There For You

And the believers, men and women, are protecting friends one of another; they enjoin the right and forbid the wrong, and they establish worship and they pay the poor-due, and they obey Allah and His messenger. As for these, Allah will have mercy on them. Lo! Allah is Mighty, Wise.
Quran (Pickthal Translation)9:71

In his beautifully written post titled, “What is Friendship?” Tariq Nelson shares the pain and disappointment he experienced when his friends weren’t there for him. Tariq shows us a lesson about the process of forgiveness. He then asks us to be real with ourselves so that we can begin to develop and establish authentic relationships.
Tariq wrote:

As I reflect on the past 14 years of my life, authenticity is the exact opposite of what I have found in many of these relationships. Rather than environment of honesty and humility there is pretentiousness and shallow conversation. A real friendship should be about giving and receiving, sharing responsibilities, and helping each other. Engaging in a friendship requires courage because it means facing our fear of rejection and being hurt again.

A number of people, including myself, have related to and have been moved by his post. I am really grateful that he shared so openly and honestly. It was a conversation that we needed to have. Inspired, I decided to write something on friendship myself. I doubt that I’ll be able to do the topic justice. But since this is a timely topic, that has frequently come up time and time again in conversations, I thought I’d engage with the idea of friendship. For over a year I have wanted to write about friendship, exploring the real meaning of the word and how should we as Muslims really develop authentic relationships. In order to begin to explore what it means, I’ve decided to first focus on the meaning of friendship. Then I will begin to point to new possible ways we can develop better relationships with others, and as a result become more human.

As I have stated before, I am a stickler for definitions. So I went to Marriam Webster online to find a working definition of friendship.

Main Entry: 1friend
Pronunciation: \ˈfrend\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English frend, from Old English frēond; akin to Old High German friunt friend, Old English frēon to love, frēo free
Date: before 12th century
1 a: one attached to another by affection or esteem b: acquaintance2 a: one that is not hostile b: one that is of the same nation, party, or group3: one that favors or promotes something (as a charity)4: a favored companion 5capitalized : a member of a Christian sect that stresses Inner Light, rejects sacraments and an ordained ministry, and opposes war —called also Quaker

I then went to the primary source for Muslims, the Qur’an. I was interested in what the Qur’an said about the purpose of friends, and as the above verse mentioned, “protecting friends” is what believers are supposed to be for one another. I also looked at the Qur’an database search today to see how many times friend was mentioned in the Qur’an. The answer is kind of tricky, since the database was in English (call me lazy, but my time commitments didn’t allow me to peruse an Arabic/English definition. Just to be clear, I do not think that the English word for friend encompasses the true meaning of the spirit of friendship and companionship in Islam. In the Qur’an and Islamic texts such as the Hadith (Prophetic traditions), Seerah (biography), and exigis ,here are several Arab words that correspond to the English word “friend.” These include (الوالي)wali, (الصديق)sadeeq, (الصاحب) sahib. I used the Hans Wehr dictionary to outline the basic meaning of these terms as they relate to true authentic friendship.
wali (الوالي): helper; supporter; benefactor; sponsor; friend; close associate; relative; patron; protector; legal guardian
sadeeq (الصديق): friend; friendly; connected by bonds of friendship (the word also derives from truthful)
sahib (الصاحب): associate; companion; comrade; friend; adherent; follower

All three of these definitions encompass what we really need out of at least one other human being to feel connected: someone who will join us, someone who is kind to us, and someone who will help us look after our affairs. We need a someone we can trust, who has our best interest at heart. Someone we can be honest with, someone we don’t have to put on a mask to be around. We need someone who will listen to us, protect our secrets. We need someone who will share what they have when they can. We need someone who will stand by us when the world seems against us. We need someone who will lift us up as the world is crashing down on us, someone who will hold our hand to help steady uneven steps. We even need someone to believe in us when we don’t believe in ourselves. We need someone to be there for us, as Damian Marley sings, “even when I’m not there for myself.” We have to learn how to be that for someone else. We cannot demands the three aspects of true and deep friendship without being willing to give up a bit of ourselves and our whims. The reality is that we have a really deep model of friendship from our Prophetic tradition: Muhammad’s (s.a.w.)relationship with his companions. Now this is the model of true and authentic relationships that we should strive for.

