marriage, sex, tips, Uncategorized

Don’t ask, don’t tell…?

If you ask me there are some things better left unsaid.

Over the years, I have had several of my friends in predicaments where they were talking to potential brothas for marriage. Things were going smoothly, actually things were going pretty good. The brotha was practicing Islam, had a decent job, came from a great family and was helllaaa tall. A perfect match. What else could you ask for?

Then he pops THE question…

No, not THAT question. Don’t get excited…

The one question that changes the entire vibe of this new and blossoming relationship.

“Have you been with a non-Muslim?” aka “Has anyone popped that cherry?“ aka “Are you still a virgin?”

Now keep in mind, in most of these situations folks are well over 30. Grown as hell and have been in a relationship of some sort. I don’t sugar coat Islam or Muslims and yes you can still be Muslim and engaging in pre-marital sex. We all sin in different ways and this doesn’t make anyone more or less of a Muslim than the next.

There is no “Muslim-Richter” Scale in Islam.

For real.

You’ve repented and asked Allah for forgiveness but some people are not as forgiving…

Back to my main point…

Now, if you’ve been good and haven’t fallen victim to your desires I give you props, but what if you have? What if you messed up and are now back on track?

What’s next? The situation can look pretty bleak, especially if you’re a woman…

Now what is one supposed to do when the question of premarital sex is brought up. Really, let’s think critically here. I’ve witnessed these three responses:

1. You can be totally honest. This is marriage we’re talking about so you should be an open book, right? The question seems pretty invasive but you don’t want to start the relationship off on a lie. This is totally understandable but there are certain things to consider. First off, don’t assume he’ll appreciate your honesty. Hopefully he/she will, lets be optimistic, but you may become a victim to your own truthfulness. In utopia, we would all have the freedom to be ourselves but we live in a world of judgment and shame. Feel out your situation, assess what type of person he/she is.

2. Throw the question right back. The chances of him being virginal are very slim. Believe me. Now if he is expecting you to be virginal and he isn’t I would drop dude like a hot potato because you better believe he has some other twisted ideas about women. The last thing you need is to get that from your husband. It’s unfair but its reality. Now if both of you guys are on the same page and have been in relationships move the &^$# on! More serious things to worry about in a relationship. Allah gives chances so give your relationship a fair shot without focusing on the past.

3. You can totally lie. To be honest I have seen this play out the most. I’ve known many women who lie right through her teeth. It’s rather unfortunate because women are sexually shamed and as a result are almost cornered into being dishonest. This could bite you in the butt at the end of the day though and lies are always difficult to maintain. If you have to start the relationship off on a lie you really need to consider if this is the right person for you. Lying in life leads to nowhere.

Now all three of these potential scenarios could be avoided if folks just didn’t dig into the past. It’s so unimportant in the scheme of things. Later in this post I am going to suggest limiting ourselves to two important questions.

Truth of the matter is I don’t expect Muslim men to be virgins, because well most of them just aren’t! If a brother who has been unmarried is a virgin I am often surprised. It doesn’t even cross my mind to ask because I really, really don’t care. People are people and they mess up, people sin and everyone is just trying to make it.

But in the midst of this Muslim men continue asking women these questions.

Women, whether Muslim or not, will forever be judged on their sexual history. Men are given a free ticket to be the sexual creatures Allah intended them to be. Many Muslims men will justify the Islamic practice of polygyny with the need to have more sex. Even in the West you’ll hear common sayings like “Men will be men…” The universal pass to do whatever the hell a dude wants without question.

Some Muslim men get offended and in their feelings when you ask how much money they have in their savings account yet its acceptable, and often encouraged, to ask who has been in my vagina? Since when did something so personal, such as my sexual past, become grounds for public conversation? Who made this the deciding factor whether or not I am “good” enough to be your wife? As though, this isn’t one of the most personal and invasive questions to ask a grown woman before you decide to marry her.

I suppose concealing ones sins doesn’t apply when it comes to marriage…

Every Muslim woman has the right to be utterly offended when this question is posed. Now, if this one of the first questions asked and I barely know you I’d be totally pissed. As though there is not more to me than who I have had sex with. Muslim men are out in the dunya, sometimes they’ll even father a couple children. At a certain point they decide they are over that life and become practicing Muslims. Muslim women accept them, and their children, with open arms. The mosque accepts them with open arms. They bring their kids in the mosque and nothing is said. Muslim women end up marrying them and at times even helping them raise their children.

