Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Fatwa of the Day #6

NIKE Greek Godess of Victory This time it’s the athletes’ turn to be “Kuffar” (Arabic for sinners), according to Islam. Dr. Abdullah Al-faqih issued a Fatwa, claiming that wearing any clothing or accessories baring the Nike sign is a sin. According to this Muslim scholar, the Nike commercial sign is “a sign of a goddess of victory, daughter of the giant Pulas, as the Greeks believed.” And according to the Hadith, the prophet Mohammad said: "Whoever imitates some people, he is one of them." And since the Greeks are Kuffar, as per Muslim doctrine, imitating them—by wearing clothes with a sign symbolizing a goddess whom they worshipped—is a deadly sin.

Black Nike LogoI started this post by a statement that athletes are being considered sinners because they wear Nike clothes; however, this is not very accurate since Nike products are not restricted to athletics. From hats to shoes and even electronics, Nike products target a wide variety of customers. The Arab world is not an exception, and Nike regards the Middle-East region as an important marketing venue. Additionally, demand for Nike products haven’t really changed in the years following this Fatwa; it seems, this time, Islam has lost a battle to the Greek goddess of victory!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010 by Eli ·


Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Virgin Mary: Protector of Lebanon-Gaza Flotilla?

The ship is now ready," Samar al-Hajj, the organizer of the flotilla ship, destined to sail from Lebanon to Gaza, told AFP on Thursday. Women activists—from Lebanon and other countries—plan to sail on this humanitarian vessel, which will carry food and medical supplies to people in Gaza. Israeli officials were clear about their opposition to this campaign; they reported to the UN that they are determined to stop the ship from reaching its target. Despite these threats, al-Hajj remains determined to carry on with her objective. Israeli authorities are not the only concerned party; a UNIFIL report reveals the UN’s concern, and states clearly that they are ready to stop this campaign in the case of a breach in the 1701 Resolution. The organizers, on the other hand, reassured (see video below) that the sole purpose of the flotilla is to offer humanitarian aid to Gaza. A statement by Hezbollah also came as a pledge of peace. They stated that they will not be participating in this event because they “do not want to give the Israeli enemy an excuse to carry out an aggression against Lebanon.” 

The courage and dedication displayed by the participants in the flotilla, despite the Israeli threats, is really the sort of admirable strong-mindedness we all appreciate. However, the events of May 31st should have taught us that perseverance alone is not enough to ensure the safe arrival of these humanitarian sailors to shore. Hence, some of these women activists seem to have realized this fact and decided that more should be done in order to guarantee a safe journey to Gaza. But, instead of seeking diplomatic support, they resorted to the Virgin Mary, hoping to reinforce their campaign via prayer. The ship was christened “Mariam” (Arabic for Virgin Mary) in her honor. The activists believe that this will convey both a message of peace and of holy power.  

Women activists praying to Virgin Mary.The sail date of the flotilla is still unknown, but according to the organizers it won’t be long. In my opinion, there is still time for the activist to seek out realistic sources of support. If not, I really hope that mother Mary will be able to protect the passenger of the flotilla from another clash with Israeli commandos. An increase in the tensions between Lebanon and Israel is the last thing we need right now; war is only a few nautical miles away!

Sunday, June 20, 2010 by Eli ·


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Poem: “Black Church” by Jonah


There was a black church
In the land of mist and clouds!
Dressed in darkness inside
And so all the surrounds…
A holy cross rose atop,
Dark itself, too, so dull.
Built on an ancient graveyard
Of a hundred million skulls!
Days pass by… years just die…
But still it is this gloomy night!
Silence spread… that of the dead…
A witness to the death of light!

There, an old man prays…
To gods unidentified!
Alive, his flesh decays
Rotting before he died!
Down he kneels again
As far as he can…
Gazes at the dark…
And slowly embarks.
So called holiness!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010 by Jonah Di Bap ·


Documentary: It’s About Time Lebanon

A friend played me a documentary, yesterday, titled “It’s About Time Lebanon” by Lebanese filmmaker Pierre Dawalibi, released in 2006. I was really taken by the emotional footage intercut into this summary, reviewing the 30 years of war in Lebanon. Even though, it has been 4 years since it was released, I believe it is worth posting on my blog. This short film condemns all political movements, fueled by sectarian hate and corruption, by conveying a message of peace, love and tolerance.