I believe it is essential that we began to reassess the importance of connecting with other human beings and learning how to develop authentic and intimate relationships based on honest exchange and mutual understanding. Through this, we transcend our narrowness. We have to get beyond the slogans like, “I love you brother/sister, for the sake of Allah.” We have to really interrogate what loving someone for the sake of Allah means. As a Muslim, you’re not going to love every Muslim, but if you are disconnected and unable to love anyone, what does that say about your mental, emotional, and spiritual state? I am now reflecting on my own friendships, how I have failed as a friend, how I have been failed as a friend. I am trying to take the lessons from my 33 years and trying to become a better friend, companion, and helper. I am working on letting go of the pain, of forgiving, of reconnecting with old friends and forming new friends. But like Tariq said, first I must do some self reflection and refining of my own thoughts and inclinations. I have to be there for myself, in order to be there for you.

Just to leave you with some uplift, let’s turn to my boy Damian Marley:

“There For You”

[Indiscernable voice message]

Tra la la…Tra la la…
La la la…la la

[Verse 1]
Hey!
Vexation of spirit is a waste of time
Negative thinking, don’t you waste your thoughts
Verbal conflict is a waste of word
Physical conflict is a waste of flesh
People will always be who they want
And that’s what really makes the world go round
Unconditional love is scarce
(“Till shiloh I shall not forsake thee”)
Now and forever more
Forever more, forever more…
YEAH!

[Chorus]
You see, you gave precious life to me
So I live my life for you…You…
You see, you’ve always been there for me
And so i’ll be there for you…You…
(“Till shiloh I shall not forsake thee”)

[Verse 2]
Bless your eyes and may your days be long
May you rise on the morning when His kingdom come
Good deeds aren’t remembered in the hearts of men
(…..Oooooooh)
Bless your eyes and may your dreams come true
May you rise on the morning when Jah kingdom come
Good deeds aren’t remembered in the hearts of men
(“Till shiloh I shall not forsake thee”)
Now and forever more
Forever more…

[Chorus]
You see, you’ve always had faith in me
And so i’ll have faith in you…You…
You’ve always been there for me
And so i’ll be there for you…You…

Hey!
You’ve always been good to me
Even when i’m not good to myself
You’ve always been fair to me
Even when i’m not fair to myself
You’ve always done right by me
So I will do right by you…You…
(“Till shiloh I shall not forsake thee”)
You’ve always been there for me, mama
So i’ll be there for you, papa
You’ve always been fair to me, brother
And so i’ll be fair to you, sister
You’ve always had faith in me
And so i’ll have faith in you…You..

You’ve always been good to me
You’ve always been to kind to me
You’ve always stood up for me
You’ve always been there for me
You’ve always been…oooooh
You’ve always been…oooooh
You always did care for me…yeh
You always did share with me…yeh
You always been true to me
And so i’ll be true to you…

White Privilege, Office Culture, and Subversive Black Identities

I’m pretty late in posting this. Samah2007 has some pretty insightful and thought provoking articles over at Jamerican Muslimah. She’s one of my favorite writers because she’s honest, funny, and smart. Not long ago, she posted an article that got me thinking about what I’m going to have to deal with when I come back to the states.

Yesterday I was struck by a profound thought. I realized that I have taken classes related to race, ethnicity, White privilege and institutional racism but haven’t given much thought as to how strongly White privilege features in office culture. In the ten plus years that I’ve worked in office environments I’ve certainly seen my share of overt and subtle racism; it’s been reflected in pay grades, promotions, firings, in a supervisor’s decision as to whether a person is a “good fit” for the organization etc. I asked myself, what about the day-to-day interaction in the office? How does White privilege operate and in what ways? As a person of color, how am I am at a disadvantage? What survival techniques must I employ/adopt in order to stay afloat in today’s office environment?

Not that I’ve escaped the world of White privilege in academia, instead it plays out in different ways. But at least there are some presumptions of merit in academia and a few departments about their positions of power and responsibility to the intellectual and broader community. As a Black woman, I have spent most of my life in multi-cultural and majority white environments, so I know how to deal with a diverse set of people. You become a chameleon of sorts, trying to find a common ground to relate to people with widely divergent backgrounds, beliefs, and preferences.

