love, personal, tips, womanhood

Words

Titled: Words

As he talks,

I listen to his every word.

Words.

Enunciation.

Breath.

Pause.

I marinate in his words.

Lips moist.

I tell him,

Brotha, lift that tongue up.

Search between the tight spaces of white teeth.

Dig for words deep in your throat.

And I remind,

if Allah revealed the Quran slowly.

Chapter by chapter,

Sentence by sentence,

Word by word,

then I will reveal myself slowly to you.

The key to my body lies lost in your mouth.

IT

_______

Sometimes I will check the statistics page of my blog. Often, it just gives me insight into my most popular posts. Hot Hijabis and Secret wife= Glorified “side piece” (over 1.5K shares!) have been two of my most popular pieces so far.

Paying attention to the blog statistics allows me to see what my readers click on most. I can also see what Google searches lead people to my page. Recently, someone searched “sweet things to say to a Muslim woman” and was guided to MuslimnLove.

I am as cheesy and they come and I let out a huge “awwwww” when I saw that.

Ya’ll both my face and heart smiled. At that moment I was filled with love.

The essence of this blog is to enhance my writing and allow a space for the Black Muslim woman to express her thoughts on love, life and Islam. I am very big on us controlling our own narrative. No one needs to speak for the Black Muslim woman but herself. Even within this I speak for my own unique experiences. I speak as a Black woman, I speak as an East Afrikan woman, I speak as a Muslim. I also speak as a woman who has lived abroad within different cultural settings. I have many platforms that influence how I view the world. I am open and unfiltered. Writing is an art and I use it to express my deepest thoughts and emotions. Art can not be censored and any artist would agree in the therapeutic importance of expression.

Words help to connect people and today not only do I celebrate MuslimnLove’s 3 year anniversary but I celebrate the sweetness of words.

Leggo! 

5 sweet things to say/do to a Muslim woman

1. Love wins. Let your heart talk. No matter where you are from, what color your skin is or how old you are EVERY woman enjoys being told that she is beautiful by the man she loves. Allow your heart to speak for you. This feels best when it’s unexpected. For instance, she is adjusting her hijab in the mirror and halal bae walks by and says “You’re pretty baby girl.” This is honey to our eardrums. When a woman feels loved she opens up in so many unimaginable ways. Open her up. Plus, everyone wants to be attractive to their partner.

2. Don’t only walk it out but talk it out. Explore her mind. Show her that there is an interest in her thoughts. Now, if you are on the brinks of a new relationship with a sister I suggest you utilize this one to the fullest. When you show an interest in what she likes then she will show even a bigger interest in you. Like I mentioned above, the mind of a woman must be opened first. To fully engage a woman you have to intellectually stimulate her before anything else.

3. Count on me. A woman wants to feel like she can count on you. Make her feel like you are dependable. When she needs to count on someone you need to be the person she relies on. A sense of stability is the sweetest thing for a woman. We love men who handle their business and then assist us in handling ours. Whether its subconscious we equate dependability with being good husbands, fathers and leaders.

4. Listen. We will talk. Talk. Talk some more. You are encouraged to listen and we will know if you aren’t listening. Interject once in a while. This proves you are actually listening. Women thrive off of emotional intimacy. Be her source of emotional intimacy. Let her know you care. Look her in the eyes when she is talking rather than at your phone. Don’t only listen with your ears, listen with your body. Take all of her in.

5. Time. I can not stress this aspect enough. Since I was a teenager I have had a saying in my life, “People ALWAYS make time for what they want to do.” Now, if you want to watch a TV show, go shopping or hang with a friend you will block out a certain time during your day to do that. Many women equate time with love. So if you aren’t making time we may think you don’t love us. This is just the truth.

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love, personal, stories, Uncategorized, womanhood

Lessons on love

I saw them walk around the edge of the water holding hands. Her chubby fingers laced into his. They both appeared to be in their mid to late 30’s. I could tell their love was new based on how his hands traced her body. Whether or not he realized it he was reading and studying her. His fingers did the work and his mind soaked it all in.

