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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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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Confessions of a fat Muslimah part 1

It was a comfortably chilly Friday evening when I was leaving the hospital. The air felt good brushing against my skin as I exited the hospital revolving door. The sun was about to set and maghrib was rushing in. I looked to the West and could see shades of deep orange, yellow and traces of blue etched in the sky. I thought to myself how no sunset was ever the same and how everyday brought the opportunity to start anew. The sun had a set and known pattern, and even in all her glory, she was given the opportunity to shine and set differently each day. We were only stuck if we allowed ourselves to be. If the sun could do her thang as she saw fit—so could I.

The weather in Northern California was consistent, unlike the unexpected weather of my hometown Chicago. I liked knowing what to expect. I found my car, unlocked it and plopped in the seat. I couldn’t wait to get out of these contaminated scrubs. I had just done a 14 hours shift at the hospital, and needless to say, a sista needed her feet rubbed. I was aching from running up and down hospital corridors all day. Between the man who wanted fresh ice every hour, and the elderly woman whose heart rate kept spiking, I didn’t get a moment rest that shift. The body is interesting. The aching would only peak if I sat down but as long as I was up moving around I felt perfectly fine.

I thought about how I was in need of a halal bae and as I began to partake in a round of self-pity I realized that a slice of my favorite cake would suffice just as much.

A slice of strawberry chiffon cake to be exact.

I pulled up to my favorite grocery store and parked my car. I was on a mission and as I approached the cake section I saw my slice prepackaged and patiently waiting for me. I saw they had a peach flavored slice as well. I tried my best not to get sidetracked. As I grabbed my halal bae for the night I began to head to the checkout lane. This was around the time I noticed a beautiful chocolate skin brotha walking my way. He seemed to have workout clothes on. He was carrying a handheld basket overflowing with groceries so every muscle in that arm was sculpted and protruding.

Now in what seemed to be slow motion…

He looked at my cake. I looked at him looking at my cake. He looked at me. We both looked at my cake.

He walked away.

So I stood in the bread section with pulsating feet and contaminated scrubs staring at the gluten free tortillas. Any other shopper probably would have thought I was comparing the prices not knowing that I was silently having a fat- girl- freakout moment.

Hell, I NEEDED the cake. It was either cake or a haraam foot rub! Which would have he preferred? He would never understand! Then I thought…

Wait, he probably didn’t even care…
Maybe he could give me a good foot rub, I thought. His hands did look kinda strong.

I reminded myself to stay focused and not think about his hands or arms. Right now it was about cake and nothing else. It was me and this cake trying to survive this dunya (this life) and make it over to the akhirah (afterlife) in one piece…or maybe two (if we wanted seconds).

I was doing this for the sake of Islam and my deen. Allah swt being the Most Merciful wanted me to have this cake. He (swt) wants all his servants to be happy…right?

So I awkwardly checked out and mentally compiled myself.

I felt ashamed but then I didn’t feel ashamed. Girls have this thing where we hate for guys to watch us eat, know what we eat or comment on what we have already eaten. Maybe we’re worried about being judged, I am not quite sure. In one of my previous posts, Beautiful or Bootyful, y’all already know I’ve always been what would be labeled a “big” girl. Chubby, BBW (Big Beautiful Woman), thick, fluffy…it’s all the same thing. I’ve never been ashamed to eat in public, but for that one moment in the bread section in the middle of Whole Freakin’ Foods, I knew what it felt like. I knew what it felt like to have your insecurities surface. I knew what it felt like and it didn’t feel good. It didn’t have anything to do with the chocolate brotha man, it had everything to do with me and how I perceived myself for that one moment in time.

So I have compiled a list of pointers for my fellow sista queens. When you have those moments of self-doubt remember this list. These are things I have already accepted, semi- accepted and currently working on:
1. A man who loves you will enjoy every piece of you. Whether you think you’re fat, actually fat or wish you had more jiggle in that wiggle, it’s important to understand that you are truly more than what you look like. It took me a while to fully understand this, and even sometimes I have my moments of regression, but this is the truth. If a man solely judges you off of what you look like then that is a huge indicator of where your relationship is headed. Even if you fit the societal standards of beauty to a “t”, your looks are still going to eventually fade.
2. “Let them eat cake!” If you are in public with a brotha and he is paying for food don’t be silly and order a salad (I mean if that’s what you want, go for it!). So much of how women navigate the world is based on men. Be authentic to yourself. Accept your cake and eat it like you mean it!
3. Negative influences. When your negative inner voice starts to get loud, shut it down right away. Maybe you’ve scrolled through too many IG selfies or perhaps you’re comparing yourself to that one chic who always looks flawless. If this is the case take a break. We live in a day and age where images are thrown at us left and right. Sometimes you just gotta take a moment and chill. Your mental sanity will thank you later.
4. Never say “sorry”. Never apologize for who YOU are. I have to thank my friend Nick for reminding me of this. Women have been socially conditioned to always be “nice” and to always say “sorry”. If someone insults you don’t just sit around and take it and most importantly you don’t owe anyone an apology for being you. Religiosity does not equate into being someone else’s doormat or self esteem booster. Remember Umar (RA) was baaaadddd as they come, he did not play with folks! Also, Aisha (RA) would have to tell chicks off if they got out their lane.
5. If it aint one thing it’s another. If you don’t remember one thing, remember this point. If it’s not one thing you don’t like about yourself it will be another. Some people are poor others are considered “ugly”. There will always be something, best believe. Just live for right now in the moment and be open to new experiences. Enjoy yourself and enjoy those who love you just the way you are.