This is how it should be, we should be forgiving of each other, but Muslim women are exempt from this forgiving.

Let a woman fall in love and end up in the bed of ONE man and she will be publicly crucified. I have a friend who converted to Islam and a brother asked her about her sexual past. Even as a woman who was once married, some Muslim men still have the nerve ask me if I have been with anyone sexually since that time. In some instances, even bringing up past marriages brings to surface negative feelings within people.

I don’t see the point of going into depth when it comes to these issues. I’ve NEVER seen it turn out good. It only harbors feelings of mistrust and self-worth. Folks might ask themselves the question will I be as “good” as their last partner?

Ask yourself, what is truly the point? Why do you want to know? Is it your ego?

Now, what if we limited our questions to this:

  1. When was the last time you were tested for STD’s/STI’s and would you be open to testing?
  2. Are you currently involved with anyone?

    This is all you need to know. Leave the past where it belongs, in the past.

If a person wants to bring up their sexual history on their own accord that’s perfectly fine as well but don’t go digging around. Nothing good comes from this, I am telling you. Assume everyone over 30 is not a virgin, as most (not all) people have been in some sort of relationship once they reach this age be that marriage or another situation.

We should be perfectly fine with this.

Weren’t most of the women that the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon them) married in relationships prior to him? Yes, those relationships were marriages but my point being is that they all weren’t virgins and he was perfectly fine with that.

You are a fool if you don’t see divine wisdom behind that. Why not practice THIS sunnah of the Prophet?

Remember, ass is easy to get but a serious, committed and practicing Muslim partner is not. Don’t get distracted my focusing on things that don’t deserve your attention.

People mess up.

We’re all trying.

Allah is the Most forgiving.

Be easy on each other.

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Uncategorized

Black+Muslim+Woman+Trump

It has been interesting experiencing the election and post election reactions in Africa.

I was in Bamako, Mali eagerly anticipating the results. I constantly kept refreshing my computer screen and when the lights began to flicker I knew the electricity was about to give out. I decided it was time to give it a rest and I closed my laptop. Pulling the mosquito net across my bed I felt a world away, both physically and figuratively, from a place I often referred to as “home” when strangers would ask where I was from. It didn’t quite feel like home, rather a foreign place that didn’t want any part of me. None of me.

My Blackness.

My Islam.

My womanhood.

The following morning I woke up to the news that Trump had won. I sat at the breakfast table with my heart resting heavy in my chest as French TV blared and images of Trump and Clinton rotated on the screen. The rest of the world was equally invested in the U.S. presidential elections. For this, I was a little surprised but it further proved the point that U.S. foreign policy truly set the political tone for the rest of the world. This fact was undeniable.

I scrolled through my Facebook timeline searching for some sort of solace (also in an attempt to avoid talks of American politics at the table.) As I swiped through my timeline I came across countless stories of Muslim women being physically attacked, homes spray painted with vulgarities, nasty notes left on peoples cars and places of worship targeted with hate.

No surprise to me.

My Blackness has always been a threat. My gender has always been a point of contention. My faith has always roused a sense of fear.

I am a Black Muslim woman. The embodiment of everything that America hates.

So, when non-Black Muslims came out whining and crying about how awful a Trump presidency would be for Muslims I side-eyed them.

Side-eyed them reallllyyyy hard.

Some people went as far as saying that “Muslim is the New Black…”

My jaw dropped. Nothing will ever be the New Black. Muslim immigrants enjoy the benefits of being in this country. Living in good neighborhoods, having the financial ability to send their children to decent schools and a sense of community.

Since when did the existence of America ever become a good thing for Black folks?

America been good to y’all. So, please don’t complain to me. I am not the listening ear, especially when you try your best to distance yourself from anything remotely related to Blackness. But you like Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X. They will forever be the homies.
I am the wrong person to whine too. Not today!

Then I thought to myself…

Should I have empathy? Perhaps a little understanding? I should feel something, right?

It is too hard to feel anything close to empathy. The same communities that look down on Black people and perpetuate the same anti-Black attitudes are now looking for support. Muslims that preach about Islam and its racial equities but fail to practice any of it are holding out a hand for understanding. Some would argue and say that this is now the time to build bridges of solidarity.

