Advice: Navigating Young (Forbidden) Love

Dear Love, InshAllah,

We are parents of a Muslim college student who met a Muslim boy at school and wish to get to know each other with parental supervision for marriage. The boy told his Pakistani parents he wished us to meet and get to know each other. They first agreed and next day refused and hit him and threatened to have him transfer to another school. We are not Pakistani, however they say that is not the reason, that it is because he is too young. We also wish they were older however we do not want them to commit any sins and are willing to work with them in order for them to have supervision and not lie to us. The boy’s mother caught him on the phone with my daughter, who is out of country doing research for school and taken away his phone and computer and again state will take him out of school. We have suggested our daughter not have any contact with him until parents agree, but this has not happened and if seems the parents forbidding them has made them closer. Our question is should we contact the father and state we were not pleased with this relationship but it is better to work together with our children than to have them lie to us. Any advice on dealing with Pakistani parents who do not want the son to talk to a girl until he is out of college and working and to become a doctor even though the son does not wish to be a doctor.

Sincerely,
Not Pakistani

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Hidden Fractures

Zainab Chaudary

 

When I was a child, Ramadan – like the life that stretched before me – seemed magical. Forbidden for the very young, fasting was a mark of adulthood, a rite of passage for which we were all too eager. You woke for the early morning meal with a sense of pride, keen to know what mysterious things adults got up to at this delicious hour.

As I grew older, Ramadan became a time to pause life, a time for reflection as well as a time for community. Growing up outside of our respective ethnic identities and cultures, this month provided the chance to regroup and reconnect with friends and family.

We became used to a melding of cultures where we’d reach for spices in two languages during iftar, knowing only our ethnic name for certain spices and only the English one for others (I will never call “saunf” aniseed or “dhaniya” cilantro, but “namaak” will always be just plain old salt to me). We indulge in kibbeh and kunafeh at our Arab friends’ houses, in pakoras and dahi bade at our South Asian friends’ houses. During Ramadan, we seem to make up for the things we never realized we were missing – the sound of adhan from all corners, mosques on every block, altered work hours to make the fast easy: all things available in the Muslim-majority countries from whence most of us came.

After my brother’s passing, Ramadan became a month of refuge from the chaos of my grief. It allowed me space to breathe, mourn, to build up strength for the remainder of the year. The past few years, I have been able to recharge and re-center during this holy month by finding solace in the strength of the spiritual.

But this year? This year is different.

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Father of the Bride

Bride
On my wedding day, my father won’t walk me down the steps to my husband. He won’t lift my blusher and give me a kiss on the forehead. He won’t have a twinkle of tears in his eyes. He won’t take my hand and place it in my fiancé’s, and then take a step back as I begin a new journey with another man by my side.

He won’t do any of this, because he won’t be there.

It’s not because my father has a terminal illness, or because he passed away. It’s more painful than that. My father has chosen to leave during one of the most pivotal times of my life. As my wedding day draws near, his selfishness weighs down on me more and more.

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Running Orders

free

Running Orders

“They call us now.
Before they drop the bombs.
The phone rings
and someone who knows my first name
calls and says in perfect Arabic
“This is David.”
And in my stupor of sonic booms and glass shattering symphonies
still smashing around in my head
I think “Do I know any Davids in Gaza?”
They call us now to say
Run.
You have 58 seconds from the end of this message.
Your house is next.
They think of it as some kind of
war time courtesy.
It doesn’t matter that
there is nowhere to run to.
It means nothing that the borders are closed
and your papers are worthless
and mark you only for a life sentence
in this prison by the sea
and the alleyways are narrow
and there are more human lives
packed one against the other
more than any other place on earth
Just run.
We aren’t trying to kill you.
It doesn’t matter that
you can’t call us back to tell us
the people we claim to want aren’t in your house
that there’s no one here
except you and your children
who were cheering for Argentina
sharing the last loaf of bread for this week
counting candles left in case the power goes out.
It doesn’t matter that you have children.
You live in the wrong place
and now is your chance to run
to nowhere.
It doesn’t matter
that 58 seconds isn’t long enough
to find your wedding album
or your son’s favorite blanket
or your daughter’s almost completed college application
or your shoes
or to gather everyone in the house.
It doesn’t matter what you had planned.
It doesn’t matter who you are
Prove you’re human.
Prove you stand on two legs.
Run.”

- Lena Khalaf Tuffaha


Pitfalls of a First Time Ramadan-er

John Austin

John Austin

Our Salaam, Love contributor John Austin pens this insightful piece for Beacon Broadside about his first Ramadan after his conversion to Islam:

When I discovered that I wanted to be a Muslim I don’t think I really knew what was involved. This was not for lack of knowledge about the religion but perhaps a lack of knowledge about myself, and a lack of knowledge generally. I knew that I would be required to kneel in submission to God five times a day, abstain from alcohol, along with a host of other minor ascetic measures. But when one actually finds himself in the throes of post-Shahada conversion, it becomes a different matter altogether.

I converted to Islam the previous spring, and spent the subsequent months in a frenzy of learning how to be a Muslim. So ensconced was I in the honeymooning phase with my new religion that one of the greatest obligations I have as a Muslim had crept up on me.

I was completely unprepared for Ramadan that first year. I had not prepared myself, physically or mentally, for the rigors of a month long fast. I was, in fact, still largely oblivious to what that entailed.

Read more, here.

Check out John’s story, “Planet Zero,” in Salaam, Love: American Muslim Men on Love, Sex & Intimacy.


Finding Home

2 Sarah

I’ve been uncomfortably straddling the Alps for some time now.

This see-saw sensation is common amongst those who live in a foreign country. Love and vocation brought me to Italy five years ago, but family and culture keep me closely tethered to the UK.

Sometimes, there’s equilibrium. I stroll through formerly unknown streets where the muddled muzak of a foreign tongue has steadily becomethe main means of perception and expression in my daily life. People cheerily wave at me from across the street. Even street vendors know my name and life story. From the outside it seems like I’ve achieved what I set out to achieve: I’ve become a local.
 
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When Fairy Tales Fail Us

Fatima M. Jaffer

When a daughter is born into a loving family, she is cherished and treated like a princess and dressed up like pretty little doll with colorful plastic bangles and trinkets.

The beautiful princess is told fairy tales before being tucked into bed. Her mother speaks about the knights that saved Cinderella, Rapunzel and Snow White. Then, this little girl begins to dream of her very own Prince Charming and she starts looking for him as soon as she turns sixteen years old. Some girls get lucky and bump into him without trying. Others have to face mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts and cousins who love them as single women —  until they hit a certain age. Then, some princesses find themselves unmarried or maybe divorced and still without children.

At that point, the fairy tales are over — unless you consider the types of mothers/aunties/cousins who are metaphors for trickster witches; it is often women who make girls feel miserable about the state of their lives. No matter how educated, talented and beautiful a single woman may be, she is always sidelined and frequently humiliated because she is unmarried. It seems that some women can’t imagine alternative realities for themselves or for their daughters.

I’m tired of fairy tales. We need new stories about our future that go beyond marriage saving us from a life of ruin and despair.

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