Moral of the story is: have your cake and (if he doesn’t want it) eat his too!

Oh yeah, don’t forget to say Bismillah.

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marriage, stories

Secret wife = Glorified “side piece”

She married him.

She married him in secret, knowing very well that marriages never went down like that in any culture or religion. Marriages were celebratory and typically included an announcement of some sort. It didn’t have to be anything big or over the top but there had to be something. She knew that but had been convinced otherwise. From the outside Islam always looked so perfect. There was order and a sense of simplicity, but once she converted she quickly realized Muslims were far from that. They struggled just like everyone else and for her that was a huge disappointment. She slowly learned to see the human in people irregardless of their religious practice.

The first time she saw him he was in the mosque. He always looked so dignified. Clothes crisp and freshly ironed. He wore a lot of white linen and his kufi sat neatly placed on top of his head. He had the type of smile where all his teeth showed. He needed a wife, she thought.

Through the curtain she could see him bent over from the waist up offering his afternoon prayer. She looked around to see if any sisters were looking at her before she peered through the sheer pink curtain for a better peek. As her eyes found him her mind began to wander to intimate spaces in her mind. She imagined her body pressed against his linen suit. Pressed so tightly that her curves wrinkled his outfit. He would pull her in closer. She would pull back, not a “real” pull back but the one that translated into “pull me in closer”. She would feel his breath on her neck. Her body would breakout in goosebumps. His hand would rest on her arm but she would feel it slowly making its way down her back. She imagined his smell, which would be of sandalwood mixed with a hint of mint from the gum he was chewing…

She stopped herself and embarrassingly pulled the curtain back into its rightful place.

Little did she know that she’d already caught his eye. Later she would find out that he spotted her in a group of sisters chatting it up outside the mosque weeks prior. He would always laugh and say he spotted the orange hijab first. When she turned around though he knew that she would be his. Her face brighter and more beautiful than the scarf that donned her head, crowning it like a halo. Like any man he enjoyed women. He relished in the thought of conquering a woman, especially the ones who were young and feisty. The ones who swore up and down that they would never be second wives. He had a wife already and had been married for nearly ten years. His wife was not into polygyny. It just wasn’t her thing. He brought up the idea to her once and her reaction made him promise to never speak of it again.

He knew what he wanted though. It was selfish but he didn’t care.

The story of how their relationship began was nothing special or profound. He ran across her Facebook profile based on the mutual friends they had. He requested her. She accepted him. There were no messages exchanged for the first two weeks. Both waited anxiously for the other to say something. There would be occasional “likes” on both ends but it didn’t progress until he popped up in her Messenger. The innocent online messages progressed to meet ups at random cafes. He convinced her that it was permissible because they were in public. Not knowing too much she believed him. After two months of these meet ups he asked if she would marry him. At this point she was already aware of his first wife.

Her feelings were invested. She didn’t care. What if this was her only opportunity to get married? She would often hear of sisters complaining about the difficulties of finding spouses.

So they got married.

At first their relationship was pure bliss but eventually the reality of its circumstances began to surface. Her desire to make the relationship public kept tugging at her. It was obvious that his loyalty was with his first wife. When she would bring it up he filled her with empty promises and one liners about how he didn’t want to cause fitnah (discord) in his community. She always heard the other sisters say that being a good wife meant you didn’t cause your husband undue stress, or at least that is what she had been told. “Allah will always reward the patient and those who perservere…” was a common saying of his. She got sick of him saying it. Quite frankly, she felt like slapping the shit out of him as soon as it began to roll off of his tongue. He was using Islam to fit his needs and desires. It only suited him to use that quote when it worked in his favor. That was not Islam to her…

Who was being patient here?
It certainly wasn’t him.

This was a quick way to religiously shut her down. She would nod in agreement and he would gently brush his hand on her face. Her eyes would close and her mind followed the tracings of his fingers. This would be followed by a kiss on her forehead. His touch would jolt through her body; like an electrical current sending sparks all throughout her being. He made her feel alive, even if that was only in a physical sense because deep down her soul felt dead and abandoned. The trail of touch would go up her arm, to the nape of her neck, between her breasts and eventually the feeling would gently settle between her legs. At this point he would want more and she would gracefully drape her body beneath his.

This became a cycle, one that never failed to repeat itself.

