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My Grandmother, Mrs. Neil

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My grandmother didn’t have to see the world.

My mother placed it at her feet with two foreign looking Muslim grandchildren.

She had strong Christian values yet once my mother converted to Islam she stopped cooking pork and carpooled us back and forth to Quran classes.

She hated to travel but that was perfectly fine with her because my mother did enough traveling for the both of them. My mother would beg and plead for her to come with us on trips to Europe or the Middle East but her curiosity would remain hindered by her fear of the outside world.

She was perfectly content staying in the house my grandfather built from the ground up.

I think it reminded her of him.

 

Perhaps it was the spot in the living room where he used to sit and read the paper every morning or the fact that his hands had touched every brick the house stood on that made her so disagreeable when anyone would mention her leaving.

That was what women did in her time. Their lives were dedicated to their families.

No matter what.

My grandmother was born in the 1920s on the Southside of Chicago. It was a time of intense racial segregation and the seeds of the civil rights era were slowly coming to fruition. As one of her youngest grandchildren, I would listen to tales of her growing up with her sisters, the viewing of Emmitt Till’s body, and sneaking off to high school dances. This was a side of my grandmother I always wanted to know more about.

The black and white pictures inside her living room china cabinet burst with images of a young, beautiful black woman with jet black hair swept into a French roll. She was always looking off into a distance, only adding to the mystery of my grandmother’s past.

But her youthfulness was nothing but a mere memory tucked away in a fragment of time. She was now a woman in her 80s unable to walk after bilateral knee replacements – widowed and alone. Her vigor for life was gone after the passing of my grandfather.

He had been a quiet and reserved man. During his time, masculinity was largely defined by tending to the financial needs of one’s family. He worked in a local steel mill while my grandmother raised my mother and two uncles.

My mother once told me that she never saw them argue, something that seems nearly unbelievable in today’s day and age.

Later in life, he became chronically ill. My grandmother learned how to administer at-home dialysis and then, later, assisted him in his affairs when he began to lose his eyesight to glaucoma.

After my grandfather’s death, my grandmother sank into a deep and severe depression. This newfound state would last for almost ten years. Even though I sympathized with her, I never quite understood how one could rely so heavily on another person until I went through my own life altering circumstance.

Shortly before her passing, I broke the news to her that I was separating from my then husband. She was in hospice and dying of lung cancer.

She looked at me with utter disappointment.

“Child, there is no way for you to work this out? This is your husband.”

“No ma’m, it’s over.” I said, abruptly yet respectfully. I knew what was coming and wanted to stop it before it started.

Sensing my frustration she stopped, but not before saying, “You must have not really loved him anyways.”

Her frankness cut the silence in the room.

I didn’t argue or correct her. There was nothing to say because, in her mind, my actions meant I didn’t love him – loyal women never left their men.

And I was being, simply put, disloyal.

It’s been almost four years since her passing but I vividly remember this conversation. And, over the years, I’ve reflected on what it truly means to be loyal in a relationship.

Is loyalty relative? Or is there a universal way to define it?

I truly believe that one must stay committed and loyal to the fundamentals of a healthy relationship. Do some people cop out of marriages too soon? Definitely. Do some people stay in relationships out of shame associated with a divorce? Certainly. But there’s a balance. Most of us who have been divorced understand this internal tug of war. Sometimes the desire for wanting to get out of a relationship can be just as strong as wanting to exhaust all options to make it work.

The older I get I realize that my grandmother set an example for what it truly meant to remain committed in a relationship. That type of “old school” loyalty doesn’t exist any longer. When we see it, most are in awe and amazed. Most are lucky to make it to their ten year anniversary. My grandmother was married for nearly sixty years.

It takes love, patience and most of all sacrifice to truly make a relationship work. Loyalty can have many definitions but one thing is for sure, when you see it there will be no way to confuse it with anything else.

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This post was originally featured on Love InshAllah: The secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women http://loveinshallah.com 

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brothers, marriage, tips

Sweet as the Sunnah: 5 ways to hit on a Muslimah

Imagine this scenario:

It’s morning rush hour and you are waiting on the platform for the express train. Train pulls up and the doors spring wide open. The train is packed, as usual, with folks drinking their morning coffee and bopping away to music on their iPods. 

You grab hold of the bar and rest your back on the door. 

Just another morning…

Midst being lost in your thoughts and everything you have to do you look up and notice a Muslimah sitting across from you. She looks up from her book and shyly smiles. You awkwardly smile back. 

A million and one thoughts are running through your head. You want to spark up a conversation but you’re not sure exactly how to go about it. You don’t want it to come off as though you’re tryin’ to mac or be disrespectful. 

You’re counting down the stops to your destination and at the same time trying to scheme a plan to talk to her. 

Let me start off by telling you this…

Yes, we are Muslim women but at the end of the day we are women. Most of the guys who hit on us on a daily basis are non-Muslim. Occasionally it would be nice to be hit on by someone who you can actually envision a future with…

Before any mac daddy stuff goes down check out her hands. Women are more likely to wear wedding rings as compared to men. If she’s married most likely she will have a ring on (not always though).

Now this has to be done the right way though. My brotha, you have to be respectful and most of all legit when you try to hit on a Muslim woman. They say it typically takes a mere 15 minutes to figure out if a woman is interested in you or not.

Here are some helpful tips that will help you navigate the mysterious world of Muslim women (you can thank a Sistaqueen later). Remember we are talking marriage here:

1. Wise Words. Pick your words wisely. Nothing cheesy, or straight up rude. Remember women love to be spoken to gently and we pay attention to every word that rolls off your tongue. If you decide to start off your macing with a question make sure its open ended because this will lead to a conversation. Remember, mates should always start out as friends so you want to see how good the conversation is. She might clam up and not be open at first but give her a little space. Most Muslim women are a tad bit reserved.

