Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

How the Prophet Muhammad Changed the Arab World

(Photo by Jeff Jewiss, Unsplash)

How the Prophet Muhammad Changed the Arab World

At the time of Muhammad’s birth around 570 A.D., Mecca was an important trading city which guarded the trading route between Yemen and Jerusalem. Mecca had also become an important religious center where pilgrims traveled to bring offerings to a wide variety of gods and goddesses housed inside a haram (sanctuary) called the Kaaba (Esposito 3-5). Muhammad’s religious fervor threatened the very foundations of Meccan society because he believed that the worship of the one God, Allah, took precedence over personal prosperity and tribal power.


The ruling tribe of Mecca – the Quraysh – had grown rich, decadent, and powerful. “Only two generations earlier, the Quraysh had lived a harsh nomadic life in the Arabian steppes, like the other Bedouin tribes: each day had required a grim struggle for survival” (Armstrong 132). Their newfound wealth undermined “the old tribal values” of muruwah (communal survival) (Armstrong 132-133), leading the city of Mecca into materialism, greed, and selfishness.


Women, in particular, received harsh treatment in Meccan society. They were considered property and became part of a man’s estate when he died. Male heirs could marry the women, if they so desired, or marry them off to other men without the women’s consent. Men could marry multiple wives and divorce them at will. The birth of a girl was considered a misfortune since a girl could not fight or contribute much to the family’s fortunes. Female infants were buried alive in the desert sand (Salahi 51-52).


The harshness of life in the Arabian desert discounted the possibility of life after death. Once someone died, they remained dead forever. Anyone preaching resurrection was scorned and mocked as a lunatic (Salahi 52). Charity towards orphans, widows, and the poor gradually slipped away, leaving an underclass of helpless beggars who struggled to survive.


Tribal warfare was an accepted part of everyday life, and the richer Mecca became, the more different tribes fought to gain power and wealth. “Muhammad was convinced that unless the Quraysh learned to put another transcendent value at the center of their lives and overcome their egotism and greed, his tribe would tear itself apart morally and politically in internecine strife” (Armstrong 133).

Islam developed out of the tribal tradition that placed the needs of the tribe over the needs of the individual (Armstrong 134-135). Muhammad gradually incorporated modified versions of tribal traditions and beliefs into a new monotheistic religion after he began to have revelations from Allah (the Arabic word for God) when he was 40 years old. He also legitimized his new religion by incorporating modified versions of Jewish and Christian stories into the Qur’an. For example, the Hebrew prophet, Abraham, became the ancestor of the Arabic tribes based on the Old Testament story of Hagar and Ishmael. Ishmael was adopted as the progenitor of the Arabic tribes and, in particular, Muhammad’s own tribe. In the Qur’anic version, it was Ishmael and Abraham who built the Kaaba to honor Allah. It was Muhammad’s view that later peoples and tribes corrupted Abraham’s monotheism by adopting pagan polytheistic gods and goddesses. Muhammad sought to return to (what he perceived to be) the original monotheism and gave special attention to Jews and Christians because of their belief in monotheism. But he also declared his brand of monotheism to be the final religion of God —and himself as the final prophet of God (the Seal of the Prophets) (Salahi 1-21, 125, 289, 583-584, 678-680, 725, 741; Armstrong 140, 152, 154).


The Qur’an prescribed new rules about women, inheritance, and marriage, giving women more autonomy and equality, while preserving the role of men as their protectors. The murder of female infants was outlawed, giving women a special place in Islamic society (Armstrong 157-158). Rules about food, prayer, and relationships between people were addressed. A kinder, charitable, and nobler society was demanded. The bonds of blood, which were so important in tribal Arabia, were replaced by bonds of religious faith. Islam gradually brought together the warring tribes of Arabia into a united political and religious power which sought to spread its leadership and message to the rest of humanity (Salahi 218-219, 377, 518).


The caliphate began after Muhammad’s death when Abu Bakr was chosen khalifa (successor) by members of the Islamic community. After suppressing opposition within their own territory, Abu Bakr’s military campaigns brought the rest of the Arabian Peninsula under Muslim control (Esposito 11). As the caliphate’s military forces grew in numbers and strength, they began to invade both the Sasanian and Byzantine empires, eventually establishing a brand new Islamic Empire in the Near East (Esposito 13). With political power came religious power, and Islam began to spread among non-Arab people.


Political and religious conflicts broke out over how caliphs could claim legitimate leadership. These conflicts led to the First and Second Civil Wars. The Islamic community became permanently split between the Kharijites, who wanted to choose leaders based on piety and righteous behavior; the Shiites, who wanted to elect descendants of the Prophet as leaders; and the Murjia, or Sunnis, who represented mainstream Islam (Esposito 14-18).


