In the Muslim World

What does it mean being in the Muslim world? Does it mean that a society is more Islamic?  Does the percentage of Muslims make a difference? What about the percentage of women who cover and men who wear big beard and long thobes? What happened to all those traits we’d hear about in khutbas about the Ummah being an exemplary community, the best of peoples, etc…etc…

Well, the Muslim world isn’t this happy Muslim place where people are singing “Tala al badru wa’alayna” skipping down the streets giving salaams to their neighbors. No, the Muslim world is a place where a woman will get hit on and ripped off by an airport worker within 1/2 an hour of stepping on Muslim soil. The Muslim world is where a throng of people pass by an old lady struggling carrying her loaded bags and some random western woman offers to help. The Muslim world is where cars mow down pedestrians on the road and where everyone cusses each other out. The Muslim world is where men say disgusting things to hijab wearing women sweating profusely in the humid  air.

Being in the Muslim world means your landlord commands you to cover the toilet seat because there are jinn residing in the toilet and he accuses your roommate of practicing magic. It also means that he or his sons feel like they can come into your apartment at any time at night and take stuff out.

Being in the Muslim world means being thankful that you meet up with old college friends who will take care of you and make sure your stay is as comfortable as possible. It means you are thankful for the rare and random acts of generosity from those Muslims in the Muslim world who truly exemplify the beauty of Islam—Sadaqa and Karamah.

Cross Dressing For Allah

So one of my friends asked me what did I think about the Red Mosque stand off. You know, the one where the pious Muslim leader tried to escape out the backdoor dressed as a woman. I’m not one to write too much about politics. I am also very careful about writing on events that I don’t understand. But who could ignore the dramatic events and the burqas. Umar Lee has made some very interesting comments on this piece in his blog. My response is delayed because I’ve been really swamped with my work and studies. But with the flurry of blog entries, here’s my two cents.

There is so much discussion about women’s dress, hijab, niqab, and burqa. A few years back, Michael Jackson made headlines by dressing in an abaya and veil and powdering his nose in a bathroom. Himesh Reshammiya pissed off a lot of Muslims in a shrine. Himesh and Michael were just trying to escape paparazzi. But there have been a growing number of stories where bank robbers and Muslim militants donned the burqa to escape police or military capture. In the case of the mosque standoff, I think I’d cut the brother some slack if he didn’t have such a hard core deen-or-die-rough-rider-pakistani-style rhetoric. So what’s up with that ready to die as a shaheed, but dressing up as a meek Muslimah? I’m really rusty on my Fiqh, but last I heard was that cross dressing was haram. In fact, I’ve read works by Muslim writers who condemn Muslim women for wearing jeans and pants like men. But maybe in this case they used ijtihad and came up with some ruling that it is okay to cross dress fi-subil-Allah.

Top Searches that People Used to Find My Site Today

Sometimes, I wonder what is the intention of the people who google “Why you shouldn’t marry a black woman”? Was the searcher a man? Was it a woman? Were they black? Were they joking? Or do they have beef with black women? What do they think of what I have to say? Or has gendered racism prevented them from valuing anything that I have to contribute?

When I think of the people who visit my site I wonder if they have been weighted down by the same issues that have made my life feel heavy? Do I help give voice to something that they had trouble articulating? Is my blog divisive? What about those readers that I challenge? How mad do I make them? Well, I don’t feel bad because I make someone angry when I express my own subjective position. I am angry, and there should be a whole bunch more people angry about injustice and deceit. I have always had my identity and my personal choices tested, questioned, and challenged. Learning can be painful, as many of my undergrad students will attest to. Students have their presuppositions challenged, they get tested and critiqued, they have to stay up late at night trying to make sense out of seemingly incomprehensible problem sets and dense readings. Maybe some of those who visit my site find something reflected back at them that they don’t like. Some may find a reflection that affirms the struggle they have been going through. Ultimately, I hope to give speak for the voice-less, the groups whose voices have been submerged by the dominant narrative.

Search Views
ethnic self hatred African American 2
jamerican muslimah blog 2
darfur african muslims 1
what is jerri curl weave 1
bi racial babies features 1
why you shouldn’t marry a black woman 1
islam depression single 1
sometimes your best isn’t good enough 1
tafilelt 1
men like light skinned women 1

Muslim Guy Shortage!?

Hmmmm, I’ve been blogging about this for awhile now.