I could tell he was enjoying it. I thought how I missed having my body studied by a man.

As I watched them slowly walk by I imagined him being a very passionate and attentive lover. Words didn’t have to be spoken because he would read her body like a book of poetry. Her body was his poetry, in all of its sacredness. He would write haikus about the curve of her wide hips. He would write soliloquies about the softness of her heavy breasts. Every pause, every comma and every period would be considered. He would never rush. Every time his fingers grazed her body she would allow him to turn yet another page revealing more of herself to him. Sometimes he would even go back a page, only to slowly read it again fearing that perhaps he may have missed something. Her deep sighs would mean she was ready. He would want to take all of her in. He savored the ending but he wouldn’t finish until she gave him permission to close her book. Everyone knew you had to take your time reading poetry.

Once they reached a hill the woman stopped and looked out at the water. Her curly hair was moving in sync with the wind. Some ducks were splashing nearby and the sun sat perfectly in the clear blue sky. He walked up behind her and gently placed his arms around her waist. I could see he was whispering in her ear. I imagined what he might be saying. Her face eased into a smile. She closed her eyes as he brushed his lips against her cheek. She leaned back and shifted her weight onto him fully assured that he was able to handle it. They walked in slow motion while taking gentle steps. Both of them were oblivious to the runners, bikers and strollers that zoomed around them. There was an air of impatience to the people who passed them up. I just watched them both and thought to myself what it truly means to be in love and oblivious to the rest of the world.

I came up with one answer, absolutely wonderful.

_

I have been in love twice. I’m speaking about being madly, deeply, i-cant-think-about-nothin’-else type of love. The feeling of being warm and fuzzy inside when you see the person. Oh, and I can’t forget the “butterflies”. You haven’t truly been in love until you’ve experienced that. For real.

But, I digress.

I am a Black, Afrikan, Muslim woman.

I am a strong woman.

I am also…

A woman who loves to love. I am a woman who loves to be loved. There is nothing weak about admitting that. I actually view it as a strength. Love is one of the only things that can make you both vulnerable and powerful at the same damn time. This is the effect that love can have on a person.

I am close to turning thirty, God willing. For some women, thirty is a stepping stone and almost a dreaded right of passage. Many feel that there are certain things that a woman should have by the time she hits thirty. One of those things is a stable relationship. The powerful women who raised me made it clear that my identity and self worth was wrapped up in so much more that a societal dictation regarding female aging.

Lately, I have been reflecting and thinking about my experiences with love so far.

For me, both times were wonderful and I learned lessons about myself in each of those relationships. One thing I have definitely come to understand is that inexperience brings a sweetness to love. I was nineteen the first time I fell in love. I gave him a very sweet and innocent type of love and with the right person it could have been a beautiful thing. At that age it was so easy to follow the inclinations of my heart without hesitation. Part of being young is thinking that you can overcome anything. Life has a way of working itself out though. Allah knows what we do not.

As you get older you become realistic and begin to fully understand life. The second time happened ten years later and I was at a very different phase in my life. I still fell hard and enjoyed every minute of it. I was in deep, but unlike most, I was not in denial. I savored every minute of daydreaming, random texts and lingering conversations on the phone. I knew that being that much in love with a person carried its risks. I was ready to accept all of that. Our love was pleasantly unexpected and intense. I appreciated it for the experience and the lessons I learnt.

Remember, many people have never loved, been loved or fallen in love. Consider your experiences a blessing even if they end before you would like. There is a place for everything in your life, including love. What is meant for you now may not be meant for you tomorrow.

Give thanks for life.

Give thanks for love.

Give thanks to Allah.

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Uncategorized

Tinder’ing while Muslim

It’s getting dark outside.

I lay on my sofa nestled under a throw blanket. I am lost in my thoughts and old episodes of Scrubs. My apartment is warm and cozy. I am comfortable while munching on a bag of chips.

My phone rings.

I look at the phone and contemplate picking up. It vibrates and dances across the table. I pick it up before it falls off.

“Asaalamu alaikummmmm girl, what’s up?” I say while smiling down the phone.

