Why is Hamas considered a terrorist organization?

Discuss.

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On the Deaths We Choose to Mourn… And the Ones We Choose to Forget

On February 10th, 2015, Yusor Abu Salha, 21, was shot execution-style alongside her husband of six weeks, Deah Barakat, 23, and her sister Razan Abu-Salha, 19, by a man who resembles a potato. The potato-terrorist’s name is Craig Stephen Hicks, a 46-year-old while male who, according to the malestream media, shot the three innocent students over a “parking dispute” while chanting the infinite wisdom of Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, renowned leaders in the progressive Islamophobic new atheists movement. Like all white men with grievances and guns, Hicks had harassed the three Palestinian-American students for their religious beliefs incessantly before finally killing them in a pre-meditated “fit of rage,” while their cars were not parked at an empty parking space.

I apologize for waiting to write about this story. As you can tell, I’m still rather upset.

However, I cannot describe the atrocious murder of these three in a clear act of terrorism without mentioning the February 6th assault of a 9-year-old Muslim boy in Sweden, whose head was smashed into the pavement by security as the 9-year-old struggled to breathe whilst reciting the shahada; or the vicious assault on a Muslim family inside of a grocery store on February 12th during which the father of a 10-year-old boy was physically beaten to the ground by a group of white men while his son was held back by bystanders from assisting his father, and while his young daughter was sexually harassed as the men demanded that she remove her hijab; or the 28-year-old Mustafa Mattan who was shot and killed through the door of his apartment on February 9th after he rose to answer a knock. Mattan was a Somali Muslim, a university graduate student who’d found work as a security guard to save for a wedding, and a humble and soft-spoken man whose funeral expenses were covered by donations that his family struggled to raise. And these are only the most prominent of countless hate-crimes motivated by growing Islamophobia. Surrounding these attacks on living, breathing people, most of whom have been made to stop living and breathing, are the February 13th burning of the Islamic Center in Huston, the February 14th vandalism (happy day of love everyone) of an Islamic school in Rhode Island, and the windows shot out of a Muslim secondary school in Montreal on February 10th.

Although the malestream media neglected to report the shooting on Chapel Hill accurately without the criticism of Twitter and independent journalists (that’s embarrassing) the Muslim community was overflowing with enough pain and outrage (and rightfully so) that eventually, reporters from CNN and MSNBC had the sense to realize their mistakes, though not without parading the “parking dispute” proposition for a few more days, checked with the words “police claim” to frame the favored excuse. Unfortunately, some expression of that pain and outrage from the Muslim community involved appropriation of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter–#MuslimLivesMatter—which was also embarrassing, and telling to say the least, considering the death of the Somali grad student had, comparatively, inspired nothing from us but the sound of crickets.

It is inarguable that Yusor, Razan, and Deah had been upstanding citizens, who built homes for those without homes, who raised money to donate to Syrian refugees, who were devoted and kind, who impacted their communities so profoundly that their efforts continued even after their deaths. It is inarguable that this world was better while they lived in it, that the loss of their lives is mourned by those loved best by God, that they were stellar Muslims and stellar human beings. But what if they hadn’t been? What if they hadn’t been the epitome of everything we uphold as ideal? What if they hadn’t been newly weds? What if they hadn’t been accepted into a university, hadn’t been planning to attend next fall? What if they hadn’t been hijabis? What if they hadn’t raised money for refugees, but had been impoverished themselves? What if they had been 16 and pregnant, or LGB or T, or… not Palestinian? —what if they, like the Somali man, shot in his apartment, whom we neglected, had actually fit the profile of the victims in #BlackLivesMatter?

Would Muslim lives matter then?

Before we “borrow” (read: appropriate) from the black community, whose struggles and movements benefit us all, it is crucial to evaluate whether those from whom we are “borrowing” are valued in our own. The relative silence in the death of Mattan, 16 hours before the deaths of Yusor, Razan, and Deah, speaks as many volumes about the racism in the Muslim community as the silence surrounding the deaths of Yusor, Razan, and Deah speaks about the American media. The Muslim community exists in a state of Arab supremacy, in which the devastation to Arab American lives—or Arab lives in a global context—is met with all the heartbreak that embraces an ideal victim, and destruction to all other lives, especially Black lives, is greeted with a shuffle of discomfort. Non-Arab lives are considerably devalued, and consequently, the narrative of their deaths neglected. As hard as it might be to face, our collective sorrow has a color.

