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.

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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!

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marriage, personal, stories, Uncategorized

Hot Hijabis

He saw me from across the room. I pretended like I was distracted so he wouldn’t approach me. In my peripheral I could see him making his way through the crowd. I turned around trying to use one last-ditch effort. Perhaps he would not think its me is what I thought to myself…

Then I remembered I was the only one wearing a hijab. A bright fuchsia one at that.

I laughed under my breath.

My efforts didn’t work because I felt him coming up behind me. I turned back around.

“Heyyyyyy!” I said smiling and trying to look pleasantly surprised.

“I haven’t seen you in a long time. Where have you been?” He asked.

He smelled good and my mind was starting to wander.

I took a deep breath in and reminded myself to focus.

“I’m good. The usual, busy with work and stuff,” I responded.

He took a moment, looked down and studied his hands. Then looked back up at me.

“You know, I understand you got this religion thing going on. You should still let me take you out. Just a nice dinner or something…” He said.

This was going to be the second time I refused his offers.

I took a deep breath in.

He still smelled good…

____________________________

Many non-Muslim men have a fascination with Muslim women, especially those of us that cover. Living in a culture where it is culturally acceptable for women to walk around scantily dressed it is strange for some to see women who independently choose to dress modestly.

Folks fail to realize that you can be pretty hot in a hijab (a term used to describe the dress code for Muslim women. This includes the headscarf).

I meet an array of people working in a busy emergency room. Many times my patients have asked about the significance of my hijab. Interestingly enough, most of the questioning is done by men. One man told me that he was drawn to the idea of a woman covering and only showing herself to people who would honor and respect her.

I can dig that.

I’ve had many non-Muslim men approach me and many of them step up correct. Remember, men are hesitant when approaching women to begin with. If you have a hijab on most men are going to be extra cautious because they are unsure what is culturally acceptable. They might compliment your hijab or spark up a small conversation in order to get to know you. Sadly, many of them have been far more respectful towards me than my Muslim brothas.

In my situation (and many other SistaQueens I know) hijab has not been a deterrent for men. If anything it attracts men who have a spiritual and conscious mindset towards you. Now if you are talking about the Black community hijab does not deter men at all! Head covering has always been a distinct part of our culture.

So, would I ever consider marrying a non-Muslim man?

Never.

I’d rather stay single my entire life. May Allah forbid.

Have I thought about accepting one of their offers?

Certainly.

But…

You see, with this whole marriage process you have to think long-term. I’m talking marriage here. The rest of my life. My companion. My lover. My baby daddy. Now, I need you to be gettin’ your prayer in! I need you to fast with me during Ramadan. I need to be able to discuss Islam with you. I need you to push me when my iman (faith) ain’t where it is supposed to be. If you’re not Muslim how can I expect that from you?

Once you realize this it is easy to make a decision and narrow your focus. This life is full of temptation. Do not fall victim to your desires.

Now a SistaQueen ain’t judging. If you have taken the risk of marrying a non-Muslim man I know you understand the consequences that accompany that. (SN: For those of you who think this doesn’t exist then wake up and smell the humus!) You’ve probably lost friends and your community. It’s hard to find a place where you feel welcomed. Always remember Islam and Allah. Do not let the reaction of people deter you from Islam.

Again, I remind you the key is to think long-term when it comes to relationships and marriage. Short term gratification is easy to find.

You are a SistaQueen. Know your value.

Wear that crown proudly…

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marriage, personal

Beautiful or Bootyful?

A couple weeks ago a good friend introduced me to a brotha who was looking for a wife. She said we seemed pretty compatible and that he was very interested in meeting me after seeing a couple of my photos. He seemed like a decent guy. My friend said that her husband knew him for a while and that he was reputable. So, we scheduled a sit down and went from there.

We briefly spoke on the phone. He seemed very nice. I was feeling him. We agreed to meet for mediterranean food later in the week.

Later that week, we met up for dinner. I called him on my way to the restaurant and he told me he was getting out of his car. At the same time I was walking towards the restaurant. First impressions are important because they set a precedence for most of us. He had a leather jacket on and some rugged blue jeans. He had a little goatee and his hair was faded. He was cute. Not necessarily my type but attractive nonetheless. Also, he was on the smaller side…

Let me break it down for you.

I am 100% woman. Yes, ya’ll 100% Black woman. I’m thick, curvy, big boned…whatever terminology you desire to use. I’m 5’8 and a size 16 in pants. So naturally, I’m attracted to tall big men.

