Posts Tagged ‘a fishing story’

Mapping Jihad and Martyrdom: Contested Semantics and Narratives of Dissent

In 2012 on March 7, 2012 at 4:07 am

Mapping Jihad and Martyrdom: Contested Semantics and Narratives of Dissent, a lecture hosted by Dr. Asma Afsaruddin, showcased the meaning of jihad in modern day society. Dr. Afsarudduin pointed out that although people think the term jihad means holy war; that is not the case. Jihad actually is derived from an Arabic word that can be translated either as a “struggle” or an “effort” or it can mean “to strive”, “to exert”, or “to fight for”. Jihad is often misinterpreted as a militaristic term. Although jihad could be a military struggle, it can also refer to the internal struggle an individual has within his or herself. The term jihad is often misconstrued by modern society. Many think that jihad is one of the Five Pillars of Islam.


Dr. Afsaruddin pointed out that many scholars have had their own personal takes on the concept of jihad. Some have agreed that since jihad is not one of the Five Pillars, it is not obligatory for anyone. Other scholars argued the opposite, stating that jihad was an unspoken pillar that was compulsory. The last group believed that jihad was only necessary as a defensive mode. Dr. Afsaruddin focused on how the term jihad has developed from Prophet Muhammed’s time to the present day culture.

Attending the seminar, I learned some interesting facts about Islam that I did not know before. Dr. Afsaruddin spoke of the term shaheed,  which I always defined as a martyr. However, according to her statement, the Quran does not use that definition of shaheed to refer to a martyr. Instead, it emphasizes shaheed as one who bears witness. This was an interesting fact for me because I have always heard that the Quran offers all shaheeds a place in eternal heaven. However, according to Dr. Afsaruddin’s definition, shaheeds do not refer to what we think of as martyrs. The term does have other connotations.

Often in Western society, the concept of martyrdom in Islam is ridiculed. Turn to Fox News and one can hear the jokes about Islam’s 72 virgins. But then again, it is Fox News. This often troubles me because it shows how often the big concepts in Islam are grossly misunderstood. Whether it is ignorance, apathy, or just simple laziness, many people have these distorted perceptions of Islam. In Dr. Afsaruddin’s case, it is about the concept of jihad and martyrdom. Many individuals believe that the Quran promotes holy war and the killing of all non-believers. Plainly false, I believe that people need to just get out more and learn about the Islamic culture with an open mind. We are living in the 21st century and it is about time that we stop stereotyping and judging others based on religious differences.

Happy fishing.


Day 2 of Mexico Trip: Small Towns

In 2011 on November 8, 2011 at 3:30 am

The second day was another day of studious driving. I had spent the night in Zacatecas, Mexico after being warned by a local to not drive that particular road at night. Although carjackings were not the norm, the idea of driving through a mountain at nighttime did not seem smart. As a rule of thumb, do not do anything in a foreign country that you would not do in the U.S.

I reached the town of Dolores Hidalgo, the home of Mexican’s independence and talavera (or ceramics). We walked around, chilled, ate home-made ice cream and daddled in and out of stores. While most of the stores featured pottery, artwork and garden ornaments, one particular store had an assorted of phallic looking talavera with Jesus on it. Weird, right? (By the way, if you want to see photos of that, ask me..I don’t want to put inappropriate pictures on this blog!)


I passed many small towns including Aguascalientes (meaning “hot waters” as its known for its hot springs) until we reached the town of San Miguel de Allende. (On a side note, Aguascalientes is known for its national fair — San Marcos and one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world).

Aguascalientes, one of the safest cities in Mexico

Located in the state of Guanajuanto in central Mexico, San Miguel de Allende has been an important attraction for artists from all over the world. It was the one place where I actually saw more white people than anywhere else in Mexico. Even though the town is located in Mexico, San Miguel had an odd resemblance to French cities with its cobblestone streets, dainty bakeries and artsy culture.

First Starbucks I saw in Mexico

First Starbucks I saw in Mexico

A striking cathedral in the city center, San Miguel really put me at awe. I only saw structures and architecture like this in pictures and the Travel Channel. Seeing it in person — is something amazingly different.

La Parroquia, Built in 1880

That day, San Miguel had major festivities going on for the upcoming holiday season. Nativity scences, wreaths, lights and Santa Claus — these people love Christmas.

Nativity scene

Merry Christmas

It’s funny how a person can remember certain details as though it happened yesterday. Even though I finish writing this blog entry almost a year later, I recall perfectly clear that what I even ate that night: chicken enchiladas with green sauce with a Fanta. An orange Fanta that I remember thinking was so yellow in color…Writing about this experience, I miss mainland Mexico more than ever. I miss the people, I miss the landscape, I miss the food and most of all, I miss the memories.

Happy fishing.