A prayer is a lonely call

Eds. Note: We’re featuring the stories and perspectives of Muslim youth between the ages of 18-25 this month! Today’s feature is our first short story.

Tune in on Twitter to join the #MYRising conversations and check out our sister sites Muslimah MontageComing of Faith and Muslim ARC for more #MuslimYouthRising features.InstagramCapture_85d812f9-c92a-4829-9ac2-c2b37e7ae141_jpg[1]

I used to write poetry. Don’t worry, I am better now.

During those days of angst, my life consisted of Tumblr posts, Instagram, little pastel graphics I’d make that were nothing really (but got quite a few likes), quirky romance movies with oddball characters, and guilty pictures of actors on my iPod touch that I begged my parents to buy for me. And of course, poetry. My secret was Pablo Neruda:

I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

Ah, how my heart flutters even now. Of course, when I read my own poetry now, it is not a pleasant experience for my heart, or my ego. But back then, poetry was my one weapon against the world. And the world, looming large, was my mom.
 
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Sex & the Ummah

Eds. Note: We’re featuring the stories and perspectives of Muslim youth between the ages of 18-25 this month! Tune in on Twitter to join the #MYRising conversations and check out our sister sites Muslimah MontageComing of Faith and Muslim ARC for more #MuslimYouthRising features.

Nashwa

I.

T E N

I’m about ten-years-old, and have an unwavering love for books. I devour the Harry Potter series, The Magic Treehouse, and tons of chapter books. We can’t afford them and can’t justify purchasing them, so my mom drives my sister and me to the public library every week, where I get to use a computer and roam the bookshelves for hours.

Once I’ve read all the books for my age group, I become adventurous. I wander through the aisles and find a book out of place. It intrigues me. When I open it, there it is a magnified black-and-white image of sperm that was taken under a microscope. I shut the book immediately. Now I have the image of swimming sperm seared into my memory.

I slump back to my mother. I feel guilty, but unsure of why I feel guilty. I confess to her that I opened a scientific book and it had a photo of sperm. My mom does not flinch, but neither does she seem to know how to handle it. We walk out, my basket empty of books, my shoulders burdened with guilt, my heart heavy. I felt awkward but cannot find the source of my discomfort.

This is my sex education, for now.

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Food & Consciousness

Food, Love & Memories is a bimonthly column devoted to the evocative connections between the heart, food & soul. We invite you to share your story+recipe for future columns. More details here.

FLM

From gelato at Giolitti, kimchi at Sanchon, to kebop at Kara Mehmet Kebap Salonu, my vacation plans would inevitably start and end with at least half a dozen must-have comestibles. I am an amateur food aficionado; I write about food, take pictures of food, talk about food, and dream about food. Until recently, driving 80 miles from my apartment in Silicon Valley to Napa for an extra-large pistachio macaron at Bouchon seemed perfectly reasonable.

My tendency towards “foodieness” made sense, after all, I was raised by my parents to value food. In fact, my mother went to great lengths to teach me that wasting food, even a single grain of rice, was unacceptable. Both of my parents’ families had lost everything when the Burmese government seized the properties, investments, and businesses of “foreign” investors in the late 50’s and early 60’s. Their lives were turned upside down, and food, amongst other things, became a scarce resource. Their stories stuck with me and, as I got older, I made a conscious effort to avoid wasteful habits.

Over the last few years, this basic level of consciousness has evolved further. As I watched innocent civilians robbed of their families, homes, and food in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Burma, Sudan, and, most recently Palestine, my high-brow foodie preferences increasingly seemed obnoxious.

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How He Made Me Fall In Love With Him

Eds. Note: We’re featuring the stories and perspectives of Muslim youth between the ages of 18-25 this month! Tune in on Twitter to join the #MYRising conversations and check out our sister sites Muslimah MontageComing of Faith and Muslim ARC for more #MuslimYouthRising features.saajida-1

When I was in high school, my English teacher encouraged us to look at literary works with a critical eye. She told us to dissect works of literature in order to grasp their true meaning. Every detail contributed to a broader idea, we were taught. The curtains in the main character’s bedroom were not a dark shade of purple for no reason. Everything was strategically placed for a greater purpose, a message to the readers. After using this technique for most of my high school career, I began analyzing the events and milestones of my life in the same way.

