A Little Irish Blessing

 

May you have warm words on a cold evening, a full moon on a dark night and a smooth road all the way to your door. (Irish Blessing)

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An Irish Blessing…that’s how I think of my sister.  When I was 5, I wanted a sister more than anything in the world.  I’d been begging my mom and dad to bring a baby girl into our lives for years.  That was easier said than done since my parents could not have biological children.  They’d adopted me and we were a happy little family of three but I really wanted to be a family of four.

One day my parents told me the news I’d been waiting to hear for so long.  I was going to have a sibling!  They explained that they couldn’t pick if it would be a boy or girl, it was going to be a surprise when the baby was born.  In my confident 5 year old way, I said that if it was a boy, I’d still love him but I just KNEW it was going to be a girl.  Since I was so sure, I set about thinking of a name for her.  I thought of a good first name for her and then I picked Aileen for her middle name.  Aileen was the name of a good friend of mine and it was a name I thought would be fitting for my new baby sister since her ancestry was both Irish and African.

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My little sister at about 3 or 4 years old

Now that we’re all grown up with children of our own, I always think of her on St. Patrick’s Day and smile!

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My sister and I on a boat ride in Hong Kong.  I was in college and  I think my sister was still in high school.  

Incidentally, I saw a leprechaun today at the grocery store…I swear!  I even got a photo of him so you’d know I was telling the truth.

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This leprechaun was at my local grocery store.  I can tell by his face he was up to mischief!

 

Day Without A Woman

Today is International Women’s Day.  In order to properly celebrate groups across the United States are sponsoring A Day Without A Woman.  The celebration is supposed to involve ladies withdrawing from their regular activities at work and home in order to show the rest of society how important their role is and how they need more appreciation.  Not only aren’t you supposed to go to work you’re not supposed to shop either.  I think they made an exception for shopping at female-owned businesses but obviously, those would likely be closed for the day since the owner should be leaving her usual responsibilities to make a point about how important she is to the proper functioning of society.

Let’s see.  Women are supposed to leave men alone AND not shop?  This sounds like something a man made up doesn’t it?  It’s clearly a trick and the celebrants have been had!  The secret name for A Day Without A Woman is Men’s Freedom Day! 

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I can’t believe they fell for it! See ya ladies!

Men are free from henpecking, nagging and whining for a full day. Sounds like party time to me!

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She won’t be home for HOURS!

Plus, you know darn well, when those women decide to come back home, their husbands and sons are going to be having a great time lolling about in their sweats, watching action movies with their feet up on the coffee table with pizza boxes and soda cans strewn all about…happy as clams!

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Mommy’s gone for a while. We can be ourselves. Hop up on the table and let’s beat the drum!

Seriously ladies, If you’re an American and you think you need to participate in a Day Without A Woman event, may I suggest you need to do some intensive soul searching. If you don’t feel appreciated and you’re not being paid what you should be for the work you do, you’re hanging around the wrong people…and you need to go get yourself a new job.

Rub Some Dirt On It

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Well, this ends his lacrosse season! He’s got a temporary splint but will get a cast tomorrow.

Last Friday my youngest son, who is 13, got into the car when I went to pick him up from school and announced that he broke his elbow.  He said he was playing with friends and ended up tripping over one of them when they went down in a “chase” type game.  He’d flown through the air and landed on his elbow in the gravel.

I took a good look at it, asked him to move it around and then told him it was just a bruise and that it would be fine.  He seemed to accept that for a while but that afternoon, now and then, as he was going about his business pretty much as usual, he’d pipe up and say “It’s broken.”  I assured him it wasn’t and laughingly told him to rub some dirt on it.  He responded that since I’d never broken anything, I wouldn’t know how it feels.

We went to a Ducks Unlimited event that night…an auction to raise money for our wetlands.  We ate and socialized.  At one point I saw him with my phone researching the WebMD site.  He looked at me and affirmed that his elbow was broken because “even WebMD said so.  When we got home, I told him we’d go get it checked out in the morning since I wanted to prove my point. He bet me a trip to a local hamburger joint that he was right.

The next morning arrived and off we went.  It WAS broken!  Not just a little but one of the bones had a nice sized fracture all the way through it from one side to the other.  Apparently, according to the doctor, the little knobby part had almost broken off completely.  Great!

My son who is very good natured just looked at me and said “You owe me a burger” so off we went.  He ate a burger and fries for lunch.  I ate crow!

Rise And Grind!

