Three Sikh Men

3031573-inline-s-sikh-beard-10
Photo: The Singh Project

Last Name Singh

I’m running late to class. It’s 3:20 p.m., right in the middle of the hour that cab drivers switch shifts. It feels impossible to get a cab at this hour. Just as I give up hope, a cab pulls toward me. The man inside asks where I’m headed and agrees to take me. I figure I’m on his way.

I get in and glance at his ID: last name Singh. Continue reading “Three Sikh Men”

Oh, Abu Eesa: An Apology Letter on Your Behalf

Im-Sorry
Image via internetmonk.com

Dear Abu Eesa,

My name is Nida Chowdhry. I only recently learned of you on March 8th, 2014, due to some jokes you made on and about International Women’s Day on Twitter and Facebook, as well as the subsequent explanations and apologies that you furnished on those same mediums.

It seems to me that you’re having a little PR problem. Lucky for you, one of my only transferable skills is writing, so I’ve taken the time to use my services to craft an apology letter (you seem to be having trouble writing one that is genuine). In place of the fapologies (fake apologies), here is one you can feel free to use:

Dear Everyone on the Internet that Has Seen My Posts Between March 8th and Whenever HR over at Al-Maghrib Institute finally asks me to stop:  Continue reading “Oh, Abu Eesa: An Apology Letter on Your Behalf”

How I became a ‘Ramadan Muslim’

Image

‘Ramadan Muslim’ – it’s a condescending, derogatory term used to refer to Muslims who ‘all of a sudden’, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, ‘show up’ to attend the mosque for every Taraweeh prayer, stop cussing/smoking/drinking/clubbing/pre-marital sexing, pray all of their five prayers, and fast from sunrise until sunset ‘religiously’.

I grew up playing at the local mosque in the hour leading up to Mughrib prayer while my dad volunteered and socialized. I attended an Islamic School where our classroom windows had a view of the mosque. I’ve attended jumuah prayer for an overwhelming majority of the Fridays of my life. I began volunteering and organizing around the mosque in my early teenage years, and continued well throughout high school, college, and even after. The mosque has been a constant space in my existence since before my first memories, and up until about 3-4 years ago.

I am now/have been for quite a while, for lack of a better term, a ‘Ramadan Muslim’, if I can call myself even that. My mosque-going has dwindled down to special occasions such as weddings and a few days in Ramadan (give or take, mostly take).

Continue reading “How I became a ‘Ramadan Muslim’”

I am not a hijabi

Image: Pineconehill.com
Image: Pineconehill.com

There are so many ‘layers’ to this dreaded headscarf discussion (and the dreaded word ‘debate’) (and even the dreaded ‘layers’ pun). I am constantly on the edge of flipping off every conversation surrounding it. I cringe in public (real and virtual) settings that mention the word ‘hijab’, seconds from theoretically and literally puking. F*** it all is what my philosophy usually is when it comes to the headscarf debates. I am intrinsically, from deep within myself turned off, and yet desperately plugged in to conversations that directly impact my life. Continue reading “I am not a hijabi”

On the Unruly (Muslim) Woman

This morning, these blogposts left me feeling… uplifted, elevated, and relieved as one can be when someone says for them what they wished they could say themselves, and in doing so, unlock the pain and allow it free by acknowledging what one knew all along:

If you don’t already, I would recommend following the blog Love InshAllah on which Zainab Chaudary’s piece was published.

Definitions:

  1. Unruly
  2. Female Unruliness: independent thinking women, not letting the patriarchy define them.

When is the last time that someone – a female – offended you with her expression, or ‘failure’ to ‘express’, her ‘femininity’ (as you and I, and the greater body of collective consciousness around us, perceives it)?

I have: been offended, been asked to be offended, been offensive, and have been a privy ear to the vocalized offense people have experienced at the beholding of various women.

The Unruly Woman could be discussed in light of the way Women, and in more of my personal experiences, Muslim Women, are ‘policed’ by those around them, and are learned to police themselves. (‘Police’ meaning: A group that admonishes, cautions, or reminds)  Continue reading “On the Unruly (Muslim) Woman”

On religious rhetoric

I finally figured out in a concise way to explain what drives me absolutely nuts when I hear religious rhetoric. It’s the way that it is framed in a manner that asks the reader to abandon critical thought and embrace the edict or verdict or whatever it may be with open arms because, well, a package wrapped in good, that speaks of good, can’t be anything but good, right? And we’re supposed to love everything good, and it would be bad not to, right?

I don’t want to say “wrong,” but I take issue with framing good to be accepted without critical thought. I think this creates a community that loses the ability to see people as people, and to see more to a situation than black and white, Good versus Bad.

There are far and many complexities and intricacies that get lost with such thinking, and a richness is lost in feeling and thinking and learning and growing.

Just because something is good, on paper, or in words, doesn’t mean that it must be emblazoned in gold, framed, and hung over everyone’s lives as The Truth. The Truth is human life and experience, and words are by which we come to learn and recognize these experiences, not the other way around.