Eventually my demeanor and to some degree- persona- is transformed once I step into the office. I tone down my Jamerican culture (as much as I can any way) and become someone else for 8 hours or more. You may say, all of us transform when we’re at work. All of us “play the game to some degree.” While that is certainly true, people of color who have not fully adopted mainstream White culture must go the extra mile. We must work hard to ensure that we are not perceived (by White co-workers or managers) as threatening, angry, loud, uncooperative, and (God forbid) uneducated or unqualified in any way. In a nutshell, we must work our asses off and at the same time make the White people around us feel comfortable.

Samah then goes on to explore the ways these accommodations can cause fractures in a Black American’s identity. Some individuals have striven so hard to be accepted and to succeed in majority white environments may find themselves transformed with little vestiges of their original self. Others, I know, feel disingenuous as they wear different masks for different people. It is interesting how this plays out in many different environments. Even in the Muslim community, whether on college campuses or in my local area, I find myself shape shifting make people comfortable with me as a Black woman. It is something I do almost instinctually, because this is how I’ve been able to survive in the broader society, in both the corporate world and academia. When I do fall into my normal speech patterns or topics of conversation, I am either very aware or made aware that what I say and how I say things has made my others uncomfortable. This reminds me of the backlash against PC (often by privileged white males). They are often resistant to making accommodations to make others comfortable or even relate to different groups by changing their speech, patterns of behavior etc. Very few white Americans, outside of those who have assimilated into either Black urban or rural culture, will have to make many accommodations to other people’s culture. They can be successful without having close relationships with Blacks, Asians, Hispanics/Latinos/Chicanos, or Native Americans. Nor is their material success in this society predicated on their ability to move comfortably in majority non-white environments. Just something to think about…
More thoughts on this to come…

Brown Sugar Fine

Call me an old head, but I can’t call songs from 2002 old school. Just can’t do. For me old school is mid 80s to early 90s, when hip hop was at a creative golden age. But still this track by Mos Def brings me back. It was released on the soundtrack of Brown Sugar, a film I’ve seen more times than I can count. I’m not sure why I kept watching this movie, maybe it was all the hip hop references, maybe it was Taye Diggs being, well masha’Allah, maybe it was to see Sanaa Lathan play the same role she always plays. The other day, a friend mentioned that a lot of Black Americans are just angry. We need something to lift us up, and this film was a light hearted romance that did just that. But really this blog entry is not about the film. No, it’s about how I’m really vibin’ off this song right. It’s definitely in my iPod and plays in the background like the soundtrack to my life. Brown Sugar, along with some tracks by Jurassic 5 and Talib Kweli, really have me jonezin’ for home. By home, I mean the States and all the places I roam in the Bay, my grandmother’s house in New Jersey, brown people I see, the love that I feel when I’m around friends and family. Loved my stay in Egypt, but they are not even really feeling brown sugar like they do in the States. And I have lots of love for my peoples. Ten days left, and I’m about to set it off!

So, here’s to Mos Def:

Mos Def
Brown Sugar (Fine)
2002

(if you invited me)
yeah, Cav Love, brown sugar
Bout to set it like, yeah yeah y’all (uh huh)
yeah yeah y’all (uh huh) yeah yeah y’all (uh huh)
(if you invited me)
Adjust my mic so I can touch it up right quick
Show ’em how Brooklyn do, you know what I mean? (no doubt)
Listen, yo

Let’s start it up (start it up)
Let’s get it flowin (get it flowin)
Let’s make a move (make a move)
Let’s get it goin (haha)
I know it’s feelin like everything you want, don’t it?
And you been waitin your whole life for one moment
Well baby here it is (here it is)
You better step to it (step to it)
I know you ready right (ready y’all)
Then baby let’s do it (let’s do it)
Put your neck to it, put your arms and legs next to it
Then put whatever else is left to it
See you’re all in (all in) now you about to rock ’em
Got your focus man, now they got a problem
Who you talkin to? son right there
The man in the mirror, I see him quite clear
Do your thing Cav (yeah son)
Work it out dog (work it out)
Open up their minds (open up)
Be about yours (bout yours)
Silence everyone who ever try to doubt yours
Get your mind right (mind right)
Keep your sound raw (sound raw)
Heavy bass man (bass man)
Make it bounce more (bounce more)
Make ’em feel it from to the ceilin to the ground floor
(if you invited me)
How it sound y’all? I know it’s crazy, right
I know it’s crazy tight, don’t ever take me light
It’s Cav Love y’all (Cav Love y’all)
And that’s what’s up y’all (sup y’all)
I peeped in, I know exactly what you want y’all
I make it jump y’all (jump y’all)
So put ’em up y’all (up y’all)
Brown Sugar, Brooklyn, it’s bout to jump off