I’ve had times in my life when all my regular workouts took place after 7:00pm.  I’d go to work, come home, eat dinner and then head out to the gym.  I’d usually get back around 9:15pm.  I did that for years because that’s what my schedule allowed.  These days I do most of my workouts in the morning.  Given the two choices, I far prefer exercising in the morning.  That’s because after a good workout, I can start the rest of my day with a feeling of accomplishment.  It automatically sets my mood in the relaxed/happy part of the emotional grid and that’s a wonderful mindset to have when facing the challenges each day brings.  Obviously, getting a workout in, no matter what time is preferable to not doing any type of fitness activity at all but there are advantages to kickstarting the day with exercise.

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The following article by Melih F. Cologlu delves into the topic and posits some sound reasons to try and get those workouts in early in the day if you can.

Not a morning trainer? Too bad for you. Here are 8 reasons why those who work out in the a.m. have a big advantage.

Awhile back, a study came out that said your testosterone levels were higher in the morning—as if you needed a study to tell you that. Afterward, I heard and read a lot of talk about how the morning was therefore the best time to work out.[1]

Yet it’s not that simple, because of this little thing called “life.” The fact of the matter is that for most of us, the time we choose to work out corresponds with the time we have available, which explains why most gyms are typically packed after the work hours.

But perhaps we can give you a compelling reason—in fact, eight great reasons—to wake up a little earlier to hit the gym rather than save it for later in your day. Withhold judgment about how you’re not a morning person until you fully absorb all the advantages of morning training.

1. It’s Easier To Follow High-Volume Training Systems

Trying to do a triset or a giant set is all but impossible in a packed gym. This guy over here wants to work in. That girl over there wants to steal your dumbbells. Others cast an evil eye your way for hogging so much equipment. They would have a point—if the gym was crowded.

But it’s not, because you were ready to rise and grind before everyone else. Yep, it’s much easier to complete these types of training programs when the facility is less crowded. That just happens to be in the morning.

2. Your Hormones Are Working To Your Advantage

As mentioned, in the early morning hours, crucial hormones (i.e., testosterone) that help build muscle mass are elevated in the body. By exercising in the morning, you’re taking advantage of these naturally circulating hormones as they’re peaking, rather than later in the day when they’re lower.

3. It Leaves Times For Other Priorities

I may make a living from the gym, but it’s still not my number one priority. Nothing is more important than family. Clearly there’s a trade-off between the amount of time you spend in the gym and the amount of time you can spend at home. Which is why slicing off a small segment, like you can in the morning, is usually better than in the evening, when you have to fight rush hour, navigate a crowded gym environment, get home to shower, and allot whatever’s left for your family. The math simply works better if you get your workout done in the morning.

4. You’ll Be More Focused When You Reach The Office Or School

A bout of exercise increases your focus on the next activity, because your body is aroused. What follows a morning workout? For most people, it’s the office or school. Hence, one of the advantages of working out in the morning is that you’re more alert during those later hours.

5. You’ll Be Less Likely To Skip Your Workout

It may take a cup of coffee to get your morning going, but once you’re up, there are few distractions on your way to the gym. But later in the day, any number of distractions can sabotage your workout: less motivation, fatigue, the gang is going out for some drinks, a sick child, an overdue report for work or school.

If you’ve already completed your workout, you can simply roll with whatever obstacles come up later in the evening without feeling bad that you missed another day. You’re far more likely to be consistent with your training if you get it done early in the day rather than waiting for later.

6. Your Metabolic Rate Will Receive A Quick Boost

Without a doubt, exercise can boost your metabolic rate. The degree depends on your current fitness level and the kind of activity you choose. All other things being equal, working out in the morning will help to boost your metabolism, allowing you to burn more calories for the rest of the day. This phenomenon is called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC.

7. You Won’t Have As Many Distractions

Chances are pretty good that you train with a number of friends, which makes socializing pretty easy. Don’t get me wrong—there’s nothing wrong with that. But it’s easy for a short gabfest to turn a productive workout into one where you barely break a sweat. If you’re serious about getting results and not wasting your time, you’ll want to spend your gym time with minimal distractions.

You can bet that people who get up in the wee hours are more serious about their workouts. From my personal experience, the chances of someone distracting your workout is much less likely in the morning.

8. Your Mood Will Improve

You’re probably familiar with the notion that some workouts release endorphins, feel-good hormones that are increased following exercise of sufficient intensity and duration.[2] But you don’t have to do hours of cardio to feel good about yourself; heck, you’ve just completed your workout for the day.

 

Nothing feels better than having a good workout under your belt, especially if you’re prone to blowing them off at night. Which is why there’s no better way to get your day started. You can boost your mood and sense of accomplishment by just be setting your alarm clock for a little earlier.

