Saturday, December 22, 2007

"Eid Mubarak!"

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh...

... Eid Mubarak was my reply to the smart cashier at the Tar-jay who wished my a Merry Christmas as a well-thought-out 'afterthought' on 'Eid day. And I wish all of you an Eid Sa'eed as well.

It has been doom and gloom around here for a while, sigh. I'm hoping to pick up the tone. Today gave me hope- it was my mother's birthday (she hit a milestone today, alhamdulIllah!), but was one of the warmest Winter solstice days I've ever seen- we hit 61 degrees! It was beautiful. And the moon shone brightly through hazy dark clouds as we drove back from dinner. InshaAllah better days are coming, and we won't be living in sorrow as much. My brother is well, all praises to God for that.

Me? I'm baking cookies. I'm on break from the academy until the 2nd of January, and from day 1 I've been resting and alternately cleaning. And MYNA camp begins on December 26th! This will be my first time as a counselor, so I'm making dua'a for a good experience.

Now, I promised this to Dictator Princess a while back, please indulge me. I love memes! Gank away if you like this one- you have to answer five questions, and then others can ask for an Interview in comments. Let me know if you want in, and I promise to think up some good questions, inshaAllah.


1. A repeat of a previous question:What do you know now that you wish you had known before you converted? I am not talking about "big bad Islam", I mean like what do you know now that could have made the journey easier?

On a practical level- I wish I'd waited to start observing hijab. That's only because I think I'd've ended up wearing it regardless, but to do it when I did did NOT make my life any easier. Yeah. I really wish that I'd remembered that the most beautiful part of Islam is what occurs inside as a result of what I do outside. I lost track of that. This is a hard question- rarely do I take stock of what I've learned like that.


2. Children scare me to death. You teach several. What would you tell me to be more at ease in their presence?

Honey, be easy! They're sturdier than they look- you won't break them! ;o) Be the adult you always wanted to be around- loving and playful, thoughtful, considerate, listening, yet with limitations and boundaries. Have in your mind the image of each child as an interesting person that you want to know and to show love and affection, and watch how they open to you and you to them. Someone had to remind me not to hide the love I had for my preschoolers- for adolescents, the way to be around them is to still be at ease with yourself, but also be thoughtful and principled. They see adults as examples.


3. Speaking of small children, what do you like about teaching preschoolers versus teaching junior high kids (besides avoiding major 'tude)?
Oh, hmm, I guess I started to answer this in my last answer. I love that the world is so shiny and new with the little ones. I mean... words that rhyme are a big deal to a four-year-old. Snowflakes and rainbows are awesome to them. They wonder if Allah mixed in extra chocolate when He made black people. That kind of thing. I get to revive my sense of wonder in the Creation of Allah with preschoolers. That, and they are pure love, not afraid to hug or say hi, they rarely hide their emotions and they aren't deceptive at all. Jr. high kids are just getting into being adults, thinking, and taking action, so you have to think in steps ahead of them in ways that you don't need to do with pre-school.

I love them all for different reasons.


4. I know why it was important to me to find a French-speaking Hombre. In this post you mentioned you would like to have a Spanish-speaking Hombre. Why?

Well, I need to start off saying that's not an ABSOLUTE UNCHANGING REQUIREMENT or anything. But yes, I think a Spanish-speaking Hombre would be nice. I'm a Hispanophile, raised speaking the language and tasting and incorporating the culture into my manner and way of thinking (to a degree). It'd be nice to find someone who understands that part of me- that I'd want my children to learn Spanish as well as English and Arabic as home languages, that I can and do pronounce the rolled r and accents flawlessly, that I fix some mean arroz con habichuelas but still can't make coquito. Spanish language and the attending cultures are my first acquired love, and my huband would be number 2 in there, so it'd be nice if they could mix. *sigh*. Ojala... Too, Spain is a jumping block between the Islamic and the Western, or it was. I felt the connection was natural.


5. One month all expenses paid vacation anywhere in the world. Where would you go and why?

I'd commandeer a passenger jet and end up in Brasil, after first making stops in Culebra, Puerto Rico (or another similar PRIVATE beach), Malaysia, and Central Asia. Brasil is a passion of mine especially after I didn't go in undergrad for reasons I will not speak of here. Brasil received the biggest portion of the African diaspora and has a good number of Muslims. I speak the language and love the music etc. Culebra is this gorgeous teeny tiny island in the PR archipelago with crystal clear blue water and powdery-sanded beaches that are deserted in many places. I'd like to visit a private island and go swimming in the ocean freely again. Malaysia and Central Asia because they spark my imagination and the people I've met from those places have been some of the happiest and most centered I've ever known. And of course, they're all-expenses-paid- when would I get to do that again in my lifetime?


Thank you for the interview!

Eid Mubarak, y'all!!

peace
TwennyTwo

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Shock.

assalamu alaikum,


Alhamdulillah, my brother may leave the hospital some time today.
This is wonderful news and I'll be making dua'a for it to actually happen.

But.

Other shocking news: My baby cousin (barely 4 months) is dead and his older sister (also a toddler) was operated on last night. Apparently both were beaten by their caregiver while their mother, my cousin, was at work.

I am in shock. I cannot understand this. I do not. Audhu billah. I'm a zombie because I don't get it. Why? Why? Hurt a child that cannot speak? Hurt a bright innocent baby who brings joy to everyone she knows? Why? Why? Ya rabb...

The man is in custody and had better stay there, as the kids grandfather, my uncle, is understandably beyond furious. And more than half of that particular county (not in Conservopolis) is related to our family.

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un.

Please pray for us all.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Lost his ever-loving mind

assalamu alaikum

I've been gone for a while. I know. I've thought about this place like every day. We've really been going through it, so I'm asking for dua'a. Long story short, my brother JW (I've mentioned him here in passing) is in the hospital about an hour north of Conservopolis. He's been there for more than two weeks; he was sent directly from his campus by his counselors and a favorite professor. He's very ill.

It is terrifying and horrifying to see. My brother is losing it. He's been diagnosed with a mental illness. Audhu billah.


It tears at my heart every time we've gone to see him (of the four of us close to him, one of us has been up to see him every day). It's clear that something is wrong. Please make dua'a and pray for his recovery.

JW is a national-class musician, with an amazingly quick mind. I've always said he was the brightest of all of us, even if his grades did not reflect all of that. Yesterday, alhamdulIllah, was the best day of all those he's been there- it was like seeing him again. Because at the first visit... his eyes were wild, and bloodshot. He was stopping to pause and detect the messages that were being transmitted through the hospital television monitor. He kept telling us that people were coming to kill him.
He meant it.

My family was okay before this and inshaAllah we'll be okay afterward. If different. As hard as it will be to pay for treatment, at least we live where there's an option. And thank God someone at that school noticed that something was wrong. I don't know how he'd have made it another three weeks at university without help. By the time they put him in he was clearly... sick.

I know I'm different. I hear myself when I say the word 'crazy' to mean 'weird or out of whack'. I remembered several times how I said the word 'shizo' to mean crazy in front of my friend, S. and how she reproached me. I know what she felt, now. I think the worry is the worst. But I'm ashamed of a lot of my internal reactions to all of this. I cringe at my reaction when I don't want to take the two hour round trip to the hospital after having worked all day. Last Monday I just took a day off and cleaned my mother's house (a bit. It needs like another two days. I just can't take them. Sigh.) instead of going to school like my life is normal and okay.

And since my parents worry whenever I miss a day of work ( like the 2 days my doctora demanded when I had the flu and strep at the same time= yay preschool) I neglected to inform them that I did so. I'm getting to the point where when I actually make a decision instead of dithering I'm extremely disinclined to defend or argue about it. I'd been letting some things slide and I realized that if JW isn't doing so well, I have to step up my game. I don't get the option of being depressed myself. I'd been slowly dissolving myself, letting certain things go, and I know that midwinter is never my best time. I know it was happening, and I was trying to get a hold of myself- and then JW was hospitalized. I got some issues to get out so I'll be blogging by hook or crook soon. I just hope I don't get called out, because the resulting meltdown would not be pretty. I'm glad my sister is here. She's my lifeline right now, as I am hers.

Yeah.

Oh, DP, I saw your comment and will be answering later, inshaAllah. Sisters, brothers, other friends inside the computer, if you read me, please comment. I like my friends inside the internet to be as vocal as I am in real life. And being alone is not what's up right now. Get at me...

peace
TwennyTwo

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Hues

assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh

The upside of not having been all about the blog this month is that I've been living. Downside? I miss all the goings-on, all the fun stuff. It's Thanksgiving Day here, and while giving thanks liberally I also had the time to peruse various blogs. Yay!

I stopped over at DP's spot, which led me to Safiya at Outlines, which led me to Umar Lee, and all of them talked in some way about spouses and husbands and interracial relationships etc. So now, my turn to think a lil bit about all of this. And I've been avoiding the topic for such a time as would lend itself to my being open and vulnerable about it.

Y'all know I'm not married. Most of the people who've read this blog came to notice it because of a post that was basically whining about options for young unmarried Muslimas. Or making valid points on the options for unmarried muslimahs, depending on your paradigm. I'm not actively searching; rather making a lot of dua'a after fruitless searches. My eyes are out there but not much else.

In reading the responses to Umar Lee's posts on the topic I've seen a lot of hateration going around, especially when it comes to American Black Women being marriageable. I've seen it so much that I've had to catch myself; at one point I had absorbed the viewpoint that my being Black made me less desireable to Muslims of other races and cultures. I actively have had to reject that inside my own head. Now, you all know that I am intensely glad that Allah saw fit to make me Black, and thankful that I am an educated professional in this country. wa Astaghfirullah. It was abhor-ably easy for me to detect that 'don't bring one of Them home' attitude through the computer screen as well as through my everyday encounters, the chance remarks, the sideways looks and the non-looks. Audhu biIllah. Shaitan is really sneaky on this one.