Sure, I get that…

I still take issue with certain Muslim communities that have to be convinced that #blacklivesmatter and who have absolutely forgotten about the mass injustices committed towards other groups of people in America. I’m not even bringing up indigenous Americans. This post would go on for days.

Injustice is still relevant, even if you aren’t the victim. This is America, remember anyone has the risk of being victimized if you aren’t the status quo.

As a Black Muslim woman, I have a deeper interest in building alliances with marginalized non-Muslim groups before I work with anti-Black Muslim communities. This is the honest truth.

Black Muslims already know the deal. Mainstream politics never favor our interests. I don’t know when Arab and South Asian Muslim fell for the facade that America actually loved them.

Don’t nobody love you.

Black Muslims know the hostility that this country has always brought forth and are the outright victims of its policies. Some of us convert to Islam thinking that religious salvation will rid us of the racism we endure. We are persecuted for both our Islam and Blackness. Black people are too familiar with this. All of this. For us Trump is just the embodiment of the true face America has always had. A face that our forefathers faced with impunity and a face that our grandparents and parents fought so hard against.

Though unwelcoming it is a face of familiarity and it has always existed. Many communities who emigrated to the U.S. still remain absolutely oblivious.

This country doesn’t want you just as much as it doesn’t want Black folks. Doesn’t matter if you come with an IT degree from India or a medical degree from Lebanon.

This is the everyday reality for Black people in America. Some Arab and South Asian Muslims want to assimilate into society so badly, to the point that they will ignore the injustices other groups are facing. At times, they will even perpetuate the same racist attitudes of mainstream America. Now those same injustices are only relevant only because they, themselves, are the victims. Like I mentioned earlier, injustice is still relevant even if you aren’t the victim.

At the mosque Omar is your brother in Islam until jummah prayer is over. Any other day you won’t even acknowledge his ‘salaam’.

Not so brotherly or sisterly in the real world.

Big Black Omar might save your Muslim ass now.

Remember that.

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personal, stories, Uncategorized

Garbage lady

The first time it happened I was walking down the driveway on my way to work. I paced down the narrow driveway with my purse in one hand and lunch in the other. I took a quick glimpse at my watch. It was starting to get chilly and I was happy I wore a long sleeved shirt underneath my scrubs. I took note that I would be hot later in the day. It wasn’t quite summer anymore but it still wasn’t autumn. The seasons were flirting with each other. Like a lover not ready to say goodbye the summer sun still lingered high in the California sky. Sometimes she lingered behind a cloud. Her bashfulness wouldn’t last too long because by midday she would be beating down full force. The seasons teased each other by the weather switching between it being chilly some days and warm on others.

An oversized oak tree sat in the front yard. Her trunk thick and branches hovering over the house as though she were protecting it. On nice days I would sit on the steps and smoke a spliff underneath her. I never quite understood why people chopped trees down. Maybe people considered them overbearing and intimidating after they grew to a certain point. For some, trees served as a reminder that there were indeed things greater and more amazing than the creation of man himself. I’d puff and inhale deeply filling my lungs with smoke and exhale slowly allowing the smell to engulf and surround me. Lost in the smoke and deep in my thoughts I’d conclude with the thought that the ego of man was an awful thing.

As I approached the end of the narrow driveway I was abruptly greeted by my neighbor, Mrs. Jean. Mrs. Jean lived in the apartment beneath me. She always wore the same purple sweatshirt that zipped halfway up. Her stature was small and her moves slow and calculated. At eighty-six years old she was still very mobile. From a distance I noticed her sweatshirt was beginning to fade into a lilac.

Mrs. Jean looked up and smiled bright as I approached her. I paced towards her and smiled back. As I got closer my smile quickly faded as I realized she was elbow deep in the garbage can. Tuesday was garbage day. She had to stand on the tips of her toes to fully reach in the can. One gust of wind would probably throw her head in first. She was going through the whole buildings garbage separating the items that could be recycled and breaking down large items such as boxes and milk cartons. This involved her opening bags and literally going through items piece by piece. I noticed she began to reach for my bag and in a desperate attempt I closed the lid of the can. I missed her fingers nearly by an inch.

The force of the lid slamming down sent a rotten smell in my direction.