(via YaLibnanTV)

by Eli ·


Monday, June 14, 2010

Fatwa of the Day #5

So far I’ve been focusing on Fatwas that have received a fair share of publicity. For this post, however, I’ve chosen one from a website that issues Fatwa’s by the dozen, every day. Those Fatwas are in the form of Q & A; any Muslim, who has a concern or a question about a certain matter, can log in to this website/forum and submit a question. A group of religious scholars (Imams and Muftis) moderate the question and reply to each and every one. They offer “evidence” from the Sharia Law and refer to conversations from the Hadith. When I found this website I knew I have discovered the mother-ship of Fatwa’s.

Question number 11471 (they maintain a serialized system on this website), is titled:


“What is masturbation? And why is it haraam [a sin]?”

Funny "Masturbation is Bad"

Masturbation (or Solo Sex as it appears in the reply), is considered a sin in all three Abrahamic Religions, and in each doctrine we find a different reasoning on this matter. In the response to this query, they divide the answer into two parts: Scientific reasoning (or what I’d like to call Pseudo-scientific) and by reference to the Hadith.

In the first part, they quote a “dignified physician of the Unani medicine”, who’s referred to as Miftahi. After doing some research I found that this supposedly physician is Mufti Zafeeruddin Miftahi, a practitioner of Unani medicine, which is an alternative medicine, based on the belief that the body holds a mixture of the 4 elements: fire, water, earth and air. This Mufti (or religious cleric)—a reliable source according to the academic issuing this Fatwa—states in his book the following:

“[Masturbation] is such an evil practice that has ruined many families and many more are being ruined today… [It] affects equally the heart, the brain, the liver, the stomach, the kidneys along with the reproductive organs. This practice makes the muscles and the nerves of the reproductive organ sagging and lifeless. Accumulation of fluids in the veins makes it unfit for its normal function. There is extreme feebleness in the power of erection. The heat of the friction between the delicate muscles of the organ and the tough hide of the hand damages the former beyond repair."

After offering this pseudo-scientific answer they move to a more scriptural reasoning. Similar to the formation of all Fatwa’s, the scholars try to refer to conversations by the Prophet Mohamed and his followers in order to develop a “reliable” answer. In this case, they cite the Quran:

“The Believers are those who abstain from sex except with those joined to them in marriage bond, or those whom their right hand possess for (in their case) they are free from blame, but those who crave something beyond that are transgressors."

Other sources were alluded to as well, but I’m not going to mention them since they all approach the issue in the same manner; they claim that masturbation is a sin because the prophet said so. However there are two sentences which I would like to highlight:

Oppression of Muslim Women“Beyond the wife and slave woman all ways and means of sexual satisfaction are unlawful.”


“… [Masturbation] was only permitted when it was performed by the hand of a man's wife or concubine, for he has a right to the enjoyment of her hand as he has to the rest of her body."

I quoted those two sentences just to underline the unreasonable approach to sexual affairs in Islamic doctrine. It seems masturbation is Haram but female sex-slaves are a queerly tolerable concept!

Monday, June 14, 2010 by Eli ·


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Beirut: best place to visit?

(Despite the on-going political and economic instability in Lebanon, fueled by the harboring of religious fundamentalism, the New York Times named Beirut as the best place to visit in 2009.)


Lebanon is one of the few countries that weren’t affected by the subprime crisis. Economists explain that the three main reasons behind this immunity are: the central-bank’s wise decision to prohibit commercial banks from stepping into subprime territory; the fact that Lebanon’s industry is mainly services-based; and the boom in touristic activities, which has luckily coincided with the worldwide crisis. Tourism has always been a significant contributor to our national income, and every summer people anticipate a large touristic turn up, hoping for a financial stimulus and a boost of the ever stagnating economy.


