Al Mihrab is now on Patheos.com

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2012 by irydhan

Hello All

My blog has moved onto the Patheos.com website. Here is the direct link:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/almihrab/

This site will still be online, but I will only be publishing new posts on my blog at Patheos.

Please check it out and let me know what you think!

Peace

Irfan

Pakistani Cargo Truck Art….in Kansas City?!?

Posted in Art with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 30, 2012 by irydhan

Asheer Akram, an artist and sculptor of Pakistani descent, was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in 1984. He and a group of artists and artisans from Kansas City, Missouri have started the “Pakistani Cargo Truck Initiative” – which is formatted around the visual aesthetic of the cargo trucks of Pakistan and the ideas that surround their intended purposes.

“We are building a cargo truck in the traditional Pakistani-style with a Midwest twist and a new function.” Says Akram. “For this project we have selected a 1952 Chevrolet grain truck as a shell. This style of truck is distinctly American and has been a long-standing staple in the farming industry of the Midwest. We will be tasking Midwest fine artists and artisans with taking the basic format of the traditional Pakistani cargo truck and breeding it with an American aesthetic to create a completely original, functional and culturally mixed final product. The truck will be displayed as a piece of fine art and used as a tool for social and cultural enrichment. We intend to travel this truck from one coast to the other bringing a visual aesthetic not seen by the majority of the population, to teach sculptural workshops and bring awareness to people of the importance of cultural enrichment and understanding.” Akram said.

Asheer’s team is made up of local Kansas City artists as well as others from around the country. Some of his team members include local ceramicists (Kansas City is considered to be the “Mecca” of ceramic tile and paneling in the United States), Brock Deboer & Linda Lighton. The Truck will be painted by locals Chris Foxworth and Lauren Travers.

Bill Heineken will be making the truck bling, with custom spinners for the wheels. “You heard right, it wouldn’t be Midwest meets Mideast without SPINNERS. Heineken is a genius with laser production metal fabrication and has worked with architects and artists alike.” Says Akram.

The truck’s exterior woodwork will be created by Jorge Calvo. Local Kansas City glass artist Kathy Bernard will create stained-glass like elements for the top of the cab and cargo bed. The Truck will be carrying some cargo of a compact printing press which will be built by local artist and printmaker, Jesse McAfee.

“The visual component of these vehicles [Pakistani Cargo Trucks] create a hierarchical system of value and class; the more ornate and beautiful the truck is, the more valuable the goods they will be carrying.” Says Akram.

They have started a “Kickstarter” campaign to help raise the $30,000 needed to make this project a reality. The Deadline for fund raising is May 5th.  Check out the link here for more information: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/56345699/pakistani-cargo-truck-initiative?ref=live

FBI Love (Sung to Tune of Drake’s “Crew Love”)

Posted in Activism, Art, Islam, Media with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 26, 2012 by irydhan

FBI Love (Sung to the tune of Drake’s “Crew Love”)

[Verse 1]
Get your nose out of our masjid board
What you bothering us for?
There’s a room full of Pakis
What you following me for?
This aint no damn terror plot
So what you trying to entrap us for?
Cause you think we gonna blow like a C4?
Nah, sorry we cant afford to blow like a C4
Undercover agents keep the case going
with their Fake ID’s – throw em in the trash
we going straight to the top
and complaining to the President
With a hand full of dead presidents
nah we all not born foreign
Law enforcement’s been poisoned, from media flowing
so-called Terrorist experts pushing out excrement
they need to clean out their colon
Yea i said, clean out your colon, why?
Cause

[Hook]
They Hatin the Truth

[Verse 2]
Smoking Hookah under star projectors
I guess we’ll never know what FBI friends gets us
But seeing our people get spied on
Took the place of that desire to have police certificates on the wall
And really, I think I like who I’m becoming
There’s times where I might talk like it’s nothing
There’s times when I might blow up
For all my soldiers just to see the looks on all they faces
all it took was patience
I got a lotta friends to come up off the block for me
The same ones that’ll come up off the hip for me
The realest pakis say I’m an ABCD
I told my story, and made history
Tell them I’mma need reservations for 70
I’ve never really been one for the preservation of ego, nah
Much rather be humble and speak the truth while i’m breathing
That FBI and PoPo is everything you believe in, I know

[Hook]

[Outro]
We aint blowing like a C4
Sorry we too poor to blow like a C4
(If you broadcast your concerns, Paki, then your phones gonna be tapped)

Copyright 2012, Irfan Rydhan

Minar-E-Pakistan (Tower of Pakistan)

Posted in Architecture, Islam with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 31, 2012 by irydhan

Minar-e-Pakistan is a tall monumental tower in Iqbal Park, Lahore which was built in 1968 in commemoration of the Lahore Resolution of 1940. The minar (tower) reflects a blend of Mughal and modern Architecture, and is constructed on the site where on March 23, 1940, seven years before the formation of Pakistan, the Muslim League passed the “Pakistan Resolution”, demanding the creation of Pakistan.

Here is a slideshow of some picture of the Minar-E-Pakistan and Iqbal Park from my recent trip to Lahore, Pakistan:

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Interview about Muslim Media on the “What’s Up Wit’ That Show?”

Posted in Activism, Islam, Media, TV/Film with tags , , , , , , , on March 27, 2012 by irydhan

Here is an interview I did about Muslim Media on the “What’s Up Wit’ That Show?” in Mountain View, CA:

Foodistan (Lahore, Pakistan)

Posted in Food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 22, 2012 by irydhan

Recently, I came back from a month long trip to Lahore – the culinary capital of Pakistan.