Rise And Grind

If you don’t train regularly in the morning, you may find that, at first, your performance suffers during anaerobic exercise (like bodybuilding-type training) as compared to late-afternoon workouts. Nevertheless, you can make larger improvements in exercise performance if you make morning training regular; that is, you do it consistently.3 So if you’re new to morning training, be patient but consistent with your a.m. workouts.

Yes it’s tough to get up in the morning, let alone try to complete a good workout. Soon enough, however, with consistency you’ll see your performance skyrocket and you’ll have a slew of good reasons that justify setting that alarm just a little bit earlier. For those of us who are already there bright and early, the secret is out!

References
  1. Resko, J. A., & Eik-Nes, K. B. (1966). Diurnal testosterone levels in peripheral plasma of human male subjects. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 26(5), 573-576.
  2. Goldfarb, A. H., & Jamurtas, A. Z. (1997). B-Endorphin response to exercise. Sports Medicine, 24(1), 8-16.
  3. Chtourou, H., & Souissi, N. (2012). The effect of training at a specific time of day: a review. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 26(7), 1984-2005.

The Secret

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This meme tells my story.  There are plenty of days I walk into the gym in my street clothes.  Often, I have things on my mind…I’m trying to solve a life riddle, or figure out the answer to a particular problem.  I’m feeling rather subdued, even serious.

BUT

I change into my workout clothes, get my Ipod fired up and hit the weights.  After a few minutes, my internal transformation begins.  You can’t worry or think too deeply when you’re in the middle of a heavy set.  It’s wonderfully liberating and you can actually feel any burdens you’re carrying getting lighter. 

There’s something called a “runner’s high.”  I don’t run but I do get that same feeling when things are clicking in the gym.  It’s exhilarating and freeing.  When it kicks in, I most definitely feel like Wonder Woman…beautifully strong, capable and happy. 

It’s the transformational secret of the gym that all serious lifters come to know and love!

“War is Deceit”

This is an off topic post.  I will always give you a “heads up” when I’m writing about subjects unrelated to the gym.  If you’re here for fitness and bodybuilding stuff, check in tomorrow.  In the meantime, have a wonderful day!

Allah’s Messenger said, “Know that Paradise is under the shades of swords (Jihad in Allah’s Cause).” 

My 7th grade son’s teacher recently told her class that “Islam a religion of peace.”  I’ve heard many elected officials over the years tell us the very same thing. Barack Obama, George Bush, Hillary Clinton, Ashton Carter, Marie Harf, Jeh Johnson and Loretta Lynch have all proclaimed confidently that “Islam is a religion of peace.”  In the past, I’ve heard John Brennan say terrorist groups “are driven by this ideology that is not rooted in Islam” and John Kerry say groups like the Islamic State are comprised of apostates who “do not represent Islam.”

European officials are, if possible, more strident in their insistence that Muslims who engage in terrorism misunderstand their own ideology and are twisting the peaceful message of Islam for their own purposes. Just a few days ago, Chancellor Merkel of Germany gave a speech in which she recommended working with “Islamist, Muslim states” to combat the idea that terrorism is actually part of Islam.  She suggests that working with them is the key so that “we will be able to convince people that it is not Islam that is the problem, but a falsely understood Islam, and the religious authorities of Islam have to find strong language in order to delineate themselves and distance themselves from this fundamentalist and terrorist [type of] Islam.  Even the Pope has added his opinion to the cacophony of voices declaring that Islam doesn’t have aggression toward non-Muslims as part of the bedrock of the ideology.  In part of a Christmas address in 2014, he expounded, “Islam is a religion of peace, one which is compatible with respect for human rights and peaceful coexistence” and according to his most recent declaration on the subject, “…Muslim terrorism does not exist.”   

A few years go, confused about what I was actually seeing in the world which wildly opposed the “Islam is a religion of peace” platitudes, I began to dig.  I wanted to better understand what was happening and as all researchers know when you’re wading into new subjects for the purpose of analytical examination, you begin at the beginning.  That means you go as far back into the source material as you possibly can. 

I sought out the Qur’an and read it, in hopes of gaining insight into the ideology.  I thought  it would contain most, if not all, of what I needed to know but in my studies, I learned that In order to have a reasonable breadth of understanding of how a Muslim is supposed to behave, I certainly needed to read the Qur’an but I couldn’t get the type of deeper understanding I wanted by ignoring the Hadith.

in addition to reading the Qur’an and the Hadith, I realized I also needed to study the life of Mohammad. In Islam, Mohammad is considered the perfect man.  He is to be emulated.  Therefore, If you know how he lived his life, you have a very detailed roadmap of proper behavior.  The Hadith is a collection of short stories, vignettes, or passages about things Mohammad did, said or taught related by those who lived around him (for instance, many of the Hadiths are narrated by Aishah, who was one of his wives).  They are personal testimonies of followers and provide insight into how one is to live. 

