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An all male Muslim conference was forced to go co-ed when more women than men showed up for the conference's opening day. The organizing commitee for the World Organization for Male Muslim Youth in North america (WOMMYN) were startled to find that their first conference had drawn a largely female crowd of convention goers. "I don't know how a misunderstanding of this magnitude could occur, the very name of our group makes it quite clear that this is an organization only for male Muslim youth", said the executive spokesman for the group while standing in front of a large conference poster titled "1st Annual WOMMYN's Conference". After some initial scrambling and reorganization, the conference went ahead as a mixed convocation.
- IHU staff report (March 28, 2004)
We first broke the story on growing cellphone usage by religious pilgrims 3 years ago - well, not really, but we would have broken the story if we were a credible news organization...um...and if this site had actually existed 3 years ago...and...uh... if we'd actually gone to Mecca and seen some pilgrims. Well today we're making up for lost time and lost opportunities by bringing you a hard hitting investigative piece on an out of control trend now manifesting itself in the heart of the Islamic world.
While doing tawaf around the Kaaba dressed in their simple white
ihrams, the pilgrims recite their supplications, placidly absorbed in
their devotions. Suddenly a cellphone rings out a tinny, high pitched,
rendition of "O Susanna", its piercing tones janglingly out of place in
this sacrosanct centre. A circumambulating pilgrim reaches into the
fannypack he has around his waist, pulls out his Nokia and begins
chatting while going around the Kaaba. Sacriligious, disrespectful,
shocking...no...just the hottest new trend in the rush to modernize
Islam's oldest ritual.
Hajj and Umrah travel agents are falling over themselves in an
attempt to cash in on this latest craze - "stay connected" they say,
"on your next Hajj or Umrah sign up for the amazing 'Kaaba connectivity
"Choose from options ranging from basic cellphone service to a
discreet deluxe handsfree earbud phone, to the full blown 'mini-phone +
hi-speed internet' connection package which allows you to browse the
internet on a small wireless tablet PC (with Fax) subtly disguised to
resemble a book of duas. Stay in touch with business associates,
friends, and family - check your stocks and surf the net while
circumambulating Islam's holiest shrine."
Monolith Comm, the Middle East's largest telecommunications company
has received permission to pack the inside of the Kaaba with a dense
network of base stations capable of handling the huge number of
cellphone connections expected during next years hajj season. Fiber
optic feeds running under the courtyards marble flooring carry the
signals from the Kaaba to the telecommunication company's central
switching office. A large satellite dish linked to a high capacity
communication satellite in geosynchronous orbit is to be discreetly
embedded into the roof of the Kaaba. As well, base stations are mounted
on nearly every pillar of the grand mosque surrounding the Kaaba's
Abdul Dunya, the level 1 manager who masterminded this large scale
project said: "We expect to field at least 1 million calls an hour
during the hajj, and we have to be able to handle about 500,000
simultaneous high speed broadband internet connections at any given
moment - it's a monumental challenge and we're proud that our company
is going to set the wireless telco standard for the rest of the world.
The Kaaba is the hub of the Muslim world, now it will also be a
telecommunications hub for the Muslim world."
"You see these webcams ringing the Kaaba", he said pointing out the
nearly continuous ring of tiny webcams attached to the beautiful black
cloth covering the Kaaba, "this will allow the pilgrims who take
advantage of our 'mobile internet connection package' to see themselves
performing tawaf on their tablet PCs – they’ll be able to send a live
picture or video stream of themselves to their family and friends back
home - that's a huge bonus for a very reasonable cost. And don't forget
this feature will also enable you to get the best view of Omar Khaladoo
and Boogaloo Shoobadoo Afeef's moonwalk tawaf at next year's hajj -
otherwise it may be very difficult to see."
When asked if this project isn't perhaps carrying modernization too
far, Dunya responded: "You know, we at Monolith Telecommunications
believe that if the Prophet were alive today, he would be a regular
cellphone and internet user and most likely he would also have chosen
company to be his service provider!"
