Who Speaks for Islam [Book Review]

A friend of mine recommended that I read Who Speaks For Islam?: What a Billion Muslims Really Think a couple of weeks ago.  She sent me a message saying:

I just started reading a book called ‘Who speaks for Islam’, by Dalia Mogahed and John Esposito…
It seems great, giving statistics and REAL views of what Muslims really think, who we actually are etc…
It brings out what we are deprived of showing to the world, being the ‘silenced’ majority :(
I can’t put the book down, it’s amazing!

WhoSpeaksForIslam-CSo I went and got the book last week and read it and really do think it is very interesting, educating and enlightening.  The book is highly recommended for policy makers and non Muslims who deal with Muslims because it gives an insight which is backed by numbers not conventional wisdom.

From the Gallup Website:

Who Speaks for Islam? is about this silenced majority. This book is the product of the Gallup World Poll’s massive, multi year research study. As part of this groundbreaking project, Gallup conducted tens of thousands of interviews with residents of more than 35 nations that are predominantly Muslim or have significant Muslim populations.

Even as a Muslim living in a Muslim country and a native of another Muslim country I found the book very interesting.  Perhaps because I had never thought about the fact that Muslims come from very different countries and backgrounds.  The analysis is simple, thorough and straightforward and impressive.  The data is deep and can be viewed as a very credible source to an insight to Muslim thoughts.

With only five chapters tackling:

  • Who are Muslims?
  • Democracy or theocracy?
  • What makes a radical?
  • What do women want?
  • Clash or coexistence?

By begining by explaining who Muslims are, what they believe and how different they are, the book sets the pace for the rest of the book and introduces the non Muslim to reality.  Data which was gathered by the polls clear many misconceptions even tho they might seem intuitive or sensible.  The poll’s results prove that Muslims want democracies in their countries, political radicals make up only 7% of the population and  women want to be treated fairly not necessarily equally.  Interestingly there are also lots of common views shared by Western poll takers with the Muslims which is not surprising, at the end of the day we are all human and share common needs, dreams and wants.

From the book:

While admiring much about the West, the majority of Muslim women do not yearn to become more like their Western counterparts.  While they favor gender parity, they likely want it on their terms and withing their own cultural context. [from What do women want]

To clarify the distinction between Sharia and “Islamic law” think of Sharia as a compass (God’s revelation, timeless principles that can not change) and Islamic law (fiqh) as a map.  This map must conform to the compass, but it reflects different times, places and geography.  The compass is fixed but the map is subject to change.[from What makes a radical?]

I think this book is an interesting read.

Happy People

“Happy people are patient. They wait for the right time when they go after what they want, and they avoid
unrealistic expectations with what they can’t control. ”
Christian Carter

Growing Younger and Benjamin Button

Benjamin ButtonA couple of weekends ago I watched “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” with my husband.  He totally surprised me and liked the movie.  The guy surprised me even more the week before when he didn’t enjoy “Wanted”.  Guns, car chases, lots of action and Angelina Jolie in theory should make a great movie, but apparently he thought it was too surreal.  So I thought he would find BB boring or not interesting.  He actually liked it and so did I.

I don’t want to spoil the movie for those of you who haven’t seen it yet, but consider the idea of growing younger.  What if insteaf physically growing older you became younger, which is the whole idea behind the movie?  I keep thinking about it and realize it doesn’t make much difference.  It is just a matter of perception, we are born weak and unable to physically do the same things older people can not do.

I had this post all outlined in my head and had thought of all the things I wanted to write but now everything has totally gone.  Basically the movie was so human,  a woman who could not have children finds a very strange newborn at her doorstep and decides to raise him.  She needed him as much as she needed her.  Life is like that, by helping others we sometimes end up helping ourselves.

The old people in the home accept him as one of their own (he looks older than they are at the begining).  He blends in and stands out at the same time.  That is another thing about life.  Sometimes we look like everyone else but don’t share any common ideas, beliefs, hopes or dreams.  Some people learn to blend in and change their views while others, take a leap of faith and find other people to surround themselves with.  Either way ignoring the problem does not work.