As Jamaal Zarabozo of Boulder, Colorado wrote in his piece entitled “Congratulations to the New Muslim,”

“The most important source for any work about Islam must be the Quran itself. The Quran lays the foundation for the entirety of Islamic teachings.”  The author goes on “However, the Quran was not simply revealed upon a mountainside for anyone to read and understand on his own. Allah chose to reveal the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and within the Quran itself ordered the Muslims to follow his example and to obey his commands. His way of life is known as the Sunnah and has been captured in what is known as the hadith literature. Therefore, the guidance of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) as contained in the authentic hadith literature will also be heavily relied upon.

The Quran and Sunnah, therefore, form the ultimate sources of one’s understanding of Islam. Any other source must be secondary to these sources and subject to their overall approval. In other words, if something is contrary to the Quran and Sunnah, it cannot justifiably be considered part of Islam.” 

I picked one of the best known collections of Hadith to study.  It’s titled The Translation of the Meanings of Sahih Al-Bukhari (an Arabic-English edition) and was translated into English by Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan. This set of Hadiths passed muster from the religious authorities in Saudi Arabia and was put together there. It pertains particularly to Sunni Muslims, who comprise upward of 75% of all Muslims in the world.  It consists of nine volumes, each composed of many “books.”  The books cover topics like how to wash, the passing on of property, how and when to pray, charitable giving and all manner of other topics. Volume 4 contains The Book of Jihad (fighting for Allah’s Cause) and it is 155 pages long. 

I have heard Muslims and their western supporters say that Jihad is just the concept of “spiritual battle.”  In other words, that Jihad is an internal struggle one engages in for the purposes of perfecting one’s behavior in order to be a better Muslim.  Perhaps that statement has elements of truth in it but it’s far from the complete story.  Chapter One of the Book of Jihad begins

“Verily, Allah has purchased of the believers their lives and their properties: for the price that theirs shall be the Paradise.  They fight in Allah’s Cause, so they kill (others) and are killed.” (page 44)

The opening lines of the book destroy the notion that Jihad is simply a spiritual battle.  At the bottom of the page, as a footnote the translator adds

“Al-Jihad (Holy fighting) in Allah’s cause (with full force of numbers and weaponry) is given the utmost importance in Islam, and is one of the pillars (on which it stands).  By Jihad Islam is established,  Allah’s word is made superior.  [His Word being (La ilaha illallah which means none has the right to be worshipped but Allah)], and his religion (Islam) is propagated.

“None has the right to be worshipped but Allah.”  That phrase is written dozens of times throughout these volumes and it’s a phrase worthy of keeping in mind.  It sets the tone toward non-believers since they are repeatedly instructed that those of other faiths do not have the right to worship as they see fit.  Therefore, it’s easy to see why large numbers of Muslims are convinced they do not have to tolerate other traditions especially if they are present in enough numbers to prevent it (politically, by intimidation or through violent means).

Participation in Jihad is considered noble and excellent behavior as seen in the following passage (in this quote and hereafter, “Allah’s Messenger” refers to Mohammad).

(2785) Narrated abu Hurairah:  A man came to Allah’s Messenger and said, “Guide me to such a deed as equals Jihad (in reward).”  He replied, “I do not find such a deed.”

The translator adds a telling line in a footnote,  He writes,

“The Prophet tells his companions that one can attain rewards through Jihad against Kufr.”

Loosely, and for easy understanding, Kufr are people who are not Islamic. There are categories of Kufr and nuances of definition but basically it means an Unbeliever (and they are regarded as filth). You may rightly assume that unless you’re Muslim, they are referring to you.  So great is the reward for those who fight in Allah’s cause that

“The mujahid (i.e. Muslim fighter) is rewarded even for the footsteps of his horse while it wanders about (for grazing) tied by a rope.” (page 46)

What follows serves as further evidence that Jihad is not simply an internal battle.

“Allah guarantees that He will admit the Mujahid in His Cause into Paradise if he is killed, otherwise He will return him to his home safely with rewards and war booty.” (page 47)

Clearly, you aren’t killed in a spiritual fight, nor do you get war booty from some sort of internal Jihad.  It’s crystal clear to the reader that aggressive and violent Jihad is not only acceptable but encouraged.  Jihad leads directly to Paradise.  In the following quote and hereafter, “the Prophet” refers to Mohammad.   “Al-Mushrikun” refers to polytheists, pagans, Idolaters, and disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah, and His Messenger Mohammad.  Unless you are Muslim you fall into this category.

