A Diverse Eid – an Eid Mubarak Message

  

Every Eid the rich diversity in my community excites and amazes me. The morning I attend Eid prayers I get to see people from every cultural background possible, including old friends and new acquaintances. The diversity of this culture makes me proud and blessed to be Muslim.

I love spending time with friends and family on Eid, that’s definitely one of the high points of this holiday. But also, every year I get excited to see how my Muslim friends and their families will express themselves in their outfits. Clothes for me, is a way to express myself and my personality. So my outfits change every year. Sometimes I wear traditional Pakistani clothes, the shalvaar camise, other times I wear dresses, and still there are Eids where I have worn pants, or abayas.

I enjoy seeing people’s dresses. Some people wear traditional clothes from their or their family’s cultures, Pakistani, Bengali, Indian, African, Moroccan, Palestinian or Egyptian to name a few. While others wear skirts, pants, or dresses. Each outfit is a way to express their Muslimness in whatever way they choose. Their smiles and hugs express the joy of the spiritual journey of Ramadan and of the celebration of Eid.

Without a doubt there are people within the diaspora who consider Muslims of a different cutlure not “Muslim enough” or “beneath them” (an unfound belief), but it is on Eid that we gather to pray side by side, eat delicious cultural dishes, and as we celebrate we are reminded of Allah’s words that “We have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know each other.” – Surah Hujurat (49:13). Eid prayer is a reminder that as humans, we truly are created equal.

I feel so blessed to be living in a nation, like the medieval Muslim empire of Haroon Al-Rashid, where diversity is its hallmark. I have never known Eid in Pakistan, so I have nothing to compare it to. But I feel that it is such a rich and inviting experience knowing Muslims from across the globe and many different nations right here in my own country. It is one of the things that truly makes America great, and is also a wonderful experience of being Muslim. Eid is one of those days where I take great pride in being from a culture that accepts all cultures.

An Apology to the Native American Community

I wanted to write this apology as I was not aware Natives felt so strongly about the mention of Native Americans in Magic in North America, especially as theirs is not the culture I come from.

Firstly, I wanted to say thank you to all the comments from readers and especially Natives. including Dr. Adrienne Keene and Debbie Reese.  Thank you to Magadelena for replying to my question.

Some of the comments I received were aggressive and vitriolic, while others were calm and insightful.  Since hearing Native voices on my blog and watching some YouTube videos my view on this matter has changed.

JK Rowling is clearly in the wrong for using Native American culture as part of her fantasy franchise and I was wrong for agreeing with her use of Native American lore.  You are right that she should not commercialize your history.
I myself have been vilified for wrongs done to me, which is one of the reasons I started an independent blog, to state my views peacefully and find an audience for the work that is dear to my heart.  I am someone who has worked for years to preserve cultures in my own community, and I can tell this is as important to you as my culture is to me.  I cannot bear to read the words I wrote last March.  I have taken down my original post.

I would love for people to hear more friendly Native voices, especially as there are people out there who never hear from Natives as they’re not represented in the media.   I don’t want people to continue to ignore the concerns of Native Americans, as they are an already marginalized community.  Toward that end, I’ve been retweeting Native voices in my Twitter feed and contacted Natives to collaborate on sharing their stories and would be happy to work with Natives to adapt them for my blog, if they are willing.

I have not seen Fantastic Beasts the movie, nor do I plan to buy tickets.

The whole world of blogging is new to me and I hope you will forgive my ignorance in writing a defense of JK Rowling’s use of Native Americans in her History of Magic in North America writings.  I love the Harry Potter Books but in this case, I think she has misused the franchise.

Can Fan Fiction Writers Ever Be Serious Novelists? | Mariam Books

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A Buffy fan fiction story written by me

“Can Fan Fiction Writers Ever Be Serious Novelists?”

The answer is both yes and no.

  • No, if that’s the only thing they ever write.
  • Yes, if they train themselves to write original works.

For a more detailed response, keep reading.

Since 2000 the fandom that has made fan fiction popular is Harry Potter Fan fiction.  There are over 700,000 original works on FanFiction.NET.  But there are thousands of other fandoms as well, such as Star Wars, Twilight, Supernatural, Pokemon, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, Gilmore Girls, and Doctor Who.

If you don’t already know, fan fiction is a story written by a fan featuring the same characters or world of the original book, film, or TV series.

Fan fiction has lived in the notebooks of budding writers, in the minds of readers, and on the dark recesses of the internet since the beginning of stories — and of course, the beginning of the internet.  Since then, some fan fiction writers have become best selling novelists, and most recently have come to the attention of the general public, such as E. L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy.  In books (Fifty  Shades) as well as film/TV: CBS’s lawsuit against Axanar, a Star Trek fan film I discovered while reviewing the Trek Fan Film: Horizon (review under the link).

