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.

Standard
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!

Standard
brothers, love, mosque, personal, segregation, stories

Black + Muslim + Woman

“It’s because you’re black.”

He repositioned himself in the chair, then looked down at his cup of coffee and grabbed the handle. I could tell this conversation made him uncomfortable.

He was from the subcontinent but had the swag of a black brotha. He said he was having a hard time find a sister from his background because he couldn’t relate to them.

“I’m sorry, it’s just my family wouldn’t be happy…” He said this apologetically while taking a small sip from his drink.

I looked at him from across the table before proceeding to give him a piece of my mind. But then I stopped myself.

Why was I shocked?

I thought about how this would have played out totally differently if I was a white girl, and laughed under my breath. Now don’t get me wrong, I understand my white sisters have their own set of problems when it comes to marriage. With that being said, I firmly believe that Black women get the shorter end of the stick. Bottom line.

Muslims like to boast about how Islam is such an accepting religion. We refer to the Prophet’s (pbuh) Black companions, such as Bilal, all the time. The stark reality is that many Muslim communities across the U.S. are blatantly prejudiced, insular and unwelcoming to Black folks. The rhetoric we hear in Friday sermons – being brothers to one another and one united family – is often absolutely hypocritical.

As a result, many Black Muslim women remain unmarried and chronically single.

I know many of these sistas.

I am one of them.

In many communities, Black Muslim women are viewed as the most undesirable women as far as marriage prospects. Black people are plagued with stereotypes and generalizations, and these attitudes have seeped into the fabric of our communities. Growing up in a predominantly Arab community, I understood racism at a very young age. As a girl, I was told that Muslims should marry from their “own people.” I realized early that I would not find a husband in that community but thankfully was able to disassociate my negative experiences with my understanding of Islam.

But the question still remains: who is accountable for the horror stories involved with being a Black Muslim in certain communities?

I hold the leaders responsible. Muslims are notorious for sweeping serious issues under the carpet, turning a blind eye, and pretending as though problems such as racism do not exist. We would rather focus on interfaith dialogue than address intrafaith issues or admit that we are the source of some of our problems.

Community leaders need to properly address race relations specifically when it comes to marriage. The Islamic concept of equality needs to not only be spoken of but actually implemented through the support and encouragement of interracial marriage. Leaders need to take a hard look at the demographics of their mosques and address diversity gaps and segregation. Open dialogue and constructive criticism is the key when it comes to addressing this crucial issue.

Like the brother I met over coffee, I know there are many Muslim men out there who prefer chocolate sistas but refrain from venturing further with those prospects due to family and cultural expectations. It is ok to have preferences when it comes to potential spouses but at the same time one must be open to new possibilities.  If your preferences are solely based on race, that’s a huge problem. Remember that Allah might send you what you need rather than what you want.

Don’t block love. An open mind and receiving heart will never lead you astray.

Standard
brothers, love, marriage, personal, tips

SSS

I know a lot of single sistas.

A lot….

They are smart, beautiful, college educated and all around wonderful women.

But for one reason or another they remain chronically single.

I call this condition SSS.

Also known as…

Single Sista Syndrome.

The symptoms might include the following:
Loss of excitement when meeting new brothas.
Consistent complaining and mood swings.
Comparing oneself to others within the same social circle.
Overconsumption of food items containing chocolate.

*If these symptoms last for more than 5 years please contact your nearest mosque, wali or closest married girlfriend.

Now, I am all up for Muslim women being proactive when it comes to their love lives. I know my transparency makes many people uncomfortable. I like to look at myself as following the sunnah.

Yes, yall following the sunnah!

I am exemplifying the example of the strong Muslim women that have come before me.

And this includes taking my life seriously and knowing what I want in a man…

Women need to be open as to what type of man they want and not be shy when approaching these subjects. Cultural implications have led to many Muslim women across the world not taking an active role in their search for a life partner.