Its my friend and she starts rambling about random things and then talks about this app called Tinder. She suggests I download it. For those of you who don’t know recently there has been an explosion in dating apps for cell phones. Essentially, they use your GPS location and link you up with folks within the vicinity. “There are a ton of Muslim men on it. Check it out!” She squeals down the line. I can hear the excitement in her voice.

A sistaqueen is always open for something new. So I download it.

Once it downloads there are a series of prompts. As you open the app a picture of a person will pop up on your phone. You can do one of three things:

Swipe left– means you’re not interested.
Swipe right– means you’re interested and if they swipe right on your profile as well then you’ll match up.
Click on their picture– Allows you to view more pictures of them or read their profile (If they wrote additional information).

Now, let me just say Tinder has to be one of the most superficial things out there to date (pun intended). Essentially, I am basing everything off of what a person looks like. I have nothing else to judge them off of. I like to think of myself as a person with substance. So naturally, I seek out substance. There is so much more to a person than their looks.

But that isn’t even the half of it.

Keep in mind I am minding my own business. Watching Netflix, eating chips and shit. I didn’t want to have anything to do with all of this.

I begin mindlessly scrolling through the app. I see a Mohammed. I also see an Omar too. Looks like Omar is holding a beer though. What a pity, he was a cutie too. :swipe left:

Surprisingly, I see a ton of Muslims on this app!

I see a dude posing with his dog. Dog is all up in his face. Gross. :swipe left:

I see a guy on a surf board. Looks like a risk taker. His smile wide and deceiving. :swipe left:

I see a guy with rimmed glasses on. Tech dude and very geeky. Something endearing about his shy eyes though. :swipe left:

I see a guy sitting in a chair. He has a checkered shirt on. His white teeth and perfectly placed. Something eerily familiar about him.

I begin sit up on my sofa.

I click on his profile to reveal more pictures. As I scroll through his profile I instantly recognize him. The lightbulb goes off as I put two and two together. It’s the husband of my VERY married friend.

I grab another potato chip and scroll through the pictures two more times thinking that maybe I was mistaken. My eyes narrow as I slowly examine his pictures. One of him posing in a restaurant. Another one he’s at the beach looking out at the orange sunset. Looks like he’s trying to be reflective.

I begin to wonder who took these photos. His wife, maybe?

So this leads me to the ethical dilemma. What do you do when you are scrolling through Tinder (or any dating/matrimonial site) and the picture of your very married friends husband pops up?

Do you swipe left and ignore?

I mean you could simply mind your own business and not say anything?

Tell your friend about her lying husband?

Or, do you swipe right and confront him?

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sex, stories

Yellow.

*Trigger warning: This post contains information about sexual assault and/or violence which may be triggering to survivors. Please read with caution.*

 
She sat there, in the corner, alone.

She had purposely picked the dark corner in the room. No one would force her to talk if she pretended like she was in prayer.

Her eyes stayed focused on the floor until the green zig zags in the carpet made her dizzy. People around her were trickling out of the room. She wouldn’t get up until the sound of shuffling shoes stopped.

She thought about the tackiness of the mosque. Between the green carpet and pink walls it didn’t stand a chance.

In her peripheral she saw a sister making her way towards her. She closed her eyes and felt the light footsteps shift and head in a different direction.

Life had been hard on her.

She never forgot that the room was yellow. She would grow up to hate that color and anything remotely related to it. Just the sight of a solid yellow shirt would evoke a feeling of utter disgust in her core. She recalled a time when she was doing good. The memories of him were beginning to lessen. That recurring nightmare had stopped. Soon after she came to that calm, a coworker pulled out a yellow notepad at a staff meeting. That was what set her off. A damn notebook. She fidgeted in her chair and eventually had to get up and step out. She would stay in her office and pop a Xanax. I just need 30 minutes to let the pill kick in. Later, when talking to her boss she would jokingly laugh and say, “You know Muslims pray all the time.” Using a religious excuse always worked in her favor because its motives could not be questioned. He would give her a half smile and know she was full of shit.