Lahore, has a wide variety of cuisine, from fancy upscale Italian restaurants to the simple Pakistani village food and everything in between.

A few tips for those of you who may be traveling to Pakistan soon:

1. Get Your Shots – Before you Travel (Currently Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Polio and Malaria are the main diseases in Pakistan)

2. Don’t Drink The Water – unless it’s Bottled and Sealed (Nestle PureLife is the most reliable brand)

3. Don’t Eat Street Food – unless it is fried up, steaming hot, or cooked well done!  Avoid eating anything cold or something made with water.

If you follow those 3 simple rules, you should be fine and not get sick!

Below is a short slideshow of my trip through “Foodistan” aka Lahore this past February.  I hope you enjoy the pictures, as much as I enjoyed eating all the delicious food:)!

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You can see more pictures of my trip to Pakistan on ILLUME magazine online here!

Review of 2012 Golden Globe Winner for TV Drama: “Homeland”

Posted in Islam, Media, TV/Film with tags , , , , , , , on January 16, 2012 by irydhan

Recently, I watched the whole first season of the Golden Globe Winning TV series Drama, “Homeland” and was both impressed and also disappointed. The cable series which originally premiered in October 2011 on the Showtime channel is based on an Israeli TV series called “Prisoners of War,” But “Homeland” is about an American Marine Nicholas Brody (played by British Actor Damian Lewis from “Band of Brothers”) who is captured in Iraq and his held captive for 8 years, only to be found by a Delta Force raid on a compound belonging to an Al Qaida terrorist (a character named “Abu Nazir” – played by Iranian-American Actor Navid Neghaban). The main protagonist of the show is CIA agent, Carrie Matheson (played by Claire Danes), who is the only person who thinks Brody is a turned sleeper agent for Al Qaida.

“Homeland” is a lot like “24”, with its moments of intense drama dealing with terrorism, politics and relationships between people.  The show also has excellent writing and great acting.  Because it’s on Showtime, it does contain profanity and adult language as well as some brief nudity – which makes the show much more realistic than “24”.

I was really impressed with the acting of Claire Danes (who won for best actress in a Drama at this year’s Golden Globe awards) and Damian Lewis (Nominated for Best Actor at the Golden Globes). Claire is very convincing as a paranoid CIA operations officer, who although suffers from Bi-polar disorder (unknown to her supervisors), is the only person who is capable of figuring out what Brody is actually up to.  She tries very hard to convince her mentor and boss at the CIA, Saul Berenson (played by Actor Mandy Patinkin) that Sgt. Brody is a sleeper agent who is about to carry out an attack on the U.S.  Damian Lewis is excellent as his role as an American Hero turned Potential Terrorist who struggles coming to terms with his wife sleeping with his best friend (who both thought he was dead in Iraq), his two young children who barely know him, and the media and government officials who put him on a pedestal as a “War Hero.”

WARNING SPOILERS BELOW

Damian also did a great job at learning Arabic – specifically Sura Fatiha, for when he recites his prayers early in the morning and late at night (He converted to Islam while held captive for 8 years – and “there were no Bibles around” like he explained to Claire’s character when she questioned him about his conversion).

What I liked about the series is that they try their best to show that Terrorism is not as Black and White as most politicians and leaders (on both sides of the world) try to make it out to be.  It’s complicated and involves all kinds of people – from religious, to secular, to family people, to lovers, to government officials, to normal and sane people, who may have been pushed over the edge and sometimes the motive is not politics, but just simple revenge.

In this case, Damian’s character of Sgt. Brody is forced to teach English to Terrorist leader Abu Nazir’s youngest son, while he is held in captivity.  Brody has a young son who was only a few months old, when he went off to Iraq for the War, so naturally a bond develops between Brody and Abu Nazir’s son, as they spend a lot of time together.  Then, like what has happened in real life many times, a US drone attack, which attempts to take out Abu Nazir’s hideout, misses and destroys a madrassa, and kills all 83 children, including Abu Nazir’s son. Sgt Brody is hurt emotionally by the death of an innocent child he has grown to love as his own, and becomes consumed with anger when the Vice-President of the United States is shown on international TV denying that the drone attack even happened. This is when Brody decides that he wants to help Abu Nazir mete out justice to the United States government for killing innocent children.

What I don’t like about the show, and was disappointed in seeing, was that whenever Sgt. Brody makes wudu (cleaning himself with water before doing prayers), pulls out his prayer rug, or reads Tasbeeh (rosary) on his hands – they play dramatic music in the background and imply that he is doing something sinister and about to kill someone (when in reality he is just praying or getting ready to pray to God).  It seems like the writers and producers of “Homeland” are implying that a Muslim who prays is a potential terrorist!

I also found it interesting that the character of Saul Berenson (Carrie’s boss at the CIA) is Jewish (who even talks about growing up as a religious minority in a Christian majority town in the storyline), who is shown to be the most fair-minded, intelligent and respectable person in the CIA. This is not that surprising, because it seems that most of the writers and producers of the show are Jewish, but one would think that they should know better than to scapegoat a whole group of people (Muslims) because of the actions of a few.

I look forward to watching season 2 of “Homeland” (currently being produced), because I enjoy it’s suspense, action and acting, but I hope the writers and producers start to focus less on the “exotic” religious rituals of Muslims, and instead continue to develop the storyline in exposing why people become terrorists and how it can be better understood and in turn better combated.