Narrated Al-Mughira bin Shu’ba:  Our Prophet told us about the Message of our Lord that “…whoever amongst us is killed (in Jihad in Allah’s Cause), will go to Paradise.”  ‘Umar asked the Prophet, “Is it not true that our men who are killed (in Jihad in Allah’s Cause), will go to Paradise and theirs (i.e., those of Al-Mushrikun) will go to the (Hell) fire?”  The Prophet said, “Yes.” (Page 63)

To be clear, Jihad is not a choice.  It’s a responsibility and is expected from each and every Muslim.  The translator writes

Jihad is an obligatory duty in Islam, on every Muslim, and he who tries to escape from this duty or does not in his innermost heart wish to fulfill this duty, dies with one of the qualities of a hypocrite. (Page 44)

If a Muslim ruler calls for Jihad, it’s incumbent upon Muslims to answer that call.

(2783) Narrated Abu Hurairah:  …and if you are called (by the Muslim ruler) for Jihad, go forth immediately.

In many places in the book, potent devotion to the concept of martyrdom is expressed.

Chapter 12 – The Statement Of Allah  “Among the believers are men who have been true to their covenant with Allah (i.e., that they have gone out for Jihad (holy fighting) and showed not their backs to the disbelievers), of them some have fulfilled their obligations (i.e., have been martyred), and some of them are still waiting, but they have never changed (i.e. they never proved treacherous to their covenant which they concluded with Allah) in the least.” (V .33 :23)

(2817)  Narrated Abis bin Malik, The Prophet said, “Nobody who enters Paradise likes to return to the world even if he got everything on the earth, except a martyr who wishes to return to the world so that he may be martyred ten times because of the honor and dignity he receives (from Allah).” 

(2797) Narrated Abu Hurairah.  The Prophet said,  “by Him in Whose Hands my soul is!  Were it not for some men amongst the believers who dislike to be left behind me and whom I cannot provide with means of conveyance, I would certainly never remain behind any sarya (army-unit) going out for Jihad in Allah’s Cause By Him in Whose Hands my soul is!  I would love  to be martyred in Allah’s Cause and then come back to life and then get martyred, and then come back to life again and then get martyred and then come back to life again and then get martyred.”

Obviously, Army units aren’t deployed for internal struggle and again, you typically don’t die when engaged battles that aren’t violent engagements.  You don’t suffer cuts or bleed either.

(2802) Narrated Jundab bin Sufyan:  In one of the holy battles, a finger of Allah’s Messenger (got wounded and) bled. (Page 54)

Mohammad was wounded another time as well.

(2903) Narrated Sahl:  When the helmet of the Prophet was smashed on his head and blood covered his face, and one of his front teeth got broken, Ali brought the water in his shield and Fatima (the Prophet’s daughter) washed him.

Chapter 10 (Page 55) in the Book of Jihad is summed up as  “The superiority of him who is wounded in Allah’s Cause.” and it assures that those who are wounded in fighting will be taken care of on the Day of Resurrection when a wound would have “the color of blood but it’s smell will be the smell of musk (perfume).”

It’s obvious from what’s written in the Hadith that Mohammad took up arms himself.  That’s an important fact to note if you remember that Mohammad is considered the perfect Islamic man and his actions are to be emulated.  Mohammad waged war on non-Muslims and he did so expressly because they were not Muslim.  He sought their conversion, first by persuasion and then, by the sword.   

(2946)  Narrated Abu Hurairah:  Allah’s Messenger said,  “I have been ordered (by Allah) to fight against the people till they say La Ilaha Illallah (none has the right to be worshipped but Allah), and whoever said La ilaha illallah, he saved his life and property from me…”

Chapter 179 – The saying of the Prophet to the Jews, “Embrace Islam and you will be safe” (Narrated by Abu Hurairah).  The flip side of this obviously meaning, if you don’t embrace Islam you won’t be safe.

(3053)  Narrated Sa’id bin Jubair:  The Prophet on his deathbed gave three orders saying, ‘Expel the Al-Mushrikun (polytheists, Pagans, Idolaters, and disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah, and His Messenger Muhammad) from the Arabian Peninsula… 

The following quote further underscores the fact that Mohammad purposefully targeted non-Muslims using violent action because they did not accept Islam.  Before going to battle he would discern if a group had accepted Islam or not by waiting to see if he could hear the call to prayer in the morning.