“Mmmm—Mrs. Jean, its ok. I can go through it myself.” I stammered while trying not to appear agitated. I took a quick glance at my watch. I was going to be late.

I really could not believe what I was witnessing. Never would I think I’d be in the position to stop someone from going through my garbage. I was almost to the point of begging. My disbelief was on the brink of anger. My privacy was being invaded and to be quite frank I didn’t like how that felt. I was convinced Mrs. Jean didn’t care about sustaining the environment. She was being nosy. She wanted to see what the building was up to.

Even if I was throwing it away it was still mine. All mine. This was my garbage.

“Honey, look you have work. You’re all dressed. I can do this. Just get on your way.” She gestured to me like a grandmother telling her grandchildren to get out the way. I slowly walked away and looked back. She waved and smiled.

I opened my car door and threw my lunch and purse onto the passenger side seat. As I drove away I looked in my rear view mirror until Mrs. Jean turned into a purple dot. She was still digging through the garbage. While I was at work all I could think of was what was in my garbage bag. I began to recollect what I had eaten throughout the week and all the personal waste I had accumulated. I had images of her going through candy bar wrappers, pantyliners and ripped up mail. The thought of it mortified me.

I sat at a desk charting on one of my patients. I took a deep breath in and realized I was ego tripping.

Then other thoughts began to creep in my mind. What would make a person decide to go through another persons trash? I mean, it was California but Mrs. Jean didn’t seem like that staunch of an environmentalist. I suspected something else. I had to investigate so the decision was made to pay her a visit later that week.

Later that week I woke up early. I pulled on a pair of old jeans and threw a t-shirt on. I slipped my feet into a pair of gym shoes and walked down the flight of stairs. I baked some banana bread the evening before and put a couple slices aside. I knocked on the door and stood there for a couple of seconds before I heard the shuffle of moving feet headed towards the door. Mrs. Jean opened the door wearing her infamous purple sweatshirt. I saw a look of surprise on her face and a smiled followed.

“I baked some extra cake last night and thought you’d like some.” I said while handing her the warm plate.

She gestured for me to come in. I took my shoes off at the door and walked into her living room. Her house was decorated with dark wood paneling and oversized sofas. I sat on the love seat and sank deep into it. She asked if I wanted a cup of tea. As she went to the kitchen I rested my head back and surveyed the room. Pictures of smiling people hung on the wall. Some photos looked relatively new while others were beginning to fade into hues of brown and yellow.

She shuffled back into the living room handing me a cup of hot tea. It smelled like chamomile. I took a couple sniffs of the tea before resting the cup on my lips. The pleasant taste of honey aroused my taste buds. I nestled into the sofa as Mrs. Jean began to talk.

This was the visit where I found out that Mrs. Jean was a lonely woman, a very lonely woman. She drifted in that dark apartment between memories of the past and a rapidly changing world that greeted her at the brink of her doorsteps. To make matters worse the West didn’t treat its elderly with kindness and patience. As a nurse I could think of countless times I had witnessed this working with older patients. There was no joy or celebration in becoming old rather it was always viewed with a sense of contempt and regret. The first appearance of fine wrinkles and gray hairs sent some women into botox frenzies. The idea of prolonging youth was often encouraged and anyone who embraced the idea of getting old was side eyed.

My visits became more frequent. I’d often sit through the same stories over and over again. Each time acting as though it was the first time I heard them. I knew it brought her a sense of comfort having someone to talk to even if that meant listening to her stories that I would repeat verbatim in my head.

People will do strange things in order to feel a sense of connection and purpose. Right now my purpose was clear and concise. It was very difficult to imagine myself being an old woman without anything to do. At thirty years old I was moving with life and the feeling of being stuck in time was foreign to me.

I slowly realized it was so much more than the garbage and I was indeed ego tripping. It had absolutely nothing to do with me and my feelings. This was about an old woman who had nothing else to do except go through the buildings garbage. We all have the possibility of becoming a “Mrs. Jean.”

Be kind and patient with the elderly.

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personal, stories, Uncategorized

Rat Tail Comb

I sat in between her knees Indian style. I could feel my right foot going to sleep. I didn’t care because I was too focused on the tugging and pulling of my hair. I squirmed. I made ugly faces. My eyes squinted with each yank. Sometimes I would cry or scream. She would hit my head with the rat tail comb. “Chiiiilllllldddddd, if these braids come out crooked!”