Her heart couldn’t find the courage to convince her lips to say how she really felt. Her body never failed to betray her. She succumbed to his every touch. The relationship was more sexual than it was anything else. He used her. Sometimes she felt like they used each other. He would often complain about his problems at home with his first wife. She would listen and not dare complain to him. She felt like she had a lot to complain about but she willingly put herself in this position. She just felt stuck and there was no room to move. There was no one to confide in and she understood that majority of the blame would fall onto her if this secret ever came to light.

She was the woman. She would be shamed. Her integrity would be questioned. This was the reality. There was only a matter of time before she would burst open.

So this cycle continued and she found herself in the same position that many Muslim women find themselves in.

Married yet alone.

_____

The rise of unmarried Muslim women has resulted in many considering and taking part in secret polygyny. When I use the term secret polygyny I am referring to “the intentional practice of covert marriages.” This practice, that some do state to be permissible within Islam, is more widespread than one would think. In most cases, secret polygyny involves vulnerable women such as recent reverts, those with very little family support and lastly those who are uneducated when it comes to the rights of women in Islam.

Now, before I get labeled as a sista who is bashing polygyny please hear me out. I do not have personal experience to back my claims nor to I have empirical data to support what I am stating. I believe there are several cases where polygyny works out fine, in most of these situations we are dealing with a brother who is extremely fair and righteous. These men who willingly take on multiple wives are far and few in between. Again, the honest truth. This is just the reality. Today, its hard enough to stay within a monogamous relationship and be successful at it. How are some men even considering second wives? Then, how do some men Islamically justify the deceit involved with secret polygyny?

Now as women we play our role in this saga as well…

Unfortunately, some women go by the motto “It’s better to have some man than no man.” This saying has greatly influenced how Muslim women approach the practice of polygyny. Many feel as though it may be their last shot at a relationship, even though polygyny was one that they had no intention of practicing beforehand. Whether or not polygyny still has relevance today, truth of the matter here is that it is extremely hard to convince someone who was raised in the West that it actually works and is practical. Then we throw in the whole “secret wife on the side” piece and you’ll really get conflicted feelings. Yes, we are Muslim but many of us come from different walks of life, culturally speaking, and some of those cultures do not practice polygyny.

I often think of my own experiences and having brothers who are already married approach me for marriage. One of the first questions I always asked was if their first wives were aware of their search. Some would reply with a yes but many more responded in the negative. I could see nothing but selfishness and deceit with these types of men. If they couldn’t honor their first wives, the ones that bore their children, then there was no way I would be respected and upheld. This is why even the mere thought of polygyny just turns me off. The misguided and ill intentions surrounding the polygynous marriages I have seen convinced me, as well as many other women, that polygyny is not where it’s at.

I can’t help but think who benefits most in these scenarios. I’ve personally known several sisters who have taken part in these relationships and all were given the false promise that their marriages would eventually become public. The way a brother treats you in the beginning says a lot in regards to how he will treat you in the midst of your relationship. The few who have come out have had their marriages exposed by others or by the accidental exposure that one risks being on social media.

In all these situations the women have been blamed in one way or another.

We often blame the women for even considering taking part in these marriages without paying attention to the main culprits. What about the imams and religious leaders who marry these individuals? What about the Muslim men who intentionally prey on vulnerable women? Have you ever heard an Imam give a khutbah about that?

Nawwwww…..

These subjects, that are greatly affecting Muslims, are totally bypassed.

More of the concern should be focused on who is marrying these individuals in our community because often these men are repeat offenders and shuffle through vulnerable women intentionally. They leave behind a trail of heartbreak, broken women and in some cases neglected children.

There is nothing Islamic about this.

With all that being said, I need my sisters to take responsibility and become more conscious of the men they decide to wed. Any act, including marriage, out of desperation should probably be left alone. Paying close attention to the signs early on in a relationship will give one a very clear idea as to where the relationship is heading. Being practical about marriage can be very challenging when feelings are involved.

Side note to the brothas, when you bring up polygyny to a Muslim woman and her face amazingly warps into that of the Incredible Hulk now you know why.

So I end this with saying a secret wife is a glorified side piece. If you respect her and the sanctity of your relationship it will be made public.

The truth never lies.

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ISNA & #blacklivesDONTmatter

As a Muslim woman of Afrikan descent I have had my fair amount of frustrations being raised within a predominately Arab Muslim community. Like many other Black Muslims, I have to deal with many instances of subtle prejudices to sheer racism from first and second generation Muslims who hail from Asian and Arab backgrounds. This is my response to a recent press release that was distributed by Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) in the wake of the Baltimore uprising. ISNA needs a point of reference, from a fresh minded Black Muslim woman, which I am here to offer. This press release only touched the tip of the iceberg in reference to the problems that exist within the Black and immigrant Muslim community in America. This letter is directed to ISNA and President Mr. Azhar Azeez.

