Archive for Islamophobia

OUTSOURCED vs. LOWES

Posted in Activism, Art, Islam, Media, TV/Film with tags , , , , , , , , on December 19, 2011 by irydhan

Originally Posted on ILLUME magazine.

Everyone has been talking about the controversy surrounding Lowe’s Hardware stores pulling their advertising from TLC’s “All American Muslim” reality TV show, because of the email campaign from Conservative Christian “Florida Family Association.”

But besides the few email complaints to Lowe’s or signing of petitions online, there hasn’t been much creative response from the Muslim-American community.

That’s when the comedic duo, Rizwan Manji and Parvesh Cheena (of “Outsourced”), along with writer/director Gregoy Bonsignore decided to take matters in their own hands and create the fake ad, “The Un-Aired Lowe’s Commercial.”

We got to talk to the three about why they made the video and what they thought of the controversy about the show.

Why did you guys produce this video?

Rizwan: Myself, Greg and Parvesh were sitting around Parvesh’s place talking about this whole Lowe’s situation and I kept seeing all the reaction all over Facebook and Twitter.  So we thought, as artists we can use our creativity, to make a funny video which makes a point about a greater issue. So within an hour of coming up with the idea, we went down to Lowe’s and started filming it!

Gregory (Director of the video): We wanted to do a satirical piece to show the type of “stereotypical scary” Muslims which the Florida Family Association are so concerned are not being shown on the TV program.  The video was shot on multiple iphones, in case we got kicked out of the store quickly.

Have you guys watched “All American Muslim” and what do you think about it?

Rizwan: Yes, I have seen it and like it.  It’s a typical reality show which shows the daily lives of people and I have been to Michigan before to shoot a film.  It’s an accurate portrayal of the people there, who are very friendly and I enjoy the show.

Gregory: I have watched it and although its format is not very unique, it’s subject – Muslim-Americans is what makes it interesting. It shows that Muslims now have their own reality show like other groups about suburban life in America.

Parvesh: ALL-AMERICAN MUSLIM seems harmless. Please. Everyone is the same. We are all Americans. Sheesh.


What do you guys think of the reaction from groups such as the Florida Family Association and Corporations such as Lowe’s who have pulled their advertising from “All American Muslim”?

Gregory: I’m not really surprised with the reactions and totally bigoted response from some of the public, because there is not enough education about Islam in America.  But for a corporation like Lowe’s to react in the way they did, is totally unacceptable.

Rizwan: The biggest shock for me was that Lowe’s sent a letter to the Florida Family Association thanking them for pointing out the concerns of the show and asking them to pull their advertising.  It’s not okay that they caved in this way.

Parvesh: Lowe’s pulling their spots is silly and just so dumb and really foolish for a major company. I liked Lowe’s. I used to love their ads that added the letter T to the end which became Lowe’sT. Ha. Bad Lowe’s. They should apologize!


Do you think there is any correlation with how “Outsourced” was cancelled and the reaction that “All American Muslim” is getting, that the American public is not ready to see different ethnic and religious groups on TV?

Rizwan: There was also a loud and vocal minority who expressed some hatred about Indians and having a show like “Outsourced” on mainstream TV.  There were also some facebook hate groups and websites which made threats against us, but I don’t want to be pessimistic about it.  It was only a small, yet vocal, minority. We did not get any advertisers pulling ads from “Outsourced” and there was a good amount of viewers, but we just ran out of time to increase our viewership.

Parvesh: OUTSOURCED getting pulled doesn’t really have any racial correlation, In my opinion. We just got bad ratings when they moved us to 10:30pm for a show that became popular with families. Bad scheduling killed the show but we gotta move on.

Gregory: As a writer and director myself (Greg was a writer for the show “Lie to Me”), I feel that TV tends to normalize things.  From past shows which had African-Americans and women early on, it helps the viewers to get to know these different types of people which they may not normally get to interact with. I believe it’s important for more shows about Indians, Arab-Americans and Muslims to be on mainstream TV.  We are currently working on a TV pilot about a Muslim American family which we are pitching to producers and hoping to get into development soon.

Rizwan & Parvesh

How to Prepare Your “Stealth Halal” Turkey (Recipe Included)

Posted in Food, Islam, Media with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 24, 2011 by irydhan

The Halal Turkey

Originally Posted on ILLUME: http://www.illumemagazine.com/zine/articleDetail.php?Terrorists-Enlist-Turkeys-for-Jihad-Pam-Gellar-13862

Recently, bikini-blogger and Islamophobe extraordinaire, Pamela Gellar issued a warning that the Butterball Company is supporting international terrorism by providing “Stealth Halal” Turkeys to American families.

Gellar states on her website:

Across this great country, on Thanksgiving tables nationwide, infidel Americans are unwittingly going to be serving halal turkeys to their families this Thursday. Turkeys that are halal certified — who wants that, especially on a day on which we are giving thanks to G-d for our freedom? I wouldn’t knowingly buy a halal turkey — would you? Halal turkey, slaughtered according to the rules of Islamic law, is just the opposite of what Thanksgiving represents: freedom and inclusiveness, neither of which are allowed for under that same Islamic law.