Shyness is one thing but not having a voice in YOUR affairs is another.

By no means am I negating the importance of having a male guardian. I am simply stating that YOU need to take ownership instead of sitting around and doing absolutely nothing. Yes, as Muslims we understand that qadr (destiny) is already predetermined but please remember that we play a significant part as well.

My sista, this is your life. Don’t allow others to dictate the important matters that will ultimately effect you in the end.

Now I will admit that I have been a victim of SSS.

Personally this was due to several factors…

Being a Black SistaQueen raised in a predominantly Palestinian community my chances of meeting someone were pretty slim. Tribal mentalities, pride, and the risk of having nappy headed grandbabies was enough to deter the brothas that even expressed the slightest of interest in me.

Now miracles happen all day errrrr’day!

But…

At one point I realized that I needed to take charge. Let it be known that I want to get married because I was not about to stay single forever.

Queens need kings, right?

Don’t be ashamed to have a standard. Don’t just marry the first fool that passes you and compliments your hijab. You will be with this person for the rest of your life and if you can’t see longevity then I suggest you reconsider.

The fall of my first marriage really put things into perspective for me. Many people in the community I was raised in look down on divorcees and if you’re a woman they’ll give you the shovel to dig your own grave.

Just know, that your self-worth and value should never be dependent on a man. YOU are an independent entity that deserves to love, be loved and bask in that love together forever!

I realized what I wanted and wasn’t ashamed to go after it, regardless of what people thought. I encourage you to do the same. Just be ready for criticism and judgement.

My sista, love is a beautiful thang when you find the person who is most deserving of you. Don’t be cold and harsh because there are many decent brothas out here looking for the same thing as you.

In 1987, LL Cool J admitted that he needed to be loved, but truth is that most men don’t express that emotional side.

Like I always say keep an open mind and a receiving heart.

We got this!

Standard
brothers, tips

Gold diggin’ Sistas

Sistaqueens, the brothas have spoken…

They are reading and soaking up all these jewels I’m droppin’.

I have received several messages from the brothas asking me how to read the ladies.

Let’s start…

You’ve met a pretty sista. She’s everything you want in a woman. She is the epitome of modesty and flyness. What more could you ask for?

But, something isn’t right. She seems to be after more. You can never please her now.

At first the flowers and candy made her happy and giddy but she seems to be yearning for something else.

You’ve met the….

GOLD DIGGIN’ SISTA!

Now let me break this down for you. Men and women are after different things in a relationship. Most men want a pretty wife (sistas stop rolling your eyes. This is the reality!) They are physical by nature so they want someone who is the coolness to their eyes. Now with that being said, most women want a brotha who has his shit together.

His finances need to be on point.

BUT…

There is a huge difference between him having his finances together and a sista being unrealistic with her expectations.

My brotha, these are the signs you should look for in this type of sista.

1. Displeased. She’s never happy. You can never please her. No matter what you do the sista always wants more. This will set a precedence for your future marriage.  Listen my brotha, everything you do at this point is out of the kindness of your heart. You DON’T have to buy her presents but you are a gentleman and you know how to woo the ladies. I whole heartedly encourage you to do these things but pay attention to her reaction. Does she say “thank you”? Does she return the favor? What makes her extremely happy? Pay attention. Pay close attention.

2. Comparison. This type of sista will consistently compare herself to her friends. If they roll through with a new car best believe she is going to want one as well. Life for this type of sista is about showing off the goods you got. She enjoys bragging and is always side eyeing other chics to see what they have. She must be the top of her game and that ain’t no lie! She has a deep disdain for other women. This distrust is stemmed from the fact that she herself has skewed intentions with you. I would also suggest that you figure out what kind of friends she has. This will tell you a lot about her character.

