Religions in Middle East


Three symbols (left to right): Islam (Hamsa), Christianity (the cross), Judaism (star of David)

There are all together three main religions in Middle East: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. These 3 religions are also known as Abrahamic religions, which are monotheistic religions. The main commonality between these three religions is the origin.  The Abrahamic religions are referred to their origins about Abraham, a man who is said to live 4000 years ago. Abraham was the only known human-being that believes in one and all-powerful god. It is said that God made a convenant with Abraham that his further generations will be God’s “chosen one”.

Although these three religions all have the same origin, but as the time passes by, each of the religion gradually changes. For example, in Judaism, the descendants of Abraham are called Jews. In Islam, the descendants of Isaac (Abraham’s son) are Jews, and the descendants of Ishmael (Abraham’s son) are Arabs. In Christianity, the descendants of Abraham are called Jews, and the followers of Jesus are called Christians.

These three religions all have a holy book, which talks about the prophets, the history and the laws of ancient Hebrew. In Islam, the holy book is known as the Koran, in Christianity, the holy book is known as the bible, and in Judaism, the holy book is known as the TekNaKH. One major difference between the Koran and the other holy books are the Koran contains all the revelations God made to Muhammad. This is different than the other two holy books because in Christianity and Islam, there is still an ongoing revelations of God’s message.

The worship services and practices also occur on different days and in different ways for some religions. Every Sunday, Christians have to go to church to pray, read scriptures and listen to sermons from the bible. Every Friday, Muslims have to go to mosque to pray, read scriptures and listen to sermons. Every Friday evening to Saturday evening, Jews have to go to the synagogue to pray, read scriptures, and listen to sermons. Jews worship service is called the Sabbath, it starts with everyone having a family meal. The meal includes breaking bread and sharing wine.

The goals of these three religions are all to have a moral life. And the goals all can be found in each of the holy book for each religion. Christians, Jews, and Muslims consider Jerusalem as a holy and sacred city. Christians and Jews believe Jerusalem as the holiest city, however, Muslims think Mecca is the holiest city.

Being able to understand the religions is important in understand the Israeli-Palestine conflict and other conflicts in the world, this is because you will not only understand how these places became the way they became, but the solution to the conflict. By understanding these religions, you’ll be able to be explain how these religions can re-unite because they all have the same connection, they all have the same origin.

Garbage Dreams


They call us dirty,

but we did them a favor,

life is just unfair

The documentary “Garbage Dreams” directed by Mia Iskander, presented many different footages profiling 3 teenage Zabbaleens: Adham, Osama and Nabil. The Zabbaleens are a small group of people in Egypt, and their lives rely on how much money they make from recycling trashes they find in the city. According to the documentary, being a Zabbaleen aren’t something to be proud of, they have to live under poor condition apartments and the pressure of others. The situation got even worse after foreigners’ companies began taking most of the trashes in the city, barely leaving anything for the Zabbaleens to recycle. This lead them to fewer incomes. The Zabbaleens also need daily shots to protect them from tetanus. The Zabbaleens began to lose their hope slowly. The Zabbaleens may be seen from many perspectives as a low-paid, dirty, meaningless job, however, the Zabbaleens were able to work much more better than the foreigners’ companies in terms of recycling. The Zabbaleens were able to recycle up to 80% of the trashes, meanwhile, the rich companies were able to recycle only 20% of the trashes. “Here there’s technology, but no precision,” said Nabil after visiting the recycling company in Wales. In Wales, more of the recycling are done through machines, but back in Egypt, everything was done by hand. Although doing everything by hand may be slow compared to machines, but with hands and humans’ eyes, the Zabbaleens were able to differentiate things better than the machines.

I enjoyed this documentary, it made me understand and see the value of being a “Zabbaleen”. It opened my eyes, allowing me to see behind the curtains of people picking up trashes along the street, e.g. What they do with the trashes, the way they live, the way they feel, etc. After watching this documentary, it made me think again and again, before I throw my food, my personal items, my belongings away.