With 1 million+ cellphones expected around the Kaaba, Dunya was
asked if he had any advice for the cellphone carrying pilgrims. Dunya
said simply: "Please turn down your ringers."
Cellphone conversations overheard around the Kaaba:
"No, no, you didn't catch me at a bad moment, I'm just performing Islam's most sacred ritual."
"Help Honey, what am I supposed to do...I can't remember how many times I've already gone round."
"Where am I! Where are you...OK, OK let's meet at Zam Zam in two minutes, thank God for this cell."
"Hey bud, I'm finally on my farewell tawaf...lets meet up
at Burger King outside the Fahd gate later."
- IHU staff report (March 26, 2004)
There's a new style of progressive Islam that's sweeping the North
American Masjid scene - a style that combines the sass and cool of
hip-hop with the spirituality of Islam - and this is one wave that's
stirring big controversy as it washes over the Muslim community.
"We like to do things our way - there's lots of room for personal expression in our deen and this is our way of expressing our own style." said amateur breakdancer and progressive Muslim spokesperson, Boogaloo Shoobadoo Afeef after praying salat at the local mosque.
"Style is important my man and these masjids have to get with the flow - it's wack that they make us line up "military-like" at Jumaa - that ain't happenin...you know - it's like so...old-style."
B-boy Omar Khaladoo Islam poplocks his joints like a robot as he performs his salat, grinds down into a Bhudda as he begins his sajdah and ends the movement with a freeze-lock into a headslide. Then he windmills back to his feet in a breathtakingly virtuoso move that dramatically concludes his salat.
"Takbir!" he shouts as he pumps his fist triumphantly in the air. A chorus of "Allah O'Akbar's" resound through the hall in response.
"That is so spinnin, so totally trippin." exclaims a copiously-pierced onlooker. A group of youngsters in the masjid break out in spontaneous applause while in the back some of the more elderly Muslims shake their head disapprovingly. "Haram..." shouts a man from the back, "this is completely haram!" he repeats before storming angrily out of the mosque. It seems that young and old are polarized by this new take on Islam.
We spoke to the caretaker of the mosque about the prayer we had just seen to get his viewpoint on this completely new development.
"Many youths are coming now to the masjid. Before we could not get them to pray - now even the non-Muslims come to learn this...uh...salat. They are calling this salat...how do they say...'way coool" and also by other such names...I do not know what to think...perhaps this is...I cannot say...it is hard time understanding this way."
Sheik Dawah bin Dawah, the part time Imam had this to say: "What is that, Subhanallah!!!...I mean what the...just what the heck is that supposed to be...I mean...What IS that...What IS it??? These people are...get them out of here....just get them out now."
Progressive Muslim member Doodawa Dadoowah responds: "Look man,
we're pro-gress-ive, the rest of you's is 're-gress-ive' and if you
don't back off we's a goin to get A-GRESS-IVE...so don't nobody tell us
what we're doin is wrong - prayer is not just ritual man, it is
SPI-ritual, if you get my drift. We're wakin up the Ummah, my
friend...we're shakin up the Ummah, and ain't no-body stoppin us."
Omar Khaladoo moonwalked across the mosque's Persian rug and added: "Me and a group of the boys is goin on hajj next year and we're plannin the first ever group moonwalk tawaf around the Holy Kaaba. It's gonna be bea-u-tiful to see - forget about rockin the Casbah, bro...we're goin ta ROCK the Kaaba."
Omar Khaladoo and the other youngsters then joined hands and began to do a group electric wave as they rapped out a dhikr, the wave rippling down the line of breakdancing worshippers as they chanted in unison. In the background Boogaloo Shoobadoo Afeef boomed a throat centered, "Oom pa-da-oom-pah Oom pa-da-oom-pah" in time to the dhikr rap.
Sheik Dawah bin Dawah looked down and shook his head muttering irritably to himself but I couldn't help notice him unconsciously tapping his foot to the beat.....
- IHU staff report (March 21, 2004)
- IHU staff
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