My Father and My Religion

Amanda Quraishi

I was on a conference call one evening last week when my call waiting beeped at me. It took me a few seconds to recognize the number since I only see that area code a couple times a year. It was my dad. I let it go to voicemail.

I waited until the next day to check the message. His voice came amicably through the receiver and he chided me jokingly about turning 40 a few weeks earlier. My dad doesn’t celebrate birthdays, so I thought it was odd that he was calling me about it until I realized the real reason for his call: an annual religious celebration that is part of his church is coming up soon. He wanted to remind me about that.

I left my dad’s church for good in my early twenties, after a long struggle between the teachings I grew up with and my own personal beliefs that had gradually evolved from age, experience and study. My father’s church instructs that members should not associate with people who leave the faith, and that includes family. When I left, I did so with the knowledge that my dad would no longer be an active part of my life.

Having been through the process of losing the religion of my youth and choosing a new path (Islam), I firmly believe that there is no more fundamental or sacred right that each human being has than to explore their spirituality on their own terms. And yet, as I have experienced, it is often the people closest to us that want to control that sacred right and who feel justified in punishing us if our seeking leads us in a direction different from their own.

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Child of Loss

Alan Howard

Alan Howard

I have written a lot recently on my experience with caregiving and death both at my first blog and then the subsequent one on how to slowly wake up and live after the death of someone close to you.

But today I want to write about something else: how this experience impacts a child. I am not a child psychologist, but I can relate my own experiences and those of my son and show how it scarred and molded him, how he learned from it and, finally, how he now flourishes.

My son was 5-years-old when my wife’s cancer was diagnosed. I remember clearly the day that I took her to the hospital because her voice was slurring. He brought some of his toy cars and sat on the floor in the ER room and played, completely oblivious to the nurses coming in and out. Joan and I sat nervous and tense, trying to reassure each other, but also wanting to say as few words as possible. We knew something was wrong right away after her CAT scan because the nurses, who had been  joking that she probably just had a migraine, suddenly disappeared.
 
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36 Flavors of Self Loathing

Key Ballah

36 Flavors of Self Loathing
1. In 2nd grade a boy called me fat, there hasn’t been a day since then, when I loved my body
completely.
2. At 18 I found myself locked in a restaurant freezer with a boss who was trying to use his
hands to convince me that sex with him was part of the job.
3. There were nights after you left, when I filled my bed with everything that you touched,
hoping to fill it with something familiar.
4. The moon warned me not to come see you that night, it hung low trying to touch me. When I
left you, it asked me how could I hate myself so much.
5. When you didn’t call I had to delete every memory of you I had, but you still
lingered in the cracks of my walls.
6. Someone once told me that my body was a war zone. The day that I finally
understood what that meant, I was bleeding from my forearms trying to recreate the crucifixion.
7. West Indian women are known for having children but being too strong to have men.
I’ve never understood the fear some people have of women who expect as opposed to women who hope.
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#HappyMuslims

The Honesty Policy’s video of Pharrell’s “Happy” featuring UK Muslims has taken the world by storm this week. Here’s to joy & creativity. Enjoy & happy Friday :)


Muslimah Montage: The Powerful Tapestry of Muslim Women

Sabina

I was five years old when I realized that I was different from the kids around me. This was in the 80s when there weren’t a whole lot of Muslims, especially in the small Northern Californian neighborhood where I grew up. I was placed in a Spanish/ESL class on the first day of school because of my dark hair and dark eyes. I was placed in a room with children who looked more like me than the blonde haired, blue eyed ones.

I sat through class staring blankly at the teacher, terrified because I had no idea what she was saying. In a language that I had never heard before, the teacher commanded the children to do something and they all stood up. I followed suit. She sang out some more instructions and the children walked in different directions. I didn’t know where to go. I held my cold hands in front of me and my eyes stung with embarrassment. I stared at the teacher and wished I knew what she was saying.

She finally pulled me to the side, gave me a piece of paper and crayons, and sat me next to a teaching assistant where I quietly colored until my mother came to pick me up. The teacher smiled when Mama walked in. Mama later told me that the school thought I was a Spanish speaking Latina until the teacher saw her dressed in her colorful partoog kamees and saadar on her head.
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All The Single Ladies

z

Two months ago, sitting in a Turkish restaurant packed to capacity on a Saturday night, one of my oldest friends told me he had found someone.

We’ve known each other longer than either of us can remember, and were partners in crime long before we ever fully realized it. In recent years, as we’ve both been searching for that elusive part of our future, the partner-in-crime thing had been thrown into even starker contrast: we’d meet for dinner or coffee and grouse about the people we’d been meeting, the “almosts” and the “snowball’s chance in hell”, and about the Jane Austen-level lamentations of our parents, who seemed to have all but given up on us while insistently wringing their hands.

Conversation moved forward: from mutual celebration of his good fortune, to my latest backfire (a wonderful man who had lasted two months), to a spirited discussion about partnerships vs. solitude as a life choice.

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So, A Muslim and a Jewish Girl Get Up on Stage….

This slam poetry video is making the rounds and is too moving not to share.

Amina Iro and Hannah Halpern performed this piece at the Brave New Voices 2013 Slam in Washington, DC

There is nothing like a Muslim girl and a Jewish girl collectively breaking it down, powerfully explaining that the two identities have more in common than most realize.

 

 

We also take this opportunity to send our Jewish friends warm Passover greetings, and we are holding a good thought for the slain in Kansas City.  May Allah (swt) fill our hearts with peace so that we go out into the world and be a source of light. Ameen.

We originally spotted this at Upworthy. Go give them a visit! 


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