As for the looking- I've just stopped looking and started making dua'a instead. It's funny that when I mention that I want to get married to some of the sisters who ask about my marital status in this city (I'm new to a lot of people here), they inevitably ask what kind of brother I'm looking for. To which I reply: A good, educated man. Aisha looked at me askance when I gave her my off-the-cuff answer that I didn't care as long as he was educated and spoke Spanish. "Spanish? " she cocked her head at me, really puzzled. "When I stub my toe or yell that's the language I tend to work in," I answered half seriously.

The truth is that I... almost... I want to say 'I don't care', in that peculiarly American way that I have of using that phrase, but that's not specific enough. I don't care- about the small stuff. Or rather, I don't have a picture all prettily painted in my mind, waiting for Allah to *poof* make Optimal Husband appear and ride me into the sunset. I guess somewhere in here I've grown up, because even the idea doesn't appeal any more. Reality sneaks into my dreams daily.

No picture in my mind, hence, I can no longer reel off a gigundo list of qualities, attributes, characteristics, and assets that my future husband MUST have in order to even have a chance at my hand. Used to be ol' boy would be oh, 6'5 1/2" tall (exactly), have a Ph.D or an M.D. in his field of choice, and have impeccable manners, and love his mama to distraction. Now, though, my criteria have been way simplified after I've lived a while and done some praying and contemplating and had some of those loonnnng discussions with people I trust over cups of na'na' late at night. He has to be able to answer these questions:

1) What is your understanding of God, the Qur'an, Salat, the prophets, and the hereafter?
2) How do you feel about children?
3) Describe your relationship with your family, especially your brothers, sisters, and mother.
4) What are your goals?
5) What do you see as your and my responsibilities as Muslims, spouses, and citizens?
6) How do you handle your financial responsibilities?

And before everyone and their wali jumps all over my case, should a brother actually be serious about his suit, I'm prepared to answer those questions as well as other similar ones.

What infuriates and disturbs me is that this whole practice and permissiveness of turning down potential mates based on their skin hue and nationality and other cultural stereotypes is on a real jahiliyah tip, one that Allah and his Prophet alayi salatu wa salaam warned us about... some people need to go read surat al Asr, for real! One of our halaqa leaders always (always) ends dua'a with that- and the reasons are evident. I guess because I've done my share of crushing on various people (and that's all I need to say about that, ain't it?) I know that men of all hues can be mentally and physically attractive. How dare ANYONE lump all of that spark potential into the thin little layers of epidermis and throw away what Allah has given us? It's just taking the easy way out to separate and categorize and stigmatize on skin and culture. It's a lot harder to say, hey, this brother has good adab, appears to all who know him to be trying to get some taqwa, let's look at him a little more, oh, and he's of a brighter/darker hue. No, that's getting too deep into this selection thing. Audhu billah.

Also, it annoys me that the colorstruck members of the American Black ummah, especially brothers, are the ones who are being pointed out in all of this. What is that supposed to mean? Is it supposed to bother me that men of my own hue will search outside of their native country for women with features unlike mine? Or perhaps I'm meant to feel (even more) inferior based on the choices of those who assign no value to me? I love Black men. I was raised by and with Black men. I am thus beloved of Black men. And that's all that means. It takes little away from me to have a Black man love a non-Black woman unless I make it so. I get to choose whether or not to drink the cup of haterade. If Allah has willed an African wife for an African American man, then great for him, and if He hasn't, then great, too. Our trials are assigned, designed, and tailored just for the individual. Don't let me stand in your way.

And too, it annoys me that people automatically assume that I will only accept a Black man for a husband. Sisters come back with, "Well, I don't know of any African American brothers who are single...", I guess immediately discounting other brothers. Why would that be? Anyone who knows even a little about me realizes that I'm very open-minded in my preferences. I am positively Black for myself, that's something that radiates in the air around me, but I can't say that it means everything around me must be Black! Come on, now. It comes back to being put into boxes again on a scale so grand it boggles the mind. If Allah has decided that the best mate for me is not of my hue, then I'd be an outlandishly crazy fool to turn Him down and hunt for what my dunyawi mind and nafs tells me I ought to want. Beyond that, I've been GIVEN criteria to search for what I SHOULD want, so why not let Him lead me to what will make everyone involved happy? Plus be pleasing to Allah? I don't understand how people don't get this.

Or, to put it into a simpler metaphor: I wanted a car. I Asked (made istikara) for a car (and a computer and a husband but let's stick to the car...). And then when people asked, I said I wanted a foreign, youngish, manual trans, dark colored car with just enough leg room. And as I was about to buy that style of car (using riba'a no less, may Allah forgive me) with about 110K miles on it, the deal fell through. And I was led instead to a light colored, domestic, 20 year old, huge car that I paid for cash.

It is impossible for me to be any happier with what I have. I am exstatic. I have a car! It's distinctive and it runs well and I avoided something I KNOW causes the displeasure of the One who loves me most. Good thing I wasn't blinded by all the hues of trouble I could've gotten into.

peace
TwennyTwo

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Agitator: On Leaving the Deen, Part II

peace,

This is the second part of a conversation begun here.

I was watching the agitator this morning; I'd added the soap, the clothes, let the steamy water run in... and then I let the agitator hypnotize me. I have a lot to ponder, these days.

Yesterday I attended a very small part of a training meant to certify me to be a counselor at a muslim youth camp. And I loved what I saw of the training; but the jury is still out and a decision not made about whether or not I'll actually go. Part of that is just the fact of the timing; the camp would cover a very important week in the life of my family and friends. But some of that is because I'm a convert, and still learning some of the things my kids may already know.

So in the first part of these discussions we discussed that the first part of any action should be listening, really actually listening and knowing where this sister or brother is coming from, born or convert.

I think the next step will be then tailoring what we have to say to that person's mindset. The Prophet, alayhi salatu wa salaam, used to do this. And to do that, we have to check ourselves at the door.

Listen, you asked for suggestions, you never said they had to be easy!! This is something that we've all failed at once or twice.

A great many of those who come to Islam leave because after they met Islam, they fell into company with The Muslims. Y'all know what I'm talking about. Part of trying to actually have some taqwa should be denying ourselves and the nafs anyway, but especially when dealing with those newly arrived to submission. It's a form of submission itself. I mean, we all take precautions when dealing with newborn babies; leaving our boisterousness and dirty hands for where they belong. We need to do this with newly-born Muslims as well. They're just as damageable, impressionable, just as tender on the inside. If we take our own preconceptions of what taking Shahada means, and what has to be done first, our attitudes toward how and where and why one should live, well, we'll certainly overwhelm another person. I'm halfway overcome myself just thinking of all of that myself. I'm not saying don't be the genuine you; more that we need to be as careful around new muslims as we are around FBI agents- more because inshaAllah new Muslims will automatically be on 'our side'. If that makes sense.

Then we have to address both the academic and the social thirst that a new Muslim has. I've actually been invited to take part in an initiative here in my new community that addresses this, by making up new Muslim packets to be presented to people when they suddenly (for us anyway) walk into the masjid and take shahada. I think that'd've been big for me, and so that's one way to go with others. Nothing major; just a friendly letter from a fellow muslima to say, hey, welcome! We join you in Islam. Here's a list of resources and things you might want to know. Please come to these people if you have questions. And our weekly event blahblah happens every such and so day at this time and we want to invite you! Here are the basics of islam (of course someone actually goes over this with the person, too). Congratulations, mabrook!

And then would start the listening.

I know this is mad idealistic, but at the same time, it's an actual start... that's just what came out of the wash. Anything else you have in mind, shoot. It's been an excellent conversation so far.

peace
Twenny

Saturday, November 10, 2007

NaBloPoMo, HA!

Assalamu alaikum wa raHmatullah wa barakatuh

Yeah, so I thought I was going to do NaBloPoMo. Looks like I blew my blopos instead. I'm here though. Going shortly to take a glucose challenge test. Those of you who know what that's about... yeah. Apparently doc thinks I've got some insulin resistance going on. Since my father is diabetic, that's something I'm taking pretty seriously... before I saw her, I went and got my gym membership and started working out again.

Yes, the ol' gym membership. I signed up at a nationally known gym that decided to change its name to Urban Active. I was ticked. Urban Active?! I ask you! That sounds like I'm coming to run around my ghetto block or something. But the amenities are the same, and I think the general manager (that's who I got to speak to, yay me) took off like $200 in initial fees simply because I was up front about the fact that I think the name change stinks. Huh.

They do have an all-women's, screened-off weight and cardio station, which is why I'm paying the big bucks. That, and it's easier to get there than to get home after work, always a plus. Especially when gasoline for my '87 bigole huge car is at $3.25 a gallon for REGULAR. What a fine time I picked to begin driving. I was thinking when I took up my tutoring positions that they'd be money I could use for, I dunno, retirement savings or house savings or school, but no, it's gas money. I've started hypermiling just because of the hit to my pocket- it actually works well around here. City of the Seven Hills and all.

Anyway, I got the gym membership in part because I'm training to run the Flying Pig on May 4th inshaAllah. Mark that date down! I don't know if I'll do the half or the full marathon but I'm determined to cross the finish line. Training and cross-training is 6 days per week.

After my glucose challenge inshaAllah I'm headed to training to be a counselor for a Muslim youth group. Can you believe that the training is from 9A to 8P on a Saturday? I didn't find out about it until 11 this morning, but I really really love kids and would like to work with them, so inshaAllah I haven't missed anything I can't read up on or make up. We'll see. And one of my halaqas is holding a movie night, which I'm looking forward to, so wow, finally a busy Saturday! Hope yours is going well, too.

peace
TwennyTwo

Saturday, November 03, 2007

The voice of Samina S.