[Hook: Mos Def and singer]
You got to (give it to me)
You need to (give it to me) (uh huh)
You better (give it to me)
(give it to me) ha ha, brown sugar
Leave the ground shook up (uh)
Got the world sweatin like fiends without cook up
Come on, you know you really wanna (give it to me)
You better (give it to me)
You got to (give it to me)
(give it to me) brown sugar, ha
Lick your lips to it
Work your hips to it (ha)
And steady rockin like this to it

[Mos Def]
It’s like one, two, three, and to the four
The brother Cavvy Cav is here so let him know
This for my hustlers (my hustlers)
This for my scramblers (scramblers)
This for my sexy mamis (sexy mamis)
This for everybody (everybody)
Bang it at any party and watch ’em rock to it
Bounce some pop to it, this here’s hot music
Duke I’m not losin, you need to stop foolin
I know the game very well boy I’m not stupid
Sharp and smart movement, applyin a heart to it
Came here to get the ghetto blocks movin
(if you invited me)
And after rockin in the porch and backyards movin
Keep it crackin cuz I love the way that y’all do it

[Hook: Mos Def and singer]
You got to (give it to me)
You need to (give it to me)
You better (give it to me)
(give it to me) ha, brown sugar
Leave the ground shook up
Observe the way how we make it sound hit up
Like you got to (give it to me)
You need to (give it to me)
You got to (give it to me)
(give it to me) Brown Sugar
Lick your lips to it (huh)
Work your hips to it (yeah)
And steady rockin like this to it like

damn baby, damn baby, damn baby, damn
ooh ahh, ooh ahh ooh ahh
ooh ahh, ooh ahh ooh ahh
damn baby, damn baby, damn baby, damn baby
ooh ahh, ooh ahh ooh ahh
ooh ahh, ooh ahh ooh ahh
damn baby, damn baby, damn baby, damn baby
ooh ahh, ooh ahh ooh ahh
ooh ahh, ooh ahh ooh ahh
damn baby, damn baby, damn baby, damn baby
if you invited me
if you invited me

U Go Gurl: Traveling as a Black Woman

Most travel books don’t prepare Black Americans for the experiences they will have abroad. Ever since I first traveled abroad, I have been bemoaning the lack of resources for Black women who want to see the world. I receive frequent emails from Black women who are either planning to go abroad or are already abroad and looking for resources. Last year, I suggested that someone should compile our stories so that I could support other sisters who want to travel abroad. That’s why I was happy to find this web resource,
U Go Gurl and the book, Go Girl
Go Girl Cover

FINALLY A TRAVEL BOOK FOR AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN.

A rich collection of fifty-two stories covering the globe. Sister-to-sister advice on everything from destination selection, to traveling solo, to saving money on airfare. Exploration and discussion of issues of particular concern to black women; dealing with racism, overcoming fears, claiming entitlement, etc. The book also includes a planning guide and a resourceful guide.

Maya Angelou tells the story of arriving in Africa a stranger but leaving claimed as a member of the Bambara tribe. Evelyn C. White writes about finding new pride in being black after visiting Egypt. Opal Palmer Adisa evokes the sights, sound, and aromas of urban Ghana where she traveled to meet her lifelong pen pal. Lucinda Roy brings alive the year she spent teaching girls in Sierra Leone and talks how the villagers’ friendship overcame her loneliness for home.

Alice Walker offers a quite meditation on how the beauty of the country stirred her imagination. Audre Lorde captures her experience of being refused entry to the British Virgin Islands because of her dreadlocks. Gwendolyn Brooks recounts the camaraderie and tensions of a trip to Russia with a group of American writers. Gloria Wade-Gayles explores the complexities of being both an American and a woman of color as a paying guest in a Mexican home.

“Whether traveling for escape and relaxation (“Sailing My Fantasy”), on a spiritual quest (“Red Dirt on My Feet”), in search of a mind-expanding, life-changing experience (“The Kindness of Strangers”), as a “going home,” finding one’s roots (“Before I Was a Bajan”), to find relief from racism (“Why Paris?”), to celebrate black culture (“In Search of Black Peru: Christmas in El Carmen”), to honor black history (“Visiting Nannytown”), to reach for understanding across cultural barriers, (“Japan of My Dreams”), to help others (“Seeing Things in the Dark”), or to open up new possibilities in one’s own life (“Genesis of the Traveling Spirit”), the travel experiences chronicled in Go Girl! will delight, enlighten, and inspire.”