Argumentative Essay – The Haves and Haves Not

As a part of the Ethical Consumption Unit, we have to write an argumentative essay. Our theses were based from the sermons in the book ‘The Gospel According to Larry’ by Janet Tashjian. This was my first time writing an argumentative essay, and it was probably the same with many other people in the class. Making us write a 3-5 paragraphs essay for the first time without any introductory would be a tough thing to do, so of course, our first task was to compare the difference between two types of writing.  This task was able to help me understand the concept of argumentative essay a lot better. The two types of writing were persuasive essay and argumentative essay.

The two essays were written with the same thesis, which is ‘The Goods of Animal Testing’, our task was to highlight the similarities and differences between these two type of essays. It turned out to be that they were almost alike, they were both written in the same format (i.e., both essays did not use the word ‘I’, the reasons that were used to support their claims were identical, etc.), but the persuasive essay was only written in a stronger point of view, whereas the author only gave his/her point of view of the topic, and his/her style of writing is more aggressive. With these contrasts, I was able to expand my thoughts on the argumentative essay, and at the same time, use the essay as an example and a guideline for me to write my own essay.

Picking a sermon was not an easy thing for me to do. To write an argumentative essay, I’ll have to do further investigation on my topic, looking up for evidences that will be able to support my claims. Picking a sermon is like picking a path, and the shape of each path is dependent on the sermon I choose, if I pick a sermon that is really complicated to gather facts and write about, then I’ll be traveling into a path that is hard to get through. To avoid this, I decided to read all the sermons. I tried to pick a sermon that is not too complicated, and at the same time, not too repetitive, by picking the sermon that not many people did not pick. Since many chose the sermon on ‘Advertisement’, I decided to pick the sermon on ‘The Haves and Haves Not’. This sermon talked about the dissimilarity between the wealthy people and the people who are living in poverty.

It took me many hours doing my pre-writing, even though I had all the information I need. I had problems trying to organize my writing, I tried switching around each sentence, so that they would make more sense, and easier to understand. Although I spent a lot of time on the pre-writing, I find it really useful, because my pre-writing was able to handle about 70% of my final draft. I was left over with comments on how to improve my essay from the peer review.

Composing my final draft was easy, I had to do only a few final touches before everything was readied to be hand in. The comments from my mom and peer helped me with my essay a lot. They were able to find the weak spots in my writing, and help me improve them. This project had taught me one another way of writing, and that is argumentative essay. Argumentative essay is a type of essay that does not try to get the reader to agree with you or your point of view, but to acknowledge them that your side of the topic is rational.

Below is the introduction to my investigative journalism report:

Consumerism is an important factor that is sustaining our civilization until now, we all need to eat, drink and a shelter to stay. It had been a part of human’s history for a long time, but these days, our consumptions are being based more on ‘wants’, not ‘needs’. The problem over-consumption is leading our society to two main problems, global warming and differences in social status.

You can read all of my argumentative essay by clicking: here

The Use of Pesticides in ISB – Reflection

In humanities, we’re currently working on the “Ethical Consumption Project”, our task is to find a service or a product that I believe has an ethical concern related to it. It took me a while looking for a topic that I think is unethical; one of the reasons was because I did not understand the assignment. At first, I thought what was meant by the word ‘unethical’ was ‘illegal’, so I spent a few days searching for topics that has to do with illegal service or product. The result of spending days searching for the topic was nothing; I could not find a topic that is ‘illegal-related’. Later on, after checking the examples from my humanities’ website, I learned that what meant by the word ‘ethical’ is not something ‘illegal’, but it’s something that I believe is wrong, not fair, not morally correct.