Assalamu Alaikum,

I walked into the kitchen last night and told my mother, "I just realized again that I'm the only black woman teacher at the school." She laughed and asked was this new? That's a joke between us because my mother teaches at a well-known university and has for over 20 years. She's been the only black woman teacher in her department the entire time she's been there. She probably understands the ins and outs of that feeling more than anyone else.

I'm not. NOT NOOOOTTTT going into racial politics here. Just pointing out a nuance of the environment where I work. It's interesting working in an Islamic school, especially in an area where there just aren't as many Muslims. I was spoiled in DC; there are Muslims of every stripe, color, belief... here people ask which masjid you go to and from that know everyone you've met at that center. It's a different world.
Class has more to do with my feeling off-kilter than race, I think, but both are involved. The majority of my students have affluent families. During Ramadhan I was invited to some of the most amazing places for iftar; what was comforting was the fact that despite the cushy surroundings I managed to fall into comfortable, grounded, real company, the few sisters whose invitations and interactions have put me at ease.

Samina S. is one of those. She doesn't have a blog, but late on the night of October 31st she wrote something that hit home and told more about the atmosphere at the masjid and the center than I could describe in my little post. She said I could feel free to post if I wished (thanks, Samina!) so I'm doing so... let me know what you think.

peace

Many first generation kids can relate to my story: I was born in pre-Disney Orlando, Florida a year after my professional parents immigrated to the United States from Pakistan. They worked their way up the career ladder, sacrificing much to send us to the best private schools, carpooling to Sunday schools so we could learn Islam, trying to learn enough of the American culture to understand us, yet fervently praying inside that we would not assimilate too much. This mish mash of experiences provided a breeding ground for a variety of incidents that ultimately shaped my generation’s identity. Yep, we were the brown kids in kindergarten who had the only smelly tuna sandwich as an alternative to the lunchroom hot dogs. We were the second graders with the braids who wore the long dresses and pants in Florida’s 95 plus degree summers. When Thanksgiving came around, our moms would bake a chicken (because they did not know where to find the halal turkeys) with all the side items so we wouldn’t miss out. We didn’t get the Christmas presents even though we sang “Rudolph the red nosed reindeer” and “Jingle Bells” at the top of our lungs from October to March, and our Eid holiday was in the summer! Middle school was another world altogether. The excuses we made for not attending homecoming dances and football games were pretty ridiculous. I wonder if anyone really believed we had to be out of town coincidentally every weekend such events occurred. When high school came, all bets were off. We had the dads whose one look would scare us away from lip gloss altogether, forget the “real” makeup. Dating, ha-ha, God forbid if a guy from class called about a homework assignment and the conversation lasted beyond five minutes… And I had the cool parents, not all my friends were so lucky.
So did I have an unhappy childhood? No way! Despite the inferiority complex my generation has collectively inherited, most of us survived intact and recall happy youths. When I look back I know there are a few key things that allowed this to happen. First and foremost, Allah blessed me with parents who loved me unconditionally and did the best they knew. I cannot even imagine the culture shock they experienced coming to this country leaving behind their families, culture, religions, and ultimately their whole identity and trying to adapt to this “whole new world.” (That would be a completely different essay someone else would have to write, but remember that the next time you meet that new doctor from Pakistan who’s driving the Mercedes SUV and his ‘hoity toity’ wife is carrying the aqua Gucci bag with the matching sandals on the perfectly manicured feet). Anyways, getting back to the point, my parents also socialized with people of similar backgrounds and luckily for me they had kids my age that often attended my schools. So we went to the desi parties, the one place we actually fit in, and ran around, giggled, sang, ate the same food as everyone else, begged our parents for sleepovers, and basically had fun. Looking back, I realize those get-togethers and the lifetime friendships they formed were essential to maintaining our (and I suspect our parents’) sanity. So when we went back to school on Monday morning and had as I would later call it, a “low self esteem” moment, we had our friends and weekends to fall back on.
Sunday school was our other saving grace. We were blessed with a teacher who was an African American convert. She taught us Islam the way it should be taught- in a clear, straightforward way with “normal” English and lots of patience. Her lessons began in her own modest home over vanilla wafers and fruit punch. Only later did our community have a masjid (a large result of her commitment) with a full time Sunday school. She taught us the basic pillars of Islam, what they really meant, how to pray, how to fast, stories of the prophets, and what it meant to be a Muslim. I honestly believe her commitment to us learning our religion was one of the greatest blessings in my life because she instilled pride in the religion. I do not know how Islam is taught to kids in Muslim countries, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Even though I do not follow my Islam perfectly, the foundation of knowledge is there, Alhamdulillah. I also regret that our community as a whole did not give her the respect and worth she deserved (and I think this is a common flaw in the Muslim communities), but Allah will reward her inshaAllah.
High school and college were probably the toughest times for my friends and I. We had the usual identity crises, magnified by where we came from, rebellions, etc, etc. The details are better left alone, but as a whole we came out on the other end all right. Most of us followed “the mold” of college, marriage, careers, and kids. And here I am in my thirties, married, having the career, and trying to figure out how to do it right with my kids….inshaAllah.
It’s funny people are frequently interested in my perspective. Is it because I am an ABCD, because I married one, or because I have the outward appearance of worldly success? Here’s a secret or two, I don’t have any more answers than the next person, my whole generation has an inferiority complex that we try to mask with professional careers and guess what, we find that hoity toity Pakistani lady I mentioned above quite intimidating.
Anyways, here’s a few things regarding raising my kids that are important to me. After having been that only brown kid in the class trying to hide the fact that no Santa came to my house, I want things to be different for my sons. Yes I had a happy childhood, but my Muslim friends made a huge difference. Feeling like you belong to a community is very important to childhood development. Of all the valid reasons to send kids to an Islamic School, this is my number one. My 4 year old “fits in.” It may sound funny, but being able to eat what everyone else is eating is pretty cool. He is singing, “Ramadan, Ramadan” and “We are Muslims” instead of the Christmas carols I learned. He is learning stories of the prophets instead of stories of old St. Nick. Islam is our identity and being in this environment allows him to be proud to be a Muslim. I hope this builds his confidence inshaAllah, so his generation does not have to hide its identity.
Now here’s a whole other potential essay: the pros and cons of an Islamic school. Can’t do that justice here, but a few things I have to address. Some of my friends think our school is not Islamic enough. Maybe so, but the intention is there, and there’s only one way to go. Trust me it’s still better than the alternative. If you still don’t agree please do me a favor and don’t bad mouth the school in public, it discourages others and that hurts us. And one more thing, politics are everywhere. I went to the best private high school in Orlando and the politics were disgusting. Same thing for the teachers, even the best schools have a few bad teachers, and believe it or not sometimes you learn more from them. Other peers think sending your kids to an Islamic school shelters them and makes them ill prepared for the “real world.” I believe there is no better preparation for facing the “real world” than having confidence and knowing who you are. And trust me, even though my kid goes to an Islamic school, he knows about Diego and Pizza Hut and of course, Disney world. I don’t worry about him being out of touch with the ‘pop culture’. As far as academics goes, certain basic standards are necessary, but remember each kid has strengths and weaknesses. I have a friend who graduated from my high school class, went to Dartmouth and is now a drummer in a rock band (not to knock his career choice). Once again, If you still don’t agree please do me a favor and don’t bad mouth the school in public, it discourages others and that hurts us. Strength comes in numbers and if we want improvements we need our numbers.
So getting back to the point, and I’m beginning to forget why I am writing this myself, someone from our Masjid administration recently asked my husband to meet with us to discuss our outlook as an “open minded” representation of what our generation was thinking. That along with an interesting book I am currently reading (Eboo Patel’s Acts of Faith) inspired me to write this.
The masjid in our community is probably one of the most beautiful masjids in the country. Tours are given here to the public and MashaAllah, people walk away truly impressed. I remember the feeling I had when I first saw this masjid, I could not believe something so elaborate existed in this country. May Allah bless the generosity of the people who built the masjid. This institution is well respected in the city and the inter-faith efforts on behalf of the administration are truly remarkable.
Now what would people of my generation want out of a masjid? To put it simply in one word, Inspiration. After all the ultimate goal of every Muslim is to serve Allah and improve our faith. How do we do this in a culture where we are so busy with the fast life of work and kids? If only we could come to the masjid and each time we walked away be inspired to become better Muslims, inshaAllah. Or imagine when the public tours are given, the spirit of inspiration is so strong that the desire to learn what Islam really is about is piqued. Recalling the success of my long ago Sunday school teacher, I think a few simple elements are essential. To begin with knowledgeable teachers with command of the English language is essential. With all due respect to our elders, my generation has a tendency to “tune out” if the lecturer has an accent or does not speak clearly. And I can only imagine what our kids (or visitors) will do. I don’t ever want them to be bored by the masjid, especially one as beautiful as ours. Also knowledge is a cornerstone of our religion. So ideally an imam with such qualities would be great. In the meanwhile, if we have members of the community blessed with knowledge and a commitment to teach, I would hope politics would be pushed aside and such teachers would be given the opportunity to teach us how to practice our religion and improve our iman. These are the jewels of our community who should be given the utmost respect and encouragement. We should also invite as many scholars as we can on a regular basis. Yes in post 911 we have to be careful of who we give the platform to, but let’s not make it reach a level of paranoia. Any teacher of Islam with true knowledge will relay the message of peace that is the cornerstone of our religion.
In a nutshell, we would like to see the inner beauty of our masjid match, if not exceed, the exterior beauty of the facility. To do this, the ugly head of politics, egos, and arrogance needs to be removed. Instead we need an open platform where people can express their concerns with a certain level of administrative accountability and transparency inshaAllah. There really is no choice here because the alternative of not doing so includes dividing the community, having ego wars, boring (and losing) our youth, wasting the beautiful facility, and looking bad to the non-Muslims. This would truly be a loss; one that our generation is not wiling to pay.
Well, here’s the viewpoint of one ABCD trying to figure it out. By the way, I wonder what they’ll call the next generation of ours: any ideas? One last thing, no offence if you drive a Mercedes, own a Gucci bag, or match your shoes to your purse.


