Abstract Chatter

Hey YOU! yah, YOU!
January 12, 2010, 11:27 pm
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So I was actually in the process of writing a new blog entry. Nothing with any real substance I’m sure. I just wanted to feel a mental release that comes from hearing the keys on the keyboard click away on my now dingy looking Mac laptop. Maybe the blog was going to be about the cold, harsh Chicago winters, or about people’s inability to truly keep their resolutions and break out of their habitual routines, or about my lackluster contribution to society. And how I desperately crave to do my part in “saving the world”. My dreams however, seem so distant from reality.

Then I do my daily round of Facebook stalking. I look up my “regulars”. My friend’s pages whom I miss to death, my family etc. And I stumble upon my husband’s page. There, I saw the following link: https://secure.unicefusa.org/site/Donation2?df_id=6680&6680.donation=form1

And a light bulb flashed before my eyes. It was seriously an exciting “ah-ha” moment. I perpetually sit around and complain about my inability to really do something for my community, for the South of Chicago… for the world at large. But here comes this easy opportunity to open my wallet, pull out that plastic debit card, and just give. How can saving the world be that simple?

I have no real desire to appeal to anyone’s ethos. Or make anyone feel guilty for not giving. The dire situation speaks for itself. An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.0 and intense aftershocks… a city with crumbled buildings and a hospital in ruins. A destructed city that sits in darkness … as it calls upon on us, the privileged to ‘do tha dang thang.’

Teach this triple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity – Buddha

one love,
(thank you, babe, for being my light bulb)

Why can Muslim men marry non-Muslim women (people of the book)? But Muslim women can’t?
November 2, 2009, 5:28 pm
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A few weeks ago, I posed this question as a Gmail status message, and within seconds of posting it, 4 women IMed me asking to share my answers. But how can there be an answer if the conversation is left out of our mainstream Islamic/American-Muslim discourse. How can there be a resolution if both men and women of the Muslim community are afraid to step into the realm of the unknown in an attempt to tackle such questions. Why is this question so heavily neglected in our discourse? What exactly are we bounded by? Is it Tradition? History? Is it because we’re so accustomed to the answer that there is no reason to question it? Does it lie under the absolute category alongside “Muslims cannot eat swine or drink alcohol”? Or are we simply afraid of what doors this could potentially open?

Why are our eyes wide shut? Let’s drop our pre-existing baggage and view it with open hearts. It’s evident that there exists a high need to engage in such dialogue but it somehow gets halted from moving forward… reasons for which remain mysterious to me. I dare not approach this topic from the ubiquitous perspective of “needing to marry a non-Muslim man because great Muslim men just aren’t out there,” as it seems this conversation is thoroughly played out.

My thoughts on why we as Muslim women couldn’t marry non-Muslim men.

From a traditional standpoint:

  • Point: Men, as they went off to war would never return home or be away for extended periods of time and therefore were allowed to marry women of the land where the war was taking place
    • Counterpoint: By the same token, I wonder about the women who are left behind. If this rule pertains to men, for what reasons could it not be applied vise versa? Moreover, women were left alone to be caretakers of their respective families. So why is an identical ruling not applied?
  • Point: Men played a dominant role in a given family structure and therefore dictated much of what took place in the household, including religious and daily activities. They were accountable for educating their children on issues regarding this world and the hereafter. Women were uneducated and incapable of engaging in the family process or traditional “head of household”  responsibilities.
    • Counterpoint: If you take a look at any contemporary family structure, women have dominated and flourished in every capacity both domestically and professionally. At least from the “western” perspective, women have educated themselves in everything from religion to philosophy to medicine. We are the leaders, educators and healers of our respective communities.
    • The Prophet (saws) has stated that the woman is a caretaker in the home, ra’i— the same word you use for a ruler. How likely is it then, that women are strictly susceptible to the influences of her husband?
    • Women now play a leading part in educating their children in terms of religion.

God only knows. I pray that we can put our minds and hearts together to contextualize our own history. To come up with answers which align with God’s words.


