Thursday, September 28, 2006

Ramadhan, what the heck is that?

By Adam Yosef, site user
courtesy: BBC
Lots of frequently asked questions answered by Adam, about the most important event in the Islamic calendar.
Ramadhan, what the heck is that?
Ramadhan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar. It's when Muslims all over the world spend 30 days observing fast and bettering themselves in principles of faith.
Observing fast? Is that something to do with running, then?
Oh, it must be driving, huh? You know, I can drive really fast, I've got an Escort...
Oh, what is it then?
Observing fast, or fasting, is when a person abstains (or keeps away) from eating and drinking.
What, you don't eat or drink anything? Don't you get hungry? I know I would.
Yes, that's the idea. We fast for 30 consecutive days during the month of Ramadhan.
30 days? Are you mad? No one can go 30 days without food and drink!
No, that's right, which is why Muslims only fast during daylight hours. Once the fast for each day ends, they are allowed to eat again.
Then, what's the point of fasting?
The reason Muslims fast is to discipline their body and mind. The absence of food and drink and other pleasures provides a perfect opportunity to concentrate on prayer and worship. Not having the luxuries of life to hand makes it easier to reflect on life and be grateful for what we do have. Muslims use this month to start afresh and give their life a new direction?
What kind of direction?
Many Muslims use Ramadhan to make resolutions, similar to New Year's resolutions. It is a time when they decide how they want to live their life for the next year and try their very best to adhere to their new commitments.
Yes, like greater commitment to God and faith. Ramadhan is a time when Muslims can introduce practices into their life to reflect their religious identity. A lot of Muslims have a desire to pray more and learn more about Islam. Others wish to be better and nicer people while some want to learn Qur'anic Arabic to better their understanding of the Holy Book. For these people, Ramadhan is the best opportunity to begin this grand affair with something so personal and spiritually enlightening.
Can't they do it at any other time... why Ramadhan?
Ramadhan is a blessed month ordained by God. It is the month in which Satanand his minions are said to be locked away in Hell to prevent them from misleading, deceiving and whispering in the ears of believers.
This doesn't mean that sin and bad deeds will completely disappear for a month but itwill mean that if bad deeds are done and sins committed, they will be from the hearts of people alone and the devil cannot be blamed.
However, God has promised the people that the reward for good deeds and actions during the holy month will be multiplied greater than usual and this encourages many to increase their level of worship and prayer. Although, this also applies to sins and so any naughty actions only invite greater punishment than usual.
Ramadhan does make it easier for Muslims to observe their faith though, largely because all Muslims are following the same pattern and so they are always offering each other moral support and encouraging each other to do better. Ramamdhan brings people much closer than normal as they forgive each other for any misdemeanours of the past, forge new and positive relationships and treat each other with greater respect.
What else do Muslims do in Ramadhan?
Well, aside from fasting, they pray more. Muslims should pray five times a day anyway and go to the mosque but many find this difficult so Ramadhan helps them to fulfill these practices and in many cases, stick to them long after Ramadhan is over. Muslims also read the Qur'an more and understand and share their religious teachings. They also learn to abstain from bad habits and minor and major sins and hopefully continue with the effort when Ramamdhan is over too.
What kind of bad habits are we talking about, like picking yer nose?
Well, that could be one. Many people are always trying to give up things that they know are bad for them or things that make God angry. These are usually things that are not good for people and not good for those around them and so people use Ramadhan as the time to drop these ills. It is debatable as to what is considered a bad habit or deed but because Ramadhan is observed as a religious obligation, most use religious teachings to determine what is right and what is wrong.
So, what's the really bad stuff then?
A number of things. Practices like smoking, swearing, drinking alcohol and abusing drugs, treating people with disrespect and being mean, harming or hurting living things, being cruel, un-courteous and selfish. There's a whole host of things, many of them universally accepted as 'unhealthy'.
What else is banned during Ramadhan?
For Muslims, some things are prohibited all the time, not just in Ramadhan but if abstinence isn't being observed, Ramadhan is a good time to start or try and implement change in life. Other things are allowed but should be reduced in Ramadhan to make more time for prayer and worship. This could be things like watchingtelevision, playing board games, spending too much time dressing up, listening to music, shopping and messing around with mates and so on.
I heard you can't have sex in Ramadhan, is this true?
Sex is allowed in Ramadhan but not during the fast. Just like food and drink, a person's natural needs must be fulfilled. Muslims are normally allowed to eat, drink and have sexual relations so this would be the case in Ramadhan but not during the fast when all must be avoided or they could nulify the fast. When the fast is over for the day, those things that are halal (lawful) may continue but more time should still be spent on worship.