She had just turned nine the first time her uncle crept into her bedroom. Her body felt things it was not supposed to feel at that age. He lifted her underwear and stuck his fat fingers in places that she didn’t know existed. Lying frozen on her back all she would see was the yellow ceiling. This was the celling that watched her childhood unfold as she created makeshift hijabs for her dolls. Ironically, the same ceiling was about to witness the vandalization of her innocence and youth.

Yellow.

Screams would not follow direct commands. They would not come out of her mouth. Her mind and body would remain disconnected for a while after that. She would blossom into womanhood and sometimes feel betrayed by her own body. Orgasms felt good but the exhilaration was quickly followed by shame. So she would avoid accidentally brushing her nipples in the shower or watching a makeout scene in a movie too long. She didn’t want to evoke feelings that would lead to memories of yellow.

She didn’t know what to do or how to feel. Sometimes her prayers would involve asking Allah for numbness. She would bow with her forehead on the floor feeling every prickle of the wool carpet. She knew it was haram to ask for death, but by Allah, if she could have she would. It wasn’t fair. Allah was not being fair by giving her this burden. All those years. All those fuckin’ years he touched her. Allah must have been mistaken. He was mistaken for thinking that somehow she was supposed to duaa her way out of this. This test was meant for Aisha, Sumaiya or Maryam. Not her. Allah, in all His Majesty and Glory, was never wrong but in this instance He was. Just this one time He had made a mistake. She was sure of it.

A tear fell off her face. She didn’t feel it roll down her check. The carpet turned a dark green as it soaked up her hearts grief.

“Alllllaah, forrrgiv—…” She stuttered through deep, huffing breaths. Her heart needed a moment to rest.

“Allah, forgive me for doubting you and your trials.” She whispered.

Sometimes she felt stuck. Islam was her backbone but she doubted it at times. That feeling of doubt often led to feelings of guilt and remorse. Everyone said doubting meant you weren’t a “good” Muslim. Religious guilt often ate her from the inside out.

Throughout the years the thought of confiding in friends and family crossed her mind. One semester she had come home for break, which coincided with Ramadan. After attending tahajjud one night with her family she had a moment of clarity. A moment free of the anxiety associated with being judged and blamed for something the nine year old version of herself couldn’t prevent. She would tell her mother. She had decided.

Later she would back down.

That was the closest she came to exposing it all. She wanted people to see yellow for what it really was. She often questioned why lemonade, school buses and even smiley faces had to be yellow. The absurdity of it all. The sheer ridiculousness. People had been deceived. It was not a color of happiness and life. Yellow was an offensive, overpowering and a demanding of attention type of color.

So in a corner she stayed. Had her moment and afterwards went to the bathroom to wash her face. She opened the door and walked out the mosque while pulling her cardigan closer as her black hijab blew in the wind. It was starting to lightly drizzle outside. Rain was a blessing and in her quiet voice she whispered a small prayer.

She walked towards the white sedan and opened the passenger side door.

“Honey, what took you so long?” Her husband said smiling.

“I just saw Laila and you know how much she talks.” She said. He chuckled and shook his head.

She looked out the window. Days would pass. Everything would appear normal. In spaces, she would hide but remain physically present. People would think she was fine.

And she would never let them think otherwise.

Never.

_________

I will start this off with saying you never know what a person is going through. One can never understand and comprehend the internal struggles and grievances of an unfamiliar heart. All of us are handed a different deck of cards in life. Some may consider their hand fair, others may not.

Never assume anything about anyone. Never assume the type of life or upbringing a person has had. In most cases those same assumptions will be shattered.

Muslims have a difficult time discussing healthy, consensual sex within the confines of a marriage. These discussions are extremely difficult to have in many cultural and ultra-orthodox circles. It leaves many Muslims feeling dirty. So naturally, it would make sense that molestation and rape wouldn’t easily make their way into our conversations.

Molestation, rape and incest happen everywhere. No one community is immune to this. The only difference is that religious circles (Christians, Catholics and Muslims) have somehow been duped to think that sweeping the issue under the rug will remedy the situation.