On April 28th, ISNA issued a biased and politically infused press release that condemned protesters and “rioters” in Baltimore for resorting to violence after the death of Freddie Gray, who died in police custody on April 19th. The umbrella organization, which claims to “foster the development of the Muslim community”, was heavily “disturbed by the escalation of violence in Baltimore”. Previously, ISNA had yet to mention anything about the incident in Baltimore or the consequential result of policing practices in marginalized Black neighborhoods. As a person who aims to acknowledge the truth, I don’t believe one Black person was consulted during the formulation of this misinformed press release. I firmly believe that if a diverse spectrum of Muslims was consulted before the distribution of this release there would not have been such an enormous backlash. Since then, Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC) issued a stance and an independent online petition has been circulating attempting to hold ISNA accountable for their actions of negating Black life. ISNA, you lacked sensitivity and tactfulness with this deliverance. Whoever wrote the press release and assisted in editing it not only needs cultural sensitivity training but a dose on the reality of what Black folks have been enduring in America for centuries.

Maybe you aren’t aware but Black folks in America are under siege on a daily basis and being a Black Muslim adds another interesting element to the plot. Not only do I have to constantly assert and explain my Blackness to the outside world but I am finding myself in similar situations within the wider Muslim community. Black Americans live in a society where we are mentally and physically under attack and our religiously based institutions are supposed to serve as safe havens. People turn to faith and religious spaces for a sense of belonging, solace and understanding. These spaces are supposed to serve as safe havens for Muslims but in reality they are far from that. Black Muslim Americans must function in communities where we are consistently having to educate and redirect non-Black Muslims from biased and prejudice notions against Black people. It’s exhausting and draining having to educate you. Simply put, the Muslim community is absurdly prejudice but employ Islam and the concept of brotherhood as a guise for personal and institutional advancement. Behind closed doors, many Muslims and Islamic organizations promote the same ideas and attitudes concerning Black people that the general American population fosters. When those same institutions grasp onto biases and political interests then they have virtually lost their purpose. ISNA purports to represent Muslims from a wide array of cultures and ethnicities. From that, one-third of those represented identify as Black. With that being said, the recent statements produced by ISNA prove further than there is very little concern, for Black lives, which of course include Black Muslim lives which in turn is my life as a Black Muslim woman.

For many years, the immigrant Muslim community has tried its best to disconnect itself from the struggle of Black people. When you look at me as a Black person you do not see your own struggle as a person of color in a country that has neither of our interests in mind. You emigrate to this country in the hopes of assimilating into the White masses. You seek white approval and at the same time look at your brothers and sisters in the struggle with noses turned up. There has been an intentional negation of the Black fight for freedom and instead of learning and building with us you run away and condemn our actions. ISNA, unfortunately you are no exception and rather than attempting to learn from our Black brothers and sisters on the quest for justice you have burned the bridges of solidarity. Promoting sermons concerning racial justice and the mentioning of the Prophets companion Bilal will not suffice with me any longer. On that note, Bilal (peace and blessings be upon him) has to be the most exploited companion of the Prophet. I am not going to be complacent as my life and those of my fellow Black brethren get lost between your hypocritical words of equality.

In conclusion, distributing this press release and then attempting to apologize or as you stated “clarify”, not only brought to light ISNA’s main motivation of seeking political approval from the white majority, but in fact how many institutions view the Black community in general. ISNA, and Mr. Azeem, you do not understand the community who you claim to serve and you do not get a pass on this ridiculous and callous press release. You had time to clean yourself up but opted not to properly apologize. ISNA has been around for decades and should know how to master the art of racial affairs. Your organizations are not located in Black communities, you do not attempt to come to our neighborhoods and quite often we are not welcomed into your mosques and institutions. Black bodies are only of benefit to the immigrant Muslim community if there is monetary gain involved, such as fried food shacks, liquor stores, gas stations or increasing the attendance to your annual convention. In those instances, I am sure Black lives matter to you since we are financially contributing to your sense of comfort. Perhaps that is why you were so “disturbed by the escalation of violence” because we were in fact burning down your businesses in the hood that have exploited the Black community for years.

We are not profit, or a personal tool you can use to advance yourself. Black folks are people and many of us happen to have Islam deeply rooted in our families.

If you didn’t listen before, today is the day you learn.

Your sister in Islam and the struggle,

Ihssan Tahir

Please email ISNA’s Communication Director Edgar Hopida at ehopida@isna.net 317.679.6350 or 317.839.1820 to hold them accountable for their callous and racist remarks regarding Black folks and the Baltimore Uprising. 

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Deep Roots

I rolled over in bed and quickly realized that was a huge mistake.

The whole side of my body morphed into fine goosebumps and I was awoken to the crisp Chicago night and freshly pressed bed sheets. Streaks of moonlight creeped through my blinds and splashed parts of my bed. It was eerie but serene at the same time. I pulled the covers closer to my body and gazed out the window. The warmth was rushing back towards my body as I bent my legs towards my chest to trap it in. I saw a silhouette of the tree standing in the front yard. During the day it stood in solitude and most of the time barely noticeable but tonight it looked intimidating, fearless and beautiful. The daytime suffocated her true self. She needed to release. The tree was simply stealing the night in order to display her true brilliance.