Geller also calls on those who share her viewpoint to boycott the company.

Of course Gellar doesn’t realize that Butterball, a global company, is catering to their international market, which includes 10 Muslim-majority countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

Here is a statement from Butterball’s international website:

As an international turkey provider, we have the expertise in serving different countries and different customs, and will work with you to meet any and all product needs. We have met the requirements for the following certifications: USDA Approved, Russian Approved, Halal Certified, and employ a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HAACP) food safety system with Good Manufacturing processes. From great customer service to new product innovation to the proper certifications, Butterball has the experience you need to get our great tasting turkey in your market.

There are approximately 8 million Muslims in America, and the vast majority probably do not care if their Turkey is halal certified. But of course many Muslims, such as myself, do enjoy eating halal Turkey and spending time with close friends and family during Thanksgiving. Ironically, most Muslim-Americans feel that Thanksgiving is very similar to the Islamic holiday of Eid-ul-Adha, where another type of animal (a goat or lamb) is shared over the dinner table with family.

Here’s a recipe for preparing that “Stealth Halal” Turkey.

Mediterranean Style Turkey

by Nyela Goraya

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cashews
  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup tangerine juice
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 (10 pound) whole turkey
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup uncooked rice (soaked)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup raisins (optional)
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons apple juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  • Take cashews and place in a skillet over medium heat. Cook until toasted. Remove from heat, and chop.
  • Then Melt 2/3 cup butter in a saucepan.  Add the cumin, thyme, cinnamon and paprika. Mix in the orange juice, tangerine juice, and lemon juice. Rub the turkey inside and out with the mixture, reserving some for basting.
  • Season turkey with salt and pepper.
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the ground beef and onion until beef is evenly brown and onion is tender. Drain grease. Mix in the rice. Stir in the cashews, pine nuts, raisins, 1/3 cup butter, broth, and apple juice. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
  • Continue cooking until all liquid has been absorbed. Stuff all turkey cavities with the mixture,
  • and tie in place with kitchen twine.
  • Put turkey on a rack in a roasting pan, and cover breast and thighs with aluminum foil.
  • Pour about 1/4 inch water into the bottom of the pan.
  • Roast turkey in the preheated oven 3 to 4 hours, brushing occasionally with remaining butter and juice mixture.
  • Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) during final hour of roasting, and remove foil.
  • Cook turkey to a minimum internal temperature of 180 degrees F (82 degrees C).

Enjoy Your Thanksgiving!

The Agha, The Architect and The Mosque

Posted in Architecture, Art, Islam with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 7, 2011 by irydhan

I originally wrote this interview for ILLUME magazine here.  Below is the full and un-edited version of my interview with Maryam.

Maryam Eskandari, an architect at the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at Harvard and MIT, currently has a traveling exhibit on American Mosques. Her exhibit, Sacred Space: (Re) Constructing the Place of Gender in the Space of Religion is touring the nation.  ILLUME recently conducted an exclusive interview with Maryam  to get her views on the design of American Mosques and why she believes Art and Architecture are important fields for the Muslim American Community to be involved with.

How did you become interested in Architecture and why is it important to you personally?

Maryam: I was introduced to architecture through my paternal grandfather. Each summer I would spend time with him in Iran, and got acquainted with the world of construction and architecture. I loved spending time on the construction site watching him actually build something that he had designed. However, I didn’t quite understand what all the thought processes that went into the design. One summer though, I sat down with him so he could teach me how to draw in perspective. He started off with a few lessons of drawing the living room, gradually we moved towards outdoors and by the end of the summer, when he was renovating his house, he had be designing and help him redo the interior. That summer I was 15 years old. That was when I knew I wanted to be an architect.

However, I didn’t realize how important architecture and the role of architects are until a decade later when I was practicing professionally. I started to realize that we respond to the cultural demands and the needs of today’s society. We create new spaces, yet we have to be so educated in order to be able to create those new spaces. But what do we educate ourselves in? One project after another, I often find myself in many roles, the educator, the mediator, the historian, the psychologist and then the architect. As architect we listen to the needs and demands of our clients, we have to be able to absorb them and then imagine there words and needs into a physical space. In the words of Le Corbusier “I felt quite strongly that the singular and noble task of the architect is to open the soul to poetic realms, by using materials, integrity so as to make them useful”. We start to create a new language through that space, and often times we start illustrating those spaces and through refinement and execution of design, we actually start to create a new culture. However, in my case, understanding the religion of Islam, I decided to bring in the theological aspect as well, and start to revaluate the notion of religion that is ingrained in our American culture and make sure that there is analogous with the needs and demands of the future generation. I personally believe that its architecture that leaves an everlasting impression on this earth.

You recently did a study on American Mosque architecture. In your professional opinion as an Architect, what do you see are the 3 major problems with mosques in America and do you have any suggestions on how to improve them architecturally?

