in America. That alone puts my life ahead of a whole lot of people.
  2. I’m afraid. Every hardship is just a training session to be able to face the next obstacle in life. Every obstacle gets bigger and life gets more complicated. I always feel like my life will get much easier and calmer six months from now, but that six months never seem to get shorter. It’s always six months away. So my big question is what has God planned in my future that needs all this preparation. The prophet Yousef (Joseph) had to go though so much. He was with his family, abondened in a well, sold as a slave, seduced by the minister’s wife, and then back to a humble living when he was thrown in jail. Why did he have to go through all that preparation? He only had to save his people and the surrounding countries from a seven year famine. Even after he had returned to a high position in the kingdom and was reunited with his family, he still had the weight of feeding a nation during years of famine resting upon his shoulders. I’ve been blessed to have good friends surround me and the support of my family throughout my whole life. Family support + good friends + trials and tribulation = huge challenge lying ahead of me.

Life seems like a bunch of random events that all occur mysteriously, but if you look back at what you’ve been through, it tends to all add up. Lots of times if I get lost on the road, I’ll keep on driving till I find something familiar or a sign to a place I know and I’ll continue until I find my destination, even if it takes me a long time to get there. After that first time being lost, I’ll always find my way. One time I was eating dinner with a bunch of friends and Mazen Mokhtar was among us. He mentioned that in the opening chapter of the Quran, God says guide us to the straight path , not heaven or some specific location, but rather a way of life.  All I ask, is that God keeps me on this path, no matter what obstacles He throws my way.