The victims of the Chapel Hill shooting garnered this much attention in the Muslim community because the victims were upstanding. And no one should have to be upstanding for their lives to matter. There’s a really horrible sense that some who aren’t directly connected to the victims is publicly indulging themselves in the excuse to behave righteously about how good–and they were good–the victims were… and to credit the entire Muslim community through the good deeds of the respected dead. So that the Muslim American community can itself be depicted as the ideal victim.

But we are not an ideal victim. We are not all Arabs, and we are not all straight, and we are not all young and beautiful and excellent, and we are not all in positions to give rather than receive. And my heart is breaking, for Yusor, and Razan, and Deah, and for Mustafa too, and—forgive me—but especially for him. Because no one but his family is mourning him like they are mourning the victims of Hicks. And it is shattering me to the core.

.إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ‎

#Justice

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The Unprincessed

(For the valentine’s post, click here.)

Once, there was a prince, whose father had decided it was time retire his crown and search for a queen fitted to rule alongside his son. So the king sent for his advisor to bring him a selection of the most eligible women in the kingdom. The advisor returned with several beautiful women of marriageable age, an assembly the king narrowed to two, named Azeena and Nasira. To test the women so that he may see which was best suited for the crown and his son’s hand in marriage, the king gifted each a number of significant riches. When a fortnight had passed, he called the two women to inquire how they had spent their wealth.

On sight, the first woman, Azeena, outshone her rival. She glowed with good health, her eyes were bright, skin radiant, and her hair glimmered with diamonds. The king frowned, seeing the woman had squandered the wealth on herself. When Azeena confirmed this assessment, the king turned to Nasira, who explained she had saved the riches for her future children, and for the prosperity of the kingdom. The king concluded in his conventional wisdom that the second should be the woman his son would marry.

But the prince, who had been present during this trial, had fallen in love with Azeena on sight. When he related this to his father, the king scoffed, believing the prince to be shallow and unfit to make this judgment. He knew the prince must have been gravely mistaken; it was clear the woman who had saved her wealth for the prosperity of the kingdom had the foresight to sit beside a future ruler. The king attempted to reason with his son, but the prince could not be brought to see reason. With a heavy heart, the king arranged a marriage to the parsimonious of the two women without the consent of his son.

The night before the wedding to Nasira was to take place, the prince sought out the whereabouts of Azeena, and followed her to an open space. The moon reflected on a lake, and she sat beside it. She said to the reflected moon, “I have escaped the prince.” She laughed, “I have escaped the prince and this wealth is mine.”
Shocked and heartbroken, the prince cried, “You could have had more, if you’d saved it and married me!” His voice betrayed his presence.

Azeena shrugged, as though she had known he was there. “What was I to do? Save the riches, like my rival, only to surrender them back to you, and to your kingdom, and to this—this place—that treats me so unfairly as to rip me from my home to compete for your hand without asking what I wish? I have my freedom now.”

“Your freedom—” the prince began, for what woman could be freer than the queen?

“The wealth I’d supposedly been gifted was never truly mine. I could not command it at my ease—no woman in this kingdom could. The king knows nothing of gifts, and neither do you. He rewarded the woman who rejected them, who sacrificed to him what should have been rightfully hers! Your father thinks I am simple, and I am content that he believes it.”

“He was wrong. You’re not simple.” The prince looked forlorn. “I knew I loved you for good reason.”

“You love me because I am more beautiful.”

This was untrue, and the prince was ready to say that at least he was capable of love, but he stopped. It proved to be a wise decision. He had learned from the mistakes of his father not to judge too quickly. For then Azeena said, “The truth is I had come to love you. The truth is I do not mind the feeling of sinking when I look into your eyes.”

“Then why have you done all of this?” asked the prince, when his speech had been restored. “You knew how to win.”

“I will not be a prisoner to your father’s rules. Or the easy convention of his morals. Or yours. This kingdom is unjust, and now, I will not be married to it.”

The prince sat beside her. He knew he could not marry her, and he knew it was because the manifestation of century-long injustices had interfered with the course of love. He mourned the loss of her.

“When you wed tomorrow,” began the woman, who looked at him and smiled, “Remember that nothing is as it appears. And, like me, neither is your wife as simple as you believe.”

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Snake in the Grass

It seems the women’s-only mosque in LA has brought out quite a bit of male panic—and brought out the white knights alike. Most of you have undoubtedly seen what Yasir Qadhi, Abu Eesa’s BFF, has had to say about it:

When our sisters are deprived from the right to come to the mosques, or given sub-standard accommodations and treated disrespectfully, it is only natural that some of them will take matters into their own hands and counter-react.