We all steal in one way or another. I thought to myself.

I took in a deep breath of the chilled night air and reflected on the desires of the human spirit. My chest rose as thoughts stirred in my mind. I needed the tree to share the night with me. So I stole a bit of it for myself.

I did so unapologetically and without shame.

_

Life feels full, but nonetheless very enjoyable. At 28, I feel like I am reaching a point of self-realization. I am growing into myself and feel more confident with the woman I am becoming. I have had opportunities to be independent, extensively travel and pretty much “do me”. It always amazes me the turns that your life can take. I always tend to think that I control the major and minor occurrences in my life. Now, don’t get a sista wrong… I firmly believe that Allah has ultimate control but I think we play a huge part in how our lives turn out as well. In my early 20’s I would have never thought that I’d be unmarried and globe trotting.

For real…

We all walk different paths that may converge with that of our family and friends and sometimes they never converge at all. People get married in clusters then they start getting pregnant in clusters too. Think of it like this, in every group of friends there is that one person who kinda does their own thing. The one who is going against the grain of expectation and normativity.

Society dictates what you’re supposed to have, when you’re supposed to have it and how you’re supposed to get it. Are people just cookie cutters of one another? Should people be labeled or pointed out when they don’t fit into what society expects of them? As women we get stuck with this big time. Once you reach a certain age (normally after 30) certain “things” are expected of you. It’s almost as though many of us have an expiration date that is shadowed in the fear of not fulfilling those societal demands. Once we get into our late 20’s we’re in a rush to get our lives “together”.

Life is not set up like that. There is no “set” age or time to get married, have children or even to be settled in a career. I’m sure those things work as motivators for many people but I refuse to live my life in the cloud of societal demands.

That’s mad stressful!

I think about my life and where I see myself in the future inshAllah. I certainly want to get married and have a family, but quite frankly I am enjoying my life. I’m living in the now and attempt every day to be conscious of the present. The past is long gone and the future awaits me, God willing.

Right now is what counts and it is the only thing I can control at this given point in time.

There is a time for everything in your life. I recognize the chances of me finding someone as mobile as myself is pretty rare. I will have to adapt certain aspects of my life and the older I get I understand that people become less flexible. So don’t misunderstand a sista because I know that time is precious and it must not be wasted.

One must strike a balance of living for oneself as well as understanding the realities of life. This balance can be hard to achieve and it is something I work on quite often.

Right before bed and in the early hours of the morning have always been a time of reflection and thought.

Many researchers have said that trees are some of the few plants that can show physical manifestations to outside stressors. Air quality, soil conditions and limited space can inhibit their growth. Just like the human spirit trees need space to fully flourish and reach their highest potential. If not they remain stagnant and eventually die. One must be rooted in the knowledge of self in order to grow.

Remember, there is no growth without firm and planted roots.

I take my time to grow and breath so that when love comes my way I am ready for it to plant itself deeply within my heart. Until then, I steal pieces of the night and patiently wait for the daylight to bring its lessons on life.

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mosque, personal, segregation, stories

And then she sang…

The sun was still beating down.

It was early evening in Senegal and my plane had just landed. I looked out at the vast landscape. It was bursting with colors of the Earth, every hue of green and brown imaginable to the eye. The sand swirled in the wind as my heart fluttered in my chest. I took in a deep breath of relief as the wheels of the plane jolted the sand encrusted African pavement. I was back in the Motherland.

No one could tell me nothin’.

I am a mixture of a lot of things and damn proud. A true daughter of the diaspora. My lineage is rooted in Africa, from the East all the way to the West. My round face, small nose and almond shaped eyes scream East Africa, the birth place of my beautiful father. My bright outfits and chunky bracelets make sure folks are well aware that I am a sista from Chicago and always down with the revolution. All of these identities are carefully wrapped into a hijab, that mind you, are always well coordinated with my over sized earrings.

My passport is almost full and my heart repeatedly bursts with joy every time I set foot back on the Continent. I have travelled across Africa. From Mali to Ethiopia then back to Ghana and Sudan. Each one of these countries has unique cultural traditions that set them apart from one another. All of these differences I appreciate. From my experiences traditional cultures offer something the West does not. There is a collectiveness, a tightness between the people even though many of these countries have suffered from issues related to colonialism and imperialism. Ties such as family and lineage are an integral part of African society. I wish that every Black person could have the experience of traveling back home, yes I said home. My experiences of traveling back to Africa continue to be a mind opener and with each visit I continue to grow and learn something new.