However, Islam doesn't allow extra-marital relationships so any sexual activity outside of marriage or contrary to Islamic teaching is prohibited and those who may indulge in any such activity are expected to try their very best in Ramadhan to abstain withintent to give up - the same applies to any haraam (prohibited) activitiesas mentioned before.
What about all that bowing 'yo-yo' stuff?
You what?
When you kiss the ground and things?
I think you're referring to prayer. Muslims don't kiss the ground, they prostrate to the Lord in submission. As I mentioned, Muslims must try to improve and excel in their prayer during the holy month, with extra effort on the regular prayers during the day, not just Friday services. Both Muslim men and women should make more effort to go the mosque and spend more time studying Islamic knowledge and the Qur'an.
Attending lectures and being involved in good work, whether it's helping out at the old folk's home or even attending a peace rally, all is encouraged. During Ramadhan, there are special prayers known as the 'Tarawih' service which are performed everyevening at the mosque in congregation.
When does the fast begin and end?
The fast begins just before dawn when Muslims eat a light meal (suhoor) and confirm their intention to fast for the day. The fast ends at sunset when the call to prayer (Adhan) is announced. Eating a date or some water are the recommended and most popular methods of concluding the fast. The time when the fast ends is known as 'Iftar'.
When you break the fast, do you have to eat Asian food?
Because Islam is not a culture, there is no restriction on what is eaten by Muslims provided it is prepared in the halal manner. Quite obviously, pork and alcohol are not allowed. Recommended food items for Muslims include dates, milk, water, honey, olives and figs - all for their nutritional properties and religious significance. With regards to main meals, anything from fish and chips and spag bol to curries and cous-cous is allowed.
Why do some people stuff themselves when the fast is over?
Those who are fasting should deprive themselves of the meals they would normally have during the times of fast but they shouldn't really eat all they missed once the fast is over as this defeats the whole objective of the fast. When breaking the fast (of having breakfast, I guess), they should simply have the meal they would on any other day. It is permissible to have a more elaborate feast if one if hosting a 'Iftar' meal for guests as this is considered a good and noble act, in which there is divine reward.
But don't you have to think about the poor?
Yes, Ramadhan is also about thinking about the less fortunate and needy although in a lesser degree to improving one's own character over the blessed month. Not eating and drinking does encourage Muslims do recognise how the poverty-stricken and starving people in the world must bear the burden of daily life and this is why, in Ramadhan, many Muslims donate more to charities and why mosques collect more so that people right across the world can have better life and those who donate can gain greater regard for well intentioned actions.
So who has to fast, is it everyone?
Not everyone. Young children are encouraged to learn about fasting but fasting is only obligatory (a must) for anyone beyond adolescence (or over the age of 10 according to some scholars). Muslims who have medical conditions that prevent or make fasting difficult, those who are not of sound mind or are going through a pregnancy or menstruation cycle as well as those who are too young or too old do not have to fast. In some circumstances, individuals who cannot fast for any number of reasons may make up the fast at a later date.
What if you need to train at the gym or do sports or something and you know you'll need water?
Ramadhan obviously should always be placed first as it is no doubt of greater benefit and only comes around once a year. It would be a missed opportunity if Muslims who wish to fast, and have the ability to do so, miss out while their brothers and sisters participate around them. If Muslims feel they can fast and still carry out any high energy activities, then that's fine but if they have to choose because they can't do both, then fasting would be the better option as they can always get in any recreationor exercise when the fast is over.
Some people call it 'Ramadam', what's that all about?
The month is correctly known as 'Ramadhan' or 'Ramadan', the latter being the more anglicised version. 'Ramadam' is incorrect and is mistakenly used. 'Ramadam-dam-dam', as pronounced by Ali G, is also wrong but you probably guessed that already.
When does the month begin, is it the whole of October?
Islamic months follow the lunar calendar, in the same tradition as the Jewish community. Therefore, in relation to the solar, or Gregorian, calendar, Islamic and Jewish months will annually differ by around 11 to 12 days. This means Islamic events will always fall roughly around the same time in the Islamic calendar but always on a different date in the mainstream solar calendar. This year, Ramadhan begins in the first week of October, depending on the sighting of the moon, and will end approximately 30 days after, sometime in the first week of November when Muslims conclude the month with festivities and celebrate Eid.
What's Eid?
Eid, or 'Id, means 'festival' or 'celebration' in Arabic and the festival following Ramadhan is known as 'Eid al-Fitr'.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Muslim boy meets Muslim girl = dating?