Some of that counter-reaction will be legitimate, and some illegitimate.

Oh please, Yasir. Do let us know that some of our “counter-reactions” are illegitimate. I presume that you, of course, are the one who gets to decide which “counter-reactions” (because that’s all this mosque is–just a bunch of women throwing a tantrum) are illegitimate? Unsurprisingly enough, Yasir Qadhi and his like don’t seem to believe that rape jokes are illegitimate.

But it gets better.

Rather than worry about what various counter-reactions have been and how legal they are, I believe we need to concentrate on the root cause of the problem.

What interesting timing to be struck by this enlightenment.

You see, men are incapable of addressing the “root of the problem” until women take a drastic “illegitimate counter-reactions”—like creating a mosque for themselves in which men are neither expected, nor made explicitly welcome. And then, suddenly confronted with the possibility of a complementary space in which they do not control women (just wait, that’s coming up next in his little speech) and in which women in fact govern themselves from positions of leadership in their religious practices, without giving a toss about what men think or have to say, well—come on now, girls—maybe we can work something out after all.

In a day and age where our sisters are going everywhere, visible everywhere, active everywhere, the BEST place for them to be is in the masjid, praying to Allah, and being with fellow Muslims, and learning about their faith. Rather than believe that they should stay home, we need to contextualize our environment and ENCOURAGE our sisters to come to the most blessed places in their cities: their mosques.

Visible everywhere? Visible everywhere? It’s bad enough that we’re “going everywhere” and are—gasp!—“active everywhere,” but to top it off we’re visible everywhere! Can you believe us? Can you believe the nerve of us?

Obviously this is why we need masjids so much. For taming purposes and such.

We need to make sister’s facilities as neat and clean and well-lit and accessible as the brothers. We either put them in the same hall as the men (as was the case in the time of the Prophet (SAW), behind the men), or provide state of the art AV access to the lectures/khutbah. We need separate rooms (also with AV) for sisters with young infants so that others can also pray and listen in peace. And most importantly, we need to tell our men that it is not THEIR business (unless a family man is dealing with his own wife/daughter) how other women dress. Let the people in charge of the masjid deal with dress codes.

We need to “put” them. Because it’s we and them and my audience is still we—the men—even while I’m supposedly discussing inclusiveness. This is what every single one of my khutbas is like, so no need to go see them from the other side of the barrier. Also, it’s totally okay to bully your own wife and daughter, because you own them. And by no means are we getting rid of the dress code police in the masjid.

Frankly, in this day and age, if a sister actually comes to the masjid (rather than going shopping or watching a movie or doing any other activity), we should WELCOME her, have the sisters get to know her, and make her feel special. Her priority is not the scarf on her head but her attachment to Allah. Once she feels that attachment, the rest will follow.

Oh no. Not shopping. Not women and shopping.

Unless they’re shopping for the headscarfs after feeling The Attachment Only I Can Judge to Be Sufficient. (TM)

Our sisters in faith are our mothers, wives, and daughters.

Sure, just not their own individual people. But what else can you expect from someone who defended Abu Eesa and his atrocious sexism and racism?

These men are in positions of power and yet they’re so easily threatened by any kind of criticism, or any woman separating herself from their holy sheikhness to form her own mosque. They cannot stand to hear about it, or to be confronted about their problematic views.

He blocked me after that.

He blocked me after that.

Amusing isn’t it? For someone who wasn’t fired, he sure is still on the edge of his seat. Of course, the reason he isn’t fired–safe in his patriarchal ulema, where he is protected by men who refuse to hold him accountable and he never has to confront criticism against him, ever–is the very reason he felt smug enough to securely rub salt into the wound in the creepiest possible way.

It’s telling that oppressive, patriarchal men will stoop down to backpedal as hard as they can without losing their main oppressive, patriarchal audience as soon as a woman makes any successful attempt of forming a place without them. Luckily, they fail so transparently that it’s clear where their real interests lie: in celebrity status, catering to malestream mediocrity on matters of justice. With a touch of casual sexism masquerading as benevolence.

[click to enlarge] Did I say rape apologist? I meant rape enabler. In fact, I might have even meant rapist.

[click to enlarge] Did I say rape apologist? I meant rape enabler. In fact, I might have even meant rapist.

DID I HURT YOUR FEELINGS?

Posted in feminism, Muslims | Tagged | 6 Comments

notice.

I’ve taken up a lot, and I’m not as flexible these days. I’ll come and go in terms of posting, but I won’t be back entirely until May. Please don’t miss me =) the archives are here for your perusal. And, as always, my inbox is open.