One thing that continues to surprise me about many Muslim countries in Africa is how relationships between men and women are carried out. Growing up in Chicago my experiences and perceptions of Islam were heavily shaped by being in predominantly Arab communities, who were a tad bit on the conservative side in regards to their practice of Islam. For most of my school life, I attended an Islamic school that was gender segregated. Nearly everything was hyper-sexualized and male/female interactions always seemed out of place and unnatural. Teachers would hawk the hallways and personally call you out if your behavior was deemed inappropriate. Within that cultural context many times I felt that my presence as a young woman was either viewed as a problem or in some cases a temptress. Now as an adult, I understand the community elders had sincere intentions with separating the boys and the girls. Though unfortunately, this practice became problematic when many of us went on to college having a difficult time interacting with our counterparts.

A sista must make it clear…

I believe there are certain instances where men and women should be separated but for the most part I don’t see the need. In a majority of African cultures both men and women function together, side by side without any issues. I think the Arab world could take note of this because gender relations seems to be an ongoing issue in many Arab communities. Along with that women in many parts of Africa are an integral part of society and their status is recognized.

So this brings me to what inspired this post…

Recently in Senegal, I attended a Friday prayer where a woman busted out in nasheed (religious/spiritual song) in the middle of the mosque. Her infant lay in her lap with an oversized scarf draped over him. She batted the persistent flies that kept landing on him. I was shocked that no one stopped or scolded her for singing. My eyes were fixated on her. As her voice echoed throughout the mosque I waited for someone to scorn her. Her melodic voice was strong but had feminine undertones. Her eyes were closed as her body swayed to the movement of her voice. She was wrapped into the moment, almost as though she was in the comfort of her own home. I looked around, expecting some old looking dude to start yelling and to my surprise no one said anything. She sang while folks kept going about their business. All she got were a couple curious glances and a group of giggling girls in the back corner. It was very refreshing for me to witness this moment as she claimed her space and looked so natural doing so. I was determined to meet this woman. So for the next several days I attended the mosque at the same time. I knew language would be a hindrance but I had to meet her. Later, I found out that she came from a family of Nigerian (Hausa) women that were all religious singers. She travelled to Senegal for the month of Ramadan. She had been singing since she was six years old, a tradition solely passed down to the women in her family. With a shy smile she told me it was reserved for them.

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I’ve left a little piece of my experience for you.

Enjoy.

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These Three Words

The airport was packed with people. 

I think it was July 4th weekend because I remember people were in shorts and it was mad hot outside. A group of children sat in the seats near me. It looked like they were sharing a bag of potato chips. The oldest looking boy was hogging the bag. I figured they were going on vacation because they looked far too excited to be returning home. I sat in the corner on the floor waiting for my flight to board. My book bag was sprawled out in front of me. I took my flip flops off to get more comfortable. Since I was a child I’ve always hated shoes. My mother always joked and said I inherited that from my African father, who himself preferred bare feet even in the coldest of months.

I was on the phone with a man that I would marry in the months to follow. I was in my own world. He was, in fact, slowly and surely becoming my world. Ironically enough, I don’t even remember what city I was traveling in at the time when he first said it to me. 

The mind is an interesting facet. It is a chest full of ideas, dreams, fears and sporadic thoughts. Some people say you remember what you choose while others say you remember the things that spark a deep emotional response within you. I believe the latter. 

I remember the sincerity in his voice. I remember the way my heart exploded when he uttered those three words. I remember he was hesitant and guarded but all the while confident. 

Then he said it.

I did not respond.

I soaked it in, marinated in his words then mentally saved a little for a rainy day. 

Until that moment I had never felt the power of these three words. They were heavy. Heavy in a good way.

His vulnerabilities started to surface and he began to apologize for his brazenness. 

He was nervously mumbling his words.

Perhaps my silence made him question himself.

I immediately stopped him. 

He was ready to give and my heart was willing to accept. I was young, inexperienced and eager to be loved by a man. When a woman is ready for this chapter in her life no one can stop her, not even her own parents.

As Muslims we walk a very fine line that can be confusing at times. We attempt to navigate a world while being culturally and religiously appropriate, all the while living in a society that doesn’t put much value on either. At times, this can lead to one not being entirely true to themselves. True to their emotions. Some deem it unislamic to confess your love openly, especially as a woman. But how can you be true with others when you aren’t true to yourself? 

Does sincerity not start from within?

Now I am certainly not encouraging folks to profess their undying love to just anyone. I am just reminding you, as well as myself, to be more open with the feelings that Allah has placed within us all. I wish we lived in a world where there was no fear involved with being honest about your feelings. It would make life a hell of a lot easier. Emotions are the core of the human experience and when I deny them I am directly denying myself.

I’ve always said the purest love is that which is young, untainted and immature. Before hard life lessons bite you in the ass. When you haven’t been hurt you allow your heart to guide you. After pain the intellect supersedes the heart. Rationale triumphs emotion in order to avoid pain. For some it’s a coping mechanism. That’s just the way it is. I don’t understand why. Everything in life doesn’t have an explanation so we must stop expecting one for every misfortune that befalls us. 