It was September 2nd, 2002. I constantly fixed my shirt due to the heat that day. It was a green T-shirt with the word REBEL bedazzled on the front. I wore that shirt with pride, especially considering how few fashionable options there were for plus-sized ten-year-old girls like myself at the time, and the fact that it was on clearance at JC Penny, I felt pretty darn awesome.

I also remember that it was extremely humid in the classroom, but not nearly as bad as the hot weather they made us wait in outside on the blacktop of the playground. This didn’t bother me much because this would be my last year in elementary school. Next year, I thought to myself with a smug smile, I would be in sixth grade and would get my own locker, not this metal desk with a flimsy, laminated nametag on it.

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We grieve for our men

Eds. Note: We’re featuring the stories and perspectives of Muslim youth between the ages of 18-25 this month! Tune in on Twitter to join the #MYRising conversations and check out our sister sites Muslimah MontageComing of Faith and Muslim ARC for more #MuslimYouthRising features.

ZBY

We Muslim women, we grieve for our men, we mourn them while they still live.

We grieve for the father who held us close in our infancy, in our toddlerhood, who twirled us around and called us his princess… and then who faded away as we grew gangly and got acne and began to slam doors behind which we sobbed, grieving the loss of a father who still lived.

We mourn for the father who comes home from work, face drawn and pinched, shoulders bowed from the weight of being called ‘terrorist’ by co-workers, eyes burning from being pulled over by cops for ‘looking like Usama’, wrists raw and chafed from Homeland Security dragging him away in handcuffs to be ‘interviewed’ at their airport, making him miss his flight to visit his dying mother.
 
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Show Me Love

Eds. Note: We’re featuring the stories and perspectives of Muslim youth between the ages of 18-25 this month! Tune in on Twitter to join the #MYRising conversations and check out our sister sites Muslimah MontageComing of Faith and Muslim ARC for more #MYRising features.

Nadira I

At the age of 24, I have yet to hear my parents utter the words, “I love you” to me, or to each other despite 34 years of marriage.

Growing up, I always felt like I did not know what love was because, unlike my American friends, I did not grow up hearing those three words. During my teens, I subconsciously battled with the concept of love. When my friends dropped the “I love you” line at the end of every encounter or long telephone conversation, I didn’t know how to reply. To make things more complicated, the media used the words “I love you” very loosely: songs, TV shows, and books all sold a story of love.

I convinced myself that “American” love and “Muslim” love were distinctly different. However, this idea vanished after I began college and met friends from different backgrounds. I was shocked to find that some of my non-Muslim friends related to my upbringing.

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Sacrifice

Eds. Note: We’re featuring the stories and perspectives of Muslim youth between the ages of 18-25 this month! Tune in on Twitter to join the #MYRising conversations and check out our sister sites Muslimah MontageComing of Faith and Muslim ARC for more #MYRising features.
kiahq
I remember thinking of you in a way that good Muslim girls should never think of good Muslim boys.

Your mouth. I don’t think that I have ever kissed a man with lips so soft and so gentle. The corners of your mouth were almost submissive beneath the commanding way that I have had to teach myself to kiss men like you, men who make my stomach ache. It was almost as if your lips understood that I needed to feel powerful beneath your weight. You allowed me to be whatever or whoever I said I was, that was what was so beautiful about you, that in the infinite ways you could judge me or shame me out of my skin (in the way that Muslim Men often do), you chose not to, and you only ever asked that I extend you the same courtesy.

I know that people will read this and have a lot to say. They’ll probably start off by blaming my father, for allowing his daughter to fear God so little, that she would shamelessly write about kissing a boy beneath the stars one night, or sitting on his bed, or in his lap or talking on the phone with him all night until Fajr. I’m sure there will be people who read this and say; “Doesn’t this girl know that the fires of hell are so hot, that they will burn those lips right off of her face and then what will she write about?”

But the truth is, people will always have a lot to say, and I will always have a lot to write about, so they can speak, as long as I can write.

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