“All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.”- Galileo

No Boys Allowed
October 14, 2009, 11:57 pm
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Second grade. I had a crush on a Mexican kid with a chipped tooth. I guess we were all losing teeth back then. I wasn’t much about looks anyway. I would chase him around the playground. But he ran away. Far away. Sometimes it seemed like he’d disappear. Or maybe, it’s just my memory that fades.

Fifth grade. I tried having another crush. This time he was Asian. I think his name was Adrian. His best friend – Warren Lam. They were both in all the AP classes. Somehow it got around to his sister that I thought he was cute, and one day after school, she pointed me out to him. I imagine he was looking for a girlfriend and wanted to know who this “mysterious” chick was. The disgusted look on his face when he saw who it was—was priceless.

Sure I was a bit hefty at the time. But that look made me feel devastated. Never wanting such private information like that going out in public, I ran home crying. My first tears over a guy. Only to come home to my brother watching cartoons. I swayed back and forth in that rocking chair. My world had nearly ended. And I was only 11 years old.

High school. I think his name was Asif. I was shy back then. Around guys anyway. We spent about 2 years giving each other the eye. But nothing came of it. Ah—desi boys. Gotta love it. Then he began dating someone whom I can’t recall.

High school track: I started running. Somehow I needed to loose weight. Running 1 lap was hard. I pushed to get to the finish line. I prayed to God. I negotiated with God: “If you help me loose weight, I’ll start wearing a scarf.” Subhan’Allah. I bargained with God.

So I ran. And ran. Ate carrots, and ran some more. A Mexican guy on the sidelines called me a monkey as I attempted running my 12 minute mile. But soon enough, my mother’s friends started noticing. “How trim and nice she’s looking. What’s her secret”? Guys started noticing. Turnin’ heads.

So it seems that now the guys decide to start turning their heads. Too little too late. And thus, I began my almost life long grudge against men. I would roll my eyes, switch my hips and just walk by. Without even blinkin’ an eye.

How else could I have been a survivor?


Eid Mubarak
September 21, 2009, 7:58 am
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I love listening to your heartbeat –a pulse which beats louder than the beats of an African drum
I love listening to your breath –in its very own enchanting rhythm.

I attempt to make out your face as I stare deep into the darkness
The moonlight shines through the blinds, illuminating your soul and I can’t help but feel blessed.

As you lay your head down to rest
How can I express the magnitude at which I’m awed by your innocent and delicate finesse
And so I say that the beauty you possess,
Is more beautiful than I would have ever guessed.

Time passes by, as night fades into day and the sun begins its morning quest
Time for me to humbly bow down and make my morning request
Turning right and then left, greeting the Angels from the south to the northwest
O Lord, let our love multiply, and be each others protectors–be each others life vest
Until our time comes for eternal rest.


A Walk to Beautiful
September 10, 2009, 4:39 pm
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For the most part, I’m not a big movie go-er. But alas, my husband is. Call me pretentious, but I waste away hours at a time on nonsensical matters, and to add an additional 2 ½ hours for a movie during Ramadan seems unholy to say the least. But I bought into the pressure, not knowing the profound impact that this documentary would have on me.

“A Walk to Beautiful”—Such an eye-opening documentary of 5 Ethiopian women living under constant scrutiny by society because of the physical conditions which arise due to inadequate attention post childbirth.


Without going into the anatomy, the end result was that women wouldn’t have any control over their bladder (which typically happens when labor exceeds a certain time period, and there is a miscarriage).

A woman is defined by her ability to give birth. To bear children. When this doesn’t happen, she’s casted aside by her family, husband and peers. She’s exiled. And put into an unstable hut built outside the home for no other reason than being protected by the hyenas which linger about.

So apparently, this means that the lack of access to health care can give men the option to marry other women. Women who are capable of giving birth.

So many political and socioeconomic issues surface from this documentary: Force marriages for women at the age of 9. Abuse, child labor and poverty hindering the body from fully nourishing itself—from fully growing, leaving them stout so when they do have children, they’re pelvis’s are not big enough to support the birth. I suppose I have no right to be angry at the amount of physical labor done by children at a young age. Agricultural societies run in such a fashion. But there is no excuse for not having the proper nutrition that one needs.

