Category Archives: News and Events

My write ups on the latest news stories and events, mainly political within the US and the Middle East.

SF Sundays – Wonders to Explore!

I’ve got to say, despite a couple of rough weeks personally and as a local, I’m just glad July is over! Let’s get busy with all the good happenings in the city and around the Bay. The days are long, the nights are breezy and the food is filling. Let’s get into the groove of things, yalla!!

HAPPENING AROUND TOWN

First, I’d like to start by announcing that I’m officially a volunteer with the Arab Film and Media Institute (AFMI). AFMI is the wonderful organization that has been showcasing Arab creatives in film and television while providing educational courses for youth to get into film and television. And I’m excited for the upcoming 23rd edition of the Arab Film Festival! The largest of it’s kind in the nation, this years festival will start October 11th, with passes already on sale. Do not miss out peeps, I promise you that this year is expected to be the biggest one yet.

Second, as many of you are, I’m into the culture and arts scene of the Bay Area. I’ve recently become the consul of InterNation’s SF Culture and Arts Group. A few weeks ago, we checked out Andy Warhol’s From A to B and Back Again exhibit at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). Absolutely beautiful and you will learn something new about Andy, I promise. You only have until September 2nd to check out his retrospective works, so don’t miss it.

In a few weeks, I hope to have us head to the symphony, a few comedy shows, a film festival and we’ll even check out this little play called Hamilton. Join us!

Third, can I remind you that we have a wonderful local animal zoo here in San Francisco? Yes, the animals at the San Francisco Zoo hail from all over the world and are just a joy to explore, especially with the young ones. I personally LOVE the meerkats, otters and the petting area. And don’t forget, if you’re a San Francisco resident, admissions are free on the first Wednesday of every month!

YUMMINESS ACHIEVED

I have to say that when I found out that Lady M of New York was coming to town for a limited time, I was excited. And not working far their pop up shop made it even more exciting for me. However, when we tried to make a reservation online for our orders, they had stopped taking reservations after complaints that many stood in the same long lines as everyone else.

Fine, we’ll go stand in line, I mean, who wouldn’t for those delicious thin layered delights, right? Nope, They were here for four days and ran out before the end of the third day. It was really disappointing until I learned they sell to customers in pop up shops what they deliver from online orders: the frozen version of the cakes out of New York. So what was the point?

Turning this frown upside down, I’ve got two words… Move Halal. My good peeps in Oakland just started a sweet one stop shop for those seeking halal meats, fresh ingredients and wholesome goods from our native lands. Want to whip up a legit hummus or craving freshly baked bread? They’ve got it!

You can either get your order delivered for a flat fee or pick up your order at Salam in Oakland (more locations may be added in the near future). That’s right, Move Halal delivers around most of the East Bay and even ships non-perishables across the nation so you can deliver some deliciousness.

Best part? Move Halal has partnered with Pure Hands Foundation to donate some of the proceeds to support their initiative of providing meals and medications to those in need in Yemen. If that isn’t a fantastic start up, I don’t know what is.

#GILROYSTRONG

I urge you all to support and pray for the wonderful people of Gilroy as they mourn the loss of three beautiful people and heal the many injured in the useless gun violence that took place at this year’s Gilroy Garlic Festival. There will be many vigils and memorials held for 6 year old Stephen Romero, 13 year old Keyla Salazar and 25 year old Trevor Irby. To support #GilroyStrong, you can buy t-shirts where funds will go to support the victim’s families.

May those perished rest in God’s eternal peace, may God grant those injured a smooth recovery, may God grant strength and mercy to the city of Gilroy, ameen.

Disclaimer: This rant was not sponsored or paid for by the events or restaurants listed unless otherwise noted. If you’d like me to check out and rant about a happening around town or a yummy eatery for my SF Sundays rant series, please email ha@mshala.co.

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Picture of the Day

What is summer to you? Summer to me is sand at my feet, waves crashing, a light breeze and a warm sun between a few clouds. Summer to me is my nephew’s glee when we bonded at the beach just him and I, chasing waves, picking up shells and laughing our hearts out for no apparent reason.

Here’s to a wonderful season and a happy August, peeps! 😍

Be Like Shabana. Be a Beggar for Life

Be Like Shabana. Be a #BeggarForLife.

Yesterday’s funeral services for our sister and friend Shabana Patel was bittersweet. We gathered amongst hundreds from many communities to support her children and honor her life. We hugged, wept, smiled and laughed remembering her warm hugs, tears, smiles and laughter.