(2943)  Narrated Anas: Whenever Allah’s Messenger attacked some people, he would never attack them till it was dawn.  If he heard the Adhan [i.e., call for Salat (prayer)] he would delay the fight, and if he did not hear the Adhan, he would attack them immediately after dawn.”

One day, Mohammad fought battles against not one, but two, distinct groups.  We are told he was encouraged in this endeavor by Gabriel who Muslims call Jibril.  Gabriel is an important figure in Islam since they believe it was Gabriel who recited the Qur’an to Mohammad in a cave near Mecca.

(2813) Narrated Aishah:  When Allah’s Messenger returned on the day (of the battle) of Al-Khandaq (i.e. Trench), he put down his arms and took a bath. Then Jibril (Gabriel) whose head was covered with dust, came to him saying, “You have put down your arms!  By Allah, I have not put down my arms yet.”  Allah’s Messenger said, “Where (to go now)?”  Jibril said, “This way,” pointing towards the tribe of Bani Quraiza. So Allah’s Messenger went out towards them.

Only by acquiescing to Mohammad’s demand that they convert to Islam could non-Muslims save their lives and property.  When Mohammad was refused, he went to war with the goal of killing all the men and then taking the women, children and their property as war booty.  He split the booty among his men as reward for their part in battle.

(3043)  Narrated Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri:  Then Sa’d came and sat beside Allah’s Messenger who said to him, “These people are ready to accept your judgement.”  Sa’d said, “I give the judgment that their warriors should be killed and their children and women should be taken as captives.”  The Prophet then remarked, “Oh Sa’d!  You have judged amongst them with (or similar to) the judgement of the King (Allah).”

(2864)…When we met them, we attacked them, and they fled.  When the Muslims started collecting the war booty, Al-Mushrikun faced us with arrows, but Allah’s Messenger did not flee. (page 85)

Mohammad took at least one of his wives from among those he vanquished.  It’s worth a noting that marriage did not need to be based on mutual consent. Only the Muslim male’s desire was required. 

(2893)  Narrated Anas bin Malik:  When we reached Khaibar; and Allah enabled him to conquer the fort (of Khaibar), the beauty of Safiyya bent Huyai bin Akhtab was described to him.  Her husband had been killed while she was a bride.  So, Allah’s Messenger selected her for himself and took her along with him till we reached a place called Sad As-Sahba’, where she was clean from her menses, he took her for his wife. 

There are several examples of Mohammad explicitly ordering the killing of another.  In one case, it was by purposeful torture.

(3016) Narrated Abu Hurairah:  When we intended to depart, Allah’s Messenger said, “I have ordered you to burn so-and-so and so-and-so, and it is none but Allah, who punishes with fire, so, if you find them, Kill them.”

(3044) Narrated Anas bin Malik:  Allah’s Messenger entered (Makkah) in the year of the Conquest (of Makkah) wearing a helmet over his head.  After he took it off, a man came and said, “Ibn Khatal is clinging to the curtains of the Ka’bah.”  The Prophet said, “Kill him.”

(3051)  Narrated Salama bin Al-Akwa:  An infidel spy came to the Prophet while he was on a journey.  The spy sat with he companions of the Prophet and started talking and then went away.  The Prophet  said (to his companions), “Chase and kill him.”  So, I killed him.  The Prophet then gave me the belongings of the killed spy (in addition to my share of the war booty).

(3018)  Narrated Anas bin Malik:  A group of eight men from the tribe of “Ukl came to the Prophet and then they found the climate of Al-Madina unsuitable for them.  So, they said, “O Allah’s Messenger!  Provide us with some milk.”  Allah’s Messenger said,  “I recommend that you should join the herd of camels.”  So they went and drank the urine and the milk of the camels (as medicine) till they became healthy and fat.  Then they killed the shepherd and drove away the camels, and they became disbelievers after embracing Islam. When the Prophet was informed by a shouter for help, he sent some men in their pursuit, and before the sun rose high, they were caught and brought, and he had their hands and feet cut off.  Then he ordered for nails which were heated and were branded with those nails, their eyes, and they were left in the Harra (i.e. rocky land in Al-Madina).  And when they asked for water, no water was given to them till they died. 

There are many places in the Book of Jihad that support using stealth in order to defeat one’s enemies (non-Muslims).  You don’t have to necessarily meet them on the battlefield to accomplish the goal of killing them.  For instance, Chapter 155 is titled “Killing a sleeping Mushrik (polytheist, idolater, pagan).”  Such an act is described in detail.