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Alright, fine, let’s talk about Selena Gomez’s ankle.

I honest to God was not going to write a post about this, but since I have begrudgingly begun, I’m going to make this as brief as possible.

I don’t expect celebrities, like Katy Perry, or Madonna, or Lady Gaga–or, as much as I actually do like her–Angelina Jolie, to understand what they’re doing when they appropriate from cultures that are not theirs; in an ideal world, celebrities would have a clue and could subsequently be held accountable, and their apologies wouldn’t be seen as “giving in to the evils of the Muslim world and their horrible hatred of women’s ankles.” I do, however, expect celebrities to understand the simple concept of not being an asshole. And Selena Gomez was being an asshole. And she knows it.

The fact that Selena Gomez walked into a mosque in what I’m sure she’d call “one of those long back robe thingies” and decided to flash her ankle is demonstrative enough that she knows what she’s doing, even if she doesn’t register that it’s offensive because she’s playing off the stereotypical Western harem fantasy and not because she’s a woman flashing her ankle. You know who gets to flash her ankle at a mosque? ME. I get to do it. And when it’s a mosque that is not in a country where I live and legally affected–even that is questionable. I wouldn’t go to Saudi and start driving there just for the sake of the world being horrified when I’m categorized as a terrorist, because I can leave the country, come back to the US with my convenient US citizenship, and have pretended to have done something to “save” Saudi women while actually having no effect at all and possibly having made their lives harder, because now they have to hear sexist Saudi men rebuking this struggle for liberation with criticisms about the “influence of Western women.” It’s easy to be a rebel when you can escape, when you’re in a position in which the world is watching you, and, in the case of Selena Gomez, when you’re someone the West actually cares about.

Selena Gomez, of course, wasn’t trying to make that statement. She’s not championing the cause of freeing Muslim women; she’s not misguided into thinking it’s her place to do so. She is, however, trying to be scandalous. And she’s perpetuating the idea that all it takes to be scandalous is a little bit of ankle, and since Muslim men–and women–have reacted with the degree of outrage that white people expected, Selena’s achieved her goal while skewing the reason behind that outrage to one that fits the Western agenda. Conveniently, we can all now believe that what we thought of Muslims is confirmed–that they hate women, liberation, and ankles–while pretending we don’t understand the real reason: Gomez wasn’t looking to practice her rights; she was looking for people to offend. She relied on a context in which Muslim women are depicted as sexually enticing and rebellious with a single flash of an ankle, when that context exists no where except in the West. You know who doesn’t care if Muslim women flash their ankles? Everyone. All Muslim men. Literally, they don’t care. They don’t fetishize our ankles.

I’m sure someone could make the argument that this based solely off the context in which I live, and that maybe Muslim men in different regions do fetishize ankles. Undoubtedly, there’s someone somewhere with an ankle fetish. Good for him. What I’m saying is that although there are hadith cited in which women are advised to cover everything between their hair and their ankles (including those two things) no one actually enforces the latter. There’s a lot of hijab policing from Muslim men, but the only person who’s ever told me to cover my ankles was one of the infamous masjid aunties. What was offensive was the flashing ankle in conjunction with the abaya, in the context of Muslim women being fetishized by the West and Muslim beliefs misconstrued. Had Gomez worn only the outfit she donned beneath her abaya, which included ankle-revealing capris, she wouldn’t have been seen as being deliberately disrespectful, and there wouldn’t have been outrage. She wouldn’t have been seen as someone trying to modify a culture that isn’t hers of something it doesn’t even have. One might point out that she might have not been allowed to enter that masjid if her ankle weren’t covered–but the fact that she was not made to wear it elsewhere only proves that the ankle isn’t inherently offensive. What’s offensive is she thought it would be cute to pretend that Muslims do find ankles inherently offensive, and operated on that bizarre misconception, while simultaneously showing blatant disrespect for their actual beliefs and for the criteria for respect within a mosque. She not only misattributed the scandal to showing women’s ankles, but operated on that misattribution.

To conclude that everything there is to believe about Muslims from a non-Muslim perspective is confirmed from this incident Selena Gomez orchestrated is nothing short of unfair.

Posted in feminism, Muslims, privilege | 3 Comments

“Take care of your souls.” —Qur’an 5:105

I hope this post finds everyone well, happy, and looking forward to a new beginning, despite the reality that a new journey around the sun involves no indication that our old problems won’t continue. (They most certainly will.) With the acknowledgement that I am a little late, I’d like to begin the new year with a kind of post that I don’t normally write: a reminder.