I’m very excited to read the articles, as well as make a contribution to the site. This is especially true in light of my many awkward social encounters while abroad that have somehow involved race. I’ll try to outline some of them, as well as stories my friends have recounted. When I went to Durham England to do research for a week, I really felt like things were going pretty well and I was not confronted by awkward racially charged moments. I was satisfied with my research experience, the staff at the library and archive were very nice. I had many quiet walks through the half empty town and along the river. Nobody really talked to me, except during breakfast at the dining hall. On my last day in Durham, I had a conversation with a British man who either worked at the library or in the dining hall at the castle/hostel where I was staying in. I commented on the city’s quaintness, the beauty of the campus, my pleasant stay in a castle, and of course the library and archive. I was also interested in the Sudan studies program and getting a PhD in the UK is much faster then the unbearably long, endurance test that passes itself off as a PhD in the US. Light heartedly I said I might return to Durham as a student in in a PhD program. The man said, “well that might be hard for you being that you’re black and people aren’t used to seeing Blacks in these parts.” I felt like saying, “Thanks for reminding me that I’m Black, for maybe drawing attention to all those awkward exchanges in stores or in restaurants, the extra looks I receive, all the things I ignored just to make the trip more comfortable. Thanks for highlighting that I can never fit in or fully comfortable in your country.” But I didn’t. Instead I tried to be pleasant and we ended the conversation shortly after. I liked Durham a lot less.

Traveling while Black in many parts of the world can expose you to some amazing experiences that help you put America’s racial dichotomy in better perspective. In the Aswan region and Nubia, the Nubian vendors would call out, “Nubian! My cousin!!” In Marrakesh, some vendors pumped their fists, shouting out, “My sista!” Little kids would come up to me and ask if I was Moroccan. If traveling with Egyptians, I can get Egyptian or Moroccan rates as long as I don’t open my mouth and say something. Traveling incognegro can be beneficial. Sometimes people are even nicer. Egyptians, for example, love Barack Obama. They will talk endlessly about him. Sometimes there is solidarity, and that can be nice. Most of my travels have been in the Middle East, so there is often a Muslim solidarity that helps bridge the racial and cultural divide. When I was flying from Alexandria, Egypt to Kuwait, my carry on was way over the weight and size limit. The clerk at first was going to charge me, then he said, “OKay, you go! I like American Black Muslim!”

At the same time, you will find that racism is a global phenomena and that you may get a different reception than your white, Asian or Latino/Hispanic/Chicano counterparts. Sometimes it’s subtle, sometimes not so subtle. My friend who traveled to Spain said she would get approached by men who assumed she was a prostitute. One young man who went to France said that the French treated him like he was stupid until they found out he was American and then they just treated him like #$@*. When I traveled to Sharm al Shaikh, I was constantly stopped asked what room I was staying in. My roommate who was a stunning brunette with bright blue eyes, on the other hand, was never stopped and asked. She was the one to notice pattern.

At airports and security checkpoints, guards take extra time examining my passport, in disbelief that I was really American. In fact, most people find it hard to believe that I am just plain ole Black. I often say in broken Arabic, no may family has been in American min zaman (for ages). Also traveling in the Middle East, you may get anti-African sentiment due to illegal immigration from Sub-Saharan Africa to North Africa. n Europe, people can think you’re illegal. This is why I hold on really tight to my passport. Try to get on a flight to Heathrow with all those stickers from the Gulf, Morocco, and look phenotypicaly North African or from some “Moozlem country. You may just get detained as they run some background check, miss a flight for r no particular reason except you look like a possible terrorist. Don’t travel to all the “hot spots,” as the British intelligence officer who interrogated me as I was running late for a flight, called them.