~Samina S.


I'll probably be commenting further tomorrow. Sis. Umm Zaid reminded me that it's NaPoBloMo so I'll do my best to post every day (!). InshaALlah.

peace
Twenny Two

Friday, November 02, 2007

Still light

assalamu alaikum,


I think that's the biggest change yet. I've gotten so used to saying Assalamu Alaikum that I forget the greeting is for Muslims and wanna go say it to everyone. AlhamdulIllah.

I've been popping in over at Shabana's and Dictator Princess's and UmIbrahim's and Umm Zaid's and Izzy Mo's spots but wanted to let y'all know that not only am I still alive but kickin' and being blessed by Allah subhana wa ta'ala. The months of adjustment have passed. I wanted to blog. I let exhaustion and a promise I made to myself not to complain get in my way.

Case in point: The other day I was up in arms b/c the director of the school told me I can't go to Juma'a at the masjid (RIGHT. ACROSS. THE LOT. not complain'in but dag how close can I be and not go?) because of my responsibility to the kids... even if I got a substitute. I pointed out that no, it's not obligatory on women but at the same time... girls have to miss certain weeks anyway; and as preschool teacher I don't get opportunities to prayin jama'at much anyway (the rest of the school prays dhuhr together daily), and I really benefited from the khutba the day I did go. Then resisted the urge to come up in the twennytwo spot and complain.

SO alhamdulillah today the director copied the khutbah and put it in my box. Every little blessing I can get. Glad I didn't complain.

By the way TAKBIR I have a car! It's huge and white and qualifies for historical plates and alhamdulillah it starts. It drinks gas, but I'm working a 2nd job for that (y'all didn't really think I'd stop working multiple jobs, did you?). I'm hanging out with my sister on a regular, I'm getting to work on time. I won't put the complaints out yet. Y'all will hear them but now it's all about the praise...

Welcome to those in my new community I've invited here. This is me, the real unadulterated deep down thing; inshaAllah we'll talk. To my old friends in the computer, I miss you and iA will be popping in soon.

peace
TwennyTwo

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Oh, and can somebody tell me...

peace

... why there is a big butter-colored statue of a man supposed to be the Prophet Jesus peace be upon him not 20 miles up the road from the biggest masjid on I-75?! Madness. Y'know, as crazy as it got in portareeco they never had that.

I'm just sayin'.

peace

Ramadan Mubarak- Guess I got some catchin' up t'do

peace,


Okayyyy... tis late. I love Ramadan! I missed it! I waited all year for it! And now it feels like work, isn't that funny? I've been reading everyone, just no time for my own piece.

First of all, I have to say that this lil'ol ball of ardh is really really small. I was invited to an iftar at the home of the in-laws of one of my co-workers. Turns out that one of the women there knows Umm Zaid. TINY TINY SMALL WORLD. I couldn't believe it. SO that was cool.

Second, it's unimaginably harder and yet easier living with my parents. Like, easier, in that if I ask for things I can get them. As in, if I don't want to cook for iftar, my mama will cook for me (and that is mad cool after being up and working since before fajr, y'all). But also? I have this hugely hard painful knot of tension in my back from an off-hand remark someone made this morning. *sigh* Allahu Alim. I am here for a reason and I REFUSE TO COMPLAIN further. Y'all tell me if you catch me complaining, I mean it.

Third: I am in love with teaching pre-school, which is good. The re-learning I have to do is gi-normous, but the rewards are great. I mean, I get to teach kids dua'a! I get to teach them to blow their noses! I get to teach them that people have spit, not spitted. And then when I'm tired of teaching come the sweet ones under my guard. I get to pick them up. I get to give hugs and reassure them that everything is okay. I get the one who says, so softly... "Miss Two? Miss Two? Miss Two?" ... "Yes, hon? What is it?" "I love you, Miss Two."

Dude, do I deserve this?

Regardless, I'm here.

ma salaama, peace

oh yeah. PS. Please make dua'a, as I am making istikhara to buy a car. By Friday inshaAllah.

peace

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Poised at the Exit: On 'Leaving the Deen' part I

Assalamu Alaikum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh,

Aiight. First, you should know that this and the posts like it are in response to some internal Muslim thangs we got goin' on. But to get what I'm saying, please first go read Aaminah here and Umm Zaid (she started it! and not in a bad way, either, calm down) here.

This is what I wrote in reply to Aaminah's amazing post:

ups.

Just went back and read the comments.

So, now that the um venting comment is done... I think I'll start here and move to my blog, and I do apologize for the long comment but I wanted to speak to y'all, here, too.

What AM I doing? Very little. I've had the position of the 'new one' in the community for... almost since I converted, actually, due to moves and such.

What could be done? What can I do? What would I like to see based on what I'm missing? Okay, let's talk about that, then:

1) Know where people are coming from. I just sat for a good 10 minutes after my colon up there thinking about what I, a new muslimah, would want people to know in order to help me.

First is, take some dawa classes and know what people might be coming from and what they're hoping for in Islam. That's not a joke.

Why?

Well, everyone is tired of seeing people with their hand out at the masjid. And yet everyone appreciates help when they need it. I came from a background where the religious institution was the FIRST resort where social help was needed. Need a ride to the service? If we don't have a van, let me see who lives close to you and can give you a ride. New to the area? Here, this is the paper list of what's going on here through the week, of course you're welcome to join us, doesn't matter if you have to come a bit late. Hungry? our institutional kitchen may have something to tide you, but we also know where you can go.

You know, so much of Islam is about denying the nafs, but when you come from a background where you're not sure how your soul will stay undamaged and still in your body, denying what you know are basic necessities is NOT what you want to hear. Neither are superficialities. Listen to new people. I think the first thing is to know what people are likely to NEED or REQUEST, intellectually as well as physically, and joyfully help your fellow muslim, born or discovered, feel like they're in a place where they will have care taken for them.


It's late, I'm tired, but this needs to be addressed. I'm one of the lucky ones in that I have no children and Alhamdulillah no diagnosed mental illnesses. But this comes at such a pertinent time for me; once AGAIN I'm the new Muslimah on the block, and I'm struggling to meet, to take ACTION and be a part of this Ummah and pull my own self away from all these darned precipices.

Umm Zaid said a couple days ago that it's the natural state of faith to increase and decrease. Well, aiight, but if it decreases and you don't know that, after the high, the rush of running to meet Allah and accept his offer of submission for the first time, wouldn't you feel empty? How do we take some serious action to reflect how serious this is?

My apologies if this is jumbled. It's late. And I'll continue later inshaAllah, but there are other things I want to talk about and miles to go before I sleep. Jazak Allah khair to Sis. Aaminah and Sis. Saraji Umm Zaid for writing and getting me started. It's on, let's see our Ummah get somewhere on this.

peace

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Workin' hard is hard work!

peace,

Assalamu Alaikum wr wb...

I know. It's been a month and a day. I've done so much in the past month, alhamdulIllah! I'm here, teaching pre-school, and okay.

more later!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

then He answered

peace,

You know, if I were to hear this from anyone else, I'd think it was a lie. It's incredible. Also awesomely true.

Okay, so go back and read the last to understand the attitude of uncertainty and fear I had going on.

This is what has happened since:

Thursday, I attend the opening night of the MAS Maryland Tarbiya and Ilm summer camp. The one I paid for early, even though it put me right at the edge, financially. I'm beginning to understand that I need an Islamic immersion every couple months or so, and this was the way I chose to do it this time.

My ride to camp? Mahmood, he of the speeding foot and fascinating mind. I embarassed myself by keeping him waiting. And then hugging one of my friends while he waited. I don't wanna talk about it. I'll get there.
The relief of camp in part had to do with being in a practically all-female environment, too.

Thursday through Sunday- a whole weekend- camp was focused on self-knowledge and being close to Allah, and featured camp bunks, great (I mean ALHAMDULILLAH great) food, nature walks, and lots of learning and reading. And praying. Learning new dua'a, learning the reasons and protections from them, and praying every prayer plus sunnah plus qiyam on time. It was marvelous. And my personal prayer theme was Trusting Allah. I just wanted/want to get to the point where all that I do is what He wants me to do and all that I want is His way, His will, His light, His love. That was my prayer.

Of course, y'all know me- so I'm sure some of that came out in "Just tell me what to do for You!" format. Anyway.

At the end of Sunday when we're all leaving and turning our phones back on, I've got 10 missed calls. Turns out a director for a private school where my parents live wants me to interview.

I called him back: "I can't interview. My grandmother just died and then I went to a Tarbiya and Ilm retreat; it would be incredibly irresponsible for me to miss any more time, especially for something like this."

His response? "We can meet you on a Saturday."
Yes. Yes, we ended up meeting on the following Saturday after 'Asr (around 5:30 local time at this point).

Those of you familiar with the educational world know that this isn't done. Interviewing a teacher on a Saturday?

So I rent (with many attempted interventions from shaytan- remind me to let y'all know why you shouldn't use Pric.eline EVER for car rentals) a car and drive the 520 miles to my parents' house, shower, and meet the director and the vice principal at the school.

This is when I bust the superduper list of questions/reasons why I can't and shouldn't take this job.

"I had a license in Puerto Rico, but it wasn't for this state. I no longer have it; and I've never worked with pre-schoolers before. I don't know if I could take this position without licensing prospects."

Response? "There are four $35, reimbursed classes you need to take in order to get the preschool provider title. As a former EMT, you already are familiar with 3 of them, and the fourth on child abuse recognition is part of your previous training as well. The school holds that license. In addition, if you get a master's degree in education, since you already have many of the credits, we can fast-track you to the private school license. If you want the full state license, and still need some courses after you check that out at the local university, we offer up to 50% of tuition reimbursement for your courses with a limit of a certain amount, of course."