As most of my (close) friends know, I detest “reminders”–which are usually just patriarchal disguises for slut-shaming, gender-shaming, you’re-not-practicing-your-religion-properly shaming, and all kinds of other shaming in the guise of “reminding” you to be their definition of a better Muslim. It’s the sign-off for every man politely bullying Muslim women to remain patient, kind, and hijabed: “And I remind myself before I remind anyone else.” (Except, of course, he doesn’t; that’s why he’s arrogant enough to regulate your modesty.)

So, I’m not the type to bestow an entire khutbah uninvited–oh, of course I am. Apparently, as evidenced by this post. But lately, I’ve noticed something in other people that I recognized because I do it myself as well, though hopefully not as often anymore. But I want you to know this is forbidden. Forbidden! Listen closely, because other than alcohol and sexual harassment (two unrelated things) and occasionally bananas, your author forbids things neither often nor easily.

It’s tempting, and I know firsthand, to believe that when an event devastates us, or hurts us, or otherwise doesn’t flower as planned, it’s because we don’t deserve the thing in question, or we deserve to be punished. I’ve done this with smaller things–hurting my ankle over my high heels, or catching my brush in my hair, or (cringe) the comb-to-earring phenomenon. I’d stop and wince at the pain and think, “Well, that was for a past or future sin.” I want everyone who does this–and I’ve seen it, so I know there’s quite a few of you, to stop and consider the enormity of what you’ve just done (to yourself.)

Verse 29:10, which I’ve cited on this website before, reads:

They treat men’s oppression
as if it were the Wrath
of God!

and I if it isn’t obvious from the hundreds (hundreds?) of posts I’ve already written, I tend to like to clip and magnify verses into brief bits of poetry like that, for the effect. I’ve used this verse to address systemic oppression, especially since patriarchal men behave as though their oppression is mandated by God. But since every ayah of the Quran can be applied in various colors, in shades and degrees of truth, let’s broaden the context of the lines to the entirety of the verse. “And of the people are some who say, ‘We believe in God,’ but when one (of them) is harmed, they consider the persecution as [if it were] the punishment of God. But if victory comes from God, they say, ‘Indeed, God is with us.’ Is not God most knowing of what is within the breasts of all creatures?”

It isn’t only detrimental to the health of your soul to believe that God is punishing you, this verse indicates that such an attitude is offensive to God. Whenever one reads the Qur’an, there is a feeling of peace with the reoccurring realization that God is hardly ever offended by the endless list of petty things men claim offends God, but that what is actually indicated as being offensive to God demonstrates even more deep compassion. It is a mark of the Feminine Divine, of Mercy and Graciousness, that is imbued in every verse encouraging us not to harm ourselves with hurtful thoughts exactly like these.

What’s astounding about the verse is how far it goes: the act of believing one is being punished by God with a misfortune is not only written as an act that is hurtful, but one that is hypocritical. The verse says it is hypocritical to believe “God is with us” when we face victory and not when we face harm, and the next line, “God knows what is in your heart,” often repeated when one is being disingenuous in her faith, confirms this reading. It also hints that true punishment means that God is not with us, by equating the belief that we are being punished with the belief that God is absent from us–the opposite of the mindset that God’s reign is to be associated with punishment. Pain isn’t beautiful, and it isn’t Divine.

Understandably, we want to believe that God’s punishment translates to our closeness with God, because it must mean that our pain is meaningful, or that if we are punished it means God is near for the punishing. But the verse commands us to believe that God is near in the duration of the punishing, not as the source of the punishment. I’ve heard imams and hafizes and religious scholars alike make claims that, “If we could see how much sin God removes from us when we are sick, we would wish to be sick all our lives.” This, I think, is an unholy way of twisting what would have been an otherwise beautiful sentiment: that God is with us in pain, because God is with us always, but that pain isn’t something to uphold as desirable, or holy, or something to seek out, or–I emphasize–something to justify.

God does not want you to justify being “punished.”

Please remember that this year, and always. And be good to yourselves. Nothing distresses me like receiving emails and emails filled with women deprecating themselves, women who are convinced their misfortunes–and their oppressions–are punishments from God, who are frantic in “saving” their souls and redeeming themselves. This, this calamity, has nothing to do with God. God isn’t the source. Oppressors are. And, non-Muslims who happen to read this, if you don’t mind, consider it a religious lecture for you too. And be good to yourselves. Take care of your souls.

Posted in interpretation, Islam, morality, Muslims, Quran | 4 Comments