REACH. #spokenword #poetry #unitycharity #muchlove
Photography by Riya Jama
The Unity Charity spoken word festival is happening THIS FRIDAY! To all of you who live in Toronto, this is going to be big, something you don’t want to miss! :)
Happening in just a few hours!
Asked by Anonymous
Wa alykum as-salaam,
You should tell your family and then inform the police.
Who cares about “ruining Ramadan”? Ramadan isn’t some holiday season where we have to talk about the “Ramadan spirit,” it’s about getting closer to God.
Being an Imam means nothing, they are people, they are not better or worse than anyone based on their title, the title means nothing, it is a trust that your Imam has egregiously and disgustingly violated.
Go to the police, seek help from your family, seek counseling, and be there to support those who may also have been impacted by this disgusting man.
You will be in my prayers, truly, I wish I could be there to sit next to you and tell you everything is going to be okay, just know that I support you 10000% and that you’re an amazing person and you’re not at fault for anything.
Just please take care of yourself, seek out help, and don’t lose your trust in God.
I wrote this extremely personal Ramadan reflection. I shared it on facebook and many of my friends asked me to post it publicly. Scurred.
Didn’t watch a single world cup game. But i watch soccer everyday. My entire view is of a soccer field where I come home to watch children play. I watch the youngest with their short attention spans running wild and free, I’ve seen the cuties get injured and picked up and coddled by coaches, parents on the sidelines excitedly watching their children grow, and much more. I’m close enough to hear all the laughs, the defeats, the victories, the whistles, and the cheers.
Four kids were killed while playing soccer. I have written papers on the objectification and improper use of women and children by media and government to justify violence, the economics of conflict and terrorism, how rhetoric and images are used to sway a population to agree to a side.
What use is all this when you watch children play? If I were in class now would those children be used as evidence for one of my papers? What are we accomplishing besides sanctimonious satisfaction?
With an estimated population of 23.5 million people, Karachi is Pakistan’s most populated city and the third largest city in the world (by population within city limits), trailing Shanghai and Beijing. It boasts a very intimidating level of crime as the most dangerous mega-city with a murder rate of 12.3 per 100,00 residents. Needless to say, Syeda Ghazala, the new head of a police station in a Karachi suburb has her work cut out for her.
This. Is. Awesome. she looks so fly, good luck!!!
Once in my early twenties I was sitting in a car with my father waiting for a repairman to come to fix a large dent on the side. My father had noticed that I was unusually quiet and asked me if there was something wrong. I inexplicably burst into tears and wailed, “All Muslim men want is sex!” And that is how I very awkwardly had my first ever conversation about the birds and the bees with a parent.
I hadn’t come to this conclusion due to specific Muslim men who convinced me of this. It was simply what I had been taught all my life in Islamic school, religious lectures on gender relations, and the Muslim marriage articles that I would avidly read as a teenager. I had grown up in a very strict gender segregated community, and therefore learned about the lives and roles of Muslim men by stories and what I later discovered were caricatured descriptions of their character. It was an odd way of growing up since I spent my days at school interacting with boys who weren’t Muslim, but assumed that they lived an entirely separate life than that of Muslim boys. Simultaneously, I thought of my father and my other male relatives as anomalies among Muslim men.
Let’s look at this recent viral listicle called "7 Things Your Muslim Husband Won’t Tell You." The list mentions extremely gendered [‘masculine’] stereotypes that claim all Muslim men want respect, they’re obsessed with sex and have trouble saying that they love you. As a young impressionable teenager, I accepted these as the norm. Little did I know that by doing this I and many other young Muslimahs were setting the bar very low for Muslim men. By accepting this as fact I grew up thinking Muslim men were insecure gynecomaniacs. When I got to college and had the ability to interact with Muslim men, I had these beliefs so deeply inculcated in my mind that I would constantly go out of my way to show a false level of respect and admiration for my male friends out of politeness. Every hur joke, every admission to watching porn, every fight that happened between men and women was taken in as evidence for my beliefs. Any action by a man that defied their extreme masculinity and insecurities would be dismissed. Unfortunately, I wasn’t unique in this approach. A lot of us women, especially those from more conservative communities, grow up believing this.