Yeah. That took me a sec to get. But then...


"I don't have the money to move on the spot, especially if you want me to be here and teaching in three weeks. I give a final exam in two weeks, and I"m obligated until then. "

Response? " We've given you top salary for a new teacher, with insurance beginning the day you'd arrive in the city, plus full relocation expenses. We'll give you a day or two around the first date, we understand you'd be moving and all."

RELOCATION EXPENSES? From a SCHOOL?! Y'all better say mashaAllah.

"I don't have a car. And after the bereavement and burial of my grandmother, plus all the travel before her death, my fam won't be in position to help me get one. My getting here daily might involve my being here at the masjid as early as 6:30 AM and then as late as 6:30 PM every day. I don't want to take this job knowing that I may not be able to get here on time every day. What you're paying wouldn't quite be enough for me to handle a car payment."

Response? " Well, let's look through the teacher files and see if anyone is close to you, who ought to be able to carpool... 12312...12345-"

"Wait, 12345? That's my parents' zipcode! What street?"

The street the director reads is the one right behind my parents' house. He offers to call that teacher and ask her about carpool arrangements. We're all pretty sanguine at that point- if she wants, she doesn't even have to pick me up. I can walk to her house even if there's a foot of snow outside, no problem. And I can help with gas, too.

We go to visit the classroom and I ask a ton of questions, all which are answered by the vice director, who's awesome- she's leaving to move to Jordan. She tells me quite enthusiastically how great life as a muslim is in my parents' town, and reassures me that I'd have a connection to the youth through one of the teachers at the school, who's big into MAS and knows a lot of other young ladies.

The director reminds me that he'd love to meet my parents, esp. my mother, as I leave the school. He's given me a printed copy of my contract outlining all the terms including salary and the expected amount of relocation expenses, pre-signed by the director of the masjid's school board.
I'm dazed.

I go home and discuss with my parents. My father isn't thrilled that I'd be back- but on the other hand, as I let him know, my primary purpose in moving would be to teach, while living such that I can knock out the Puerto Rico debt once and for all. Then I'd be off to nursing school with the advantage of not having to work and being able to live on scholarships/loans if I need to do that.

The kicker? After I'm back in DC, exhaustedly teaching 3 sessions per day at the little English school that could, I get a call from the director of the school. He's offering me a position with a woman who'd pay me $25 per hour for about 2 hours of tutoring for her kids in English daily. With that, he says, about $500 per month over my salary, I could actually afford a car. He goes so far to say that his goal is to have me possibly driving before school starts the last week of August.

And to me, that means I could potentially begin education classes at the city's state school. With a car in working order- and $400/month would get me a great used car, inshaAllah, not to mention new (but I refuse to finance that much if at all possible)- I could get to and from night classes without running my parents nuts.

That's when I said subhanAllah. I was praising God from the minute I got the calls at camp, but this has been one pointer after another, leaving me no choice but to choose this. I mean, I'd be working at a recognized Islamic school, with children at an awesome developmental age. I'd be given the chance to knock out an oppressive amount of debt and live with my family while I do so. I'd be near my mother, who has just lost her mother and craves family. I've been given the chance to redeem and renew myself.

SubHanAllah.

There are still kinks to be worked out; everything is not hunky dory. I had just found a Qur'an teacher in a sister (ummm okay I'll call her Sis H.) I met at camp; so many friends I have are here. I dont' know what's up with Mahmood. ( when I asked sis. H. about being crush-a-licious, she agreed to ask the fam if he's looking to get married...!!!) Issues with taxes from PR are still trying to follow me around; I have to clean my room tonight (yeah) and find someone to take over my lease, lest I be stuck with $650 rent for a place I wouldn't be using and can't afford to hold. But after the blessing of this week... I refuse to be worried. I will just do everything in my power to be responsible enough to get to Ohio and start working for Him there.

I mean... I yelled a question. I asked. And I got a definite answer to act on. How real and good and true and awesome is God!! Takbir!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Right now

peace


so right now i'm throwing my fist up at the sky and hollering,
"where is my sustenance! You promised! where is it?! how am i supposed to make it?!"
in a friendly, loving, obedient and respectful way
of course


and while my head knows i am owed nothing but death i need my heart to be at peace with it
but not so as to hasten that particular debt collector

and all i'm really saying is that i work all day every day and i work alone
(but for You)
so not paying the rent or not eating shouldn't be an option because i work
(for You alone)

if one more person tells me i have to sacrifice they will truly sacrifice themselves for my sake
i know what i have to do
i know how it is (its hard)
i don't know how to be. show me how to be patient. show me how to be frugal. show me how to be friendless. show me how to be homeless.

its not that i dont trust You more like i don't trust me
but i live for You and You, you're up there sending down sustenance
right
and i don't want to miss it so i'm looking real hard
right now
i don't want to make any decisions because they're all bad
except that i still trust You
right now
i need You for real
that's all i'm saying

Thursday, July 12, 2007

What's with the fifth degree from Saudi? - and other questions

peace,

It's going to be a looooong weekend.
I'm riding down to my parents' birthplace with my Aunt C. inshaAllah. I actually don't anticipate drama. I think Allah is testing me with this one. I think patience and love will be key. I also plan to enjoy my time with my cousins, especially the one whose birthday is Monday. She's also the youngest and smartest and most sensitive of the bunch, and I miss her. The rest of the time I'll be reading or sleeping- I doubt Aunt C. would unbend enough for me to help them drive, and it's between 9 and 12 hours driving. Which means I'm headed out of here soon. Praying for mercy the entire way.

D. moved to Syracuse, to start his master's studies bootcamp for journalists. I'm definitely going to miss D's presence. I think what confused me so about him is the fact that he's a one in a million friend; one that makes me feel confident, smart, and safe at the same time. I finally figured out that while he's not my future husband, the one for me will have those same qualities times about a hundred and BE MUSLIM. So there. Question resolved. He's enjoying his time in bootcamp and I'm glad; that's something he's wanted to do for a very long time, and I'm glad he's happy with that choice. I also know that that's the end of an era, since I most likely won't be in DC by the time he finishes his studies.

Speaking of DC, yesterday I took my accent seminar students for a field trip to the Capitol and the House Gallery. I think the trip itself went pretty well; But I've got some serious questions. If the congresspeople and the Capitol are supposed to be freely accessible to the people, then why do you have to have separate passes to get to the House galleries, Senate galleries, and the Rotunda? Why do you have to have a Capitol staffer with you to see all three at the same time? One red-shirted guide nearly ticked me off by quite loudly explaining that I didn't have the right pass for the rotunda. I let my students see it anyway (this is MY government, too!), and they snapped photos before the red-shirt controlfreak used a walkie talkie to call a Capitol guard to escort us away. Humph.
And, oh, yeah, we got to see the vote on the bill to support education and decrease in student loan debt. Steve Chabot, I am severely disappointed in you! How dare you vote no on a bill that would help so many of your constituents in Cincinnati to excape from the burdens placed in front of higher ed in this country! One of only 5 who did so as well. I'll be writing a formal letter. So yeah, it was def cool to see my past and present representatives on the floor. When the vote was first called, the floor was empty. My students asked, "Is this it?" and wondered exactly how many people would get to vote... and then they started trickling in. I personally found it fun to see how they were dressed, who they talked to, and how they made the vote- they took these little cards and placed them into a slot, then pushed the button to make their choice; at the end they were asked if they wanted to change their vote, I guess to prevent mistakes. One rep was awesome- she wore a white jacket, black skirt, had her hair elaborately braded into a crown, and a long flowing red scarf over her shoulder. I remember thinking that'd be a killer hijab. It was a thrill to see John Conyers and Charlie Dingel as well as Ambassador Wilson, too. Very cool. I hadn't seen that scene since I left my lobby position my sophomore year.

And then I returned to the school to teach my night class. I met two very nice sisters named Samiya and Fatema, from Jubeid (sp?) in Saudi. They proceeded to ask me fiftyleven questions: Oh, you're Muslim? Where are you from? And your family? No, I mean, are your whole family Muslim? Do you speak Arabic? Oh, so that's what you know? How did you come to Islam?

That last one... geesh. I answer that question so much, yo, after the impromptu interview It was a bit much. But when I gave a general answer "Oh, I took shahada at college, when I was 18", she was all, "But, HOW?!".

Okay. Que rude. Luckily the bell rang and I went to teach my class. My student Ishmael had seen them crowd me in the lobby and said, "I know, they interviewed me, too." It's hilarious, but at the same time, makes me kinda mad. What's up with that?!

Anyhow, I'm off on a journey. Please make dua'a for my grandmother, and for me, and for my family. InshaAllah I'll talk to you all after I get back.

peace
TwennyTwo

Sunday, July 08, 2007

My grandmother has died

peace

inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un.

My grandmother died at 8:29 this morning. May God grant her peace and have mercy upon her.
Please pray for her, and her children, her husband, her sibs and all of the rest of us.

I have to blog it out. My sister doesn't want to talk, and my cell is nearly dead. And I have some whinery in here somewhere. Blog blog blog.