Facing and admitting the fact that there are ills, addictions and deep issues within religious circles is not easy. While we try to reach spiritual perfection some may get blindsided refusing to admit the stark reality. Certain things require professional help and simply praying your way out of it is not enough. That should be ok. We need to face our problems and work on healing victims of abuse. People shouldn’t be spiritually abused because they admit to trauma in their lives. I’ve heard of people going to Muslim leaders for help and being told that praying more is the ultimate solution.

Prayer is a part of the solution, yes, but not the end all be all.

Be open when it comes to discussing sex, especially with your children. Once sex is normalized in our communities then we can comfortably bring up the abnormalities associated with it.

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tips, womanhood

Womanhood and the Muslimah

As soon as she opened the door I was met with the smell of simmering spices and warm food. I carefully took my boots off trying not to get snow on the plush creme carpet. I was greeted with kind and familiar smiles as I walked into the house. It was a typical December evening in Chicago. The kind of weather where your face went numb if you stayed out in the cold too long. I was relieved to be behind closed doors. Both my body and spirit were marinating in the warmth that surrounded me.

These type of gatherings were rare when the temperature reached subzero digits, so naturally I looked forward to the comradery of sisterhood, laughs and good spirits. We talked about various topics which included work, school, politics and of course marriage (for those of us that were married) and dating ventures (for those of us who were on the prowl).

The conversation shifted to womanhood and it left me with several thoughts.

What does it truly mean to be a carefree, spiritual and emancipated woman?

I’m talking about a woman not burdened with societal and cultural baggage. Many would say this is not possible in Islam, but I disagree. Throughout the last several years of my late twenties I have found solace not only in myself but, simply put, being myself.

There is a huge difference between the two and I believe many women use other people or standards to define who they are. Respecting your individuality is a huge component in becoming the woman you are destined to be.

I can not say this without paying attention to the reality that there are consequences to being a woman without inhibition.

Most people will misunderstand you.

Period.

Every time I hear Nina Simone’s “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” I often imagine her supplicating this song. If you closely listen to the words it is a prayer. She lays her problems in front of Allah and pleads for Him to aid her. She reminds Him that “I’m just a soul whose intentions are good”. As most know Nina was a woman who, herself, was often misunderstood by the world.

So, I thought as a woman these are the main points of judgement many of us face (irregardless of your ethnicity or religious affiliation) at some point in our lives:

*How you dress.
* Your relationship status.
*What you say.

These three things will be the judging ground for society. If you allow they will ultimately rule your life. You, as a woman, must endure it.

Men will use this as a means to see if you’re suitable for marriage and other women will use this as leverage for comparison. Being a woman, particularly a Muslim woman, means that you must adhere to certain expectations without fault. Men on the other hand are given the leeway to have fault. This is a privilege of manhood.

This is just the way the world works. Again, a reality you must accept.

You will often be misunderstood. If you are single (by choice or circumstance) folks will not get it. They will question if something is wrong with you or perhaps why no one wants you. Additionally, you may wear hijab, may not or perhaps you only cover some of the time. You will not only be judged on the frequency of when you wear it but how you wear it.

Or perhaps you are the type of woman who is strong willed, vocal and firm in your opinions. You are often, again, misunderstood. People will tell you to tone it down. You may even be reminded that men don’t like women who “talk” too much. Reality is that most of these men are insecure and use your strong personality as their excuse. Perhaps this will lead to you changing fundamental parts of your character to fit into what society wants of you.

Keep in mind that there are ways you can combat these stigmas. Walk at your own pace not following the steps of someone else. Our identity should not be solely wrapped in how society or Islam views us. As women we should all be the sole definer of our lives.

I am all woman. I am all Muslim. I am all Black. I am so much more.

Be true to your womanly ways and never apologize for being you.

 

 

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brothers, marriage

Mahr shaming

Lately, I have noticed the trend of Muslim women significantly reducing or at times forfeiting their mahr (dowry). In Islam, the dowry is something that is paid by the man to his intended wife. It is paid to the wife, and to her only, to show that he has serious intentions to marry her and is not simply entering into the marriage contract without any sense of obligation or effort on his part. Based on what I have seen the practice of forfeiting ones dowry seems to be more common among African-American Muslim women. I am not sure why this is the case amongst our Black sisters but I do have my speculations.