Living with older people also helped him learn from their mistakes and aqcuire wisdom he otherwise wouldn’t have gained.  This is why people who have older relatives like grandparents or aunts and uncles can be wiser.  If you have someone close to you from an older generation learn from them, they are not going to be around forever.  If you learn to get past the war stories and “this country used to be great” stories there is alot to learn.  They know more about human nature because they have been around humans far longer than us and they know more about life because they have lived longer than us.

BB childlike honesty, curiousity and interest in everything around him were probably the most touching things in the movie.  He wanted to learn and explore everything.  Just because you think you are too young or too old to be doing something doesn’t mean that it is true.  Get out there and experience everything.

The love story was simple but very complicated because of the age thing.  He stood by the woman he loved even after she had pushed him away once and then he decided he had to leave her to spare her the pain of having to raise him and their daughter at the same time.  At first I thought it was a silly thing to do and then I realized that it was probably the best thing to do.  Daisy eventually did stay by his side until he passed away.  She cared for him while he regressed into an infant when he needed her the most probably because she was not to drained by having to deal with the years in between.

BB kept a journal which told his story.  We all have a story to tell, writing it down even if it will never be read might be an interesting and rewarding exercise.

Friday’s Five: Five Things I Didn’t Order

this is not the life i orderedA couple of days ago my sister was telling about someone with her at work who showed up wearing a t shirt that said “I didn’t order this life” and I thought it was hilarious.  She caught me on a day when I was feeling the exact same thing.  Then yesterday I was driving through a nice residential area which reminded me of the North Coast.  I don’t know if it was the sun, the way the villas looked or the music playing in the car but I suddenly felt good.  On a random train of thought I realized that even though this wasn’t the life I ordered, I had gotten lots of good things which I hadn’t ordered at all.

  1. Making Pizza at Home.  Never in a million years would I have thought I would learn to make pizza and actually enjoy it.  Thursday is pizza night at our place, I make the dough and then my husband usually comes in to play with the toppings.  It’s a fun thing we do.
  2. Baby Bath Time.  I think I love bath time more than my daughter does and she absolutely loves it.  She chases her rubber ducky, plays with the bubbles and chases the water down the drain when it’s time to leave the tub.  She used to hate bath time but now that she can sit in the big tub and play she’s enjoying it so much more.  I keep buying bath toys because they are so cute.  I love the way baby shampoo smells and use it myself too.  After her bath I rub her down with lavander oil and the atmosphere is so relaxed and she absolutely loves her baby massage too.  Never in a million years would I have imagined that giving a baby a bath could be so interesting and gratifying.
  3. Making Friends.  I spent the first two years in Kuwait pretty friendless and then out of the blue we meet a group of couples and become a group of friends.  They have made my life so much more colorful and interesting.  I had all but given up on finding like minded friends and then Allah sends a whole bunch of them my way.  I am eternally grateful and thankful for them.
  4. Microwaveable Chocolate Fudge.  This recipe is so easy and it’s just super.
  5. Nokia Maps.  I can find my way around much easier using it.  I don’t mind getting lost much because I know I will eventually get home and I enjoy discovering the world, but seriously being able to see a map and use GPS is a life saver sometimes.

There are so many other things that I didn’t order, some are good things and some aren’t but I am sure the good things I didn’t order are more than the good things I ordered but didn’t get or the bad things I didn’t order and get.

The server refuses to fulfill the request

Seriously? The server undersrands but doesn’t feel like it?twitter

Who has a stronger brand Mohamed Mounir or Amr Diab?

StatusAndCommentsMy sister asked this question and an interesting conversation took place.  How do you decide who is the stronger brand?  Is it by popularity, number of albums sold, popular songs, ads, albums released, marketability or by how much the artist makes in a concert?