I'm so sad right now. You might think it's odd that I'm not really sad for my grandmother- she'd been very sick, so that I'm glad she nor her caregivers have to go through illness anymore. And I'm relieved that we don't have to have disputes between us anymore. Her being sick opened a door for me to forgive ( though I'm not done with that yet I have started). Mostly I'm grieving for my mother- she was at the nursing center with her this morning, just the two of them. Reminded me a lot of how Nzingha described being with her mother at her passing. And for my aunts, my grandmother's other daughters, as well. My aunt C., the one I lived with here when I came back from Puerto Rico, had just left the night before, so she made it back here. She'll have to make the trip again. I think she'll be the most deeply affected of all of them. She's so stoic, but the advent of my grandmother's illness has made her frantic in a way. I wish I could comfort her, but, true to pattern, I think I'm so annoying to her that I'd just irritate her. As I did my grandmother, a lot of times. *sigh*


Today is my remaining grandmother's birthday, so I called her. My grandparents live up the street from one another; technically the streets have different names since they're bisected by the main road that goes through Tuskegee, but we only have to cross one street to walk from the house of my mother's parents to that of my father's mother. She said she was grateful to have made it to another year- and that she was cooking for "yo mama'nem. Your mama has been up so late all these nights, They all been up these nights, they shouldn't have to be cookin' too". Her co-mother-in-law (why don't we have a term for this in English?!) died on her birthday and she started cooking, which is very "her".


Mama (I actually call her Mami which sounds like Mommy in English, but it's wierd to write that) asked me if I'd be able to come to Tuskegee. Ostensibly for the funeral. I want to go give her a hug and wait on her. Yup, go and serve my mama. I'm rather ambivalent about the funeral for a couple of reasons, but they all are some variation of the fact that I don't want my grandmother's funeral to become or enable a focus on my differences from and with my extended family. At all. And I want to avoid that completely. I selfishly don't want things to be about me, I don't want questions, I don't want to sing, I don't want to be overwhelmed, I just want to go hug my mama and fix her plates and rub her feet.

I know that depending on which scholar I listen to I'm not supposed to go to the funeral anyway. Part of me doesn't want to go. I don't like funerals. I don't like my grandparent's church (this is where my mother and all my aunts were married.) I prefer burials, when things are quiet and the body is returned to the earth. Islamic funeral prayers and burials are just my style, really.
But. My mother has asked it. So much of my life in Alabama has been funerals, looking at the orange and white sandy ground while preachers say things and people brush tissues over their faces. InshaAllah I'll go to Tuskegee and play things by ear from there.

Logistics won't be fun. I guess I'll be making the ride down and back with my youngest aunt and uncle. I'm broke and I'm looking for work; I don't know if the school where I'm teaching will actually hire me back for both morning and evening sessions (it's month to month work until I'm full time, one session left to teach for that to happen), and I don't know where the money to travel will come from. I have a final exam to administer on Thursday evening; if perhaps I give it on Wednesday and let the students turn in their final book reports on Thursday, I could turn in the paperwork in order to actually be able to leave on Thursday night or Friday morning... I was going to use the time to look for jobs but... and, oh, yeah, Friday just happens to be my 26th birthday. And I thought the last one sucked. At least now I don't have to wonder about what I'm going to do. And I'll get to be around my cousins and my sibs and my family. *sigh*. I'm reaching for Allah right now, to help me know how to act.

You know, my grandmother had a great life. She kicked ass. As much as we disagreed, she gave me the best gift I have- my mother. For that alone I should celebrate the fact that she was here. and ask for God to keep her now that she's not. I'm mixed up, but I know that I'm grateful for that much.

But my grandmother has died, and she didn't die alone; my mother was with her. Pray for them, pray for us.

peace
TwennyTwo

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Supreme Court takes Race Out Of Schools...

peace,


Now, posting every 10 days or so...

Sorry. The important thing: Are y'all watching?

ARE YOU WATCHING?!!

It'd be extremist to say that next Brown vs. Board will be overturned. On the other hand, what measures will be used to make sure that the intent of the Brown v. Board rulings will be upheld?

Check whatever news outlet you use to see. This isn't a joke. And if we're not careful no one will even see any segregation and inequality as a problem.

Are you watching?

peace
TwennyTwo

Monday, June 18, 2007

I be thinkin', that's all

peace,

InshaAllah y'all are all doing really well.


I've come to the conclusion that I know nothing. It's up to me to be/get motivated in my life, so we'll see where that goes.

I'm also boy-crazy and going through puberty at the great late age of twennyfive. Yeah. Take all the fun symptoms from when you were 12-20 and then start them over at 25. Nuts, I tell you, nuts, and I don't want to get into particulars but this is NOT. Fun.

I've decided to begin marathon training again, in order to run the half-marathon in Cincinnati next May. If, inshaAllah, I make it through that (I've got something to prove) without killing myself, I'll look at either the Marine Corps Marathon or the NYC Marathon but we gotta take this one at a time! Remember, I barely have any sort of income, here.

I've registered (or, begun the registration process, rather) for a taribah (spelling) and ilm camp in Maryland shortly after my birthday. InshaAllah I can find a ride and actually go. I think it'll be a start. if I don't keep Islamic retreats and learning on the forefront of my activities, I'llstart to slide. Not what I want.

I'm working on applying to the position my father sent to me through my mother. And, I'm starting as an independent contractor *sigh* with an ESL school very close to my apt during the week, and working at The Grocery Store for the release and physical work on the weekends. So pray for patience and motivation to prepare properly and prevent piss poor performance at this new position. I've always hated lesson planning, but now I know it's key. I don't think I'll get much sleep tonight, and tomorrow's my first day of class.

Mama always did give me this thought, though: "Don't worry about being the new teacher. As horrible as it could be, you still know more than they do."

***

I want to get married. I need to get married.

Marriage is a very real thing to me. I'm just going to keep saying that so it's clear. Or until something changes. I've found that to be a very effective way of changing- keeping whatever it is I want to change right out in front of me until I get ticked off and make it change.

On less of an update tip, I've been thinking... on working on myself more. I be boycrazy, it's a fact of life that I've given up hoping will go away. But I also think about things that I want to change and, more importantly, things that I need to learn to accept.

I want a nice house with a partnering, leading husband and lots of kids. But even though I'm clean, I'm not neat and pretty disorganized to the eye at times. How do I work on that?

My finances are a wreck, I'm saving very slowly, a certain freely associated state government owes me money but can't take back the damage already done- and I want to change that. How do I work on that?

I'd love to talk or even communicate better with my family. How do I do that? This is no small matter- my grandmother is in intensive care, and I found out incidentally. WTH? And, I'm very ambivalent about her illness. I want her to be well, to get better so much, and yet... I feel like I don't know her, and what I do know, I don't like. I want to find great depths of compassion for her because she is my grandmother and that's my duty. But I've never had a huge amount of regard for things I should do just because they're my duty. How do I work on that?

I don't own a computer or a car, two very crucial methods of connection for me. How do I change that?

Yeah. Workin' on it.

Please make dua'a for my roomate. She's just broken off an engagement and needs all the support and prayers she can get. It's not the best situation and she's hurting and a real marvel of a woman to be functioning this far, so keep her in mind.

And do drop a comment to let me know you've been by!

ma salaama
TwennyTwo

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Vignettes: kunecshuns

peace,

It has been a while. I've missed writing so much that I feel slightly out of touch. Or maybe it's that I feel very out of touch in my life generally. Whichever the case, if I wrote all that I have waiting inside from what I've done and seen and felt since I 'left', I'd never get it all out. And I need to get it out so badly that I took a Zipcar and rented a computer to do so...

Thus short scenes for now.

*Oh, and I've made major and minor changes to names so I don't out my friends. And being that several things happened a good time ago, it may be slightly adjusted to fit my failing memory. Okay? Okay.

****

awesome pad thai lunch in Tenleytown with Reea and Leila before Reea goes back to Cairo

"Yo, Reea, I need your address. So I can write you and remind you what's going on here."

Yeah? Well, it's Reea AbuKasim*...

Do I need to write it in Arabic?

*giggles from Reea* no, silly. Write it in English.

i finish addresses and write name in Arabic, doodling.

Oh, wow, you write really well in Arabic. That's better than I would write it.

MashaAllah. Yeah even after all that class in Arabic, I can't write well. I can read Qur'an but writing...

Same. Where did you learn?

Alma Mater, two semesters before I decided to actually try and graduate on time. Is that how you would write it in Arabic?

Yeah, except it's with a 'Q'.

What is it with Egyptians and 'q'? You and Mahmood both dropped the Q off of qari on the trip. And now you write your name with a Q... so would it be AbuAsim, then?

Yeah, they do, don't they?

No, its AbuKasim with a K. My friend writes it with a Q in English and I'm like, "who is this person?!" Yeah, and we turn J to G. There is no G inside Egypt.

So you all go to Goomah on Friday? Ohhhh man.

Awesome qari's though. Or Aris.

Speaking of aris, you know who's a good one?

Mahmood surprised me.

Is he a good ari?

(Reea and I at once) Incredible. MashaAllah.


****
The song "Party like a Rockstar" zaps my eardrum. I switch to the other ear, as my sister's voicemail clicks on...

This is To's phone. My phone is currently broken? So if you would, leave a message, and also leave a return phone number.


"S*$&!! Daggonit!"
The cellset bounces off the bedquilt onto the pillow and almost misses slipping to the hardwood floor.

****

Getting to work, part I

I'm due to clock in at 2:30 PM, and leave my house at 1:45. I decide to be smart and spend the $18 on a cab from my hood and be on time instead of chancing the metro.

"You're headed to Old Town, so you might want to take 110."

"110? If it is on Washington, it will be better to take the GW Parkway."

"Are you sure? Last week GW was backed up."

"I am positive, miss, you will be faster this way. The parkway, it turns into Washington."

"I just don't want to be late, if you can get there safely and quickly, take GW if you want to."

The driver lets out a half-impatient breath and turns froom N. Moore around past the Church Atop The Gas Station and heads toward the Iwo Jima and the Rt. 50/I-66 George Washington Parkway connect.

BOOM.
"Ay, SeƱor!" It seems sequential. Blink at the crunch screech sound. Then my neck stretches forward, barely convincing my head to stick with my torso while it starts, what the?!!? and time gets back on track.