It’s Muslim Boy Meets Girl, Yes, but Please Don’t Call It Dating

Published: September 19, 2006
Complete article at The New York Times

CHICAGO — So here’s the thing about speed dating for Muslims.

Many American Muslims — or at least those bent on maintaining certain conservative traditions — equate anything labeled “dating” with hellfire, no matter how short a time is involved. Hence the wildly popular speed dating sessions at the largest annual Muslim conference in North America were given an entirely more respectable label. They were called the “matrimonial banquet.”

“If we called it speed dating, it will end up with real dating,” said Shamshad Hussain, one of the organizers, grimacing.

Both the banquet earlier this month and various related seminars underscored the difficulty that some American Muslim families face in grappling with an issue on which many prefer not to assimilate. One seminar, called “Dating,” promised attendees helpful hints for “Muslim families struggling to save their children from it.”

The couple of hundred people attending the dating seminar burst out laughing when Imam Muhamed Magid of the Adams Center, a collective of seven mosques in Virginia, summed up the basic instructions that Muslim American parents give their adolescent children, particularly males: “Don’t talk to the Muslim girls, ever, but you are going to marry them. As for the non-Muslim girls, talk to them, but don’t ever bring one home.”

“These kids grew up in America, where the social norm is that it is O.K. to date, that it is O.K. to have sex before marriage,” Imam Magid said in an interview. “So the kids are caught between the ideal of their parents and the openness of the culture on this issue.”

The questions raised at the seminar reflected just how pained many American Muslims are by the subject. One middle-aged man wondered if there was anything he could do now that his 32-year-old son had declared his intention of marrying a (shudder) Roman Catholic. A young man asked what might be considered going too far when courting a Muslim woman.

Panelists warned that even seemingly innocuous e-mail exchanges or online dating could topple one off the Islamic path if one lacked vigilance. “All of these are traps of the Devil to pull us in and we have no idea we are even going that way,” said Ameena Jandali, the moderator of the dating seminar.

Hence the need to come up with acceptable alternatives in North America, particularly for families from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, where there is a long tradition of arranged marriages.

One panelist, Yasmeen Qadri, suggested that Muslim mothers across the continent band together in an organization called “Mothers Against Dating,” modeled on Mothers Against Drunk Driving. If the term “arranged marriage” is too distasteful to the next generation, she said, then perhaps the practice could be Americanized simply by renaming it “assisted marriage,” just like assisted living for the elderly.

“In the United States we can play with words however we want, but we are not trying to set aside our cultural values,” said Mrs. Qadri, a professor of education.

Basically, for conservative Muslims, dating is a euphemism for premarital sex. Anyone who partakes risks being considered morally louche, with their marriage prospects dimming accordingly, particularly young women.

Mrs. Qadri and other panelists see a kind of hybrid version emerging in the United States, where the young do choose their own mates, but the parents are at least partly involved in the process in something like half the cases.

Having the families involved can help reduce the divorce rate, Imam Majid said, citing a recent informal study that indicated that one third of Muslim marriages in the United States end in divorce. It was still far too high, he noted, but lower than the overall American average. Intermarriages outside Islam occur, but remain relatively rare, he said.