A recent article on Love, InshaAllah describes an experience that so many of my friends have gone through with husbands or even simply guy-friends:
Hadi and I always had been and always would be filling in the scenes of narratives set in motion long before we became a couple. For all the romantic images that had filled my head, I had grown up on marriage stories where the moral always rested in resignation. From the outset of our relationship, I was looking for signs of the things that I thought to be true, that marriage was about sacrifice, about men dictating and women bending.
It took me years to understand that my mind had penned Hadi’s role in the above anecdote. I’d assigned him patriarchal motivations because I didn’t know him well enough to know what he was really thinking. It would take me several more years to discern the kinds of stories Hadi’s mind told about an indifferent bride who was more concerned with her wedding, her family, and her friends than the man she was marrying.
Several of my female friends had entered into a marriage believing that their husbands desired to be praised for being the head of the household, prepared themselves for his high sex drive (while suppressing their own desires), and not expecting that their husbands would be capable of showing any love. After all that’s what we’re taught. Having attended so many lectures on gender relations and preparation for marriage, I expected nothing more.
And yet, when I sat in the car with my father waiting for his response he awkwardly laughed and said it wasn’t true. I thought about my father who I felt was so different from this perceived Muslim man I had concocted in my head. My father tells his wife and children quite often that he loves them, if he’s angry at me I make him melt by kissing him on the forehead, he gets more emotional than my mother when watching a sad romantic film, he understands where my mother rules in the household, he understands where my skills surpass his and asks me to take charge when necessary. We all respect and love him. We tease him for the silly things he does, and he humbly takes in all the sarcastic jokes.
Never has he demanded respect from his wife or children as I had been taught so often what men need as a teen. Sitting in the car looking around to make sure the repairman wasn’t arriving, he talked about when he was my age his friends didn’t think of marriage as obtaining a life-long concubine as I had assumed. That although my mother was more religious than him at the time of their marriage, he didn’t expect her to teach him to be a better Muslim or to teach him anything at all. Their love and respect for one another brought them both to a path of being better people. That love is what everyone wants, and that the best way to express it is by rooting for holistic growth in the loved person. To support them in their decisions, be there when they need you, and to find sukoon by accepting them for who they are.
Although you can find these sorts of ideas in lectures by Sh Abdallah Adhami, Imam Khalid Latif, or other more spiritually attuned Imams, this isn’t what we’re taught in the overwhelming majority of provided Islamic resources. In a recent juma khutbah of Imam Khalid Latif’s that brought me to tears, he described how women in our society are constantly shunned and criticized for their behavior but men are given the excuse that they’re boys and can do whatever they want to. Why aren’t we elevating our expectations of Muslim men? Why don’t we see men as individual complex beings that can make conscientious decisions, have full-ranged and valid emotions, that see love as more important in a relationship than sex or have ‘feminine’ qualities?
If I am to one day have children I hope to challenge these gendered stereotypes of both men and women, to teach them the love that my father has showered me with, and to grow up seeing men and women as individuals. Otherwise, like the author in the Love, InshaAllah post they could be stuck making perfunctory assumptions rather than recognizing the beautiful complexities of their lifelong partner.
Today in Muslim mansplaining.
I know this tumblr-er. She’s a physician.
OK PEOPLE. If you are a man, first of I realize not all men act like this. I know some are good but seriously.
I wanted to organize a bone marrow registry drive…so the Imam of my masjid. First:
1. explained to me why my charity that I have chosen is wrong because:
(a) they won’t come to the masjid and collect blood because the DNA testing should be done right IN FREAKING FRONT OF US
(b) because simple and easy cheek swabbing isn’t right. nope. not right
2. HE WONT COLLECT MONEY FOR A BLOOD CANCER CHARITY.
JUST FLAT OUT REFUSED
3. HE TOLD ME TO READ THE PACKET THAT I SENT TO HIM. becuase I’m a silly girl, and of course I didn’t read it.
4. He runs the Masjid like the mob…. “his volunteers” blah blah
5. Of course he ends his e-mail with a dua like they do on those stupid paki shows after telling you that you’re going to hell, let us pray.
WHAT I DONT GET IS:
All IM TRYING TO DO IS SOMETHING GOOD then WHY ARE YOU PUTTING UP ROADBLOCKS AND MAKING IT SO DIFFICULT? WHY? what do you gain by doing this? like seriously?