"Are you okay?" I ask the driver, who's yet to say a word. He nods, snaps the belt, parks the brake and gets out to flay the cabdriver in the same colors who's rear-ended him, both in rapid-fire Urdu.
Ten minutes later they walk back and open my door.

"Miss? You are all right? Are you hurt? Do you need the hospital?"

It's 2:13 on May 31st, the day my insurance from Previous Job ends. I pray I'm okay, tell the driver to keep going or I'll be horifically late. They hang back as I, more than a bit hysterical, call my store.

my neck is sore. The driver isn't convinced, and tries to start the car toward the hospital. The engine refuses to turn over.

My store manager's voice is mercifully reassuring.
"Thank you for calling The Grocery Store in Alexandria, this is Lisette, how may I help you?"
Hey, Lisette, it's Twenny.
Hey Twenny, it's Lisette.

I'm supposed to be in at 2:30, but I'm in a cab and we've been rear ended on GW Parkway. I think I'm okay, but my neck is sore and I may have to go to the hospital.
I'm soo sorry, I dont' know if I'm going to make it on time.

You're on GW Parkway? in a cab? Rearended? Don't worry. Thanks for calling. Take the time you need, just call us back if you're not going to make it at all, okay?

Okay.

Okay, go get better!
Thanks Lisette. You rock.

Sigh.

I call my mother and ask her to pray. And then pray myself until the engine turns over.

****
In my InBox:
Hello, TwennyTwo!
Taraal Firaun has invited you to an event: Notorious Male Arabs Discussing Stuff.
To accept this FaceBook invitation... blah blah blah.


*phone rings*

"SalaamuAlaikumHey, Taraal, what's going on?"
"Who dis?"
"Yo MAMA, who you think it is? It's Twenny, are you at the NOMADS concert?"
"Oh, hey, Twenny, what up girl? Alaikum Salaam...Naw... I decided not to go."
"What?! You made a big deal and invited me, and now you're not going? Elle said you were going, that's why she's so upset she couldn't go."
"I know, but my brother didn't want to come, I wanted to go with him and Elle..."

pause

"I see."
"You should still go, though. I love their music, and it's supposed to be $15 at the door."
"Aiight, I'll check it out, keep your phone on."
"Aiight, peace."
"Salaamualaikum".

****
forks clink at the pad thai lunch.
I can't believe we only met in April. I'm so glad I went to MSA.

Same. I almost didn't go.

Me, too, mashaAllah. I thought it was going to be all about dating and stupid guys looking at girls.

Well, it wasn't. But remember that first couple of hours?

Yeah?

WE were all looking at guys, too! Hello! Wasn't it the first couple of hours that Elle and I ended up talking to guys without even meaning to?

Oh man. Yeah it was like that, huh?

Egypt isn't like that, huh?

No way. I miss it but I'm going to miss you guys.

Yeah, that's right, are you coming back?

I want to come back for Christmas break. (Leila and I wince)
What do you call it?

Winter break.

Yeah, I say winter break. I mean, since I don't celebrate Christmas...

Hmm, you know who else is going? You're going back, Namita is going, Mahmood is going, Elle is going...

You guys are going to have a party without us!

Hmm. Maybe we should meet up while we're there.

I think Twenny and I need to get tickets!

Eh.

Eh what Twenny?

Nothing. I think I need to get over the whole 'I need to get married' thing.

You know, Egypt is a big place...

Dude. I don't want to think about that too hard.

You know, I need to think about losing some weight. My mom is gonna look at me at the airport and put me on a diet.

I WISH my mama would look at me and put me on a diet. I hate controlling what I eat. That's why I love Ramadan.

Yeah? I always eat too much during Ramadan.

Makes my stomach shrink. I always end up losing 25 pounds.

Yeah, and it's getting hotter then, right?

Isn't it supposed to be late September this year? That's going to be warm.

I'm sweating already.

Wait until June July Ramadan. I've been trying to fast lately, and it ain't easy. It's not really even summer yet.

I know, right? I was born during Ramadan, apparently.

Your poor mom.

Well, she wasn't Muslim, right?

No. But are there extra blessings for that or something? To be born in the middle of a summer Ramadan? Or, shoot, being pregnant in the middle of the summer? Can I get some of that for her?

*laughter all around*

****
Getting to work part II
"Bonjour, thank you for calling The Grocery Store in Old Town Alexandria! This is Zeke TheBoyManager, what can I do for you today?"

Hey Zeke, it's Twenny.
Hey Twenny, what's goin' on.

I'm on the Metro. It's stuck at Pentagon City on a 30 minute delay.
How long?
Thirty flippin' minutes.

So you're going to be how late?

*sigh* I'll take a cab. I hope I'll only be 10 minutes late, but I doubt it, since everybody and their mama is trying to do the same thing.

Well it's Saturday and we're really busy.

I know. That's why I left an HOUR ahead of time, but apparently the Metro people have big ideas, doing track work on the busiest line on the biggest graduation and tourism weekend ever.

Get here when you can.

Okay, will do.

I squeaked in only 5 minutes and twenty dollars after I was supposed to. Zeke has my till ready and waiting and slips me into the rotation almost before Lisette can notice I'm late.

****
Walking back to my house from a successful teaching interview on the insanely close N. Moore street, wearing nice interviewing clothes and what's probably a distracted expression.

"Assalamu Alaikum"

I barely turn my head "Wa Alaikum Salaam" then think about it and turn to at least give a charitable smile to the brother who's greeted me.

The security guard is uniformed, spic-and-span right up to his hat, outside of the garage where the cars of the Pentagon workers laze all day while their owners either bark or follow orders in the buildings I see from my bedroom windows. I'd've mistaken him for a black man, like so many others who always try to holla on the Metro, the street, their cars, but...

"How are you today, sister?"
"I'm doing well, and yourself?"
"HamdulIllah. Sister, where are you from?"

Here we go. "I'm American!"
"American? From where?"
"Nam, inni Amrikiya, from Ohio, thanks."
"You look nice in higaab."

I flash back to Reea and laugh. I'm not mad at his look, subtle and yet definitely appreciative.

"You're from Egypt, right?"

****
"You've reached five one three, seven seven seven, ninety-three, eleven. Please leave a message after the tone. BEEP!"
Hi, I just wanted to say h--


Twenny, don't hang up, baby.

Hi Mommy!

Hi Baby! How are you! It's good to hear your voice.

I'm okay.

That's good. Pray for your brother. He's really frustrated right now, since I had to drive him to work today out in what your father calls EastWestJesus. He needs a car.

(we both crack up)
Mama! It can't be that far! Is it? Is it out past Kings Island?

It's further than that- I said East West Jesus! Past Mason, all those folks. And you know your brother, he wants what he wants right this second.

I know. It's hard being like that, I can relate though I'm not that impatient. It's hard not having what you need. I'll talk to him.

So how's the job search?

Looks like I'm going to get the ESL job, but they're going to hire me as an independent contractor.

Oops, I don't like the sound of that. Next.

Well, wait!

Okay, I'm listening.

The first three monthly are considered probation. After that I get to join the staff with a W-2. T And it is right near my house, and I won't have to quit at Grocery Store, so I can get their benefits and still have fun while I work SOMEwhere.

*sigh* Okay... Did you get the email I forwarded from your father? He's always thinking about you all. There's a job that would be perfect for you, in recruiting.

Yes, I just haven't had a time to open it. Comcast is trying to cut our internet, and my roomie's computer hasn't been connecting. I go to Kinko's next to my job, but it's expensive.

Why don't you ask your Aunt to use hers?

I dont' have the time. I work at night.... and to tell the truth, I just really want my own. I'm really feeling baby bro right now. Cars and computers are expensive yet necessary and personal electronics, and it's hard dealing without your own to do with as you please.

I hear you. I'll send you some money...

No. No, Mommy, I don't want to ask you for money. I'm just saying it's hard is all. That's why I'll be working two jobs again. I can get it if I work hard enough, right? Just... keep sending the job applications, I'll make it work. Can we talk about that?

...The thing about this job is that it's here. You wouldn't have to see your father and me all the time, though. Your sister and brother are here and we don't see them all that much.

Mommy, my problem with your house isn't YOU. If y'all moved here I'd be a happy chick. My problem with Cincinnati is the city itself. I feel so stuck. As much as I complain about taking hours to get to work here when it takes 15 minutes in a car, at least I have that option. I don't want to end up like JW, all frustrated, with no cultural options.... I'll fill out that application, though. It does sound like me.

****
(at the Grocery Store, one of my co-workers has returned after an absence.)
"Hey twennyGirl, wah'ya'doin'? Y'work tomorroah?"

"Hey Timo, nope, no work for me! I'll be preparing for this class I have to teach starting next week though, that or sleeping."

"Den I wanna see ya at the reggae club, yah, nonna dis Ah Gotta Work, nonna dis sleepin'."

"Um... I dunno, Timo. I want to go, it sounds cool, but..."

"It doan' go long. Start 'bout 10, I never stay past 11:30."

"I'll think about it."

Timoteo... now there's something I'll get into later. Last night I watched 10:00 come and go. I wish I could say that I didn't regret it, but it gets back to that one theme...

peace
TwennyTwo

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Comments on Pew Survey for UmmZ

peace,

I know, I know, has been a while, right? I'm alive! And well! And looking for jobs! AlhamdulIllah.

I'm not sure what's going on, but UmmZaid has posted a VERY interesting breakdown of the recent Pew survey on Amurrican muslims. I couldn't leave a comment there, so basically I'm cutting and pasting what I wanted to say, here:

Assalamu Alaikum,

Okay, my first reaction is, "can you send your Excellent mashaAllah breakdown to the Pew people?" *licks 42 cent stamp*

Results aside we need more people willing to find and break these things down. Thank you. I guess I'll have to get into results later but the main thing is that I WOULD HAVE BEEN LEFT OUT of this survey and that stinks. If they KNEW they were leaving out at least 20 percent of the population, how come they didn't take steps to correct that? I'm just sayin'.