By the end of the Second Civil War, the Islamic community had fully defined itself as a monotheistic community, separate from Jews and Christians, which was “engaged in a common effort to establish, in God’s name, a new and righteous regime on earth” (Esposito 19). Political power brought new economic power, and Islamic culture began to flourish throughout the empire. Islamic communities began to exhibit ethnic and racial diversity as new converts were made and local customs and traditions were incorporated into Islamic practice. Distinctive new forms of art and architecture appeared. As the caliphate began to wane, independent states arose which made their own contributions to Islamic culture and law. Family dynasties arose and disappeared. Persian and other languages stood equal to Arabic. Islam was well-established as a major religion (Esposito 59-61).


Muhammad’s quest to transform Mecca into a more just society was the beginning of a new religion and a new social activism that has transformed the Arab world.

References

Armstrong, Karen. A History of God. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1993.
Esposito, John L. The Oxford History of Islam. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
Salahi, Adil. Muhammad: Man and Prophet. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1995.

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

December 17, 2018; August 17, 2022

Copyright 2018-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

7 Comments »

Sweet Revenge

(Photo by Jennifer Marquez on Unsplash)

Sweet Revenge

If love is pain,

I nailed you to the cross

With revenge so sweet,

It blossomed into a crown of thorns.

~ Dawn Pisturino ~

August 15, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

23 Comments »

The Adulteress – A Poem

The Adulteress

by Dawn Pisturino

“It is the law,” Old Moses cried

A-top the mountain called Sinai;

“And everyone who broke it, died,”

The people in the valley sighed.

“And what of me?” the young girl said,

Shaking her black and tousled head.

“I will not send him from my bed,

Not if the sun becomes blood red!”

She spread her arms as if to fly:

“Not if the moon should leave the sky!

I love him! Strong, yet very shy —

The man whose side I must be by!”

Her husband prayed the whole night through.

“What have I done? What must I do?”

He muttered as the sky turned blue.

The laws were made; they must hold true.

The people gathered with their stones

And broke the young wife’s slender bones.

And when she died with cries and groans,

They turned and heard her husband’s moans.

“The price is paid,” they cried as one.

“The sinful tie has been undone.”

The young man turned, as if to shun,

The righteous crowd whose law had won.

~

September 18, 1986; August 3, 2022

Copyright 1986-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

28 Comments »

Rape Prevention in Arizona

(Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash)

Rape Prevention in Arizona

by Dawn Pisturino

Abstract

Social services in Arizona are concentrated mainly in the Phoenix area.  Outlying areas may or may not have sufficient services.  In Mohave County, for example, domestic and sexual violence services are geared largely toward families and domestic violence.  Few services exist specific to rape prevention.  In fact, the nearest actual rape center is located in Flagstaff (Coconino County), which is two hours away.  Arizona does have a comprehensive Sexual Violence Prevention & Education Program aimed at prevention of sexual and domestic violence, but most state-funded organizations are located in southern Arizona.  National organizations like RAINN provide general guidelines and state-by-state information.

Rape Prevention in Arizona

       The Sexual Violence Prevention & Education Program in Arizona originated at the state level, conforms to CDC guidelines, and depends on funding from the CDC and other sources.

       In 2004, the Governor’s Office for Children, Youth, and Families formulated a state plan that would “increase capacity . . . to provide services, promote prevention, conduct trainings, and create public awareness activities statewide” in the area of sexual assault.  The primary goal was to “increase victim access to comprehensive crisis services” (Governor’s Office for Children, Youth, and Families, 2004).

       A statewide eight year plan was implemented through the Arizona Department of Health Services in 2010 that would “stop first time perpetration” through standardized educational curriculum in the schools, colleges, and universities; faith-based organizations; widespread media campaigns; and businesses that serve alcohol.  The mission was to achieve “the vision of a culture that supports healthy, respectful relationships through primary prevention efforts and zero tolerance of sexual violence in Arizona communities” (Arizona Department of Health Services, 2010).

       Sexual assault is a public health threat that requires preventative education and counseling before an assault occurs; interventions immediately after an incident; and long-term follow-up care, if necessary, with therapy and empowerment tools (University of Arizona, 2012).  Programs are now teaching bystander intervention skills to people who want to serve as role models and intervene when they witness a potential or actual sexual assault occurring.  The University of Arizona routinely screens students for past and recent sexual assaults and abuse so they can receive the therapy they need.  Male students learn how to evaluate their own attitudes and beliefs about male dominance and entitlement in order to gain new respect for their partners and develop more effective communication skills (University of Arizona, 2012).