I never questioned his love. Even though the marriage ended in divorce I believe he loved the best way he could. The only way he knew how to. We all love differently. As children we learn how to love from our parents, siblings and society. You carry those learned habits into your adult life. Some of those habits are good and others are bad.

Just as quickly as people fall in love they fall out of love. I hope to experience the sweetness that comes along with this process. We all experience love so differently and no two experiences are ever he same. Staying in love is never a guarantee and understanding that will allow you to avoid the pitfalls that come a long with the pain.

Plainly put, sometimes shit happens and for some people it is worse than others.

You have to pick yourself up, brush that dust off and keep on keepin’ on. 

It may not be ok today. There is no guarantee that it will be ok tomorrow either.

That one day, when you least expect it, you will realize that the hurt made you stronger.

You were always ok. Life just tricked you into thinking you were not.

It has always been in you.

Promise.

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To the Father who tried

He came here full of hope.

It was 1981 and he was a twenty four year old graduate student sent from his home country of Sudan. He was told to make his country proud so he packed his belongings along with his dreams for a better life.

The ultimate dream of any person living in a poor country. He was starting a new life in America.

A land of endless opportunity and a place where anyone could make it.

My mom said women were always taken aback because he was exceptionally handsome. His nubian almond shaped eyes, strong jawline, and chocolate skin made women, from all ethnicities, gravitate towards him. His solid frame had him shy of 6’5. I always thanked Allah that I inherited his eyes and not his height.

He didn’t know it though. He didn’t realize how good looking he truly was because back in Africa he resembled any other tall and lanky East African guy walking around Khartoum.
________

It was mid July and I was sitting in a motel in southern Los Angeles.

My window was open and I could hear the wind rustling through the palm trees. As strays of California sunlight crept through the blinds I could see the dust matter floating in all directions.

I reached into my oversized purse and pulled out a manila envelope. I looked at his photos and cried. The photos were faded and looked like they had been sitting in someones basement for the last twenty years. Actually the motel room looked like it belonged in one of these portraits. The sunlight bounced off the photo so I shifted it in my hands trying to look past the water marks. His eyes were bright and familiar. They were mine. For a moment I was looking at myself.

I needed this.

I needed to grieve properly.

I needed to mourn him and what could have been.

It’s always interesting to me how memory and the mind works. You always want to force yourself to remember the best moments. It’s a sense of nostalgia and usually not based on actual reality of the situation. Sometimes we mourn what we wanted our lives to be like rather than what they actually were. It’s a coping mechanism we all use at one point and I was certainly using it then. It was a mix of emotions. I was mad as hell, horribly guilt ridden but most of all I was hurting.

I knew very well what life would have been like with a schizophrenic father.

There was no point in romanticizing anymore.

________

“That’s the place.” She said. Her index finger was pointed in the direction of a supermarket and her eyes were dazed. I looked at it and thought about the importance of places and how relative they usually are. It just looked like a shabby spot to me but it held some sort of importance to my mother.

This was where she had met my father many, many years ago. She was twenty-three and a new convert to Islam. “He spotted me in the fruit section,” she said laughing. He was pretending to grocery shop. He waited until my mother was in the check out line and strategically got behind her and started conversation. It ended with him getting her number and a marriage six months later.

________

He asked me if I wanted to see the body.

He was a middle-aged man of Arab descent wearing a button up creme colored shirt tucked into his dress pants. He had thick rimmed circular glasses on that made his eyes look three times bigger than they actually were. He was hurriedly walking to his office and shuffling papers at the same time. Being the funeral director at the local mosque I could tell he was trying to offer sympathy, but being in a business of this nature for long periods of time can make one cold. It’s routine. Unchanging. Constant. Just like the postman delivering letters to people every single day, people will always need their mail and people will always be dying.

I thought about it for a moment.

Being an emergency room nurse I see dead bodies quite often. Women, men, the old and the young. Growing up I always saw images of my father. He looked firm and resilient. I had built up this imaginary man in my head of what I expected him to be like. Having never seen him in the flesh I didn’t want my first and last encounter to be with him laying in a casket.

“No.” I said quietly and looking down at the floor.
________

We’re not sure exactly want happened. One day he just started acting different.

My mom said he started becoming very paranoid and anxious. He always thought people were after him and wanting to harm his family. Now as an adult, I realize what an awful fear that must have been. Though not based on present reality its the reality of the individual and to him it was real as day.

It became too much and he began becoming aggressive. My mom feared for herself but she mainly feared for her four-month old daughter.

So she left.
________

Over the years my father would try to contact me. His schizophrenia and constant paranoia meant that he never stayed in one place for too long.

Letters were always sent back and numbers were always disconnected.

He died full of sadness and guilt. A man who tried but couldn’t deliver.

Several years ago I was able locate an uncle of mine who was living in California. He was there taking care of my father who was currently institutionalized. I was put back in contact with my grandmother and a slew of uncles, aunts and cousins, second cousins, third cousins (its Africa, you know how it goes.)