In terms of touristic attractions, Lebanon is well endowed with countless historical relics and monuments, diverse national museums, and an abundance of eye-candy natural vistas. These fascinating national treasures have attracted millions of tourists to this small Mediterranean country, throughout the years—the majority coming from other Arab countries. In the last decade, however, different factors have become the main touristic magnet: the large variety of leisure activities and the vibrant night-life.



Lebanon is the only Arab country in which people, with the exception of religious extremists, enjoy a liberal lifestyle. Even though religion plays an important role in the government, it is still regarded as a significantly moderate nation, if compared to the neighboring Islamic republics. Nowhere else in the Arab-world do people enjoy the laissez-faire way of life, such as the one offered in Lebanon. During the last ten years, tourists from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait and Jordan have been swarming Lebanese shopping malls and have become regulars at the clubbing scene in Beirut. These “pious” Muslims, have found the optimal locale—in terms of luxury and freedom from their dictatorial religious dogmatism—to spend the billions of US dollars, hibernating in their nine-digits-interest-swelling-secretly-held bank accounts (Islamic doctrine prohibits Muslims from earning interest on their money. However, the Banking Secrecy system in Lebanon opens a completely private backdoor for those petroleum giants.)

Beirut Before and After The clubbing frenzy, sweeping through the streets of Beirut, every night of the week, 365 days per year, for the last decade, have breathed life into post-war Lebanon. This once demolished capital has been transformed into the ultimate party-city in the Middle East. However, this transformation is seen differently by the religious fundamentalists; for them, Beirut has become the Sin-City of Arabia. Honestly, I fear that one day those religiously eccentric individuals will drag Lebanon into another war (I say “another” because religion/sectarianism has been the cause of the previous ones),  which will undo all the progress that has been taking place for the last decade.  Every time I drive down the streets of Beirut and I hear El-‘Adaan (Muslim prayer) echoing from the loud speakers of the mosques, I wish that, one day, the optimistic dance beats of the nightclubs in downtown Beirut will be loud enough to mute these resonating prayers, and not the other way around.

Saturday, June 12, 2010 by Eli ·


Fatwa of the Day #4

  Funny Simspons Left Hand

According to Muslim doctrine, around 157 Million Muslims living today are sinners for reasons they probably ignore. Why is that? Well, according to this Fatwa, eating or writing with your left hand is a sin. And since the percentage of Muslims in the world is 23% (2009) and the total population is 6.8 billion (2009), and the estimated percentage of left-handed individuals in the world is 10%, if you run a straight forward calculation, you come up with the figure 157 million left-handed Muslims living today.

This number would be much bigger if you consider all the population, and not only Muslims. However, it wouldn’t make any difference since non-Muslims are sinners “by default”. It is worthy of noting, however, that some scholars have a slightly different opinion. They believe that writing with your left-hand can be excused only if writing with the other hand is difficult. It would be great to know the opinion of those religious know-it-alls regarding masturbation with the left hand? But wait a second; isn’t masturbation a sin in the first place?

by Eli ·


Thursday, June 10, 2010

An Added-Value to Free Thinking Lebanon

Jonah's Logo

Today, Jonah (display name: Jonah Di Bap), has joined the author list of Free Thinking Lebanon. He is one of my closest real-life friends. A free-thinker from Lebanon, endowed with a smooth writing-style and a twisted sense of humor, he’s a well versed fellow in both essay writing and poetry. I’m really glad to have him on board, contributing to this blog..

Please join me in welcoming Jonah to this lovely community. I hope you’ll show him the same support you’ve given me when I first started F.T.L.!


Thursday, June 10, 2010 by Eli ·


Monday, June 7, 2010

Fatwa of the Day #3

(I will be moving this segment “Fatwa of the Day” to a separate blog soon. Meanwhile I will keep posting them here.) 