       The Sexual Violence Prevention & Education Program implemented in 2012 on the campus of the University of Arizona in Tucson is also available to other campuses, organizations, and businesses through their community outreach program.  According to their research, alcohol is implicated in 50-70% of all sexual assaults.  Drug and alcohol screenings are now done on campus to screen students for substance use problems.  Students receive information about consent and the ability/inability to consent for sexual activity while intoxicated.  Freshmen are required to take an online course in sexual assault (University of Arizona, 2012).

       Research conducted at the University of Arizona supports new laws and public policies.  Researchers have found that community-based programs are most effective.  Their public awareness programs have been so effective, Governor Douglas Ducey proclaimed April 2016 Sexual Assault Awareness Month (Governor’s Office, 2016).

       According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (2016), 1 in 5 women and 1 in 15 men experience rape or attempted rape.  By the age of eighteen, 40% of women have suffered some sort of sexual abuse or assault.  The long-term physical and psychological trauma can be devastating.  Family Advocacy Centers have been established in some areas of Arizona to provide post-sexual assault services, including forensic evidence collection, expert witness testimony, and legal representation.  Arizona state law allows victims to receive a forensic examination by a trained examiner within 120 hours (5 days), whether or not they plan to report the incident to police (Governor’s Office for Children, Youth, and Families, 2004).  Forensic biological evidence will be kept indefinitely in unsolved felony sexual offense cases (Arizona Revised Statute 13-4221).  There are no statutes of limitations in felony sexual offense cases (Arizona Revised Statute 13-107).  The definition of rape has been expanded in order to increase the number of convictions.  Sexual assault is a class 2 felony, but if a date rape drug was used, the sentence will be increased by three years (Arizona Revised Statutes 13-1406).  The minimum sentence for a first conviction under ARS 13-1406 is 5.25 years, but a life sentence may be imposed if intentional serious physical harm was inflicted.

       Cultural competence remains an important issue when dealing with victims of sexual assault since the United States has such a diverse population “with differing ideas about domestic violence and sexual assault” (Warrier, 2005).  Trained interpreters and bilingual educational materials must be available.  Professionals must be able to understand victims’ experiences of violence within the context of their own culture.  This is particularly crucial among the Native American population.

       Kathryn Patricelli, MA (2005), educates women on what to do after an assault or rape.  First off, they should not bathe or cleanse themselves.  Secondly, they should call the police and report what happened. Third, women should go to the emergency room and ask to be examined.  A forensic examination should be performed.  If a date rape drug was used, they should have a urine toxicology screen done.  Fourth, they should go stay in a safe place or have someone stay with them.  Fifth, victims should get help from a counselor to ease the shock, pain, and guilt.  If symptoms do not ease in a reasonable amount of time, the victim should get ongoing therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Method

Process

       Research was conducted online through EBSCO and Google Scholar using the keywords “rape prevention,” “rape prevention in Mohave County,” and “rape prevention in Arizona.”  Other research was done in person and by telephone.

Results

       The best online results were found in Arizona government websites and publications.  Kingman Aid to Abused People/Sarah’s House did not answer their door or telephone.  Their primary focus is on family abuse and domestic violence.  Calling the Mohave Victim Witness Program phone number connected me to a pager.  There was no local rape prevention literature available at the Mohave County Library in Kingman; their resource list was out-of-date; and the librarian could only find two young adult books in the system related to teen dating safety and sexual harassment.

Discussion

       Local programs funded by the state of Arizona must provide “education on sexual harassment, definitions of rape, teen dating violence, assertive communication, and strategies to increase reporting and awareness of sexual violence” (Arizona Department of Health Services, 2016).  Some organizations also explain consent and Arizona law.

       Most programs and organizations in Mohave County provide post-incident crisis intervention, shelter, and hotlines for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.  Mohave Community College has policies dealing with campus safety and sexual harassment and assault.  Mohave Mental Health and Southwest Behavioral provide long-term therapy services for depression, anxiety, and PTSD.  Local hospitals have trained forensic examiners, social workers, and counselors available for immediate care after a sexual assault.  The Mohave County Health Department performs confidential testing for STDs/HIV.

       Charles P. Nemeth (2012) defines rape as sexual intercourse with another person through the use of force, without consent, and with intent.  His guidelines for dealing with an attack include trying to dissuade the attacker from completing the act; pretending to have an STD or AIDS; acting insane; yelling; struggling and fighting back; using self-defense skills; using pepper spray or mace; avoiding resistance in order to survive (Nemeth, 2012).