It took me another few days to find the right topic, which is ‘The Use of Insecticides in ISB’. I did further investigation into this topic, first, I went to interview the B&G (Buildings and Grounds) manager of ISB and the worker who used the insecticide. Interviewing was one great milestone that is very important, and required a lot of work. My goal in the interview is to try to ask as little questions as possible, and at the same time, get effective answers that will help me with my report. I had to do a lot of thinking, I had to think from the perspective of the interviewee, predicting the interviewee’s answers, and see if it is useful or not.

Noodletools is a very helpful tool in this project, because it helped me organize all my ideas. There were many tools for me to use through Noodletools, and one of them is the auto-citing tools, I only have to put down a few information about my source, and the website automatically creates a bibliography for me. I also learned a new tool on Noodletools, and that is the ‘Notecards & Outlines’ tool. It allowed me to organize my ideas into categories using notecards, and then create an outline by laying the notecards I created into a step-by-step procedure. I find Noodletools very helpful, because without it, there are high chances that the contents in my report will be scrambled into all different places.

After I had all my contents organized, I’m ready to start writing my report. But during my writing phase, it turned out that I had a few conflicts. I realized that I did not have enough information to support some of my ideas, so during my writing phase, I had to do further research on my ideas, for example, the ecological affects of using Sevin. However, my main problem was not content, it was the use of language. I had my peers, Seungwon and Zac, to check for tense and grammar mistakes.

The ‘Ethical Consumption Unit’ taught me a lot, being an ethical consumer is very important. This project on the ethical consumption unit expanded my ideas on many things, it allowed me to investigate and research on all different sort of things by myself. It made me realized that there are so many unethical things occurring all around us, and it is us humans who’ll have to fix them. If we don’t fix them now, then when, and if not us, then who? This project also taught me how to write another form of writing, it is my first time writing an actual report. The use of language is different from narrative writings that I usually do, for example, reports use more formal languages.

As the final part of my project, I’ll send an email to the B&G manager of ISB. The most I can do is to let her know the harms of using Sevin, I can’t force her to change her mind or anything. I’ll try to persuade her, and attach my report with the email for her to read.


Here is the introduction to my report:

It’s about 5:00pm, Sunday evening, once the coast was clear; the ISB’s gardeners carried their insecticide vaporizers to the fields. Among the workers was Mr. Chanok Tantee, the ISB’s head gardener. He held up his hand signaling other workers and all of a sudden, the vaporized insecticide, Sevin, flew insanely in every direction.

You can read all of my investigative journalism report by click: here

Book Review 2 – The Accidental Billionaires

I’m sure that all of you must have heard of Facebook, the world’s most popular social networking website. But do you know why was it created? This story briefs you a story about how Mark Zuckerberg and his best friend, Eduardo Saverin, were influenced to create the website ‘theFacebook’, after Mark was almost expelled from Harvard for hacking the university’s computer. The website was aimed to bring people together, but ironically, ripped Mark and Eduardo friendship apart. I think the author’s message in the story is “success comes through sweat and sacrifice”. The author presented the theme effectively by expanding the reader’s thoughts on how Mark and Eduardo felt and thought throughout the whole book (putting the reader into the character’s shoes).  This book was written in a third-person dramatic narrative, meaning the story is mixed with both true and made-up events, creating an enjoyable story of college life and entrepreneurship of Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook.

Lee Cooper Jeans Supply Chain – Reflection

Chunk 1

When you buy things, have you ever wondered how they’re made? Who made them? And where are they made from? Whether it’s your clothes, electronics, vehicles, and many other things, we all know for sure, if there are consumptions, there are always extractions. What if you knew the ‘story of secrets’ behind that item you bought, will you still buy it? There are many secrets behind one of the world’s most popular clothing companies, Lee Cooper, secrets that will definitely make you think before you pull out your cash from your wallet to buy something new again.