Now with that being said I do not let size phase me. If a brotha does not fit my physical mold I will still give the potential relationship a chance. It would be absolutely stupid to write someone off for something as meaningless as height.

So anyways, back to my story. We grabbed a table and he pulled out my chair (brotha was doin’ it right!) and ordered our food. Conversation went pretty smooth. He asked about my family. I asked about his. We talked about goals and aspirations. Eye contact was good. Body language was open and not guarded. All the signs that a sit down is going well, right?

He had this sultry look that I was attracted to you. While I was talking he would slightly lean in, fixate his gaze and nod in agreement with whatever I was saying. I felt like he was studying me and listening to every word that rolled off my tongue. He had a soft tone to his speech. His voice was not deep or loud. He sounded gentle and collected.

Finally…a good sit down.

These were the thoughts running through my head…

As I was enjoying my falafel and hummus he leant in and said the following,

“You are so beautiful, smart and fun to be around. But you really need to ……..”

I could not hear him so I looked up from my plate.

“I need to what?” I asked.

“Stop playing. You heard me.” He responded.

“No, I didn’t.” I said as I put my fork down.

“Well, you need to exercise…” He said with a stupid smirk on his face.

Awkward silence…

I felt the blood rushing to my face. I was humiliated. My feelings weren’t hurt as I am 100% woman, weren’t you paying attention earlier? I responded by asking him if he exercised. His response was in the negative. I informed him that I did exercise and recently dropped 20 pounds. I ended that sit down suggesting that he go hit the gym rather than suggesting it to others.

I did not curse him out…

I did not go Housewives of Atlanta on his ass and throw a drink in his face…

I kept my cool and most importantly my dignity.

During my drive home I really thought about the whole incident. It actually pissed me off more than anything. What would give someone the audacity to say some whack mess like that? If I had an issue with a brotha, such as height, I would never mention it to him. I would find another reason to politely end it. Along with that I would NEVER bring it up during a sit down.

Then it lead me to another thought.

I’ve met several brothers who have pretty strict requirements when it comes to a woman’s physical appearance. Everyone has their physical preferences. It’s perfectly normal. After all, you have to like what you see when you roll over in bed. With all that being said one must be willing to bend and as cliche as it might seem people age and things get saggy. It’s just the reality of life. This is why it’s so important that your relationship be based upon love and compassion. If it’s based off of anything else it’s certainly destined to fail.

At times, Muslims tend to think that we are immune to the outside world and its influences. The idea of beauty and attractiveness portrayed in the media affect our communities as well. Based on my experiences many Muslim men have an unrealistic expectation as to what women should look like.

Beauty can come in many different forms. Personality and looks are just a few.

While booty is just…well booty.

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love, personal

The first time

I think I was around seven years old at the time. My family had relocated to Switzerland and I was attending grammar school. Switzerland was small and cramped. The streets were brick and narrow. Every corner had a bakery and the air always smelled like pine. Despite the fact that the country still had neo-nazi tendencies I felt safe for the most part, as safe as a seven year old could feel I guess.

I was attending school and I remember when he first sat next to me. He would follow me everywhere. You see, the Swiss are very holistic in their approach to elementary education. The day would start off with putting my slippers on (yes, we wore slippers to school) and handing Frau (Mrs.) Schafner an apple. She would then carve a silly face into it smile at me and give it back. That was breakfast. The rest of the day would consist of playing, laughing and making small crafts. I was happy.

One thing I remember about him was that he had a head full of almond colored hair. It was curly and framed his face. His skin was pale and he had bright brown eyes. He said I looked like cacao (chocolate in German). This was when I realized I was the only Black girl in the class. Coming to terms with the fact that you are “different” is always an interesting process. Before that I never paid attention to it. He said it very innocently and matter of factly. You know, the way kids typically state things. Almost every time we paired off he would slyly scoot closer to me. We would play together. He’d follow me. We’d fight. He would get on my nerves. Then we would be back to playing the next day.

Basel was a small city so you would run into people you knew all the time. One time I was walking with my mother and I heard someone scream my name. He ran up to me and pulled me to the playground. I liked to be with him. He made me happy.

Later that year, we moved back to the U.S. I never saw him again.

I think about this experience from time to time. The innocence that accompanies childhood is so pure. You love without reason or consequence. You love wholeheartedly. You are too young to realize the pain and hurt that comes along with love.

As adults, what if we loved like this?

Take away all the rational and self reasoning. What if you solely paid attention to how your heart was drawn to others. As children we were drawn to one another. Can one ever question matters of the heart?

No.

I can’t even recall his name but the experience stuck with me.

That was my first time.

The first time I fell in love.

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