Lots of people write fan fiction, and even if you’ve never written it, you likely have a story somewhere in your head (often called head canon in the fandom) about your favorite book, film, or TV characters.

First off, I’d like to clarify that I DO NOT CONDONE THE STEALING OF OTHER WRITERS’ WORKS AND CLAIMING THE WORLD OR ITS CHARACTERS AS YOUR OWN.  THIS IS CALLED PLAGIARISM.  Also, when you write and sell this work, it is considered copyright infringement and is enforceable by law to claim another writer’s work as your own, even if you have changed a few people, places, and things.  The world remains the same and, therefore, it is not yours, it is borrowed — this is plagiarism.  However writing free fan fiction or for a school assignment (if your teacher allows, in that, I find instruction for budding young writers.

I also do not agree with authors such as Robin Hobb who blasted fan fiction and its writers (she did, however, made a clarification statement which I found here. I’ve included the link so you can read at your leisure, if you like). I think fan Fiction is an excellent way to explore one’s own creativity.  If a person writing fan fiction is doing it purely for fun, not getting paid for it, I think this is appropriate and for that writer, perhaps, a necessary part of their growth as creative person.  Art is inspired by other art, new stories by old stories.

Before you go searching for good fan fiction to read or write, let’s be clear: the majority of fan fiction on the internet is not good.  It is not well written, has grammatical and spelling mistakes rampant, and also, some is just plain smut.  I don’t find sex in fan fiction, or fiction in general to be taboo, as long as it is appropriate for the story line of the characters and is rated appropriately.  Otherwise, I am not too interested in reading your fan fiction.   Further, I think readers should know whether there will be explicit situations in the story, and as should their parents so together they can decide what is appropriate for their child to read.

As far as my fictions go, I used to write both original fiction and fan fiction in high school as well as quite a few song fics and stories about dragons. I was one of those writers who wrote PG-13 stories as they contained no graphic sexual scenes.  Even if the characters were in a physical relationship the readers learned through their dialogue how their “liasons” improved or ruined their relationship.  That’s what was important to me as a writer.

My fan fiction was also not very popular.  However, I committed to myself that whatever I wrote, whether it was original or fan fiction, I wanted to write something good, and if that meant that it wasn’t a romance novel, then that’s what I wrote.  That doesn’t mean that I think people who write “smut” are “bad” people.  I also don’t think they’re inferior writers, unless of course, they write nothing else and never grow.  Good writers are always improving their craft and exploring new uncharted oceans of words, new genres, and new territories.

I don’t read a lot of fan fiction because good fan fiction is hard to find, but if I’m writing it, I think it’s only appropriate for me to read what other writers  have written before me so as not to produce the same writing over and over again, boring my readers, and frankly, myself. Writing needs to keep me excited, and for me, that means writing something that has never been done before, even if I borrow my favorite author’s characters for a short while.  I think, in part, that dedication to write new stories makes me a serious writer.

As a teenager, writing fan fiction taught me how to plot my story, improved my spelling and grammar, and got me to finish my first novel.  However, for a writer, the best place to shine, I think, is in writing original fiction. If it takes 5 or 15 years of writing free fan fiction to get there, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.  No writer will forgo the hard work it takes for her art to live.

In conclusion, people will continue to write fanfiction until the end of times, in fact, we’ll probably be writing fan fiction beyond the grave.   Fanfiction writers are a different species (I think they’re part wizard-part elf).  Right now, with all the news about Star Trek: Discovery, and in anticipation of the new show, I am looking for every scrap of information out there on the time period and characters  of the new TV show so I can know more about the story.  I’m on the edge of my seat! It’s been delayed twice already, from January, to May, to indefinitely, and I want to write some fanfiction of my own so I can begin the story!! But I think I’ll leave it to the brilliant brains of the Star Trek writers, as throughout The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager they never failed to disappoint.  And I believe they will give us something great – well, I have high hopes, at least.

So, I have more thoughts on fanfiction, including its origins, its writers, current controversies, and the  future of fan fiction, so hold steady until I post part II.  If you have any thoughts on what I’ve mentioned above please feel free to leave me your thoughts below.  Thanks for reading!

— End of Part I —

For further reading, I enjoyed:

Why I’m Not Going to Read Your Fanfictionhttp://www.overthinkingit.com/2008/09/22/why-im-not-going-to-read-your-fanfic/

13 Things Fan Fiction Writers are Very Tired of Explaininghttp://www.bustle.com/articles/71438-13-things-fan-fiction-writers-are-very-tired-of-explaining

NaNoWriMo Reflection

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My novel’s tentative cover

It’s been quite a while since the end of NaNoWriMo 2016! As everyone is celebrating Christmas with their families I come to you today with my reflections on the month of novel writing.
This was the third time I participated in NaNoWriMo.  The first was a decade ago while the other was in 2014.  I didn’t get past 5,000 words each time.  But this year was different, in good ways and in bad.