It makes me wonder time and time again—why I was not born in a third world country. In a developing country. However you want to label it, I was born in one of the most powerful countries in the nation. This was God’s ultimate plan. Even if you do not believe in a higher being, this was my random chance.

With nothing but privilege seeping from all directions.


Just another recent article delving into child marriages…

Ramzan Mubarak
August 24, 2009, 5:08 am
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ramadan kareem

Ramadan Kareem

Ramzan Mubarak …

That’s right, I said it. For a moment in time, I’m going to represent my authentic identity. Mish misria. No soy boriqua. And I ain’t part black. But this introductory paragraph is quite tangential.

I really just wanted to say how beautiful these first few days of Ramadan have been. I’m home in Houston for the first 10 days and will be in DC for the last. The usual tradition of going to taraweeh for evening prayer is one where a sheik (or priest) will read the first portion of prayer—but this year they mixed it up a little by having young men who have just finished memorizing the Quran to read the last portion of prayer. They recite with such beauty and passion. Each word so crisp, so clear and so sharp — that I felt as if I had temporarily elevated—slightly hovering above ground. Each letter resonated from ear to ear, and although it was just your ‘’average prayer”, I had to fight back my tears. I could have stood all night, and swayed ever so slightly to the rhythm of the beautiful recitation.

I wonder what it means to have your entire heart consumed by the Quran. Consumed by words of God sent down to the Prophet (saws). If we have dynamic goals, I imagine that people like myself will spend their entire lives attempting to memorize excerpts from the Quran—but will come no where near close to these 16-18 year olds.

Shaking hands is forbidden, but dating isn’t?
July 24, 2009, 8:07 am
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Social norms can typically be described as both implicit and explicit behavioral expectations within society. They become the benchmarks for what is both appropriate and improper regarding one’s behavior, values and belief systems. What happens then, when one’s action goes against the expected norms? Deterrence from social norms seems to induce a certain level of fear amongst other members of the society. A fear of the unknown. A self-censorship limiting ones thoughts and actions due to these implicit rules can’t possibly be a progressive approach in resolving our problems.

The norms that I want to evaluate, critique and flesh out is dating within the “American-Muslim” context.  Where do I even begin to articulate the types of conversations that have taken place regarding this topic? How can I give this topic due justice when it’s discussed time and time again, most commonly through an agonizing tone of hopelessness (particularly amongst young Muslim women). There is an entire generation of Muslim youth who eventually reach a “marriageable age.” (I can rant endlessly about what the age is, but let’s glaze over this issue and assume it’s contextual.) How do both men and women move from casually chatting into marriage–or from completely segregated lifestyles into marriage? Where is the transition or the understanding of the opposite sex come from–and how do both genders move forward when society places such a taboo on these issues?

Various solutions to this topic have sprouted. It just seems unfortunate that most resolutions are bounded by extreme viewpoints hindering a holistic and comprehensive understanding of their environment, of the situation and of themselves.

Let’s take a case where men and women are never allowed to integrate or to interact on any social level. Whether this occurs due to the family enforcement or due to the female’s ideology– her ability to go out and meet men becomes occluded. For the sake of categorizing (because that makes our lives easier), let’s say the female herself falls under a potentially more “conservative” category. This eliminates the possibility of meeting men at clubs/bars. In this scenario, the main avenue of courtship is predominately through ones parents. But this poses a grave problem when expectations and standards are not aligned between the young Muslim and her parents. It creates friction between parents who desire certain criteria for their children while they, themselves (as young Americans) have created a vastly different rubric.

So if parents are not the answer, and neither is the club scene—what remains? How do we solve this societal epidemic where a multitude of bright, educated, beautiful women who want to get married – can’t find men of equal caliber?

It seems that those women who once placed “dating” under the category of haram or forbidden, are now much more open to the idea. But is dating defined the same way as it is in the “American” context? What makes it okay now? Is it once you reach the age of 25 and beyond?

Where do the arbitrary boundaries lie? When and how do we know if they are being crossed? Unfortunately, I pose these questions with no real answers. It saddens me to know that we have yet to begin a dialogue towards progress…