They welcomed me back with African styled love…

Just like I was returning back home from a long journey…

My grandmother hugged me and this time she was the one who cried.

Her tears flowed for a son who tried his best and a child who had made her way back home.

________

On Fathers Day we recognize the men who have consistently been around. Our role models. Our support. Our heroes.

Today I recognize the many men who fell victim to the difficulties in life. The men who have weeping hearts from never witnessing their child’s first step or the first day of school. The men who sincerely tried and prayed that they would never repeat the actions of their own fathers but somehow identically mimicked the loins that bore them.

The men who are painfully reminded about the type of men they had the potential to become.

The type of fathers they wanted to be.

Today I recognize you.

Mahmoud Tahir Haj Adam circa 1973

Mahmoud Tahir Haj Adam circa 1973

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Ice Cube & Jummah

Recently I was having one of those days.

You know the ones when you’re really feelin’ yourself.

Outfit was on point, weather was nice and I had a fly cheetah print hijab on. Not only that but it was Friday so I was in a really good mood.

There was nothing more I could ask for. My red car glistened in the sun as I drove down Stony Island Avenue. In my Ice Cube voice “It was a good day.”

I was thankful and blessed.

You couldn’t tell a sista nothin’…

I was on the south side of Chicago and I decided to go to jummah nearby. I rolled into a mosque I was somewhat familiar with and soaked in the sermon. After jummah, I gave the greeting to the familiar faces I saw put my shoes on and made my way out.

I was walking back to my car. I crossed the street and headed towards the open parking lot. First thing I noticed was that my car was blocked in by two vehicles. It looked like it would be a game of Tetris trying to get out of that lot. I thanked Allah under my breath for having a small car. I was strategically parked at the end all the way in the corner.

I pulled my keys out of my purse as the gravel crunched under my shoes. As I opened my door I heard someone say “Asaalamu alaikum sister.”

I looked over and realized there was a brother sitting in the car next to where I was parked. Like myself he was patiently waiting in the post-jummah traffic jam. He poked his head out of the window and smiled.

I returned the greeting and kindly smiled back before closing my door.

It was mad hot outside. I got in my car, started the engine and rolled down the windows.

“I like your car.” He said. I couldn’t tell if he was looking at my car or at me because of his huge sunglasses. One thing though, I could tell he was slightly nervous by the almost unnoticeable quiver in his voice.

“Thanks, its a good car. Very reliable” I said shyly.

I could hear the reggae playing in his car. He turned the music down.

“I’ve never seen you here before. So you come to this mosque often?” He asked.

I knew where this was going but I thought let me not shut the brotha down right away. He had the guts to initiate conversation and he did so after jummah for that matter! Plus, it would be kinda awkward ignoring him as I was stuck in the lot. A sista couldn’t run even if she wanted to.

Plus you already know the deal…

Muslim men say Muslim women (specifically hijabis) are hard to talk to. Muslim women say Muslim men never attempt to initiate conversation.

“Naw, not really. I was just in the area and decided to stop by. The khutbahs (sermon) always seems to be relevant here.” I said.

I looked in my rear view mirror to see if there was any progress. The cars were still empty. I guess folks were trying to get their Friday blessings in and putting extra sunnah prayers in.

I could see him in my peripheral. His body language indicated he wanted to say more. During the eleven minute hiatus he told me about his family and profession.

As folks headed back to their cars and the sound of engines echoed in the parking lot he said this, “Sister, I’m really just looking for a wife. I know its forward of me but I have to start somewhere. No better place to meet a sister than at the masjid after jummah, right?” This came out of his mouth with such sincerity.

The brother had a point.

After much thought I realized I wasn’t mad at him. He was simply doing what he needed to do in order to find a partner. He made his intentions perfectly clear.

No disrespect involved.

I know y’all ain’t gonna admit it but we’ve all scoped the scene out after jummah, Eid prayer and at lectures.

Stop frontin’…

You see, the way some men approach women makes us feel violated at times. Most women have felt like that at some point or another.

I didn’t feel violated or grossed out after our conversation ended. My dignity and self-respect was still intact.

Then I thought about how a couple of years ago I would have totally written this brotha off. I probably would have flipped my cheetah hijab, said “astagfirullah” under my breath, given him an eye roll (maybe with a neck roll for added emphasis) and zoomed off in my mini red car. Getting older, wiser (hopefully!), and experienced has honestly allowed me to see the “human” in people.

Many Muslims like to view themselves as the ideal Muslim (at least in public) but no one realizes that this is something we all aspire to become. We all want to reach a level of religious perfection and utter obedience.

But what does being a “good” Muslim really mean? Why do we deny ourselves the right to emotionally express our human needs and then equate that with religiosity?

It just doesn’t make sense to me. Acknowledge your basic needs as the human that Allah created you to be.

It’s not a weakness and at that moment I realized that,

I could not fault him.

I could not ridicule him.

I could only empathize with him.

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