“From Chaiwallah to Playwright: The Rise of a Pakistani American Writer”

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GOATMILK: An intellectual playground

This is the full video of my recent Google Talk where I recount my unexpected, surreal, ridiculous, hopefully amusing journey from an overweight, shy, dorky Pakistani American kid who spoke 3 words of English to becoming a paid writer and storyteller. Hope you enjoy.

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ICNA Relief & Islamic Relief Support Oklahoma Tornado Victims


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Soon after a recent tornado devastated Oklahoma, ICNA Relief was on the ground setting up to help the victims.  Named the New Yorker of The Week by NY Channel NY1 for its outstanding service after Hurricane Sandy, ICNA Relief is again ready to respond.  Please read more about ICNA Relief’s efforts here and donate here.

Islamic Relief, another well established charitable organization, has been on the ground working in Oklahoma as well.  You can read about Islamic Relief’s efforts here.  Islamic Relief is working in shelters, distributing aid and first aid, and conducting disaster assessment.  Please support Islamic Relief’s efforts by donating here.

Obaid Siddiqui: Up and Coming Journalist/Writer

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I enjoy learning from interesting people.  One such person is my friend, Obaid Siddiqui.  He always has an unique and interesting perspective on the happenings of the world.  His unique point of view has led him to a career in marketing and writing, with an emphasis on journalism.

He is making a name for himself at a relatively young age and has a bright future ahead of him.  He has been featured in and contributed to “All-American: 45 American Men on Being Muslim.”  Also, he has conducted extensive research and work that has culminated in his publication in magazines such as Illume Magazine.

Most recently, Obaid has published an article on the fallout from the Boston Marathon bombings for AltMuslim on Patheos, which can be read here.  Keep an eye out for this writer as he is making his mark on the world in a big way!

Ghuydar: “The Syrian American Sinatra,” Irfan Aziz Feeds The Poor, Somair Alam’s Quest, Faiz Safdar & RJ Cafe!

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When Moutasem Atiya and his dedicated group at Al-Madina Institute put their stamp of approval on something, it is usually because it is quality.  So when Al-Madina recently introduced Nasheed artist Ghuydar Bashmaf through their website, www.almadinainstitute.org, it was a good indication of the bright future Ghuydar’s singing career will have, with God’s help.

Ghuydar is a Syrian American singer who migrated to America in his early childhood.  Ghuydar comes from Aleppo, Syria, renown for its musical heritage.  According to his website, www.ghuydar.com, Ghuydar is influenced by Arabic, Circassian, and Turkish musical traditions, and he sings in these languages as well.  Ghuydar is formerly of the musical nasheed group ‘Travelers,’ which was well known in the New York scene.  He is currently #2 on the AwakeningTalent contest on Youtube, and you can support him by liking his video below on youtube or on http://www.awakening.org.

This dude can sing!

Best of luck to Ghuydar!  The hype is buzzing on when his album is coming out!

Also, some other noteworthy items of note from around the area:

  • Irfan Aziz, a certified chaplain, has been holding it down with feeding our needy brothers and sisters in the DC area at The Central Union Mission.  You can read more about Irfan’s noble efforts here. It is once a month, and if you are interested in volunteering your time, money, or food, please contact Irfan directly @ irfanmaziz@gmail.com or call  347.401.8546.  A man asked Allah’s Messenger, “Which act in Islam is the best?” He replied, “To feed (the poor and the needy) and to greet everyone, whether you are acquainted with them or not.” (Bukhari & Muslim)
  • Somair Alam, a native of Virginia, is gearing up to compete in his first bodybuilding competition in New York, NY this June.  Please show him support by visiting his site, www.somairalam.com, or finding him on Facebook.  The guy is beast.
  • Congratulations to my younger brother, Faiz Safdar, for becoming Security + and CCA Xenapp 6.5 certified.  Microsoft, Google & Apple, holla back!  Doing big things bro! You can send him your offers at Faiz Safdar’s LinkedIn page.
  • Finally, although I hit the gym, I can’t forget about Chubby Cheemy’s Chunky Monkey Sauce.  As requested, this is a public service announcement to let all you halal burger, wings and steak fans know that RJ Cafe is open on Sundays from 11AM to 9PM.  This restaurant is conveniently located in Beltsville, MD and provides a friendly family environment for you and your friends to enjoy the best Americana food around. Check out RJ Cafe onlineBooyah!

Reaching HIV+ Muslims in America

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There are over 1.1 million people in the U.S. currently living with HIV according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  HIV, along with other important issues such as mental health and domestic violence, are still taboos in the Muslim community by and large.  Founded by Khadija Abdullah, an AmeriCorps VISTA,  in 2012, Al-Rahma is striving to raise awareness about HIV, AIDs, and related issues and help those who need it.

Please view their site: www.haverahma.org, and help spread the word.

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Prayers for Amani

I’d like to request your prayers for the daughter of my good friend Aamir.  Her name is Amani and she has not been feeling well and needs your generous prayers on her behalf.  You can read about her on Aamir’s blog: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/amanisyed . Please visit his blog and make a prayer for Amani and her family.  Thanks.

 

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Praying for Others and Asking Others to Pray for You

A dear brother reminded me of this hadith the other day and I wanted to share it with you:

The Prophet (pbuh) has said: ‘The prayer of a Muslim for his brother in his absence is always answered. An angel stands by him with the special task- Every time he says a good prayer for his brother, the angel says: Amen, and may Allah grant you the same’.

It’s cool to pray for oneself.  But its even cooler to pray for someone other than oneself.  This hadith captures the essence of the power of sending good vibes in prayer for your brother.

So next time we make a prayer, a dua, let’s remember our loved ones and friends and the whole world.  The idea is that the same dua will be made for you by the angels listening.  Sounds like good karma to me!

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The above pictured hadith (narration of the Prophet Muhammad) describes the Prophetic tradition of asking others to pray for us, as well as the cherished status of being entitled “dear brother,” particularly in this context by the Prophet Muhammad (May Allah bless him and his family and followers, ameen).

Its especially touching that Umar stated, regarding being called “dear brother,” that he wouldn’t be willing to exchange it for the world.  What an honor!