(3022)  Narrated Al-Bara bin Azib:  Allah’s Messenger sent a group of Ansari men to kill Abu Rafi.  One of them set out and entered their (i.e. enemies) fort.  That man said, “I hid myself in a stable for their animals. They closed the fort gate.  Later, they lost a donkey of theirs, so they went out in its search.  I, too, went out along with them, pretending to look for it.  They found the donkey and entered their fort.  And, I, too, entered along with them.  They closed the gate of the fort at night, and kept its keys in a small window where I could see them.  When those people slept, I took the keys and opened the gate of the fort and came upon Abu Rafi and said, “O Avu Rafi”.  When he replied me, I proceeded towards the voice and hit him and came back.  He shouted and I came out, pretending to be a helper.  I said, “O Abu Rafi”, changing the tone of my voice.  He asked me, ‘What do you want: woe to our mother?’ I asked him , ‘What has happened to you?’  He said, ‘I don’t know who came to me and hit me.’  Then I drove my sword into his belly and pushed it forcibly till it touched the bone.”

There are other chapters devoted to similar themes for instance, Chapter 158, which is titled “Telling lies in the war” which deems it permissible and Chapter 159 titled, “Killing non-Muslim warriors secretly”  which is also permissible.  The theme of deception in war is hammered home again and again.

(3030) Narrated Jabir bin Abdullah:  The Prophet said, “War is deceit.”

A careful reading of The Book of Jihad makes it clear that the concept of Jihad is central to the practice of Islam, and it’s incorrect to think of it as strictly an internal struggle.  The book advocates taking up of arms against non believers…because they are non believers.  It exalts violence in “Allah’s cause” and teaches that those who engage in battle are rewarded with admission to Paradise, in fact, the best spots in Paradise are reserved for them. The translator tells us on page 46, that “no possible deed equals Jihad in reward.”  Jihad is required and expected from each and every Muslim.  

I cannot say what every Imam teaches nor what every Muslim knows regarding this subject.  I imagine many Muslims are cultural Muslims rather than people who practice with true devotion, similar to people who call themselves Christian but aside from going to church on Christmas and Easter, they don’t adhere deeply to the teachings of their faith. Perhaps in many places, the message of Jihad is underplayed, smoothed over or ignored.  Perhaps some teachers of Islam do pass on the idea that Jihad is relegated to a personal, internal battle.  What I do know is that anyone who wishes to delve deeply into Islam or who wants to follow the direction of Mohammad as it is written in the Qur’an and in the Hadith, can see for themselves that there is a call for physical aggression toward non-believers.  Mohammad himself engaged in battles against those of other faiths, and at the risk of being repetitive, Mohammad is considered the perfect Muslim (and his behavior is to be emulated).

This is why the fight against what most western politicians call “terrorists” and a few who are more bold call “radical Islamic extremists” is such a difficult undertaking.  Muslims who engage in terrorist acts in the west and groups like Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, the Taliban, Al-Shabaab, and ISIS (AKA the Islamic State) are not twisting a peaceful ideology into something it’s not.  They don’t misunderstand their religion at all, rather they are generally practicing as they are instructed to in the Qur’an and the Hadith.  They’re following centuries old, original instruction.  It would be more accurate to call them originalists, or perhaps fundamentalists (although there has been no formal reform to draw Islam away from ancient directives toward violence).  Having not had a reformation, or official canceling of the pronouncements that advocate violence as a divinely approved of way of spreading Islam, the message still resonates through time.  Anyone can read it if they choose and you don’t have to twist a single thing to come to the conclusion that violence against others is not only permitted, it’s desirable and grants one automatic admission to Paradise.

The problem for Muslims who don’t wish to travel that path and who would like to move the ideology toward a different orientation toward others is that the commands are actually there in black and white.  They are clear and irrefutable.  Publicly going against the call is essentially going against Mohammad and therefore Islam.  Doing so would make them apostates, and the price for that is death since Islam teaches that apostates are to be killed. 

It’s a conundrum but one that will never be resolved until people say what’s true, instead of what they wish was true in their conversations about Islam. We are now in you-better-figure-it-out-fast mode because western politicians have decided it’s a great idea to invite large groups of Islamic people into our countries without having had said conversations (America thankfully may be moving into a more cautious mode).  We see the devastation the originalist Muslims bring with them (whether foreign born or home grown).  They’ve pledged publicly to kill us.  We’ve watched them blow up, shoot, rape, behead, stab, crash planes into buildings and run over citizens with vehicles in the name of Allah.  All this, while our feckless, cowed, corrupt, evil politicians and academicians lie to our faces, telling us it’s ridiculous to be concerned, that Islam is a religion of peace and that those who engage in terrorism have simply misunderstood the central message of peaceful coexistence with others.