Maryam: Well, currently we know that there are number of issues that reside with the whole American Mosque architecture. The first one is that, through the whole “Islamaphobia” thrive that is being ignited here in the US, everyone has become so anti-mosque. So the first problem is to resolve the issue of the mosque architecture. We need to ask ourselves, what are we investing in? Is it just the mosque as a building, the community or the next generation? If it is just the mosque, then we have to reflect back and remind ourselves that the Prophet Mohammad once said that the whole world is a mosque, hence meaning that we should take care of the earth, be responsible towards it, practice sustainability, and secondly that we are able to pray anywhere as long as we are facing towards Mecca. So I am still trying to understand what is our obsession with domes and minarets, when the even the Prophets first mosque didn’t have a dome or minaret and was made out of rammed earth. Clearly later it was added all the other elements, but why? We should start creating mosques and Islamic centers that are architecturally responsible and meeting the demands and the needs of the American community. We should invest the money in creating a space that is sustainable, using local materials, creating a place that reaches out to the whole community – perhaps there are gardens that help feed the needy families. Or a soup kitchen that reaches out to the less fortunate. We should invest in pushing the boundaries and using our advance technological abilities to create a place that gives back to the earth. I remember last year at a conference when presenting, someone asked me; in Islam is it best to practice modesty, why isn’t it practiced in the architecture then? It got me thinking, they are absolutely right. A mosque needs to simple, yet beautiful. Simplicity is beautiful And as architects we know that it is easy to have an eclectic design solution just to meet the needs, but simplicity comes with discipline and refinement, it is not easy, it is what all architects strive for, and it is something that we work towards mastering. Hence, the legendary architect Louis Kahn talked about this in his “sense and simplicity” exhibit: Design is not making beauty; beauty emerges from selection, affinities, integration, and love. So let’s start disciplining ourselves to some of these elements when it comes to building and designing our community mosques.

The other thing that we should start investing is creating flexible spaces that can be converted into multi-faceted “programmatically” functions as well as creating an equal space for the women who pray. Currently as we watch the interfaith dialogues happening, the Muslim communities needs to be able to create a space so that the next generation would be able to invite their friends of various faiths to come and have a place for dialogue. We have to start creating a pluralistic architecture and enriching that in our future generations. On the interfaith notion, well currently we see that there is a protest between the genders. Women are now demanding to have adequate space in the mosque, where they are on the same main prayers space as the men. We should start rethinking of creating spaces other than balconies, basements or separate rooms. We have to remind ourselves, that it is the women of the Muslim community who are raising the next generation. They need to have access to the Muslim community, mosque, and the imam and be involved in the Islamic education if the Muslim community plans on enriching and have future generations of Muslim.

Please tell us a little about the Agha Khan award you received and why do you think it is important for Muslims in America to be involved in the arts in general and architecture in specific.

Maryam: Established in 1979 through an endowment from His Highness the Aga Khan, The Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture is dedicated to the study of Islamic architecture, urbanism, environmental and landscape design, and conservation. It prepares students for careers in research, design, and teaching and aims to enhance the understanding of Islamic architecture and urbanism in light of contemporary issues and to increase the visibility of Islamic cultural heritage in the modern world.

It is crucial for Muslims to get involved in the arts and architecture, because it is a medium that is common for all culture. Art has no political side, it isn’t determined by ethnicity, art itself is a religion on its own. And is common language that can be reached out to various people, and groups. Architecture is a type of art and just like art it is constantly changing with time. Architecture has the ability to be a symbol or an identity of our time. Just like art that is an expression, it is bounded by rules and theory that is modified and expressed to resonate in the landscape and accommodate the present and the future generation. Art becomes architecture, when a space is created in a void. Hence, in the current traveling exhibit, I took the art of photography, and laid it out through the space that was created. We took the notion of the Ka’aba, a place where the expression of equality is highlighted—deconstructed and shifted it off to create an exterior and interior space.

This generation of Muslims is at the fore front of the arts, however, we need to educate ourselves more in the humanities and understand the historical aspects of why and how certain influences happened. We need to be able to understand the notion of purity and the spirituality of the religion and start implementing them into our architecture. There is something so pure and holy with the notion of light and shadow, and often times in the Quran there are references to it, such as surah Noor, however, I believe as architects, we should be able to design is such a way that the building not only resonates in the landscape, but rather heightens our senses in order to allow and feel nature, and experience a Zen moment. Often times through the creation of THAT particular space is where we feel the connection with the Divine, where the architecture creates a space that is so sublime that we lose ourselves to the spirit.

Any final comments?

Maryam: The great Sufi Poet Hafiz, has a few verses which I try to live by.  They embody the notion that architecture and art can bring people of different faiths into one space and can help to start a dialogue of pluralism and tolerance.  He writes:

“I am in love with every church

And mosque and temple

And any kind of shrine

Because I know it is there

That people say the different names

Of the One Divine.” – 14th century Sufi Poet Hafiz Shirazi

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 624 other followers