Shabana always deemed herself a #BeggarForLife as she constantly raised funds and volunteered for many charitable organizations. Her reach went beyond Sacramento and the Bay Area when many of us learned she helped found the Ihsan Foundation for West Africa. This project supports a school in Sierra Leone and became her passionate mission. We urge you all to help continue her legacy in supporting this amazing foundation for years to come, Insha’Allah.

May she rest in God’s eternal peace and light, may her legacy live beyond our years, ameen. 🤲🏻

Picture of the Day

Last night’s view from our home at 9pm. I didn’t even adjust the lighting in any of the pictures, just zoomed in to reflect the lights from the last sliver of the sun’s rays and the street lights by the beach.

Can’t help but love my city! 😍

SF Sundays – Summer of Love, Colors and Laughter

My second summer back in the Bay and I couldn’t be more excited. I feel like this summer especially there are so many exciting things to see, do and eat yet so little time. From a parade that’s filled with colors and pride to local delicious eateries like no other, the city is the place to be this summer if you ask me.

Are you ready? I sure am, yalla!

HAPPENING AROUND TOWN

c/o KQED

June is Pride Month and it goes with out saying that the San Francisco is home to the largest pride parade of it’s kind in the country. The annual San Francisco Pride Parade will take place June 30th. The parade will start at the Embarcadero, head down Market Street and ending at the Civic Center Plaza. The day prior, will see lots of activities, live shows and celebrations of local heroes.

Last year, over 50,000 people marched and many more came out in support. I can only imagine how many this year will be out in our great city celebrating. Grand Stand tickets are still on sale now, so don’t miss out!

c/o SFMOMA

All this summer, Andy Warhol’s From A to B and Back Again will be exhibited at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). Now through September 2nd, and for the first time in the US since 1989, his retrospective works are being exhibited. This is truly a one of a kind treat and we in the Bay are so lucky. If you’re a member, it’s free, otherwise most admission tickets are under $40! You can even have a private group tour set up for a slightly higher fee, #JustSaying. However, on June 29th, I’m organizing an outing with the local InterNations arts and museum group for an afternoon at SFMOMA. Join like minded art lovers from around the world for an afternoon that’ll be filled with fun and lively conversations.

Lots of really good comedy is coming our way this summer, too. As a loud laughing fan of stand up, I’m already getting tickets left right and center for all these amazingly talented funny people coming to the Bay, many starting at just $25! Here are just a handful of confirmed shows that I’m super excited about:

c/o Chase Center
  • June 21 – 23: The massive comedy festival that is Clusterfest is three days of laughs, music, podcasts, drag queens and fun! Anyone else geeking out as I am that Leslie Jones is now confirmed in the line up? YEEEEEEES!
  • June 22: San Leandro’s Arts Commission is holding it’s 1st Annual Comedy in the Plaza. This free event should be a blast since it’s being emceed by one of my favorite local comedians and TV personality Brian Copeland.
  • July 12 and 13: Mo Amer is coming to Cobb’s Comedy Club for four shows already selling out fast. I’ve seen him perform live and let me tell you, this dude is HILARIOUS! He was recently featured on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and is currently featured in Hulu’s original series RAMY.
  • July 25: The hilarious Greg Props will be recording his hit podcast The Smartest Man in the World live at the historic Punchline! He also has a few shows lined up later in the week but if you’re a fan of the podcast, this isn’t to be missed.
  • December 7: Yes it’s past summer but it’s my birthday and I’m super excited! Why? Because on my birthday, my biggest celeb crush that is TREVOR NOAH is bringing his Loud and Clear tour to San Francisco’s new Chase Center. It’s like we were destined to meet on such a special day, you know? hehehe
  • December 21-23 and 26-30: And since I celebrate my birthday all month long, I’m so excited that the Bay Area’s very own Ali Wong is coming home for the holidays. She’s bringing her Milk and Money tour to the beautiful theater that is The Masonic. We aren’t even through June yet and this funny lady’s first show is already sold out, WOW!

YUMMINESS ACHIEVED

The best thing I’ve loved about eating my way through my hometown is discovering ones that have been open for at least 20 years, that I’ve passed by on numerous occasions and some how missed out on. Until now! For the last year since moving back, Toyose has been my go to spot at least twice a month for either take out or late night dinner with my gal pals.