When we talk about dowries in the modern-day your mind may shift to exuberant amounts of money and gold. For some, this sort of dowry may be a cultural expectation and the grooms family will generally pitch in and assist with providing this requested amount to the bride and her family. In most cases, if this amount is not paid then the marriage will not proceed.

Now, let a sista just keep it real and say that this is not the case in most Black Muslim families. We don’t collectively pitch in to pay dowries. In addition, our dowries are not ridiculous and overwhelming to the groom. Yet, many Black Muslim women still get shamed for requesting simple dowries.

Everyone gets married for different reasons with varied intentions. Since each of us walk a different path in this life we all look for different things within a marriage. Islam assists us in understanding our roles and obligations within a marriage and at the end of the day we rely upon our contractual agreement to guide us within the confines of a marriage. Now if we want to talk about true indisputable rights within a marriage then the dowry is pretty high on that list. With that being said I still find it odd when Muslim women, particularly Black Muslim women, are religiously coerced into asking for far less. At times, their dowries consist of nothing tangible.

Black Muslim women need to stop restricting their dowries for the sake of the men they are marrying. Who are you trying to please? Asking for him to memorize Quran and not requesting anything in conjunction with that is simply ridiculous.

You need something for YOU!

What about Quran in combination with some gold? Or how about a reasonable and fair amount of money with your favorite surah?

My dowry is not grounds for you to practice your bartering skills, especially when I am already being fair.

For my sisters, there is nothing pious about rejecting what Allah has specifically ordained for you. The rules of Allah supersede the wishes of any man who desires to be your husband. For my brothers, it is not in your best interest to go into a marriage negotiating a dowry or persuading her to negate it all together in order to follow whatever form of the “sunnah” you align yourself with. Even if women don’t vocalize it this leaves a very bad taste in our mouths. As a woman, I am telling you this!

Not to mention…

As women we give so much of ourselves in a marriage. You are bounding yourself to take care of this man, giving him access to your temple, putting your life on the line by birthing his children, nurturing and caring for him day in and day out. Muslim women, we are deserving of so much more and asking for a fair dowry is nothing in comparison to what you are giving this man, who will be your husband, in return. Requesting a reasonable dowry is not placing a “burden” on him. If he has to work a little harder to get you a fair and reasonable dowry then so be it. You work for everything else in life. So what makes you think you ain’t gonna put in any extra work for a righteous wife?

Our love and devotion is priceless. The highest dowry wouldn’t even amount to what he is getting in return, which is you.

My motto is essentially this:

If a man attempts to talk you down or out of your dowry (that is Islamically ordained to you by Allah! I repeat, by Allah!) run away and don’t look back. He doesn’t understand your value or worth and chances are you will have to negotiate everything else within that marriage. This just shows that he is not willing to put in the work for you and most importantly he doesn’t care about Allah.

Who has time for that?

Don’t deny what Allah has given us as a means of protection and know your Islam inside and out before you go into any marriage.

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Uncategorized

Second Chances

She rubbed her stomach in a slow circular motion. Her fingers grazed her belly button with each stroke. She watched her hand rub, rub and rub some more. She rubbed with such an intensity as if the touching of her protruding stomach would somehow help ease her thoughts. It was like her hand had a mind of its own. She was tired and could barely get out of bed that morning. She threw on a pair of jeans and tossed a hijab on top of her uncombed hair.

Her eyes shifted to the door.

She stopped the mindless rubbing.

The nurse called some name and the girl next to her sighed with an undertone of impatience. The office looked like you stepped back into the 80’s. It smelled of moth balls and disinfectant. A plant that needed watering sat in the corner. The leaves were starting to turn brown and curl inward. She almost felt like getting a cup of water from the fountain nearby and pouring it into the soil, if only it was as easy to nourish the pain in her heart. Her soul needed watering. Everything around her was moving in slow motion, except for her thoughts. Her mind was racing at a mile a minute.