The article ‘Story of the Blues – The Tale Behind a Pair of Jeans’ by Fran Abrams and James Astill, from ‘The Guardian’, British national daily newspaper, talked about the making of Lee Cooper jeans. At Lee Cooper, at least 11 companies from 9 different countries work together throughout the ‘production’ process to manufacture over 100,000 products per week. This does not include other locations that were used to extract the resources that were needed. The supplies and demands of the products increased exponentially over the years, which means more resources and workers are needed. The workers working at these factories are receiving very low salary, in addition, facing health problems from the polluted environment due to the chemicals used to produce the products.


Chunk 2

In humanities, I was given a task to read and highlight the article into two categories; using one color to highlight parts where you think is information about the supply chain process; extraction, production, distribution and consumption. The other color to highlight parts where you think the author did a good job writing an investigate-journalism. Highlighting the important parts of the article was not a big deal for me, since the ‘instructions’ were given clearly, I only had to read the article and highlight parts where it explains the supply chain process. I find that highlighting a good-written investigate journalism is something harder to do because in order to do this, you must understand the meaning of the phrases when the author played with the words.


Chunk 3

After I read and highlighted the article, my next task was to do the follow-up activity, which is making a poster, a world map, or using Google Earth to show the locations that were the process of the supply chain. I chose the world-map. My task is to color all the locations (countries) that were parts of the process of the Lee Cooper jeans supply chain, and label them. This activity helped me to understand and visualize the supply chain better. After the world-map was done, I was able to see the patterns of where the resources were extracted, then transported to the factory to be manufactured, and then finally, to be distributed. The supply chain showed a worldwide range of how it started from one location and ended up in the other.


Chunk 4

There were many ‘ethical concerns’ that the author had revealed in the article. Many had to do with health and environmental problems. For example, the Italdenim Factory, in Ras Jebel, Tunisia, uses stonewashing machines to wash out ‘indigo (the dye)’ which is harmful to skin. These dyes get washed out into streams, killing all the fish and plants. And this is not North America where people get clean tap water, but this is North Africa, where people rely on water from the streams. With these harmful chemicals in the water, the Tunisians are unable to use the water from the streams. Another example of an ethical concern in the article is the chemicals (pesticides) used for the cotton farm in Benin. Over a year of cotton’s season, over 100 people had died from the poisoning of the pesticide called ‘endosulfan’, used to keep the plants free from insects.

The Lee Cooper jean supply chain had helped me understand what is it like to be an ‘ethical consumer’ and the challenge of being an ‘ethical consumer’ better. I, as the consumer, will have to be more aware of what I buy more, because by buying their products, it is a way of supporting them to stay in business, by showing them that there are still demands. This means, more workers will be needed, more resources will be extracted, and more pollution. I’ll have to compare whether it is worthy enough to buy this item so that other people’s health will be affected, and live in a polluted environment.


Chunk 5

The last paragraph of the article is probably the most effective (and interesting) way in presenting the information about the Lee Cooper jeans supply chain. The last paragraph has only two sentences, but it’s able to summarize the whole article. The first sentence of the paragraph (Back in Ipswich, England it’s 5.30 pm and Cromwell’s Madhouse clothing shop is closing for the night, the sound of its grey metal shutters reverberating around the mall as they crash to the floor one by one.) shows the final destination of the whole process of the supply chain. The second sentence is the main theme of the last paragraph (And inside, in the middle, on a pile under a sign announcing ‘Famous Brands for £19.95,’ Ejallah’s English stitch, Fasedj’s pockets, and maybe even a little of Zinkponon’s cotton, sit silently waiting for their journey to end). The last sentence showed us that this product had traveled a very far distance (going through the supply chain process) and being priced ridiculously high.

Two Documentaries about Ethical Consumption

Currently in humanities, we started a new unit in social studies about ‘Ethical Consumption’. Our humanities teacher gave us two links; each link is a video on ethical consumption.  The first video was ‘The Cost of Cool’, the video was split up into 3 parts, and the second video was ‘The Story of Stuff’. The first video, The Cost of Cool, was narrated and produced by Alexandra Paul, who talked about how our actions that are over-consuming the Earth’s resources. And the second video, ‘The Story of Stuff’, narrated by Annie Leonard, talked about the process of ‘material economy’, and how this system is taking up a lot of Earth’s resources.