Deciding on the criteria is always a very critical thing.  I did a quick search on facebook and found that Amr Diab has more groups dedicated to him than Mohamed Mounir and with lots of members whereas Mohamed Mounir has more fan pages with just as much fans.  How do you compare and decide?  One friend commented that Mounir has fans in Germany and all over Europe too which is true, but Amr Diab won the international Music Award too.  Every way you look at it, you realize that they are both very famous and have lots of fans and loyal followers.  Nevertheless my own personal opinion is that Amr Diab is a stronger brand because :

  • He was chosen by Pepsi to lead their campaigns which means he is more marketable.
  • He is a trend maker in terms of music and fashion.
  • His fans are more widespread and diverse and he has the ability to reach a wider audience.

That was my simple analysis, what do you think?

You can click on the image to read the discussion.

Chocolate Cheesecake in Minutes

chocolate-cheesecakeI had some friends over for dinner last night and it was awesome.  It was a simple affair; pizza, salads, crackers with cheese and chocolate cheesecake.  The cheesecake was the best thing on the menu.  I spent hours deciding what to make because I wanted to make something easy but very yummy.  I also didn’t want something that might not turn out so well, so after lots of thought I settled on chocolate cheesecake.  I looked at a couple of recipes but most of them needed ingredients I didn’t have like drozen whip and things like that.  Not being someone who follows recipes exactly as they are, I had to add toffee bits and walnutes to give it some crunch.  It was a hit, and my crowd is a tough one, cheesecake is a favorite but it is usually regular cheesecake with strawberry or berry topping.

Chocolate Oreo Base

  • 32 Oreros
  • 1 stick of butter

You can’t have chocolate cheesecake without a chocolate base.  I used Oreos but you can make a regular base using Digestive biscuits if you like and add some cocoa powder.  Crush them and add the melted butter and press into a spring form pan.  You can crush them in a food processor or just put them all in a plastic bag and smash them with a rolling pin or something.  I like using a food processor because washing it is less work than smashing them, I am lazy like that, plus you get a more uniform texture.  I used an 8 inch pan because honestly, that’s the only one I own, but I think a 9 inch pan would have worked better.  Press the mixture up against the sides as well because it looks much cooler that way.  You can always use less cookies and butter for a thinner base.  Put it in the refrigerator until it is nice and firm.  I left it for 4 hours, because I had to go do some shopping, but from experience, the longer you leave it the better.


  • 2 packages of 8 oz Philadelphia cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup granulates sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons on milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 8 oz of chocolate
  • Walnuts
  • Toffee

Beat the cream cheese, sugar, milk and vanilla until the sugar has been disolved into the mixture and it’s nice and fluffy.  I have a small hand mixer which is not really made for this kind of thing, but I make it do the job, a stand mixer would be awesome, actually a lovely cool pink Kitchen Aid mixer would be a dream, but I will keep on dreaming, I don’t have the space to store it and they’re quite expensive.

Melt the chocolate in the microwave or on a double burner.  I just put it in the microwave on high for 40 seconds, gave it a stir and it was perfect.

Add the chocolate to the mix, just wait a few minutes for the chocolate to cool first.  Once it’s all mixed, drop in the walnuts and toffee.  I just chopped them roughly.  I also got 2 packages of chewy toffees, the kind that have 6 or seven bits in them and quartered them so they would be small.  You could also use a Mars bar or anything else you like actually.  Fold everything in evenly and spoon into the pan over the base.  It should be nice and thick and even out the top.  Decorate it with the remaining toffee or eat it, do whatever you like, but I like a good looking cheesecake, because I think it it doesn’t look good I won’t eat it.  Pop it into the fridge.  Now you can lick the spoon and the bowl if you like,  yes, I lick the stuff, isn’t that why we make stuff in the first place?

Invite friends over, because good things are meant to be shared.  You could of course eat it all yourself, but don’t blame me if you get high on the sugar and go running around like a crazy monkey, but if you do, please ask someone to take pictures and post them on facebook.