A SISTER WRITES:

“I’ve noticed in our Muslim communities that there are plenty of single, religious, educated, Muslim sisters, yet there is a great lack of like-minded brothers available for marriage. Thus, we have sisters in their late 20’s and 30’s who desire to get married but cannot find a suitable prospective.”

Why do you think this is the case? Is it due to the Muslim brothers not bothering about the Deen so they are not at par with active, religious sisters? Or do you think it’s a demographical problem? What do you think?

JOIN MECCAONE THIS THURSDAY WITH IMAM ZAID SHAKIR, UM HASSAN, AND YOU, THE LISTENERS FOR AN IMPORTANT DISCUSSION, DEBATE, & DIALOGUE!

Thursday, March 8th, 2007
5-6pm on 90.5 FM KSJS San Jose, CA
Live World-Wide
CALL IN LIVE! 408.924.5757

muslimsbrothershortage1.jpg

Prison Da’wa and Marriage to ex-cons

You see, Muslim women are like women all over the world, we have a lot to worry about. How do you know if you’ve actually fallen in love with a child molester, wife beater, womanizer, or emotionally abusive man? There are often signs and we often ignore them. Maybe we all need to do a background check. But what if a brother’s background is less than perfect? I think this is an issue Black Muslim women deal with more than anybody. We have a lot of infrastructure to proselytize to incarcerated men. And the conversion rates are pretty promising. Many men who convert while in prison really struggle with their deen once released into society.

The problem that I have with the prison system is that it is not there to reform people. Instead, it is a brutal system that brings the worst out of people. Taking shahadah wipes away someone’s previous sins, but it doesn’t erase niggerish tendencies. That takes a lot of work. And man, it’s a struggle out here. I mean, I know Malcolm X was an ex-con, but that was Malcolm X. You know what I mean?

There are some hard brothas who are released from prison who have straight beef with the whole womenkind. For those brothas that like to box women, maybe they need some women who can box dudes. I don’t know if they do dawa in women’s prison. I think they should. Maybe they can get a Michelle Rodrigues to take them on or what’s her name from “Million Dollar Baby.” I know it isn’t just converts and ex-cons who beat their wives. I’ve heard of brothers asking about how big can the miswack be to hit their wives. Maybe they were joking, but that shit isn’t funny. And the Muslims women’s shelter gets all sorts of abuse and death threats from angry husbands, fathers, and brothers. I don’t know the exact figures that could possibly correlate rates of incarceration with domestic abuse. But if somebody knows, get back at me.

As an African American convert, I think I’ve had to deal with this issue more than any of my Middle Eastern, North African, South Asian, white, and Asian counterparts. You see, I grew up in East San Jose and attanded the Muslim Community Association in Santa Clara. Very middle class and affluent and immigrant oriented. A few of my second generation immigrants friends would tell me that I’d find my ideal match in East Oakland. That’s where Masjid al-Islam is and a lot of angry brothers would be there. Sure, they looked a lot better than many of the pasty engineers in Silicon Valley. But were they ideal matches? A number of them sold incense and oils. I remember when this one North African sister from East Oakland pumping up this other African American brother who had asked for me. Like many of my non-Black friends, any guy was a good match–as long as he was Black. She was like, “Gurrrrrrl, he has his own business.” It turned out that he sold books, but this wasn’t a Barnes and Nobles operation. It was one of those book stands you see set up next to the incense and oils stand in some Flea Market (not even Berryessa but the smaller more rundown Ashby bart variety). Now, this was a little bit much for me. I would get in arguments with my friends who would make a case for marrying one of these struggling brothers. They would advocate for them. We should only look at religion, if the brother prayed, if he was a good Muslim, etc…. But meanwhile their fathers made sure that only doctors and engineers couls step to them. They would also introduce their white convert friends to the doctors and engineers. They’d tell me, “but there’s plenty of brothas for you up in Oakland, Aziza.” Meanwhile, masjid al-Islam became the bastion for polygamy and these brothers were pulling one, two, maybe even three wives. I guess I was too ambitious to throw myself into a cycle of poverty. Maybe the brother who asked for me got it together, I pray that Allah grant him tawfeeq. But I thought about practical things like being able to pay rent, health insurance, paying tuition so I could get a degree in community college and make a contribution to my family. I think that the brother discovered Islam while in prison. I don’t think he had been out that long and the selling of books was this big push towards the entreprenurial spirit.