She had two options.

It was plain and clear.

Keep it or don’t keep it.

She knew what it meant to keep the baby. She would probably never get married. Her family would be shamed from here to eternity and her life would essentially be over. A form of suicide but the worse part about that was she wouldn’t actually be dead. She would still be living and going through the motions of life.

She would rather be dead.

Again, plain and clear.

Getting rid of the baby meant that she could go on as if nothing happened. This would be a hard secret to keep. She didn’t feel like her heart could bear to hold it. She had never been a liar and the thought of murdering her baby made all the blood rush to her head. She felt faint. Her eyes closed as her head fell back and rested on the wall behind her. She whispered “Allah” under her breath. This was a call for clarity mixed with a yearning for forgiveness. This wasn’t how it was supposed to happen. Babies were never a mistake.

This baby was a manifestation of their passion. She loved him. He loved her. She knew exactly when she got pregnant but she was still in denial when she missed her period two months in a row. Your mind will convince you to believe anything. Afterwards, he rolled over and wrapped his big arms around her. She kissed him. He always liked to whisper in her ear after they made love. He would tell her how beautiful she was and thank her for giving him a piece of her love. She could always tell if he was being honest by the look in his eyes. The room was dark and strips of moonlight crept through the blinds. She looked at him and he didn’t blink. He knew she was looking for sincere eyes. Even as dark as the room was she could still look into them. His eyes were deep brown and bright as ever. His warmth radiated around her. She was nestled in him and at that moment in time she didn’t want to be anywhere else. Her eyes closed and she could hear him falling asleep. His breathing pattern slowed down. She rubbed her fingers through his beard. He still held her tightly as he fell asleep. This was love but you couldn’t convince their families though. She never understood why old people acted like they had never been young and in love. She swore up and down she would never become like them. They both pleaded with their parents to allow them to get married. By that point he had approached her father three times and each time it ended with a rejection and a culturally appropriate request not to return. She knew this hurt his pride but he was a man and would never admit it. They were going to be together regardless but like everything in life she knew there would be consequences.

She knew this was a possibility. Every time you lay up with a man you risk the chance of getting pregnant. This was basic knowledge but she got caught up with him. It started off innocent and sweet. She held onto her virginity the way good Muslim girls are taught. By the time she reached twenty-five it was getting harder to maintain herself. They would meet up at events, then that lead to dinners and eventually he began inviting her over to his place. In the beginning he even gave her his bed as he crashed on the sofa. At the thought of this she laughed under her breath at its stupidity. Shaytan did his work and had them both thinking they were in control. The first time they had sex there was a sense of remorse and guilt. Afterwards they immediately turned away from each other as though nothing had happened. The shame of sin had kicked in. She rolled out from under the covers and quickly put her clothes on. She couldn’t believe it had happened. As she left his house she could still smell him on her. She had held onto her virginity for all those years and to lose it that quickly almost seemed unfair. She had never felt so dirty but he ignited a flame inside her body that could only be cooled by him. It felt natural. She would try to ward off the flames of desire and sometimes she would succeed but when they became uncontrollable she needed him. Every time they vowed to never to repeat this sin but one thing led to the next and before she knew it she’d be wrapped up in his bed sheets once again. This is what had led her to this point.

Marriage was what she wanted. It was what they both wanted from the beginning. She blamed her parents, her community and cultural bullshit. Islam was easy but Muslims made it hard. She was being pushed away but she needed her community. She needed to be reminded of where she came from. Hindsight is always 20/20, no doubt. She understood the consequences of her actions. Actually, they both understood the consequences of their actions but she was the one who carried the tangible manifestation of what they had done.

No one had explained these things to her though. Everything she learned about sex was from her peers and TV. No one actually sat her down and explained sex and its implications. Sex was always seen as a shame. As a woman you were not allowed to admit that you had the desire to be desired, even if you were within the confines of a marriage. It was often discussed with brides the night before their wedding in hushed voices behind closed doors. Some people said this was related to Islam but she had been educated enough to know that this was a cultural understanding. In Islam, women were sexually liberated and their needs were always acknowledged.