   Emoticans are Bad in Islam

A Fatwa have surfaced on the Islamic religious forum, which claims that, according to several narrations in the Islamic Hadith, the replication of God’s creations (humans, animals etc..) is “Haram” (impermissible), even in drawing. This can explain one of the reasons that might have driven Muslims to protest the “Draw Mohamed” phenomenon; however this is not the subject of this Fatwa. This one is related to EMOTICONS! It prohibits the use of smiley faces & co. on internet forums, chat rooms, blogs, emails and even in SMS. If you have read the previous two Fatwa’s that I have posted (the one about killing Mickey Mouse and the one about breastfeeding adult strangers), this shouldn’t be too bizarre in comparison. This edict, however, can be divided into 3 parts: 

1) Attempting to simulate God’s creations is a sin. Drawing any face that has eyes, a nose and a mouth, regardless of how distorted they are, is prohibited. In other words, even though a smiley face such as this one :-] can only be “read” if you visually flip it 90 degrees to right, it is still a prohibited, simply because it has the three facial features I mentioned above.

2) Women are specifically proscribed from using emoticons while chatting online, especially if they are engaging in a private conversation with a male stranger. This is because, in Islam, a woman is not allowed to communicate her feelings to a man who is a “non-mahram brother”. However, if women think wisely they can solve this problem simply by breastfeeding this stranger – at least five times. By doing so a family bond will be created between the two and the man will no longer be an “outsider”.

3) A third reason for this ban comes from the Hadith as well. One narration states “Angels do not enter a house in which there is a dog or a picture”. So in order not to prevent those winged creatures from entering your house, make sure there are no pictures inside; and if you’re writing a message online, make sure you don’t type in “a colon, a dash and a closed parenthesis” consecutively; and finally don’t forget to keep your dog in the backyard at all times!

Monday, June 7, 2010 by Eli ·


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Fatwa of the Day #2

When you hear about a religious scholar, especially a Muslim Sheikh, fighting for women’s rights you might be thinking what a great step this is for the Muslim world. You might also praise him for finally breaking free from the nonsensical stereotype, which is deeply rooted in his religion, and which sets Men as the superior gender. But then you learn about the “workaround”, which this Sheikh has devised, and you discover that this supposedly improvement for the Muslim culture is, in fact, a more dehumanizing act for Women, that brings to light the sickening obsession of Islam in the matters of sex and the oppression of Women.

Muslim Women at workAs a solution to the segregation of sexes at the workplace in the Arab World, Dr. Izzat Atiya, an Egyptian scholar, found a “solution” that would make it okay for a man to stay alone with a woman colleague in the same room while at work (which is a great sin in Islam). He claims that if a woman breastfeeds a man five times, a family bond will be created between the two and it will become acceptable for them to be left alone in a room. Dr. Atiya based his research on sayings from the Hadith and he claims that since the prophet Mohamed gave this idea to his wife A’isha then it should be a genuine and blessed solution.

I’m not going to comment further on this Fatwa; simply thinking about the subject makes me sick. Such reasoning underlines the fact that religions are man-made, and by MAN I’m not only referring to human beings but to Males in particular.

Sunday, June 6, 2010 by Eli ·


Saturday, June 5, 2010

Fatwa of the Day #1

Muslim Minnie Mouse in Burqa The Islamic Sharia law, states that all mice are evil and calls for their total extermination. This idea by itself is silly but then a cleric comes up with a Fatwa that takes this statement to a higher level of absurdity. Sheikh Mohamed al-Munajid, a renowned religious scholar in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, issued a Fatwa against Mickey Mouse! He stated that all mice are “agents of Satan” and that Mickey Mouse is one of his soldiers. His exact words were: “Mickey Mouse has become an awesome character, even though according to Islamic law, Mickey Mouse should be killed in all cases.”  

This makes me wonder what’s next? A Fatwa for female Disney characters ordering them to wear a Hijab? Also, I wonder if a price will be placed on the head of this devilish mouse. In my opinion, a reward of “3 magical beans” would be the most appropriate compensation, by the sheikh, to anyone who kills this pesky little rodent.