Okay, let me get this straight. I know I’m kind of a square, but I used to run the streets a bit and I’m familiar with the whole thug lifestyle. Back in highschool thugs were in and getting locked up was sort of a rite of passage. My mom put a block on our phone to prevent prison collect calls from my homeboys or boyfriends. So I would get the lame three-way calls or requests to make three way calls to call somebody’s people. Nowadays, you can’t click over and use three way. So anybody locked up calling my mom’s house is pretty assed out. Anyways, for some of us ladies could deny the appeal of a brother who had been locked down. Usually they come out all swoll and muscles cut from benching, pull-ups, push-ups and sit ups all day. I don’t know if they look the same since they’ve banned weights in the yard. Brothers come out of prison well read and articulate and seem so motivated. All they had to do all day was work on their Islam. But then they get out, no support, no one will hire them, bougie–and especially immigrant–girls won’t marry them. And I have just never been in a place in my life where I can carry a brother through the fire.

I used to have long conversations/arguments about this issue when one of my friends would try to push off the surplus of struggling brothers from Oakland. One friend was especially dismissive of my concerns (Perhaps she was playing devil’s advocate). I developed a motto, “No incense and oils sellers!” Not any disrespect to any brothers who have a hustle and make it work for them. I guess there was little recourse for me, being that I came into Islam in a predominately immigrant community, and little recourse for them. When I was 20, I just had one simple requirement, that the brother have an associates or at least be a junior in college, with some job skills. Otherwise, how was the brother going to hold down a family?

Muslim brothers use all sorts of innovative techniques for giving dawa to pretty women they encounter in the work place, on the street, and in their social circles. They’re not giving dawa to women on skid row. They are not giving dawah to women in correctional facilities. They are not giving dawa in halfway houses. So, that means, that the community is not really dealing with as many women who need help reintergrating into society. In fact, it means that Muslim men have better options for suitable matches. On top of that, Muslim men a clearly not limited to Muslim women. They can marry Christian and Jewish women. I know of a number that marry Buddhist, Pagan, Wiccan, Agnostic, and Atheist. This doesn’t inlude the foreign brothers who go abroad marry some poor hapless women who knows nothing about American society and lives isolated thousands of miles away from her friends and family. When you add it all up, level headed brothers actually become rare commodities. I know a lot of Muslim women who are actually opting out of marriage because it is such a headache.

I know brothas are doing some serious dawa work as prison chaplans and whatnot. But for reals though…can yall do some dawah to brothas with jobs for some of us sisters. So, please even up the chances for sistas by working on your male friends, co-workers, and assocites who don’t have super long rap sheets and records that prevent them from working. I know way too many on-point sisters who are wont to find a suitable partner. There’s a Medical School, Business School and Law School just walking distance from me. I can show you right where they are at, or you can Google Map it. Set your dawa table right across the quad. I’ll support yall. We gotta balance out things the demographics. Also, let’s hook up the struggling brothers. Maybe we sistas need to work on some dawa for the ladies in the correctional facilities, aka the industrial prison complex.

What To Do When Muslims Behave Badly

By behaving badly, I don’t mean Muslims not praying or transgressing personal morality. I mean things that violate someone else’s humanity and dignity. You know, things like genocide, terrorism, enslavement, child abuse, and violence against women. How do Muslims come to terms with the atrocities committed by other Muslims?

Should their actions cause a crisis of faith? Should we reflect upon our core beliefs to understand why the trans-Saharan slave trade occurred, why genocide is going on in Darfur, why there is still the enslavement of blacks in Mauritania, why female genital mutilation is praticed in many parts of the Muslim world inluding Egypt, Somalia, Sudan, and in some parts of the Levant and Iraq? Or should we Muslims try to defend our faith and seek the core spiritual truths. Do we explain that these actions were due to cultural practices, even though the perpetrators may sincerely believe that they are doing some actions in the name of the faith? How do we come to terms with the fact that religious ideology is used to justify all sorts of brutality?

My understanding of these issues have been shaped by my training as a Western scholar. But there is the part of me whose identity is tied up with the cultural religious complex called Islam. Although I try not to let my faith blind me from seeing historical realities, my identity shapes how I understand those realities. I have read several articles that make broad generalizations in their critiques of Muslim/African encounters and Arab/African encounters. Often Arab and Muslim are depicted as synonomous. Right now, Arabs are the only ethnic group that it seems generally okay to say vehemently racist things abou them. Many Arabs are Muslim, but clearly not all Muslims are Arabs. In fact the majority of Muslims come from Indonesia. Few people have bad things to say about Indonesians. But I digress.

