Belated Eid.

I handed my mother money for the sacrifice.

“Did you see the cow you purchased?” she asked. “Your brother sent you photos.”

“Why would I look at the animal I’m going to slaughter? It’s going to die. I don’t want to feel anything.”

“Then how do you call it a sacrifice?” she said.

I stopped.

“In my country,” she said, “we raise them ourselves. For years. Feed them with what little money we have. Pretend to chastise them when they eat food off our table. Bring them in from the cold. We love them. When Eid ul Adha comes, we cry and hug them. That’s sacrifice. Now look.”

So I looked.

My heart flew out of my body. “No,” I said quietly.

“You must feel the pain,” said my mother. “And now you have sacrificed. Or else what did you give away before?”

“Why aren’t you writing?”

This is a legitimate question, and I’m very moved that there are readers who ask it after all these months. The truth is, I am very much writing, just not here. That’s not due to a lack of interest or subjects to cover.

I haven’t been interacting with men. At all. I don’t have any male friends currently. I even stopped dating. Aside from interacting with men at the office (and most of my team is women), for the past few months, I’ve cut men out of my life completely. I didn’t do it on purpose. It sort of just happened. And it’s been… AMAZING.

I feel so incredibly free—and I’d thought I already was. Most of the time, I live having forgotten men even exist, until one of them calls out to me on the sidewalk from a car window or interrupts a riveting conversation with a good friend to ask for my number, and for a few annoying moments I endure the rude realization that they still roam the earth. But they’re so insignificant in my universe.

I’ll be back. Probably even before the healthiest diet of my life ends. (Let’s hope it never does.) I’m aware that it’s a very superficial situation. Women are being jailed for miscarriage. I have the privilege of never thinking about a man. Most women don’t.

Studying other religions

I’ve noticed Muslims (at least in the west) avoid studying other religions, or do disparagingly so with an overly pronounced skepticism, supposedly because they fear weakening their own faith.

It’s illogical on multiple levels: how are Muslims going to believe the Divine Revelations were released in every language yet still disparage world religions they don’t recognize? Talk about cognitive dissonance.

But more to the point, when a Muslim’s faith is weak, there is no faster remedy to strengthen it than studying world religions with a deep respect. I’m serious. It’s like feeling homesick. The world is a gorgeous place, but occasionally, you want to fall asleep in your own bed. If you’ve never felt “at home” in Islam, exploring other religions may prompt you to recognize what home feels like.

Socials

Some of you have asked how you’d know when I’ve released a novel. I’m not sure if I’d announce it here since it has little to do with Islam and feminism, but I never distinguish between subject areas anyway. If you’d like to follow news about my writing in other areas… all my socials are separated in a vain attempt to appear organized:

Website:

Professional
the fatal feminist (do you know where you are? do you?!)

Instagram:

Professional/Writing: @creativelynahida (This is the one that’s the most relevant to this question.)
TFF: @thefatalfeminist
Personal: @NahidaNisa (this is set to private)

Twitter:

Professional/Writing/Personal: @NahidaNisa
TFF: @feministfatal

Facebook:

Professional/Writing: /creativelyNahida
TFF: /thefatalfeminist
Please don’t add me on my personal FB profile (not linked) unless we have spoken before.

I have a patreon account in case you ever wanted to throw money at me.

Pronouns

Some of you have spoken to me before. On the phone. Through video. In person. There’s no trace of a residual accent. I moved to California when I was 2 years old. I can hardly speak my mother tongue.

“You sound so Californian!” some of you have exclaimed, and then (incorrectly), “Are you from LA?” No, you’re thinking of a different valley. (I’m Silicon). The slight valley girl slant you hear in my voice—I don’t mind the mistake.

But there’s one little attribute, strangely, left over from the language I would have spoken, that I once did speak so fluently. More than fluently. I memorized poetry in it when I was a little over a year old. And that one pesky little characteristic that follows me still, that invades my speech like a puff of happiness, is that if a sentence in English is just a little bit complex, I’ll mix up the pronouns.

I don’t do it like my mother does, in simple sentences, because she is so complex. I won’t even do it when I convey information briefly. “She asked him if he would run that report for her.” That’s fine. But throw in a few more turns, maybe another person or two, and I have to think. “Why would he accuse her of never asking him to do that when a supervisor noted it in her report and she said otherwise that morning when she called him in?” I’ll mess that up.

And. It’s because in my mother tongue, we don’t use “she” or “he.” Everyone has one pronoun, the same pronoun, adjusted to singular or to plural or to familiarity. That’s a true neutral.

So when you come around here, talking about how “he” is neutral for the God/dess, that I should never use “She” because “HE IS NEUTRAL!”—you scream in enraged tantrums—what you sound like to me is nothing short of what you actually are: uncultured swine.

You don’t know language. You only speak primitive languages that rely on gendered pronouns. English. Arabic. French. Primitive, just like you. You will never understand that as long as she exists—and you have tried very hard to erase her existence—he will never be neutral. You will never understand true neutrality; the kind the Qur’an speaks of is unimaginable to you. You won’t understand the points the Qur’an is making when it critiques the constraints of the Arabic language. You. Don’t. Speak. The. Right. Language. Your ancestors did not DIE for their language. Your mind is so small that you cannot fathom it. You cannot imagine a language with true neutrals, even as it exists in the same plane as you.

Don’t try to teach me. A dog would fare better at teaching a bird to sing.

Some modest announcements.

Look, I know I’m like that wild world-traipsing aunt you have with outlandish fashion choices who disappears for three years and then comes bearing gifts to buy earn your love, but the good thing about her is that… she comes bearing gifts.

My short story, “How to Love a Rabbit” was published in Catapult magazine. The title changed a few times, from “A Slight Imperfection” to “A Discounted Side on a Fractured Shape” to (finally) “How to Love a Rabbit,” which my editor suggested and which I finally acknowledged was a more effective title for publishing online, since it’s more tangible and less abstract.

As someone who is rather introverted, I have been the closest friends with some of my coworkers. This short story was written as a goodbye present for one of them, who incidentally appears as a character within the story. I won’t say which to protect her, but you’re free to guess.

There’s a possibility that I might self-publish my first novel, Why the Sirens Sing, rather than endure the tedious process of finding an agent. About 500 readers would have to preorder it for me to do that, which is unlikely, because six people read this blog. If you would order and read it though, send me an email. I promise I’ll actually respond instead of world-traipising.