Scores of parents showed up at the marriage banquet to chaperone their children. Many had gone through arranged marriages — meeting the bride or groom chosen by their parents sometimes as late as their wedding day and hoping for the best. They recognize that the tradition is untenable in the United States, but still want to influence the process.

The banquet is considered one preferable alternative to going online, although that too is becoming more common. The event was unquestionably one of the big draws at the Islamic Society of North America’s annual convention, which attracted thousands of Muslims to Chicago over Labor Day weekend, with many participants bemoaning the relatively small pool of eligible candidates even in large cities.

There were two banquets, with a maximum 150 men and 150 women participating each day for $55 apiece. They sat 10 per table and the men rotated every seven minutes.

At the end there was an hourlong social hour that allowed participants time to collect e-mail addresses and telephone numbers over a pasta dinner with sodas. (Given the Muslim ban on alcohol, no one could soothe jumpy nerves with a drink.) Organizers said many of the women still asked men to approach their families first. Some families accept that the couple can then meet in public, some do not.

A few years ago the organizers were forced to establish a limit of one parent per participant and bar them from the tables until the social hour because so many interfered. Parents are now corralled along one edge of the reception hall, where they alternate between craning their necks to see who their adult children are meeting or horse-trading bios, photographs and telephone numbers among themselves.

Talking to the mothers — and participants with a parent usually take a mother — is like surveying members of the varsity suddenly confined to the bleachers.

“To know someone for seven minutes is not enough,” scoffed Awila Siddique, 46, convinced she was making better contacts via the other mothers.

Mrs. Siddique said her shy, 20-year-old daughter spent the hours leading up to the banquet crying that her father was forcing her to do something weird. “Back home in Pakistan, the families meet first,’’ she said. “You are not marrying the guy only, but his whole family.”

Samia Abbas, 59 and originally from Alexandria, Egypt, bustled out to the tables as soon as social hour was called to see whom her daughter Alia, 29, had met.

“I’m her mother so of course I’m looking for her husband,” said Mrs. Abbas, ticking off the qualities she was looking for, including a good heart, handsome, as highly educated as her daughter and a good Muslim.

Did he have to be Egyptian?

“She’s desperate for anyone!” laughed Alia, a vivacious technology manager for a New York firm, noting that the “Made in Egypt” stipulation had long since been cast overboard.

“Her cousin who is younger has babies now!” exclaimed the mother, dialing relatives on her cellphone to handicap potential candidates.

For doubters, organizers produced a success story, a strikingly good-looking pair of Chicago doctors who met at the banquet two years ago. Organizers boast of at least 25 marriages over the past six years.

Fatima Alim, 50, was disappointed when her son Suehaib, a 26-year-old pharmacist, did not meet anyone special on the first day. They had flown up from Houston especially for the event, and she figured chances were 50-50 that he would find a bride.

When she arrived in Texas as a 23-year-old in an arranged marriage, Mrs. Alim envied the girls around her, enthralled by their discussions about all the fun they were having with their boyfriends, she said, even if she was eventually shocked to learn how quickly they moved from one to the next and how easily they divorced. Still, she was determined that her children would chose their own spouses.

“We want a good, moderate Muslim girl, not a very, very modern girl,” she said. “The family values are the one thing I like better back home. Divorces are high here because of the corruption, the intermingling with other men and other women.”

For his part, Mr. Alim was resisting the strong suggestion from his parents that they switch tactics and start looking for a nice girl back in Pakistan. Many of the participants reject that approach, describing themselves as too Americanized — plus the visas required are far harder to obtain in the post-Sept. 11 world.

Mr. Alim said he still believed what he had been taught as a child, that sex outside marriage was among the gravest sins, but he wants to marry a fellow American Muslim no matter how hard she is to find.

“I think I can hold out a couple more years,” he said in his soft Texas drawl with a boyish smile. “The sooner the better, but I think I can wait. By 30, hopefully, even if that is kind of late.”

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

What made Safia Al-Kasaby turn to "the hijackers' faith"?