I am in a society that is largely hostile to both my race and my religious beliefs and practices. Our communities tend to circle their wagons and in this defensive position we are less likely to be introspective or reform driven. Instead, any criticism from outsiders is taken as an attempt invalidate our beliefs and identity. But this does not mean that we should focus on defending our beliefs and cultural practices against important critiques. The truth of the matter is that Muslim women are still not able to secure the rights accorded them in the Shariah. There is a huge difference between High Culture, popular culture. Doctrine and ideology does not determine the actions of individuals. Instead, a full range of overlapping and conflicting interests can drive why individuals and groups choose to do certain things. What I think is important is to expose how individuals manipulate the naivete of their followers. It is important to look at the political economy of any movement. It is essential to look at the material motivations, as well as consider whether or not spiritual beliefs were sincere. And just because someone is sincere in their beliefs, that does not mean that they are not misguided. This is why it is important to move beyond the Us/Them mentality. The Us/Them mentality is really the thing that allows us to behave badly against other human beings. Anyways, that’s my thoughts for now. This meditation will continue…

Time wasters

Okay, I’m procrastinating big time right now. I have this paper deadline and I really hate it. I’m going to get started on it, for reals. But a new curse has entered our household. It is called basic cable. So, I’ve read all this stuff on slavery in Africa, the Sokoto Caliphate, and trading diasporas. I have 15 pages to write and about 25 hours to do it. I think I’m going to miss this deadline. I was really busy. We had this Barbecue on Saturday, house guests all week. And then, like I said, tv channels.

But that is not the kind of time wasters I’m talking about. I mean the real time wasters. Time wasters are those dead end relationships. People who are up in your face because they want to hear themselves talk. People who need constant attention in meaningless interactions. Looking back at the past two years, I think about some of time wasters who have monopolized my time. I’m really jealous of my time too. I sometimes wonder why some men want to be all in my face wasting my time. Maybe its because I’m pretty laid back and pretty open. Do I look and talk like I’m some fun-loving, adveturish air-head?Maybe I should act a little bit more diva-ish or something. I dunno, but I’d like for the time wasters to keep moving on. I’m making it my next mid-week resolution to swear off time wasters. I have proposals and exams to prepare for. Plus I need a side job tutoring rich brats. I can be far more productive if I avoid this breed of human beings. You know the time wasters I’m talking about. The people who message you and ask: “How are you doing this evening?” Or they ask for my IM address so they can chat up my precious spare time.

What about the men who want to fly in like they are on some kind of vacation and have me show them around? Look man, do I look like a tour guide? Dude, this is not your fantasy vacation. Creepy out of towners who write me that they want to meet me. Meet me for what? Because long distance poonanny has less strings attached than local poonanny? Anyways, what do I get out of it? I could have male attention to affirm my feminity, a meaningless interaction, or maybe some temporary physical gratification where I’m left wondering if the feelings were mutual or was I just being used.

I find local dating hard enough. It is often a cat-and-mouse game. Sort of like how long can I maintain his interest and avoid getting boned or left for someone else who will get down with him. I personally find dating obnoxious for all its games. And because I don’t like the game nor do I play by its rules, I really am unfamiliar with all the protocols of dating.

Anyways, there are tons of admonitions against Muslims dating. The whole halal-style meeting leaves a lot of unanswered questions. Plus I don’t have that good old reliable ethnic network where you can find out if a brotha is shady from word of mouth. And brothas are real quick to secure a marriage before all the dirty secrets come out. There goes the more natural, un-artificial way of getting to know someone before jumping into a relationship. Anyways, I’m not really interested in dating in the conventional sense. But at the same time, I’m not interested in hook-ups. That doesn’t mean that I’m not interested in getting to know people. It is all about bringing It with the right intentions.

Since few men are really approaching me with a realness and depth that I think I deserve I’ll substitute it for some other needs in my life. For instance, I could use a really great free translator. As far as the interactions I could really use, would be someone who is well read and a sharp intellectual. I would love to run into another academic who can help me in those intellectual quagmires I find myself in. Do they understand what the hell the subaltern school people are saying? Do they understand the shortcomings of World Systems Theory? Can they give me a break down of Heidegger? Can they help me through the murkiness of post-modern theory. More than anything I need a reliable editor who has a good turn around time. Often, I am let down by people who offer even the most simple feedback. Their follow through has left something to be desired. I resolved myself to not to turn my writing it its most vulnerable stages unless I am sure that my reader will help nurture my ideas and thoughts. So, I substitute real interaction and even real writing for this blog stuff. Now that I have wasted 50 minutes writing this blog…I supposed I can get back to writing these crappy papers.