Throughout the 3 parts of ‘The Cost of Cool’, there were many main ideas (claims presented as true) mentioned in the story that all ended up connecting to the main-main-idea, which is the ‘actions of over-consuming’. As mentioned in the video by Alexandra Paul, we, people, are best-trained, best-equipped buyers and consumers in the history; our actions of over consumption are leading to many nature problems. Researchers estimated that by the time of 2050, our population would exceed 12 billion, and as our population increases exponentially, the size of the Earth stays the same. With more resources being consumed, at the current rate of consumption, 50% of all plant and animal species will extinct by the end of this century, in addition, at our current pumping rates, the world oil supply will last for another 40 years. The wild environments are the main heart of our planet; we need to respect the environment like we respect other human beings.

The video ‘The Cost of Cool’ was able to expand my ideas on ‘Ethical Consumption’, from this video; it helps me understand how to be an ethical consumerism, how ‘Ethical Consumption’ will sustain our planet’s resources better. The video gave me real-life examples of ‘over-consumption’ that currently are happening and the affects of those actions. What expanded my ideas on ‘Ethical Consumption’ the most was how Alexandra Paul concluded the video with solutions so that we can improve our life-styles, and sustain our planet.

Alexandra Paul narrated the video ‘The Cost of Cool’ with little bias; most of her claims were referred to ‘America’, everyone that was interviewed all talked about America and it was mainly centered on teens. However, most of claims were true, she did not stand for a side and only help that side, but she gave claims that support the whole community.

In the second video, ‘The Story of Stuff’, Annie Leonard stated that over 80% percent of our forests are gone, only 20% of the world’s original wildernesses remain! In Amazon alone, we’re losing over 2000 trees per minute. The planet is running out of resource, for example, 75% of the global fisheries are fished at or beyond capacities, during the pass 3 decades, 1/3 of the planet’s natural resources space has been consumed. We’re not only taking away Earth’s resources, but we’re causing health problems for other people, including ourselves, too, over 30% of the kids in parts of Congo have dropped out of school to mine coltan for money.

After comparing this video to the video ‘The Cost of Cool’, this video was able to effectively expand my ideas and thoughts on ‘Over-Consumptions’ better. This is because most of Annie Leonard’s claims supported the whole world. However, the claims in the video ‘The Cost of Cool’ always refer to ‘America’, and since I’m not a US citizen, and I don’t live in this US, it’s harder for me to relate/connect to what Alexandra Paul said. A connection I was able to make was when she mentioned ‘99% of the stuff we run through in this system is trashed within 6 months’. I was able to come up with many things around my house that I believe is ‘abandoned’; I wouldn’t use it, think about it, etc., until it was mentioned.

Annie Leonard also presented her claims with bias, all her claims were about ‘negative things about consuming’, and most of them were against the American government. Annie Leonard did claimed her facts with bias, but her claims were able to support the whole world, not just inside the US, for example, she said ‘1/3 of the planet’s natural resources space has been consumed’.

Between the two documentaries, ‘The Story of Stuff’ and ‘The Cost of Cool’, the documentary ‘The Story of Stuff’ was able to present the issues of ‘Ethical Consumption’ more effective. This is because Annie Leonard was able to draw her thoughts down into an animation, which helps me understand a lot better, and she presented her claims without bias. However, if I had to recommend one of the video to a person, I would recommend the documentary ‘The Cost of Cool’ to a kid, and ‘The Story of Stuff’ to adults. This is because the documentary ‘The Story of Stuff’ talked more about governments, businesses, etc., when the documentary ‘The Cost of Cool’ talked about shopping, advertisements aimed for kids, etc.