Tampa woman who lost eight relatives in the attacks converts to Islam as tensions simmer from the memories and new terror plots. But she presses on.
Published September 8, 2006
Her mother named her Elizabeth after the queen of England. More than four decades later, she took another name: Safia Al-Kasaby, reflecting her new identity as a Muslima.Safia, 43, is an unlikely candidate for conversion. She claims Jewish and Puerto Rican ancestry. She is a former sergeant first class in the Air Force National Guard. And she lost eight relatives — one uncle and seven cousins — in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.Back then, Safia did not imagine the faith professed by the hijackers would one day become her own.
“It didn’t really matter who did it,” says the Tampa woman now, reflecting on the 2001 attacks. “I just never hated Islam. I never hated Muslims. For me to be angry about what happened to the twin towers would be like me hating all the Germans that killed the Jews.”Safia embraced Islam last year, coming to the faith at a time when it is seemingly maligned anew with each new report of terror plots, wars in far away lands and dead American soldiers.
Like other Muslims, Safia feels the tension all around her: curious stares because she wears the hijab or head scarf and store clerks who ask for extra identification.Just last month , officials at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo turned down an initial request from Safia’s Egyptian fiance for a temporary visa. Safia was certain bigotry played a role.Her new faith also has widened the chasm among her Christian family. Her mother, three sisters and one of her daughters question her choice. Safia presses on.“For her to accept Islam, making that decision especially in this day and time, it says you’re ready to step up and deal with the challenges of this journey,” said Pat “Aliyah” Cruse, a fellow Muslima and 11-year convert.
Some demographers consider Islam to be the fastest-growing religion in the world. Of the 1.3-billion Muslims worldwide, 4.7-million live in the United States, according to the Association of Religion Data Archives.One of the world’s oldest religions, Islam has been in the United States for generations. But the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, thrust the religion and its adherents into the spotlight. Before the attacks, American Muslims largely kept to themselves. Now, many feel the public expects them to answer for the actions of those who commit heinous acts in the name of their faith.
Across the country, some Muslims complain of stereotyping, racial profiling and discrimination. Others pine for the days when Islam was rarely mentioned in headlines. Most dare not complain openly, religious and civic leaders say, for fear of being labeled unpatriotic or sympathetic to extremists.“There’s a certain sense of indignation to being treated the way they’ve been treated,” said Imam Mahdi Bray, executive director of the Muslim American Society’s Freedom Foundation in Washington, D.C. “There’s a kind of rage. The challenge is to make that a healthy rage.”
Many American Muslims say extremists misrepresent their faith. But convincing the public to separate Islam from terrorism at times seems an insurmountable hurdle.Opinion polls back up what American Muslims say they feel every day: Masses of the U.S. populace view them negatively. In a USA Today/Gallup poll released in August , 39 percent of Americans said they feel prejudiced toward Muslims. Nearly one quarter of Americans polled said they would not want a Muslim as a neighbor. Another 39 percent want Muslims to carry special identification at all times and undergo enhanced security checks when boarding airplanes.Anti-Muslim sentiment also has popped up in the Tampa Bay area, home to an estimated 45,000 Muslims. In 2002, federal agents arrested a Seminole podiatrist, Dr. Robert Goldstein, on charges of plotting to blow up a mosque.Fearing for their wives’ safety after Sept. 11, husbands of immigrant Muslim women pulled them out of leadership roles in Islamic women’s groups. Fathers encouraged daughters to remove their hijabs in public to avoid harassment. Muslim women complained of verbal abuse in retail stores. One woman’s hijab was ripped from her head by a customer in her husband’s store.Children get few passes. Last spring , athletic officials benched Temple Terrace’s Briana Canty when she refused to remove her head scarf in an amateur youth basketball league tournament. Rather than recognize Islamic holidays, the Hillsborough County School Board voted to rescind all religious holidays, a move it later reversed.