3. Lazy. Most of these sistas are lazy. If they had their own money they would not be after yours. They always want the easy way out and you hold that key to their financial security. Why make my own money and work my tail off in school when I can find a brotha who can give me all of that and more… Needless to say she lacks career motivation. Now don’t get this mistaken. A lot of sistas have the dream of being stay at home mothers. Please don’t confuse that with laziness. Gold diggin’ sistas use whatever resources they have to get what they want. Most women, even Muslim ones, will use their looks to get what they want. Some of us will even play the “shy never been kissed” role to get what we truly desire.

4. Perception. How does she view the needy? Does she believe in volunteer work or bettering her community? Gauge and see where she is at with this. A very good way to do this is to see how she views those on public aid. Perhaps she might even feel entitled. Like she is meant to have certain luxuries in life.

5. Interests. Figure out what her basic interests are. If she enjoys shopping every weekend on daddy’s credit card that should be a red flag. Gold diggin’ sistas give very obvious hints. You just have to be paying attention and not dismiss these red flags.

Yes, ya’ll I keep it real! OK!

Hopefully these tips helped and gave you some insight as to how you can spot these sistas out.

Like I said earlier, if it doesn’t look right or smell right then chances are it probably ain’t right!

 

Standard
brothers, personal, stories

Vegan Muslim Love Affair

He said he saw me on a Friday.

I was coming out the mosque and I caught his eye.

I guess I had it goin’ on that day…

He was a kufi wearing, dashiki donning, Africa medallion down for the revolution type of brotha.

Oh yeah, and he was a vegan.

I have a soft spot for tree huggin’ Black brothas.

Anyways…

I wasn’t talking to anyone so I accepted his offer to get to know me better for the purpose of marriage. We exchanged a couple emails and flirty texts (yes, Muslims flirt…) until we finally decided to meet at a restaurant for lunch. It was vegetarian, mind you…

I got there early, so I took a seat in the waiting area.

I decided to dress casually. Cute skirt, casual knit top and some strappy leather sandals is what I decided on. Of course I couldn’t forget my mama Africa wood earrings.

I’m a SistaQueen…gotta represent.

He walked in and headed towards my direction.

I have to say that he was incredibly cute. He smiled and his whole face lit up. His eyes smiled when he laughed. He handed me a single red rose and I made a mental note to remember that. The restaurant was packed with hipsters and wannabe vegetarians (such as myself). He already knew what he was ordering and I was picking through the menu to see what looked remotely familiar.

I settled on a BBQ tofu sandwich. It was aight…

We talked about our families and interests. He was very educated and knowledgable. He was conscious of the world and specifically the plight of Black people in America. He told me how he thought the only salvation Black folks could get would be to travel back to Africa in mass numbers. He said there would never be justice on stolen land. I felt his energy. He had not touched his lentil soup instead his attention was focused on me. He was a passionate brotha and I could see it in his eyes and hear it in his voice.

I nodded in agreement and I studied his words and body language.

The waitress came over to see if we needed anything. She handed us the bill and I took it (this is one of my tactics I’ll expand on later). He gently grabbed it from my hands smiled at me and walked up to the cashier.

He asked permission to call me later in the week. I said yes and we parted ways.

It was around dusk and I was walking to the train. My shadow was dancing on the Chicago pavement and I was lost in my thoughts. I was recapping the sit down in my head. It went well and I was intrigued. I wanted to know more about him.

He called me later that week. I was pleasantly surprised.

We agreed to meet up at a local coffee shop with some mutual friends.

It went well.

Fresh aromatic coffee, familiar faces and laughs. Who could ask for more?

We both had a good time.

This is when my feelings started to kick in.

Not the feeling of lust, love, or passion…but the feeling of distrust.

You see, I am a big believer in intuition. It is an instinct that many people write off due to reasoning and self doubt.

I did not know him but for some reason I didn’t trust him.

It was only the second time meeting him but my feelings of distrust were so strong. I expressed my apprehension to a close friend and we wrote them off.

Over the course of several weeks we continued getting to know one another. He expressed interest in meeting my family. I thought that was a great idea.

