Mom’s Christmas, Our Ramadan

CloseUpNepalZee
I grew up in Chicago, the daughter of a conservative Pakistani Pathan Muslim and a small-town American Mormon. Theirs was a marriage founded on somewhat foolish optimism.  Both of my parents assumed they would have the other converted to their own faith within months. My childhood memories of mom’s Christmases, our Eids, mom’s Easters and our Ramadans, serve as a testament to the contrary. This recollection comes from the strange serendipitous period where two of those major religious events – the Muslim month of Ramadan and the Christmas season – overlapped.

My mother would start baking Christmas cookies sometime around Thanksgiving and the cookie she’d always start with was gingerbread – cut into small man and woman shapes. There was something about the bite of Chicago’s autumn that would trigger some Midwestern American programming and right away my mother would begin to warm the house with the smell of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and vanilla. The colder it got, the more one needed a strong gingerbreadman to keep them going, so at any given time from November till early January, you could find huge bowls of gingerbread cookie dough in our fridge, ready and waiting to fill the next gingerbreadman-shaped hole in our lives.

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fr muslim girls who considered suicide when the ummah wasnt enuf

Screen shot 2014-09-22 at 1.05.15 PM

fr mariam , khadijah, fatima, hajar, alla , yall,

fr our communities that hold us,

recite algebraic formulas against evil eye

2 × al fatiha plus 3 astaghfirallahs =

your eyelashes wont fall out

written with such love and concern

fr when we struggle w them

against islamophobia ,

racism , the revolution

do our dawah n make

dua fr you, me, the deen

thinkin abt the dirty linen

we spent all night

folding with our teeth clenched…

 

Read the rest of this amazing poem, here!


Watch: Enemy of the Reich

imageWatch the PBS documentary on Noor Inayat Khan – Indian, Muslim, author, musician & WWII spy & heroine, available here until 9/30.


Sexual Assault in the Muslim Community – Documentary

‘Breaking Silence’ is the first documentary highlighting American Muslim women’s experiences with sexual assault. Support this important film at Kickstarter today!


If brown parents gave the sex talk

What was it like in your household?

“You want to kill us? No? Then don’t do the secks!”


The Heart’s Prosthesis

heartbreak

You were different.

I don’t know if I ever told you that, but there it is. For you, I broke every self-imposed rule I’d ever created. They say the best kind of love is the one you never see coming, the kind that sneaks up on you so slowly that by the time you feel its presence, it has already burrowed deep inside the caverns of your heart that you didn’t even know existed.

You were a surprise, a calamity that happened both slowly and all at once. You were different because you had enough flaws to create a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle in your image, and if I prodded, you would fall apart. Pieces of you would be lost, forever, under coffee tables and between sofa cushions. But I could pick out each one instinctively, as bright to me as each star we counted at night. Yet like the stars themselves, I saw in them beauty and life, and the remnants from which they were built a thousand lifetimes ago. They were scars of your internal universe, expanding and contracting, and I could trace each one softly, so as not to cause you pain.

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Stinky Muslim Money

Deonna Kelli Sayed

This is a fictional interview with a real Muslim about an incident that actually happened.

Announcer: Muslims across the United States are receiving notices of account closures from their banks. Today, we are speaking with writer Deonna Kelli Sayed, whose account at a North Carolina bank was closed without explanation in 2011. Ms. Sayed, thank you for joining us today. Tell us what happened.

Deonna Kelli Sayed (DKS):

My debit card stopped working on a Wednesday.

The first rejection arrived early in the day from a gas station pump, which had politely advised me to “please see attendant.”

The card then failed at one grocery store after another. I knew the account held money. My local bank had not contacted me about any suspicious or fraudulent activity. There had to be some sort of simple, honest mistake.

I walked into my favorite branch to speak with a customer service rep that I had come to know. Minnie was a pleasantly plump older woman wore shades of polite pastels. When she spoke, words flew from her mouth wide and jovial, in the way you’d expect a Southern woman of a certain age to speak.

We met approximately every four weeks. Each month, I paid our monthly bills from a lump sum automatically transferred from my then-husband’s account at a New York City credit union. I often had to wait at least five business days before the funds appeared. There were some months the transfer stayed missing for a full two weeks.

I cringed as automatic payments were due and groceries needed to be purchased for the five kids under my care. God forbid if a holiday fell on a Monday or Friday. My husband lived in the Middle East. I lived in North Carolina with the kids. Our main bank account resided in New York City.

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