Saturday, June 5, 2010 by Eli ·


A New Daily Segment: Fatwa of the Day

I was talking today to a friend of mine who came from Saudi Arabia after living there for 3 years, during which she did her Junior and Senior years in high-school and her first year of college. She was telling me about her experience in that country and about the social life there (actually the lack of it). Even though I am well aware of how closed-minded the system is in the Kingdom and I’ve heard many stories about how religion, in this Islamic theocracy, controls every aspect of the people’s lives, I was stunned by the reality she was describing; some of these stories were hilarious while others were really horrifying.
At one point during our little chat, she started recounting some of the Fatwa’s that were being advocated in the period she was living there. A Fatwa is a religious opinion/edict announced by an Islamic scholar. Muslims who respect the judgment of this “mufti” regard these Fatwa’s as a law which they should follow. She told me about some of these bylaws and I couldn’t believe that such absurd, and even perverted, reasoning can be regarded by many people as “reasonable”.
After listening to those eccentric accounts, I was somewhat doubtful of how accurate they could be, so I googled them and guess what? She was right! I started reading about other bizarre Fatwa’s – there are so many of them – and it gave me an idea about a daily segment for this blog which I will call: Fatwa of the Day. Even though some of these stories happened a while ago, in my opinion, they would make an interesting read for anyone who takes pleasure in a little sarcasm. I will publish the first one right after this post so check it out hopefully you will enjoy this new theme.

by Eli ·


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Freedom Flotilla Attack: A badly executed plan?

Gaza Freedom FlotillaIn my opinion, the terrible attack on the freedom flotilla was bound to happen. Anyone, who has been following news related to this high profile fleet, would have expected such confrontation between the international activists and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). The Israeli foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, regarded the flotilla as a provocation and made it clear that the country’s forces are going to restrict the ships from arriving to port on Sunday, with any means necessary. He said “we really have all determination and political will to prevent this provocation against us,” and that he thinks they’re “ready at any cost ... to prevent this provocation."

MSNBC reported that the raid, which took place around 5:00am on Monday, resulted in the deaths of 9 activists and dozens of serious injuries, on board of the Mavi Marmara (one of the 6 ships carrying the aid to Gaza and on which the confrontation was the most hostile). The IDF later announced that soldiers opened fire in act of self-defense, after being attacked by the activists on board. They released the following footage (and this one) showing heavy fighting on the deck of the above mentioned vessel.



After this violent strike, the IDF took control of the ships and towed them to shore. Upon arrival, injured civilians were taken to four different hospitals while many of the activists, who were on board of the ships, were arrested and questioned – the government had planned these detentions prior to the sailing of the flotilla. The authorities had already set up a detention and interrogation facility capable of handling hundreds of people, reported Ma’ariv, a daily tabloid published in Tel Aviv, the port will be turned into a “giant interrogation room”. Most of what was reported on this bloody incident was from Israeli sources. A very small number of activists were quoted on the matter. An American passenger stated "I'm not violent. What I can tell you is that there are bruises all over my body. They won't let me show them to you".Freedom Flotilla protest in front of White House

Different opinions were being shaped in response to this hostile blockade. In many countries a series of anti-Israel rallies was triggered, condemning the hostile measures taken by the IDF (the picture on the left is taken in front of the white house). On the other hand, some people justified the Israeli actions taken against the freedom flotilla. They believe the activists were the ones who initiated the hostility – their only source of information is the IDF claims along with a prejudice against Muslims.

Given the unreceptive attitude on the whole idea of the flotilla, which the Israeli government has been advertising for weeks, as well as their clear intentions to intercept it, it is more likely that the IDF had already planned this “terrorist” attack against the activist on board of the Marmara. The following video was uploaded to YouTube by WilliamTomg, yesterday, and it contains the footage taken on board of the Marmara during the assault by the IDF. Three reporters (one of whom is speaking in English) are describing the actual scene; at one point, they report that the activists are raising a white flag for the Israeli soldiers but they are still shooting at them. This video gives a clear perspective on how the events unfolded. If you are going to watch the video do not worry about the lack of subtitles, all three reporters are disclosing the same information in three different languages (English, Arabic and Turkish).


Tuesday, June 1, 2010 by Eli ·


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