I was optimistic this time and thought I could finish writing 50K words since I had planned this story for 6 months! Why all the planning? You ask? Why not just writing a simple story? Well, ever since I decided to become a writer (when I was 7), I wanted my story not just to entertain, but to say something about something.  Something that is enjoyable to read and has memorable characters, but also makes a comment about larger human society. I know most authors advise young writers not to set out to write something that will become a literary classic, but I don’t care. I’m aiming high.The best writers, like Stephen King, tell writers to write something truthful. To him, and to me, this is the most important thing.  I’m setting out to write a novel that makes a larger comment about the human condition and I’m not apologizing for it.  It may take me 2, or 5, or 10 novels until I get there, but my hope is that is that someday I will write something great; something timeless; something memorable.
The good news from this month is that I wrote 50,000 words! All mostly during the first two weeks.  The bad news is that most of it was background information — most of it will not end up in the novel.
Here are a few important things I’ve learned about novel writing this short month:
1. Interruptions WILL happen.  In the first week of NaNoWriMo my brother ended up in the Emergency Room in the hospital.  He’s fine now, but I was the one who he told about his pain, and I was the last person to see him before he was rushed off to the hospital.  He had another incident later in the month.  But he’s much better now.  The whole ordeal threw off my schedule.  I became stressed out because my brother was ill and could not concentrate, as it normal when anyone in your family becomes sick.  My family also had guests toward the end of November which threw me off a few days as I was helping my mom prepare.  So that along with my brother getting sick were two setbacks for my novel this month.
2.  My novel is NOT a novel.  It’s actually a series of novels.  I’m not sure yet if it’s a trilogy, or a 7-part series like Harry Potter, perhaps it’s more or less. My research and notes are causing my novel to be more of a universe than a single story.  I’m excited about the possibilities of my expanded universe, but that also means I’ll need to put in more work before the first novel gets finished.
3.  I CAN write 50K words in a month! I worked very hard all month. I downloaded a word counting app, I kept an audio log of my daily progress/research, and I sat down and wrote — usually early in the morning. I adjusted my calendar somewhat, and allowed myself an extra few days, up til the 10th of December if I needed to finish the novel.  NaNoWiMo has its schedule to finish and win the competition by the 30th, but since this is MY novel, I decided I could give myself a few more days if that’s what I needed to write a novel I was satisfied with.  The extra 10 days didn’t do much for me, as my story just became bigger and bigger, still, it reminded me a. I can adjust the schedule if I need to, 2. I can write 50,000 words in a month, just like all those other NaNo writers!
It was a good month overall.  I learned more about my writing style and abilities.  I don’t know if I will ever do NaNoWriMo again, as I’m planning on finishing my first novel before the end of next year, 2017, but it’s not completely off the list of possible ways to complete a novel!
To those who are celebrating Christmas or December celebrations, I want to say Happy Holiday to you and your families. For those who are on break from school, I hope you have a relaxing and stress-free holiday! Take care.

NaNoWriMo 2016! 

 
 
Six months of serious planning, researching, and plotting and #Nanowrimo is finally here! Aside from a short story published on my blog, I am an unpublished author of a young adult novel people always ask me why I dont get it published. And I answer: it’s for me. I wrote a story when I was a teenager about teenagers. It’s sloppy, it’s personal, I think it’s a good read — but, really, it’s practice — it’s just for me. This year’s novel is for everyone else and anyone else who likes science fiction and fantasy with a strong dose of realism.  

This is my 3rd time participating in #Nanowrimo, each time I wrote fewer than 5000k words. This is the first year I’m confident I have a good chance of winning. On my Instagram (@HerMintGreenTypewriter) a tentative copy of my cover. The title is also tentative. Right now all I know is that it will loosely fit the story I’ve had in my mind for a few years now; in my mind the story is in 8 parts. My target goal is 136,000 words, with 85k being completed before the 30th of November. I have 12 notebooks full of notes and months of planning behind this particular book. I think I’m in a good position to win this year around. I’m also willing to allow myself the first 2 weeks of December if needed. If I meet my word count goal, I will edit and release my book as an ebook before the holidays! Wish me luck guys 🙂 

If you want to follow my writing journey and discuss writing all month, follow me on Instagram at @HerMintGreenTypewriter  

  

Why Books over Everything Else? – Mariam Books

GOOD AFTERNOON EVERYONE! I’m back with another blog post!

I hope your summer was fantastic!  I was busy with Ramadan in June, family things over most of July,  as well as writing during Camp NaNoWriMo, so I haven’t been able to post as much as I wanted to.