This is the new reality for American Muslims. Advances are often eclipsed by setbacks.Quoting Charles Dickens, Ihsan Bagby, a leading Muslim demographer and associate professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Kentucky, said this is the best and worst of times for Muslims in America.“This frustration, this pressure will ultimately produce positive results as Muslims continue to strive to become full members of this society,” Bagby said. “Overall, everybody will look back at this period, they’ll see this possibly as a turning point in the history of Islam in America."
Despite challenges for Muslims, Islam continues to grow, buoyed by births and new converts such as Safia.Raised by her grandparents in Puerto Rico, Safia grew up in a home of melded cultures and faiths. Her grandfather was a Jew, who fled Germany during the Holocaust. Her grandmother was Catholic. Safia ultimately chose Judaism, a faith she believed was her birthright.But Judaism eventually let her down, Safia said. In 1997, nearly destitute, she approached a North Tampa synagogue for help. Officials at the shul wanted to know if she was a member. She was not. They asked her if she was really Jewish.“They said just because I had a relative along the line didn’t make me Jewish,” said Safia. “That was the first wall. That I wasn’t pure.”Battling rejection, Safia left the synagogue. For eight years, she did not participate in organized religion.She found Islam in 2005 on the third day of a Moroccan vacation.“I just felt like God was there,” she said, recalling her visit to a mosque during the call for prayer. “I said, 'This is it. I believe there is only one God. His name is Allah, and his messenger is Mohammed.’”
At first, Safia’s family didn’t take her seriously. And some colleagues at her banking job looked askance at her new Moroccan-inspired Islamic attire. Safia quickly toned it down, wearing scarfs only around her neck. She dared not pray at work.Mostly, Safia kept her new faith at home, learning about her religion on Web sites and Islamic chat rooms.Safia went to the Islamic Society of Tampa Bay Area in June and asked for the imam. She wanted to renew her shahadah, the formal declaration of the Islamic Creed. Safia also was out of work. The imam gave her a job managing the society’s office. The group also stocked her refrigerator and paid her rent and electricity bill.At last, Safia said, she had found a spiritual family.
It helps blunt the sting of the rejection from her biological one.Safia’s eldest daughter, Sylvia, wants little to do with her. A Baptist and young military widow, Sylvia berated Safia when she showed up at her husband’s funeral wearing a hijab and carrying a Koran.
At home in Town 'N Country, Safia raises two daughters. Ten-year-old Natalia says her mother’s religion is cool. Ada, 18, appreciates Safia’s transformation and doesn’t put up with people who make fun of Islam or stereotype Muslims.“I say, 'Wait a minute. My mom’s a Muslim,’” Ada said. “She’s not a terrorist.”Safia hopes the world will see her as an example of what Islam really is. Still early in her conversion, she is a Muslima in transition.She studies the Koran and prays five times a day. She also wears makeup and has French-manicured acrylic nails. Sometimes she covers and sometimes — when she fears heckling or worse — she does not.There are victories: Her fiance received his visa and the two married Friday.She looks forward to the day when her religion is not an issue.“I don’t want to have whispers behind me, whispers in front of me,” she said. “I want to be able to blend in, keep my faith and blend in.”
(Times researcher Cathy Wos contributed to this report. Sherri Day can be reached at or 813-226-3405.)