       The Governor’s Office for Children, Youth, and Families (2004) describes rape “as a crime of power and control . . . motivated by aggression and hatred, not sex.”  The state of Arizona has implemented a statewide plan to address the problem through standardized educational programs, increased availability of services to victims, and expanded tools for prosecutors and police to increase the number of convictions for sexual assault.  But most comprehensive services are concentrated in the Phoenix/Tucson metropolitan areas.  More needs to be done for less populated counties like Mohave County.

References

Arizona Department of Health Services. (2016). Sexual violence prevention and education

       program. Retrieved from http://www.azrapeprevention.org.

Arizona Department of Health Services, The Bureau of Women’s and Children’s Health. (2010).

       Arizona sexual violence primary prevention and education eight year program plan.

       Phoenix, AZ: State of Arizona.

Arizona Legislature. (2016). Arizona revised statutes. Retrieved from http://www.azleg.gov.

Centers for Disease Control, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of

       Violence Prevention. (2016). Stop SV: A technical package to prevent sexual violence.

       Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control.

Governor’s Office. (2016). State of arizona proclamation. Phoenix, AZ: State of Arizona.

Governor’s Office for Children, Youth, and Families, Division for Women. (2004). The state

       plan on domestic & sexual violence: A guide for safety & injustice in arizona. Phoenix,

       AZ: State of Arizona.

Nemeth, C.P. (2012). Criminal law. Boca Raton, FL: Taylor & Francis.

Patricelli, K., MA. (2005, December 15). Abuse – If you have been assaulted or raped. Retrieved

       from http://www.mentalhelp.net.

RAINN. (2016). State-by-state definitions. Retrieved from http://rainn.org.

University of Arizona, Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. (2012). Sexual

       violence prevention & education program orientation manual & annual summary. Tucson,

       AZ: University of Arizona.

Warrier, S. (2005). Culture handbook. San Francisco, CA: Family Violence Prevention Fund.   

~

Dawn Pisturino

Substantive Law 225

October 22, 2016; July 27, 2022

Copyright 2016-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.                                                      

28 Comments »

“Psychology,” a Poem, Published on Spillwords

(Photo by Glen Hodson)

I’m thrilled to announce that my poem, “Psychology,” has been published today on Spillwords. I want to thank Dagmara K. and all of her lovely staff for this opportunity to share my poetry. I feel truly honored.

PSYCHOLOGY

written by: Dawn Pisturino

A psychologist by trade,
She brought order from chaos,
Splicing together the broken threads
Of fragile minds:
Listening for the right tone,
The right inflection, the right notes
To harmonize the deepest
Fears and desires of her clients.
But, in her own disordered brain . . .

Please head on over to Spillwords here to read the rest of my poem and all of the other featured selections for today.

Thank you sincerely from the bottom of my heart!

Dawn Pisturino

June 18, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

And, don’t forget to check out the Wounds I Healed: The Poetry of Strong Women anthology, now available on Amazon and Kindle. #1 in Amazon New Releases of Poetry Anthologies. Thanks!

31 Comments »

Official Anthology Launch Date: June 18, 2022

Wounds I Healed: The Poetry of Strong Women anthology officially launches on Amazon and Kindle on Saturday, June 18, 2022.

Here’s the official Amazon description:

Award-winning authors, Pushcart nominees, emerging poets, voices of women and men, come to the fore in this stunning, powerful, and unique anthology. Their poems testify to the challenges that women face in our society, and to their power to overcome them. A memorable collection of over 200 poems by more than 100 authors, this anthology is a must-have for anyone. We all can benefit from the poetry of survival, and of healing. We all can benefit from the experiences so beautifully evoked in this book. We can all come together to emerge triumphant from pain.”

Editor and Curator: Gabriela Marie Milton

Publisher: Experiments in Fiction/Ingrid Wilson

Artwork: Nick Reeves

Get YOUR copy soon!

Dawn Pisturino

June 17, 2022

20 Comments »

Cheap Wine, Dried Salame, and YOU

 My husband was one of those “bad boys” that girls fall in love with and parents deplore. With his black jacket and black leather cap, he looked like a Sicilian gangster out on a hit.

His pent-up anger spilled out of him in dangerous ways. For example, he mapped out a plan whereby every bank in the city of San Francisco could be robbed on the same day.

His dark nature captivated me, and soon, I was hooked for life.