This month, though, I’ve gotten back to blogging and making videos and am quite excited to be back to it all this time around.  In this blog post, I wanted to share with you my current video, called “Why Books Over Everything Else?” In the video I discuss my reasons for choosing books over electronic articles, e-books, wiki sites, screen media and summarize my debate over both print and electronic media. Please watch and let me know how you feel about books over other types of media.  =)

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The Good Islamic Literature Brings, the Violence it Rejects

Sadly, no more than 2 days after I introduce an addition to my blog, International Literature, do we face yet another domestic terrorist act.  It serves as a reminder that awareness of other cultures is more important than ever.

We’re living in a scary world where no race or culture feels safe, and thoughtless people threaten not just the lives of the citizens of the West, but blacks, whites, hispanics, and Muslims everywhere too.  I profess the Muslim faith and can contend that no one claiming terrorism in the name of Islam, is someone who shares Islam with me.  It says so in the literature of the Arabs.

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It’s important to note that this was never meant to be a religious blog, however, like many readers’ devotion to the Bible, a lot of my love for literature came from classical Islamic literature. As I said in an earlier post, Holocaust and WWII literature begs the question is there ever a time when killing an entire group people simply because the color of their skin or religion is justified? In this case, we must ask, is killing justified because of a person’s sexual orientation? Or is it pure unadulterated evil? I would definitely say this massacre was a form of “evil” in the modern world.  In light of these happenings, I thought there was no better time than now to discuss with you some Arabic Islamic literature against violence.

I generally divide Arabic literature into four categories:

  • contemporary,
  • Golden era,
  • poetry,
  • and Islamic.

There are probably more genres, but unfortunately I am not currently well-versed in them.  I see Islamic Arabic literature as categorized into:

  • Quran (primary text),
  • hadith (secondary texts),
  • scholarship (law, theology),
  • and commentary (cultural or contemporary perspectives).

All over Arabic texts you will find literature rejecting acts of violence on the innocent. Today I will share with you just a few of those texts.

Let’s visit some oft-repeated controversial statements of the Quran:
The first being:

O you who believe (in Allah’s Oneness and in His Messenger (Muhammad SAW)! ….Fight against those who (1) believe not in Allah, (2) nor in the Last Day, (3) nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger …And the Jews say: ‘Uzair (Ezra) is the son of Allah, and the Christians say: Messiah is the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouths. They imitate the saying of the disbelievers of old. Allah’s Curse be on them, how they are deluded away from the truth! 9:27-30

These verses are often used to promote the propaganda that Islam is violent.  First, Islam is not a person, it is a philosophy of life. Second, the claim that Islam promotes violence? This is untrue. These verses specifically speak about the Battle of Tabuq in 9 AH / 630 AD.  It was not Muslims who pursued a Holy Battle, it was Muslims uniting to defend themselves from the armies of a powerful Rome. It was the Roman Empire who started this war.  These verses do not promote a modern war with the West. You can find more on the history of these verses at www.discover-the-truth.com.

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Further, the text of The Quran says:

Fight in the way of Allah those who fight you but do not transgress. Indeed. Allah does not like transgressors….And kill them wherever you overtake them and expel them from wherever they have expelled you, and fitnah is worse than killing. And do not fight them at al-Masjid al- Haram until they fight you there. But if they fight you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers. 2:190-191

When Islamophobes cite these verses, they claim this is a direct order to kill people.  They fail to note the verse right before it: Fight people, if they pick a fight with you.  This verse only promotes raising a fist or a gun or sword if the other person first picks one against you.  It is a verse promoting self-defense, not mass killings of civilians who choose a gay lifestyle you disagree with.  Also, a verse quoted often today, but not often enough by the Mainstream Media is the verse in the Quran which says: “ whoever kills a soul… it is as if he had slain mankind entirely.” 5:32. To kill one person in Islam, it is as if you have killed all of humanity.

 

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One of Al-Jazari’s candle clocks

Also, here are a few statements compiled in the books of hadith (narrations):

Allah helps those who help others.  Whoever alleviates the the lot of a needy person, Allah will alleviate his  lot in this world  (Muslim)

Oppression is forbidden (Muslim)

There should be no harming others nor reciprocating harm.  (Ibn Majah)

Do not get angry.  (Bukhari)

Behave well.  If you do fall into a minor sin,  follow up a bad deed with a good deed and behave well towards people (Tirmidhi)

As you can see, there are endless statements in the books of Arabic Islamic texts that promote the welfare, and well-being of humans.  Whoever decides they’re killing innocents in the name Islam, are only acting in their own self-interest and hurting many others by way of their warped theology.  One-point-six billion Muslims around the world don’t agree with your militant ideology.  True strength lies in living with people, understanding the global world we live in, and serving others, not carrying out a juvenile dream of personal glory.

I hope that this exposed you to some Islamic Arabic texts and that you enjoyed this post.  Please pray for the families of the victims and donate blood if you can.  Thanks for reading and I will see you later this week for some book reviews.