This was a ritual. A black girl ritual. Getting my hair done by my grandmother was a process and I was what Black folks called “tender headed”, meaning that my scalp was extra sensitive. My hair long, thick and curly. She was very proud of my hair. Her hands worked furiously in my scalp weaving and creating a masterpiece in my curls and kinks. With each brisk move of her arm I could smell the hair grease which was her mixture of castor and coconut oil with a hint of orange. Sometimes if she used too much I could feel it drip down the nape of my neck and down my back. It tickled and felt warm.

I would smell like oranges for the rest of the day.

The end result of her work would be rows of calculated braids, each one decorated with a colorful barrett at the end. When I would move my head from side to side I could hear them clank against each other. Red, purple, pink, blue and yellow. My head looking like a rainbow after a harsh summer rain. Everyone coming out to see it. Pointing, smiling and happy faced.

I would hold my head upward to the sky and with my eyes I would say; yes it’s me and like the rainbow I too am beautiful…

My grandmother a Baptist woman with wide hips and a husky laugh was from Mississippi. Her hair long and straight with sparks of silver strands throughout. Her skin light and eyes deep brown. Her looks being a constant reminder that her father was the result of his Black mother being raped by a White man. His white father never denying his son would constantly refer to my great granddad as “his nigga.” The other White men taking note not to mess with him because that was Neil’s boy.

Grandma Vivian.
Often times I would hug her and bury my face deep in her bosom. She would grab me in her big arms and squeeze. The air would leave my lungs and then she would give me permission to breathe then seconds later squeeze me again. At nine years old love smelled like gardenia and talcum powder. Her hands wrinkled but soft like fresh leather. Her fingernails always painted a soft hue of pink.

As a child I loved to make her laugh because it came from deep inside her stomach. The air pushing it up from her insides. I’d purposely do things just trying to get her laugh out. I knew it was real, not the fake type of laugh to appease a child. She would close her eyes, hold her stomach, bend over and I would wait to hear it make its way out of her mouth. Sometimes it felt like eternity waiting for her mouth to make that sound. My ears waiting in anticipation. A sense of accomplishment was felt once I heard her laugh. I had done something big and I would laugh with her.

 

One day she was laying on her sofa and told me to get the comb and hair grease. Her paisley night-gown draped on her body and her hair sitting in rollers. Her house slippers dangling off her feet. I stopped in my tracks. Looked dead at her. “Now you know I don’t have all day girl!” I knew what was coming. I sulked and slowly walked down the hallway to the linen closet dragging my feet behind me with every move praying to the Lord that she would forget. Finally, I made my way back to her with my arms over flowing with hair items. She had not forgotten. My eyes began to tear up and my scalp tingled. She sat up on the sofa and I sat on the wood floor between her knees. Our cat Maggie brushed up against me and with my right foot I kicked her away unleashing all my frustrations on the helpless animal. Maggie whimpered as she limped away and I felt bad for a moment until I felt the first tug and busted out in a cry.

As an adult and after an ex who used to be Rastafarian I would dreadlock my hair. One summer I came home to visit my grandmother and took my scarf off. With my locks draped down my back I shook my head to let my mane breath. Each dread as black as the night.Grandma Vivian’s eyes welled up and she held her chest stumbling towards me in disbelief. “Baby, how could you be so lazy to let your hair mat up like that?” I said nothing.

_____

I still make ugly faces when I get my hair done. When I smell oranges I often think of Grandma Vivian and sometimes when I weave braids into my baby sisters scalp I see a glimpse of her hands.

But,

I don’t cry anymore though, at least not in public.

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love, personal, stories, Uncategorized, womanhood

Lessons on love

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

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

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

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

I came up with one answer, absolutely wonderful.

_

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

But, I digress.

I am a Black, Afrikan, Muslim woman.

I am a strong woman.

I am also…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Give thanks for life.

Give thanks for love.

Give thanks to Allah.

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Tinder’ing while Muslim

It’s getting dark outside.

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

My phone rings.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But that isn’t even the half of it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I begin sit up on my sofa.

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

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

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

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

Do you swipe left and ignore?

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

Tell your friend about her lying husband?

Or, do you swipe right and confront him?

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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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