2. Da Digits. Don’t ask for her number too soon. Ease into it my brotha. When brothers run straight for your number its a huge turn off. You start the conversation off and let her steer it. If you are really diggin’ her vibes find out a way to leave her your number. This will make her more comfortable and most of all put the power in her hands. If you guys were talking about work for instance come up with some lame excuse such as, “I know this great networking event coming up next month. Here is my number you can call me and I can give you the info.” Now if the interest is mutual then she will give you a ring.

3. Islam it up. Always relate the conversation back to Islam. This is a major turn on. You’ll have the sista “mashAllah’ing” you in her head. Compliment her hijab. Tell her you wish other women valued modesty as much as Muslim women. Don’t overdo this though because it might come off as fake. You want her to know that Islam is an important part in your life. “Yo sista, that Nawawi’s 40 hadiths is off the chain. You peeped it lately?” See it’s that simple. Islam all day err’ day.

4. Body art. Now I can not stress the importance of body language. Open stance and good eye contact are just a few signs that you are interested. I must tell you that most Muslim women like a brotha who lowers his gaze from time to time. This shows us that you have control over yourself. So look up and then cast your eyes downward. This shows you are listening but at the same time giving us the respect we deserve. Lean into the conversation. Make her feel like she is the only person in the room. Speak with confidence and without hesitation. Now onto the rules of touching. Remember like I said, earlier on I am by no means giving fatwas (Islamic rulings) here. The issue of touching (handshakes, hugs, etc) vary from person to person and their level of practice. Personally, I would tell you not to touch the sista in any way or form. More than likely you will cross a personal boundary and this could turn your sweet macing session into a sudden disaster. All that hard work for nothing…

5, Make her smile. Most women like to laugh and we value a brotha who has a light sense of humor. Remember before we access our compatibility as mates we are venturing into the friends zone. Crack a joke. Make the conversation light. Don’t go into it asking for her wali’s information. So many brothas jump into asking for your wali. Now of course we understand that things must be done Islamically but slow your roll.

My brotha, now you are ready to test the field. Rejection is always a possibility. Don’t sweat it because it was her loss. Best believe you will find the one.

Let the confidence inside you radiate! Remember, you got this!

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Uncategorized

Does he HAVE to be Muslim?

I have received several inquires about my updates. I have been busy relocating and transitioning jobs. I am in the vibrant city of Brooklyn.

No friends, I am not married! Though, who knows what the future holds. Like I always say be open to new possibilities and ventures.

So I had a recent conversation with some of my sistaqueens that I want to share with you.

We were pondering this question:

Would more Muslim women be married if it was permissible to marry non-Muslim men?

Many of the women I asked firmly agreed. Surprisingly only a handful of them disagreed. Most in agreement had personal stories to back up their claims. I heard a multitude of stories about sisters meeting men at work or in other places but having to end things due to them not being Muslim. One sister in particular told me that she met a man at work and he was a very devout Coptic Christian. He was drawn to her modesty and behavior. He had all the qualities she wanted in a spouse (minus the fact that he was not Muslim). Obviously the relationship didn’t go any anywhere but she said she often wonders where it would have gone might they have taken things further.

Many of the women I asked claimed that they were treated with more respect when approached by non Muslim men.

Sadly, I could believe this.

The horror stories I hear about Muslim men (not all) will have you run the opposite direction. For real.

The bad part is Muslim men twist Islamic rulings to their favor and use it to legitimize their rachet behavior. As a Muslim woman empower yourself by knowing the religion in and out.

It always amazes me how Muslim women are expected to stay within an expected line of behavior but brothers act a damn fool. Getting married to two or even three women without telling their first wives.

Like I’ve mentioned in previous posts I have been approached by several married men who have not informed their first wives of their quest for another woman. This always leaves me to wonder if this is a common behavior among Muslim men.

I equate polygamy on the down low with cheating. It’s dishonest and breaks up a relationship real fast.

Sistaqueen, if he does it to another woman then best believe he will do it to you.

Baby, you are NOT an exception.

Taking advantage and misconstruing Islamic law is big sin. May Allah have mercy and guide us all to what He loves.

But then I thought about this…

If thats the case then why aren’t non Muslim women married?

I’ve grown up with the thought that mainstream culture doesn’t respect marriage and has a deep fear of long term commitment.

Especially men.

I am a firm believer that a majority of women regardless of ethnicity, faith or social status desire marriage. Many would beg to argue but women desire long term commitment. Always. If not then something is wrong.

It doesn’t make us weak. It’s just how we were built.

Could it be that non Muslim women don’t desire marriage? Is the idea of being with one person for the rest of your life a turn off?

Lastly, I think its important for folks to know that very few Muslimwomen in their right mind would choose a non Muslim brother over a Muslim one. We are talking about your life partner and the father of your future children.

I’ve heard of several Imams on the East Coast marrying Muslimwomen to non Muslim men. Whether or not you are in agreement with this we all must acknowledge that there is a Muslim marriage crisis happening in the Western world.

Things like this just happen due to our circumstances as Muslims in a majority non Muslim country. No one wants to stay single.

And if you ask a sistqueen herself the streets are rough. TheMuslim brothers that are readily available are either married, “not ready” or messing around with non-Muslim women.

So this leaves young Muslim women in an unfortunate position.

My last words to you are…

Take caution to the tricks of shaytan, make dua to Allah and lastly getcho’ man!

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