Monday, September 04, 2006

How to be an "ordinary, decent" Muslim ?

How to be an 'ordinary, decent' muslim

You're a Muslim living in a Britain that has become hyper-sensitive to all hints of Islamist terrorism. So how do you convince people that their prejudiced assumptions about you are wrong?

Urmee Khan offers an irreverent insider's guide
The Guardian

For the fastest-growing religion in the world, there have always been a lot of prohibitions connected with being Muslim. Many of the sacraments of secularism have been forbidden to us, which is a shame, perhaps, because so many of them - bacon, booze and bingo - are almost definitions of Britishness. Still, these privations have always been straightforward, and self-inflicted, and so they have been cheerfully borne by us Muslims.

But things are changing. Britain's top Muslim police officer put his finger on it when, following the travel restrictions put in place after the Heathrow terror plot, Superintendent Ali Dizaei said, "We are in danger of creating a new offence of travelling while Asian." And a few days later the joke became real, when two Asian men on a flight bound for Manchester were removed from the plane after a passengers' revolt over their wearing big coats, talking in a foreign language which might have been Arabic and generally being shifty and not white. As one of the passengers said, "Everyone agreed the men looked dodgy."

I know, I know - there's a real threat of terror and everyone is frightened. But just as you didn't blame all Irish people for the IRA's bombing campaign, it doesn't seem fair to blame all us Muslims for al-Qaida.

Still, it is clear that what we need is a check-list of things to avoid if we want to be seen as "ordinary, decent Muslims", if we want to be seen as above suspicion, as normal citizens. This list will settle once and for all what Muslims in Britain can no longer do.

1: Don't wear a big coat
Terribly bad things, big coats. Palestinian suicide bombers during the intifada often wore unseasonal overcoats to hide their explosives. This has led to sartorial choices being forced on Muslims everywhere, and is a particular inconvenience in Britain, as in most English northern towns the sight of a grumpy-faced Muslim elder, fiercely wrapped up in a parka against the ravages of a perfectly mild day, is a very common sight.

In the aftermath of 7/7, the police asked the public to look out for people wearing unseasonal clothes. (The bombers were wearing jackets, and it was July, although not a particularly hot day - I myself remember wearing a jacket on July 7.) It would now take a Muslim from the lowest remedial class in the mosque to say to themselves any morning this summer that "things are a bit parky today".

The prohibition on big coats is so powerful that Scotland Yard's elite firearms unit let it be thought, after they had shot dead (the not-very-Muslim-looking) Jean Charles de Menezes, that he had been wearing a big coat. He hadn't, of course, so this otherwise cast-iron reason for shooting a chap in the head collapsed.

2: Don't go on holiday to Pakistan
What's the mantra that comes out whenever the police arrest someone for terrorist offences, the clinching final demonstration that, like the Mounties, they've got their man? "Thought to have spent time in Pakistan." That's how we know Siddique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer were the ringleaders in 7/7 - they had "spent time in Pakistan".

The problem is, spending time in Pakistan is what thousands of British Muslims do every year; it's the equivalent of white Britons trooping off to see old aunt Beryl in Bournemouth. It's a bit peculiar; going on holiday to see relatives in, say, Iran or Syria or North Korea won't raise the same eyebrows. It's Pakistan - where three-quarters of a million of British Asians have relatives - that signals you have been training in jihad. So, Muslims - holidaying in Pakistan? Do yourselves a favour and don't bring your holiday snaps into the office.

3: Don't have a beard
The beard is top of the "Watch out! Muslims about!" charts. We're not talking about designer stubble or a George Clooney five o'clock shadow - we mean scary Bin Laden bumper bum fluff. Think of those two Forest Gate lads. Yes, those two big bushy beards.
The beard is not an essential Islamic feature, yet any Muslim sporting one is instantly seen as a radical. And so, brothers (and a few sisters), get your razor out and shave it off!

4: Don't join groups or clubs
Somewhere there is a dusty office in Whitehall whose function it is to ban organisations (which are always labelled as being "proscribed"). The room is probably full of mildewed, dusty files about Northern Ireland's paramilitary groups, and there is no doubt a faded map of Belfast peeling from the wall. But now the dust has been blown off, because there is a use for the office again.
A couple of months ago, two organisations - al-Ghurabaa and the Saved Sect - were banned in the UK. Now maybe that is right. These were the kinds of groups which, in my university days, used to hang around by themselves having beard-growing competitions, and never seemed to have any female friends. Their views on Jewish people, in particular, made my eyes water. But it cannot have escaped too many people's attention that while some merchants of hate get a good hard banning, others are free to wander the length and breadth of the country, like troubadours of bile. For example, the leader of one such crazed sect, the BNP, who says that, "There is no such thing as a moderate Muslim."

If you are a barking mad, dangerous extremist, in a group prepared to countenance violence to get their way, then you better make sure that you are white. For Muslims, this is a no-no. So, to be a fully accredited ordinary, decent Muslim, you should join only the Scouts, the Brownies or - if force is your thing - the British army.