We fought like cats and dogs, but oh, the fun we had! We went treasure hunting in crazy, out-of-the-way places, finding cold hard cash lying in the sand in a cave. We drove up and down the Pacific Coast Highway in his green Fiat X-19, enjoying the sun on our faces, the wind in our hair. We hiked through the redwoods on Mt. Tamalpais and watched the ocean tides under a full moon at Ocean Beach.

One day, singing at the top of his lungs, my husband suddenly stripped down and drove naked with the top of his car open along the 92 over to Half Moon Bay. Thrilled and excited, I watched for the cops, laughing all the way.

On cool, foggy nights, we slipped away into the darkness and made love on sandy beaches. On warm afternoons, we packed a picnic snack: a bottle of Riunite Lambrusco and a link of dried salame. Sun, warmth, ocean air, sand, green grass, and a hazy glow of love and darkness and friendship between us.

After our daughter was born, we included her in our crazy life. Archery at the range on King’s Mountain, afternoon tea at Agatha’s, strolling the malls, tramping through the sand at Half Moon Bay, riding the carousel at the San Francisco Zoo, flying kites down on the Marina.

Those days are over now. Our daughter is grown, and we’re not as skinny as we used to be. We live in the desert in Arizona, work, walk the dog, watch TV, and complain about the heat, wind, and dust. But whenever I go back to California, I relive those glory days of sunshine and salt air. Whenever I spot a bottle of Riunite or a link of dried salame at the grocery store, I remember foggy nights and making love in the sand.

So let me fill my plastic cup with cheap red wine, arrange slices of salame and cheese on a paper plate, and offer this toast to the man I love:

I LOVE YOU, DEAR HEART, MY LOVER, MY BEST FRIEND, MY MENTOR, MY DEVIL’S ADVOCATE, MY DARK KNIGHT — AND I ALWAYS WILL.

Happy Father’s Day!

(Father’s Day is Sunday, June 19, 2022 in the USA)

Dawn Pisturino

June 16, 2022

Copyright 2012-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

33 Comments »

June 4th Twitter Discussion: “Wounds I Healed”

On Saturday, June 4th, please join Gabriela Marie Milton and Ingrid Wilson at 10:00 am ET (USA) [7:00 am on the West Coast] for a discussion and updates about the upcoming anthology, Wounds I Healed: The Poetry of Strong Women.

Here’s the link on Twitter Space (word has it you don’t need a Twitter account.)

https://twitter.com/i/spaces/1lDxLLreevkxm

For further information, please visit Gabriela Marie Milton’s blog.

Thanks!

Dawn Pisturino

June 4, 2022

10 Comments »

“Wounds I Healed” Anthology Acceptance

I’m pleased and proud to announce that my poem, Boudica’s Soliloquy, has been accepted for publication in the upcoming Wounds I Healed: The Poetry of Strong Women anthology. I want to thank Gabriela Marie Milton (editor), Ingrid Wilson of Experiments in Fiction (publisher), and Nick Reeves for their hard work and dedication in bringing this project to fruition.

As you may have guessed, the poem is about Boudica, the fierce Celtic Queen of the Iceni tribe who reigned in the East Anglia region of Britain. In 60 C.E., she led a revolt against the Romans. Bravely driving a chariot against Roman forces, she fought for the liberation of her tribe and vengeance for the rape of her two daughters by Roman soldiers. Although defeated, she went down in history as a tragic figure and a British folk hero.

For some reason, when I heard about the anthology, Queen Boudica immediately popped into my head. She was a woman who lost everything but died with dignity and honor.

Please visit these sites:

Gabriela Marie Milton (Short Prose)

MasticadoresUSA//Gabriela Marie Milton, editor

Ingrid Wilson, Experiments in Fiction

Nick Reeves

Thank you!

Dawn Pisturino

May 9, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

49 Comments »

Rite of Passage

(Photo by Gil Ribeiro, Unsplash)

I wrote this for the Binnacle 2008 Ultra-Short Writing Challenge, which asked for a 150-word story:

As the train pulled away from the station, Carrie looked through the window at her father standing lost and forlorn on the wooden platform. “I’ll be back,” she had said, hugging him tightly and kissing him warmly on the cheek. But as the train chugged slowly down the track, she knew in her heart that she would never come back. With tears in her eyes, she waved at him one last time, painfully aware of the worried expression in his tired blue eyes, the stooped shoulders, the crumpled old sweater. Who will take care of him now, she wondered. But as the train moved faster down the track, so did her thoughts, leaping ahead to the eager young man waiting anxiously for her at the end of the line and the new life they would begin together. She closed her eyes, remembering his gentle words of love, and cried. (149 words)

Dawn Pisturino

January 2008; March 29, 2022

Copyright 2008-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

23 Comments »

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