Because my name? Will not change. Allah knows my name regardless of what people call me. Hmph.

jazakAllah khair
TwennyTwo

What do y'all think? Check it out.



ONNNN other notes... masjid. Yeah, it fell through. Of course, at this point I'm not upset, I'll keep trying. Not sure where I'll go, though. While I was working and thus had to go out on Rt. 1 for work with (an expensive) Zipcar anyhow, I was going to Juma'h at ICNA's house-masjid (it's so cuuuute!) next to the Firestone (those of you who've lived in the urrea know that one). But they charge an arm and a leg for classes and are very bad about follow-up. I think I may try Masjid Muhammad next, the one that's up near Howard U. Thing is, I don''t know where exactly it is. I have a good idea- my awesome friends Shabana and Svend took me to dinner over near there once (NEXT ONE IS MY TREAT!!) and I've got a good sense of direction... but do I really want to be wandering over in that area just before juma'h on a Friday, is the question. So let me know if you know.
Meanwhile Ima put my bugging skills to work until the brothers at ADAMS realize I'm serious and just call me to say, "hey, Sis. Twenny, we're working on it and haven't forgotten you" which is really all I'm asking for a this point. That, and I'm making dua'a for another good day job so I can get me a piece'o'car.

yeah.

So many posts up in my mind. On ambition, on why I LOVE my grocery store job, on the people I've encountered there (funny and sad), on what I want to DO with my life... gee, I sound very twenty-ish, huh? I just thought of another on living 'alone' versus living with shared goals, because that's becoming something very important to me lately. And I'm going to make some design changes around here inshaAllah, because this page is just too gloomy, and as I've learned from using roomie's comp, it doesn't load well on Macs at all.


inshaAllah soon. may you all be blessed in the meantime.

peace
TwennyTwo

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Allahu Alim, wa alhamdulIllah al haqq.

peace

They got him.

I'm no longer working there and the drama is done. I was considering working for this org after everything was finished. I doubt it. Right now I'm just tired.


They got him.

Friday I left the office at 2PM never to return, sad and worried that my intern would have to deal with someone I saw as a predator who doesn't know how to treat women. But after warning her, I could do no more. So I left.

Saturday was my last day working for that organization (I helped with a training that I started). When I talked to my direct supervisor as she came in to relive me (after two sleepless nights, really) she let me know that the reason the alarm had been changed on our building that morning was that they'd had to let that man go. Apparently he'd left some graphic pictures (!!) on the common (!!!) work (!!!) server. They were found, and it had to have been right after I left that he was summarily dismissed.

So thank you to everyone for your dua'a and watchfulness on that situation. I feel as if a weight has left me. I no longer have any problems with leaving that place. And as my former direct supervisor noted, the org. is in a hard place over staffing. It's no longer my problem at all.

peace
TwennyTwo

Friday, May 04, 2007

peace,
Found this on Umm Zaid's page as I was browsing, and enjoyed it. She asks five questions; everyone gets to see the answers. Want in? See below!

1. Puerto Rico: What do you love about it?

Ayyyyy, what a question. This is what I love about Puerto Rico: I love the people. I revel in the humid, tropical, ever-changing, beautiful, warm weather (and lack of deciduous trees with their hyperallergenic pollen). I enjoy "long" drives just drinking in the changes from blue sea to dry desert to lush green cool mountains. It's truly a beautiful place, even in the slums of the city you find beauty and green
things growing everywhere. I love the song of the coqui, something I'll never forget that will always conjure up velvet nights spent talking with some of the brightest, kindest, industrious, most generous people I've ever met. I love the typical boricua accent and the mixture of Caribbean, Africa, USA, and Spain that you can dissect... and yet not... in everything you find there. I can't get over the way the island appears in my dreams. I love Puerto Rico for her revolutionary history and her ripe potential.

I noticed you didn't ask what I don't like, so I will keep this positive. There are so many things that can change, but many many that are wonderful.

2. You're on a desert island. You have 10 books. What are they?

Not counting the Qur'an?


Whoo! This is hard! I've loved so many books. In no particular order:

The collected works of Nikki Giovanni

A Tafsir (one bigole volume)

Blessings by Anna Quindlen

Hija de La Fortuna by Isabel Allende

the Logan Family saga by Mildred D. Taylor (hmmm is that a cheat?)

any of the books by any one of these three ladies- Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, Esmeralda Santiago, or Julia Alvarez- preferably in Spanish. I just can't pick and am so happy with them all.

Companions of the Prophet by Abdul Wahid Hamid- this has been an amazingly involving read, yo

any of Diane Mott Davidson's Goldy series (cooking sleuth, gotta love it)

La Sombra del Viento/The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos R. Zafon

Believing as Ourselves- J. Lynn Jones

booo only ten?!

3. What do you think you'll do this summer?
InshaAllah apply to nursing schools and high(er) paying, character-suitable day jobs. Have a birthday. Oh, and work at da Grocery Store nights. Find a way to get to ADAMS or other classes consistently. And pray on my roof under the stars while I have it ( lease is up in October). And maybe even learn Arabic? Hmm. So many possibilities...


4. Do you play games on the computer or regular video games? If so, what are your faves?

I actually don't play games on the computer- blogs are my games, since the only computer I have (okay, had) regular access to is at my day job. But back in the day I loved Zelda on SNES and Castles on the computer. I still play bejeweled and Collapse and Tetris on my cell, very rarely.


5. The state of Muslim youth: What do you see as positives for the future and what do you see as negative (for the community as a whole) in our future? What do you think we should be doing right now?

Beginning with the end, we need to be constantly, steadily getting people invested and involved in working on our educational systems, both what's thought of as 'true' pedagogy- the schools- and the outreach and educational capacities inherent in the gathering spaces that are our masajid.

Islamic schools need to be options that won't break people and are open to the general public, even those who aren't Muslim. They need to grow in enrollment and strength of curriculum every year. They need to be American, not "backhomelandish", since that's where we are and that's who these children are, and prepare them to live as Muslims within an American society, not to ghettoize or isolate ourselves. It's a balancing thing. This is an ideal, remember. And schools need to have people involved from the community as a whole just as GP, not just parents/grandparents, in order to have a further source of investment and push for the future.

As I was raised in the awesome community institution that was a strong black church (though it had its flaws I also know ideals because of it), I have in mind just a hint of what our ummah in the US can become if we utilize these outreach and communication tools properly. This begins with outreach that accepts and encounters people in the places where they are- be they into drugs, teen parents, all about the outer flash, superficial Christianity, etc.- in order to use the rational questioning that is such a basis for Islam to bring them closer to the light, without entering personal judgments into the picture. Become that great, good place with all sorts of people and knowledge of the deen and also area services, where everyone just naturally wants to be all the time because there's something that nourishes them there.

I am NOT saying give up Islamic ideals in order to approach young people; I wouldn't want to see brothers in silk and gold bling around young folks in order to 'do as they do' and make them feel comfortable. Rather, provide charity and examples to them in various ways (food, community fairs? 'Muslims in the Recording Studio/on the Radio events for youth? some sort of latin/northeast asian oriented activities? more things like Project Downtown, which is awesome, MashaAllah? Stoop Group youth meetings that aren't necessarily inside at the masjid, but in a park around where people actually live? Job fairs open to all but heavily recruiting to Muslim business or providing Muslim mentors to young people? I'm sure y'all have more ideas...), and live Islam, while going to find people where they are in order to have them accept where we are and in seeing prosperity and peace, have them want to know about it of their own accord. That's dawah that can change communities, and what I'm talking about is hard work.

I hope that made sense. It's hard to articulate what I see in my head.

Now, as for negatives in the community, from domestic to international- a substantial reason the american youth of the ummah don't have a whole lot of cohesiveness is the divisions and stereotypes fostered by our parents. Y'all know what I'm talking about. Many of us are handed the misconception that Islam cannot be US, cannot be American, cannot speak something besides English and Urdu/Arabic, can be American only if of backhomelandish descent. Not cool. Also? For the lack of the strong Islamic school alternative and parental ability to be everywhere at once, a lot of us are treading very fine lines on societal norms instead of creating them ourselves. And we don't know more about Islam than what's heard in the Khutbah on Fridays, because those of us who do are pushed to be more 'backhomelandish.

I'm not articulating this well, but the speaker at EZ on making our mark on Islam hit it when he said that we need to be useful to our community, to feel as if we're contributing with the uniquenesses that we're allowed to explore in the freedom that growing up in the USA creates, in order to attach ourselves to Islam here, make it our own, and see it grow. The short message was, don't all be doctors and lawyers and marry your own color/race/class/country of origin, because we need to branch out to be truly expanding here. Because right now we're stagnating and from denouncing Islam to being nominal Muslims to raising children as Muslims with haraam norms, it's not okay.

I will say this, though; Islam still has a draw for young people, and the few conferences that I've attended and the people I know bear that out very strongly. We're youthful and find strength in that, and we're of the generation that takes freedoms and uses them, and uses power in a very organic, natural diversity of Islam. I think I said some time ago that I was talking to a 19 year old Muslim at a university, just randomly, and was blown away- he was one of a group of kids in that particular place that not only had ideas but was acting on them. Entrepreneurship is our heritage, as is the willingness to get ahead and pull others up, and when young people aren't actively discouraged we come up with some wonderful ideas AND actions..


Thanks so much for my interview, I enjoyed it and inshaAllah someone will benefit from it. JazakhAllah khair.


Want to play?
1. Leave me a comment saying, “Interview me.”

2. I will respond by emailing you five questions (so you have to leave a valid email address). I get to pick the questions. And yes: email. Leave your address. I don't use haloscan, so use (at) h@tma!l, or other creative way to say it. I'll delete comments with emails.

3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.

4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.

5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

peace
TwennyTwo