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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My First Superhero

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“What are you watching?

This question from my father, as innocent as it seems, makes me lovingly cringe.

“It’s a show Dad.”

“Is it a movie?” he’ll say, sitting next to me on the sofa and squinting at the TV. More internal cringing.

“No Dad, it’s a show.”

“What’s it called?”

Here’s where things get tricky, because A) some of the more nerdy shows I watch have weird names and B) my dad, as a rule, will always mishear the title. I can mumble or enunciate, it doesn’t matter. I call this Dad’s Third Law of Hilarious Misinterpretation.

“Doctor What?” he’ll ask quizzically.

Or,

“Firebug? Fire kya?”

Or,

“Battle Galacticus?”

There is a lot of affectionate eye-rolling and gritted teeth and repeating myself until he gets it right. Once the title is established, he’ll try watching for a few minutes. He asks questions, tries to follow along. But inevitably, after a max of 8 minutes (sometimes 10 if there are commercials), he’ll shake his head and say “this is weird. You watch weird shows,” before retreating behind his newspaper. I call this Dad’s Second Law of Attention Span.

God bless him, he does try.

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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.

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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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Humans of the World

Humans of New York, one of our favorite photoblogs, was started in November 2010 by photographer Brando Stanton. What started as an effort to take candid portraits on the streets of New York – accompanied by short & intimate interviews with every day people – has turned into a global phenomena. Brandon is currently on 50 day, international trip in partnership with the United Nations, in an effort to gather portraits & stories and raise awareness for the Millennium Development Goals- so far he’s visited Iraq & Jordan and is soon to visit the Democratic Republic of Congo, India, Vietnam & Haiti.

Follow Brandon as he continues his tour through his blog, Facebook or Instagram.

“We just want to be together and not be afraid.” (Erbil, Iraq)


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.
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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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Heavy Moans, Achy Joints

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 #MuslimYouthRising conversations and check out our sister sites Muslimah MontageComing of Faith and Muslim ARC for more #MYRising features.

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“If it turns out that I have an incurable disease or I’m dying, will you still love me?”

Our bodies held on to each other while Twelve-to-Six whispered, “Of course.”

That day we didn’t go to our usual spot in Prospect Park to make out. We would walk deep into the greenery because I was always afraid that my father or some Bengali uncle or aunty would spot me without a bra and catch a glimpse of my luscious 36 double Ds.

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