The door opened and the plump nurse walked out with a clipboard in her hand. She lifted her glasses and looked at it puzzlingly. She uttered something with exaggerated syllables that didn’t sound even remotely close to her name. She didn’t care and didn’t even bother correcting the nurse. She made eye contact and acknowledged her presence without words. Worried that the shame she was carrying deep inside her womb would surface she quickly averted her eyes to the floor.

Her mind had been made up.

______________

I remember when a friend of mine disappeared. I remember the pain and worry I felt when I couldn’t find her. Her number changed, her Facebook page vanished and I lost contact with her for nearly three years. I had heard that she got caught up with a brother and decided to take some time to recover from a failed attempt at getting married. Years later, I bumped into her and to my surprise she had a toddler strapped on her hip. I remember she looked happy and I was overjoyed to see her after years of not being in contact. I found out that in those years she had a son and had finally decided to come out and be part of the Muslim community once again. She said she did this for the sake of her child. She couldn’t raise him on her own and needed to be around other Muslims.

At the time, I had a mix of emotions. I was upset and hurt. I didn’t understand why she had to go into hiding but I began to understand the hard decision she had to make. She was all alone. My mind shifted to the feeling of loneliness she probably felt and the fact that she had very few people to confide in. I wanted to be there for her because as a young Muslim woman I understood the struggle of being single and alone. The reality remains that it is easy to get caught up and you have to be diligent and mindful of Shaytan and his tricks. I admired her courage for coming back but I admired her even more for keeping her child under cultural and religious pressures.

Muslim women who get pregnant out of wedlock need to be encouraged to keep their seeds but there is no way this can happen without collective community support. As women, we have to give each other a break and understand that it is very easy to judge a person when you haven’t been put in the same predicament. Each one of us navigate a different road in life. Life is full of challenges and we all face circumstances different from the next. I have witnessed Muslim men bring their pregnant girlfriends to the mosque. Absolutely no shame in their game and they aren’t reprimanded.

Let a sista repeat…

I’ve actually witnessed Imams encourage these men to bring their girlfriends to the mosque in hope that these women will convert to Islam. Yet, when a Muslim woman gets pregnant she goes into hiding or gets an abortion. Sometimes she leaves Islam all together. What about the child? What about her spiritual wellbeing?

The double standards are for real and I refuse to accept them.

The dehumanizing associated with Islam needs to stop. Muslims are people and fall into sin just like any other group. When did religiosity and infallibility become so closely intertwined? As sincere Muslims, we all hope to stay on the path of truth and righteousness but in reality sometimes we take a detour or some of us just take a break and get off the path all together. We would rather trample over each other and judge a person when they are having a difficult time getting back up. So rather than offering a helping hand we kick them down even further when they make sincere efforts to get back into our communities. What happens when Allah has allowed a person to come back? What happens when He has ignited their hearts once again? Lending a helping hand to a person who has fallen victim to life doesn’t mean you agree with their actions it simply means you are empathizing.

Marriage is not difficult but Muslims make these things more complicated than they ought to be. If two young people express interest in each other why aren’t we allowing them to get married? Then we wanna get mad and judgmental when folks get caught up in certain situations. The older I get I hear of far too many people getting caught up simply based on the fact that their community or parents didn’t allow the marriage to progress. This is a huge problem in many Muslim communities. It usually falls into these two categories, either the brother isn’t financially ready (so the family rejects) or the family doesn’t agree with interracial/intercultural marriages.

In addition, we need to teach our young people about sex. In an ideal world and according to Islam abstinence is taught but in reality folks are getting it in. Young Muslims need to properly understand sex and its implications. Contraception, STD’s/STI’s and pregnancies need to be discussed with a culturally sensitive approach. There needs to be no shame associated with this. If we aren’t teaching the youngins’ then they are learning elsewhere. Expecting people to navigate the roads of life without proper guidance is absolutely unrealistic. Our communities need to take some responsibility.

You will never know the inner struggles of a person. Kindness and empathy always overpower.

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