Needless to say, things were progressing pretty smoothy.

He was very attentive and sweet. Always knew what to say at the right time.

Besides my tugging feelings of distrust I saw the potential in the relationship.
_______________________________

One morning, I received a phone call from his cell.

“Asaalamu alaikum…” I said.

“Wa alaikum maaaaaa — who’s this?!” The voice sounded unfamiliar and that of a distraught woman.

Needless to say I was not surprised in the least.

Not even shocked.

The woman proceeded to tell me that her and the brotha were engaged and about to get married.

She proceeded to try and get “sista girl from the hood” with me and turn it into a competition.

I stopped her right in her tracks and said “Sista, lets not go there…”

I gave her the advice that I would highly reconsider marrying someone who was already trying to talk to other sisters. That was not a good look and that she deserved better.

We ended on a respectful note and it led me to this thought:

As Muslim women we must be pillars of support for one another. Not play the blame game. Brothas need to be called out for legitimizing certain behaviors with Islam. This is absolutely unacceptable. Polygamy is a respected practice in Islam but dishonesty is abhorred.

Best believe, he got a piece of my mind as well…

My intuition was leading me in the right direction. I was the one who chose to ignore the signs of the universe.

Life is full of subtle signs.

Keep your eyes and heart open.

Be willing to accept these signs even if in the end it is not what you truly desire.

Remember…

Allah knows all.

Standard
brothers, marriage

Broke Brothas

Money…

It’s important to most women. A majority of us need to feel like we are going to be financially secure within a relationship. The idea of venturing into a marriage with a brotha who is not financially stable is scary for the most part.

Now, I have realized a couple things. Sistas, take notes because this might change how you view brothas who you deem “broke”.

Let me break it down for you. I put “broke brothas” into three categories:

Broke dreamers. These brothas are really hopeful and bright eyed. They are hard workers and always on the grind. You will find them doing random jobs or working on some “big idea”. They have goals and aspirations but can’t seem to get it movin’. He would give you the world if he could. One thing to remember is that you will always have to have a steady job if you decide to stick it out with one of these brothas. Most of them are sincere, honest and trying their best. They just can’t focus and get to where they want to be. You just need to realize and expect tough times. Sometimes they just need a sista who can give them direction. If you are up for the challenge there are many of them lurking around. I advise you to determine what he wants out of life before starting a relationship.

Broke smarties. These brothas are the ones who are in school. I’m talking about the future engineers, doctors and intellectuals. These brothas have A LOT of potential. Most of them are turned off by the idea of marriage because they know they aren’t stable enough to support a wife and potential family. Also, they have been rejected by many sistas because they ain’t got no money. Most want to be married but remain single due to the financial constraint. His money is going elsewhere right now. College tuition, textbooks and ramen noodles are just to name a few. He’s broke as a joke. He wants to be married. He’s just waiting for that one sista who will see past his bank account. They are lurking all over campuses and MSA’s (Muslim Student Assocation). You might even find one in your local library gettin’ his study on. If you have the ability to be patient with a brotha you might be able to benefit from him later on. Remember what I said earlier. Don’t block love. Also, best believe once he graduates those sista will be on him!

Broke jokers. Now these brothas right here… They have been broke a long time. VERY LONG… What makes this bad is that he is perfectly comfortable being broke. They are always scheming and trying to come up with a cheap way to make money. These are the brothas who might take you out and if you pay for dinner they wouldn’t budge. They pretend like they have more money than they actually do. More than likely they will have the latest kicks on and their rims will be shining. They are show offs. Flaunting around the little money they got. Sistaqueen, it’s all a facade. ALL OF IT. It’s easy to get stuff on credit. Remember that.

This gives you something to think about. Look at each case individually. Sistaqueens, also remember never be 100% financially dependent on a man. Even if you marry someone who is really banking remember that money can disappear just as quickly as it was made.

Make your own way.

Don’t follow his.

Standard