When I say it’s a legit hole in the wall, I mean a hole in the wall. Toyose is literally a home garage converted into a laid back eatery in the Outer Sunset. A fusion of Korean and Asian American cuisine, they have some good stew pots, fried rice, tempuras and katsu plates. My go to lately has been their spicy chicken wings… Oh my God, they are so finger licking good in every sense of the word that I keep forgetting to take a picture of them.

They are only open from 6pm to 2am so expect to wait some nights for about a good 20 minutes or so. Just walk in, write your name on the board and the number of people. You’ll be seated and quickly served by some friendly faces. I’d use the wait time to check the menu and figure out what you’d like to chow down on. I’d totally recommend for groups to order a bunch of plates and start sharing.

You’re welcome!

Disclaimer: This rant was not sponsored or paid for by the events or restaurants listed unless otherwise noted. If you’d like me to check out and rant about a happening around town or a yummy eatery for my SF Sundays rant series, please email ha@mshala.co.

Eid Mubarak!!

Eid is here peeps! May it be a day filled with joy as we celebrate a new beginning with our loved ones and community at large.

Just because Ramadan has come to a close, we don’t return just to our old ways. What have you learned this past month and carry it forward with you. Know that you didn’t just detox physically, but spiritually too.

May God accept your fasts, prayers and zakat… May God bless you and yours with a joyous and delightful Eid… ameen.

From our family to yours, Eid Mubarak!!

Paid Your Zakat Yet?

If the answer is no, now is the time to do so!

First, what is “zakat”?

Zakat (or Zakah) is an Arabic word now used universally to mean “obligatory charity“. As prescribed to Muslims with means, it’s obligatory to make an annual contribution of 2.5% against all assets one holds for a minimum of one year towards charitable use.

A good example might be one has, after expenses, a $1,000 in the bank, gold or silver worth $5,000 and a car worth $10,000. Their total assets are at $16,000 and they’d pay a minimum of $400 against that.

Have you feared to present before your consultation charities? Then when you do not and Allah has forgiven you, then [at least] establish prayer and give zakah and obey Allah and His Messenger. And Allah is Acquainted with what you do.

The Holy Quran, 58:13

Check out this Zakat Calculator by Islamic Relief USA

With fasting, we purify our bodies, minds, spirits as well as our material things. To do so, we sacrifice a bit of everything to bring forward our renewed selves. Fasting from food to bring in good energy. Fasting from day to day worrisome thoughts to bring in happier thoughts (think meditation). Fasting from earthly things to remind ourselves of the bigger picture through worship and Quran reading. To fully complete the month of Ramadan, one must give their zakat before Eid ElFitr (Festival of Breaking Fast), hence the term “Zakat ElFitr” (Zakat of Breaking Fast).

Remember, zakat is also giving your time and reminding others to do their part as well. Many get caught up with work, family gatherings and Eid shopping that a kind reminder is always appreciated. I know I appreciated the one I received yesterday and I hope this post as those I’ve written for the last several years serves as your kind reminder to fulfill your zakat.

Who qualifies to receive zakat?

The idea of zakat is to support those in need. That can be in the form of food, shelter, legal services or any other means to help them live a decent life. What do you have that others may have less of? If you were in a bad situation, what would you need to get out of it. It’s hard to put ourselves in another’s shoes sometimes but one of the main ideas of Ramadan is just that. Living with little food, little energy, but lots of dedication to get through it.

With that said, there are so many organizations, both locally and internationally, out there in need of our zakat to continue the amazing work they do not just in Ramadan but year round. I recommend checking on those that have been highly rated by Charity Navigator, many of which four star rated.

I personally would suggest the following organizations:

  • Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF) for their amazing efforts to provide medical aid to children across the Middle East. They are currently supporting refugee children in dire need from Palestine, Yemen and Syria.
  • Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) for their dedication to helping local communities at large with legal services, training and support. They are currently supporting those in need through the disastrous border immigration response and the xenophobic Muslim Ban currently in effect.
  • Islamic Relief USA for their excellent disaster relief responses, meal plans across the globe and orphan sponsorship programs. You can select one or multiple programs you want your zakat to go towards.
  • Project Feed SF for feeding neighbors in need right here in San Francisco for over 10 years now. This and other amazing campaigns worthy of your zakat are listed under Launch Good.

Insha’Allah this information is helpful to you all. May God accept our fasts, our prayers and our zakat… ameen.