People can say racist things also, especially the brats that run the streets. I was in Kuwait in a Bedouin neighborhood with my friend and her daughter on my way to a Mawlid. And these Bedouin boys were staring at my friend’s daughter and she at them. They made faces at her, she made faces at them. And I heard them say withing like “….Abeed!” My friend seemed to ignore it, and my friend’s daughter said, “They’re rude!” I was pretty hot, but at that time, they were really tired of my anti-racism tirades. So, I just made a mental note that bedouin kids who live what basically amounts to Kuwaiti projects (even thought the projects are much fatter than you’d ever have in the states), are racist little #$*$!! In Egypt, depending on how you look, kids and ignorant people will say rude and racist things. A European student studying at AUC said her friend came to visit and people would make monkey sounds. My friend’s husband has a Black British friend who was always asked the time. The thing was they would get a kick out of him lifting his shirt and still being really dark. And they’d go and laugh and laugh. Also, in social circumstances, you could have some awkward conversations where people say things that wouldn’t fly in America. People may not pay any attention to you, while they fawn over your paler friends.

Further, Europeans and Americans can assume you are just part of the landscape. You’re that native that needs to move out their way as. One time I was traveling with my friend from Bahia. We look very similar and people often assumed we were Moroccan, maybe from somewhere in the South. On our way from Casa Blanca to Fes, we found some British people were sitting in our seats. So, we were looking at our tickets and them. Mariah said, “Umm, these are our seats.” I was trying to speak to them in my clear American diction. The young couple just looked at us blankly and the crusty old man blurted out, “Doo Youu Sbeakk Frrrench?!” I said, “No, I speak English!” What really pissed me off was that he didn’t hear us because we were brown. He assumed that our non-British accent meant that we weren’t fluent speakers. Our brown skin rendered our language incomprehensible, as well as our rights to the first class seats that we purchased with our hard earned money.

Like the Sharm experience and the train, people may assume you are a migrant worker, refugee, or just have less money than your paler counterparts. Or they may doubt that you belong. I find it troubling that sometimes I have to talk in extra loud English to get some attention. This works wel in Kuwait because they love Americans. While your friends may be able to get their American privilege, you have to assert yours. “You better respect me, my country rules the World!” sometimes to get some your needs met. One of my friend advised dressing to the nines all the time. She said she dresses almost like a princess and spends lots of money. Then people treat her well. I’m not saying that you want to flash your passport or a fat stack of local currency. But really, you have to keep in mind that how people see you in the lands that you are visiting can shape your experiences in that country.

I definitely have to follow this up with a traveling as a Muslim woman, that’s a whole different trip.

Walk On By….

…right out of our lives and into the next. As Tariq Nelson pointed out, many of us were saddened by the deaths of Bernie Mac and Isaac Hayes. Issac Hayes especially hit me hard, being a child of the 70s, having seen him in concert and even briefly spoken to him. After the concert in San Francisco, my friend went up to Issac Hayes and told him that Isaac Hayes responsible for his birth. His parents got down to one of Isaac’s grooves on the night of his conception and those rhythms and melodies continued to inspire him through out his life . IH’s music continues to touch me, remind me of my childhood and youth. My life was full of soul, love, and heart break. And here is one of my favorite songs, his rendition of “Walk on By”:
My condolences go out to their family and loved ones.

New Look?!

I decided to update my blog with a cleaner and brighter look. I also wanted to make some changes that, I hope, will be reflective of the direction I’m going in with my writing and my life. Initially, this blog was a personal reflection, a kind of “I am Black Muslim woman, hear me roar!” I started off with a controversial title, playing on the stereotype of angry, aggressive Black woman, to raise eyebrows and draw awareness. My pictures drew the ire of many of Muslim merely because I had pictures posted without hijab. My reasons for public pictures were numerous. As I am also a researcher and wanna be scholar with the dubious distinction of being trained in the west, both my identity and stances to be transparent. I often find that we are motivated to do things multiple, often conflicting, intentions. I also displayed pictures on the website for more nafsi reasons. Reflecting back, my self portraits can be linked to my envy that many brothers could be stylish and attractive in the public eye while maintaining their legitimacy within Muslim circles. There was an undercurrent of a public protest. I am not saying that sisters in hijab are not stylish or attractive, by no means no!! But we all know what it is intended to curb. At the same time the reality is that many Muslim women do not wear hijab. Many women who do not wear hijab are just as concerned about our faith and the Muslim community as our sisters in hijab. And unlike some claims by my a few commentators, Muslim women who do not observe hijab have every right to call themselves Muslim. But having pictures online brings up numerous problems, from online stalkers, to people recognizing you from a distance in countries as far as the Khaleej, to flame wars and endless lame debates on my blog. As it stands, I’ve decided that I my writing will speak for itself. I hope my blog continues to explore the social, cultural, and spiritual struggles of Black American Muslim women in particular and Muslims in general.