‘I, being martyred as a Muslim

Do not mind how I am killed in

Allah’s Cause,

For my killing is for Allah’s sake,

And if Allah wishes,

He will bless the amputated parts

of a torn body.’

(Chapter 170, [3045], The Book of Jihad)

*Examples of approval for engaging in violence against non-Muslims are found woven throughout the nine volumes of the Hadith.  They can be found in the Qur’an as well.  I kept this discussion to the subject matter found in one book of the Hadith to limit the scope for the sake of brevity.

February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine’s Day

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Believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without ever having to step outside it. (Rainer Rilke)

Ladies Who Lift

That’s me in the crystal ball.  More than 25 years ago, I saw a magazine with natural, female bodybuilders in it and my life changed.  I loved the look of all that beautiful muscle and that’s what drew me to the gym.  I never managed to put on as much muscle as I wanted but I certainly changed my physique for the better and along the way discovered all the wonderful benefits (like stress reduction) that bodybuilding brings into your life.

More than once, I had someone (usually a well meaning relative) tell me not to “get any bigger” that “muscles aren’t feminine” or that I was starting to “look like a man.”  They didn’t appreciate the aesthetic I love so much but save a few moments of thought the first couple of times it happened, the advice had no effect whatsoever on my determination in the gym.

Here’s to all the ladies who, like me, think women with a little muscle on their bones are gorgeous!

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Active Duty? Veteran? Read this…

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I have a present for you!

Valentine’s Day is right over the horizon and I have a coin for you!  Romantic love is a fun thing to celebrate but extending a bit of love and gratitude a little more widely is too. 

Some of you may know that I keep challenge coins in my purse for those occasions when I run into a member of our military and want to have a little something to give them as a token of appreciation.  The coins I have traditionally given are from a company called Grateful American Coin.  They’re a perfect (and pretty) token of appreciation that any civilian can give our service members. 

A while ago, I was given a challenge coin of my own.  Naturally, I was THRILLED and that coin is one of my favorite treasures.  It reminded me how meaningful those small things can be, if the spirit behind them is understood. Right then and there I decided to order more coins of my own to hand out since I only had a couple left.

Somewhere along the way, I discovered that I could create a personalized coin to give, which with my propensity to be a bit of a ham, appealed to me greatly.  I did so and I really like the way it came out.  It’s a combination of humor and a sincere “thank you.”  The artwork on it was created by a wonderful graphic artist who used one of my military tribute photos on a bodybuilding site as inspiration for the adorable, curvy, patriotic, little lady that I used on the coin. 

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You’ll have to get one to see what it looks like…

I know there are veterans and active duty folks who read this blog and I’d be delighted to be able to give you one of the coins.  After all, if you put up with me on this blog, you’re likely to understand both the humor and sincerity inherent in the design. Your work in the military means so much to all of us civilians and I’d be delighted to be able to give you a small representation of that appreciation.

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Even if you have an awesome coin like this, you probably don’t have one as rare as the one I have for you! There are just a few of them in the world…

Send me an email at words4warriors1@gmail.com.  Give me a name, address and branch of service and I’ll pop the coin in the mail!  Don’t worry, I value your privacy so once the coin is sent I’ll delete your info…it’s just that I have no other way to get the coin to you.

The coins are limited in number so please don’t wait too long to let me know you want one.  I’ll send them until I run out….  

If you’re active duty military or a veteran, It would truly make me happy for you to have one!

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Progress Report (1-30-17)

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I’ve been working out on my Total Gym at home during the month of January.  I’ve found ways to make it challenging and it’s been a fun change for me.  The one and only sticking point I have is that I’m not able to do rows effectively with it.  My back is quite strong and I tried to hold a 45lb plate on my lap to make it more challenging when rowing but it’s awkward and I gave up on that idea.  I have other equipment at  home that I use for rows so it’s not stopping me from giving my back good workouts.

I’ve been able to maintain a reasonable amount of muscle.  I’m not very lean at the moment and that shows too.  My lack of striations has everything to do with my diet and it’s easily remedied.  I simply need to tone down my carb intake, increase my cardio a little and I’ll lean out.  At this very moment, I’m happy and will stick to my current program for February.  When March rolls around I’ll make the appropriate changes in my diet and cardio and that will ease me into summer bikini weather in a nice, smooth way.

My Total Gym workouts have been so enjoyable.  They remind me of how much easier it is to get and stay fit when you truly enjoy your workout time!

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