5: Don't wear the veil
The veil: up until the declaration of the "war on terror", when guns, bombs and bottles of Lucozade took over, it was the hijab which, to many white westerners, was the symbol of being Muslim. It meant oppression - but with a vaguely sexual undertone. Whole BBC2 documentaries were made about it. But now, never mind that veils are a great way of repelling lechers and economising on lipstick, they symbolise either a) a militant female jihadist or b) a male bomber in disguise. (Mind you, John Simpson in a burkha wasn't exactly convincing.)

Most Muslims feel hard done by - nobody tells Catholic kids to take off their crucifixes, or Sikhs their turbans. In fact, Sikhs don't even have to wear a motorbike helmet because of the turban!
But it is becoming difficult to justify the clobber we don. When the BBC asked some Muslims about this, a woman called Salikah from London said that, as a Muslim woman, "and visibly so because of my hijab", she had found people avoiding sitting next to her on the tube. "I've thus resorted to standing to try and avoid any tense atmosphere, reading books such as Harry Potter, and wearing my Make Poverty History band," she said.

So there you go - chuck out your salwar kameez and headscarves/jilbabs/veils, and dress like them next door - as long as they are not also "ethnics".

6: Don't live in High Wycombe/ Luton/Beeston/Walthamstow
Up until a couple of weeks ago, High Wycombe had a happily glum existence as one of Britain's many crap towns. But now, since several terror suspects were arrested there, it is vying for entry to the newly forming premier league of terrorist breeding grounds, along with Beeston, Luton and Walthamstow. Bad news for Muslims from those areas. I would advise packing up shop and going to live in, say, Lyme Regis, Wales or Cambridge. These days, it is perhaps best to live in an "integrated" way, as far away as possible from your family and friends.

7: Don't be apathetic
A funny one this - many Muslims make the mistake of thinking that what mainstream Britain wants from us is apathy, a withdrawal from presumptuous political comment, a retreat to the days of corner-shopkeeping and waggling our heads as we talk. But no, this is denial. My 13-year-old brother is more interested in the World Wrestling Federation than global jihad. But in a few years' time, his non-Muslim fellow citizens are going to start expecting some more cogent opinions from him on subjects other than muscular men in underpants. There seems to be a growing expectation that any vaguely coherent Muslim, certainly if they enter professional or public life, needs to take sides, make their position clear, constantly trim their views to incorporate the necessary ritual condemnation of extremists. However, it is a delicate balancing act - don't be too unapathetic, but don't, at the same time, be a community leader (see below).

8 Don't be a 'community leader'
The phrase "community leader" when used in Britain today is almost never applied to anyone who isn't a Muslim. Frequently it has "self-appointed" added to it. Almost anything can qualify; any form of elected office, of course, but even owning a business or shop on some fleetingly significant street. Being cast as a Muslim community leader is a thankless task. No other community is so replete with a similar cast of leaders, so be prepared for the calumny that will pile upon your head from those who say you are taking an insufficiently tough stance against extremism.

9: Don't be a successful sportsman/woman
Or, in fact, show any sporting prowess at all. It isn't worth it. A Muslim sports star nowadays carries a burden of representation that black athletes have long since sloughed off. To evade it, there is really only one course of action - wrap yourself in the union flag the way black stars did in the 1980s. Amir Khan now must follow where Daley Thompson trailblazed.

That said, you might still be called a "terrorist", the label applied to a South African Muslim cricketer of Asian origin, Hashim Amla, by the former Australian cricketer and (subsequently sacked) commentator, Dean Jones. Or "the son of a terrorist whore", as most believe Marco Materazzi labelled Zinedine Zidane in the World Cup final. (And you also might be labelled a "traitor" by Pakistani fans, as happened to England players Sajid Mahmood and Monty Panesar. And Monty ain't even one of us!) You also run the grave risk of falling into the old Orientalist stereotype of the haughty, touchy, slightly ridiculous Muslim martinet; think of how Prince Naseem used to be described, or the reaction to the Pakistani cricket team's behaviour last week.

10: Don't draw cartoons
Hold on, I've got that wrong - it was we who were trying to ban this after those crazy Danes drew the Prophet (may peace be upon him) in a series of offensive "comedy" depictions. But we can all get carried away.