islamic community

Friendly reminder that religious gay people exist!! You do not have to choose one or the other! You’re not a bad gay for being religious and you’re not a bad follower for being gay! You can be both! They’re both important parts of your identity and there’s nothing wrong with being both!

For those of you who are unaware, Qandeel Baloch is a Pakistani woman who was very big on social media and was often critiqued for posting “racy” or “inappropriate” content that was disapproved of by the South Asian (but mainly Pakistani) community. She was murdered by her brother because he thought she was bringing dishonour to her family, although people believe there might be another side to the story since photos of her were released with a mufti (Islamic scholar). There are actually people justifying this “honour killing” because they believe murdering somebody is justified as long as it’s to restore honour to the family. This absolutely appalling and despicable mentality runs rampant in South Asian communities and it needs to be addressed. Women’s lives are not yours to take, control or assign worth to. Unsurprisingly there are Pakistani men who support this murder because they too view women as property and objects they own and can choose to dispose of when they feel like it. To these men, and all men- women are not your possessions. You do not have the right to us, to our lives. It is a sad day when this needs to be said but the fact is, South Asian communities hold this disgusting mentality that it is justified to fucking kill someone if you think they are behaving inappropriately. Our lives BELONG TO US. I am so tired and sick of these communities that are brainwashed and fed the same sick attitudes and beliefs. I am really fucking tired of people using religion and the idea of retribution from God to control and police women’s behaviour. It is absolutely a Muslim problem and it is absolutely a Hindu problem, and above all- it is a South Asian problem. Policing and controlling women’s behaviour to what men believe is appropriate is a very large problem in our communities and we need to acknowledge that the way these men do it is using religious beliefs that come with Islam and Hinduism.

In Baghdad, a Muslim woman, holding a copy of the Quran, stands in solidarity with a Christian woman, holding a copy of the Bible, to show solidarity with the dwindling number of Iraqi Christians and their right to live freely and peacefully side-by-side with the Muslims in their community. A powerful image.

Never forget that
no matter the propaganda and lies,
your Lord is always alive, the Ever-living.
And when you turn to the Qur’an to recite,
these are words that will never die
from a Friend that is always by your side,
for if you walk towards Him,
He will run to you in strides
until water falls from
your eyes.
—  BelikeatravelerNote to Self..
washingtonpost.com
Being a Muslim in Trump’s America is frightening. Here’s what we can do in response.
The time has come to band together to preserve what makes America great.

If there is one silver lining for the American Muslim community in the aftermath of the Trump campaign, it is that Muslims have politically mobilized at the local grass roots level in ways that have never been seen before. We saw major voter registration drives at mosques and Islamic community centers across the country as American Muslims realized the potential stakes of a Trump presidency.

Some rays of hope at the political level included the victory of a 34-year-old Muslim woman named Ilhan Omar as she successfully became the first Somali-American woman to be elected to a state legislature in Minnesota. In Michigan, professional WWE wrestler Terrance “Rhyno” Guido Gerin was also handily defeated by Muslim-American Abdullah Hammoud in the race for Michigan’s 15th House District seat. And Muslim representative Keith Ellison retained his congressional seat in Minnesota’s 5th district.

Read more here from Arsalan Iftikhar, an international human rights lawyer and founder of TheMuslimGuy.com

“A wall was built which separates
the beloved from his lover.
The park was closed and in its place
flew flags across the border.

Steel, mortar, brick, and stone,
fortified the wall.
Sensors, lighting, radars, cameras,
spied upon us all.

And stony men with steeled hearts
lined each border crossing,
above each place where the wall was low,
they stood there proudly watching.”
- Howie Abel, AMERICA: The Anthem of Eugene V - Canto II: Crime

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Shown above is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s writing and signature, the transcripts, as well as a picture of him. Tsarnaev along with his brother was accused of the April 15, Boston Marathon Bombing. 

The transcript shows he was a poor student during the entirety of his four semesters on campus. He received seven Fs over three semesters: Two Fs were given in the fall of 2011 for chemistry, two in the spring of 2012 for critical writing and reading and a math course, and three in the fall of 2012 for chemistry, American politics, and psychology.

Because of his poor grades, Tsarnaev lost his financial aid. In an attempt to regain that aid, Tsarnaev filled out a Satisfactory Academic Progress Report on January 24, 2013, explaining what had changed from the year before.

His answer referenced his inability to deal with stress and “terrorist accusations” that innocent men living in Chechnya faced. He wrote:

“This year I lost too many of my loved relatives. I was unable to cope with the stress and maintain school work. My relatives live in Chechnya, Russia. A Republic that is occupied by Russian soldiers that falsely accuse and abduct innocent men under false pretences and terrorist accusations. I am at a point where I can finally focus on my school work. I wish to do well so one day I can help out those in need in my country, especially my family members.”

Side note: I have already done a post similar to this but it did not show his signature and I could barely read the transcript I posted, due to the new information, I have made compiled it all together.

Captured

 Oil paint on particle board, Gilded antique frame

Sgt Sean Murphy, a photographer for the Massachusetts State Police pictured the alleged Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on April 19, 2013 in a dry-docked boat in Watertown, just outside Boston during his capture by special police forces. On July 18, 2013, Sgt Sean Murphy published the image above in Boston Magazine as a response to the image portrayed of Tsarnaev in The Rolling Stone August issue.  The piece was entitled simply, ‘Captured’.

Rejecting Pakistani and Islamic Marriage Stereotypes: why being asexual does not mean I must conform TW: Rape, marital rape, domestic violence

I am single and most definitely not ready to mingle. You may be wondering why an aromantic asexual like myself needs to worry about ‘mingling’ if it’s something I don’t want to do? Well, my fellow peers, I have the great privilege of belonging to the Pakistani Muslim community, and if you happen to be an adult woman in such a community, much like myself, you are expected to take the next step in life: marriage.

Marriage is considered a natural process amongst my people. You grow up, get an education, pursue a career if necessary (because why would a woman need to work when she will end up a housewife?) and get married. The general consensus is that a heterosexual marriage is the final step to completion for a woman. A woman is only ‘whole’ when she has a husband and children. Daughters are just extra baggage for parents until they can be married and sent away. Emphasis is laid upon the daughter, rather than the son, to find a partner, and parents go to extreme lengths and efforts in order to make that happen. Once their daughter is married, parents can sigh a relief and pat themselves on the back for doing such a great job and making it through such a difficult time. And the sons? They can wait, because “no woman is ever good enough for him anyway”. The unmarried daughters who are still trying to figure out their lives already know that we are a burden to our parents, simply because we identify with the female sex.

We know, because the one question you can guarantee any unmarried Pakistani woman has been asked by members of the community is “have you found a husband yet?” Pakistanis don’t care if you are enjoying your studies or managed to get a promotion a work, they just want to know when the next wedding will be so they can dress up and gossip with their old cronies. ‘Why are you not married yet? What are your family waiting for? Do you want to grow old and become a spinster? Is our boy not good enough for you?’ Questions asked countless times seem harmless enough to an outsider, but for the responder, it’s hard to miss their implications. The message is clear: why are you still single when you would be happier and safer with a husband?

 Yes, aunty-jee, once I am married I will be ‘happy’ and ‘safe’. I will be ‘safe’ from your intrusive questions about my personal life. I will be ‘safe’ from my own family’s criticisms and instead fall mercy to the scrutiny of my new in-laws. I will be ‘safe’ from the gossip, societal shunning and violence that unmarried Pakistani women face, and all because I have the immunity of being a wife. Yes, aunty-jee, I will most certainly be ‘safe’.

The fact that unmarried woman are not considered safe and are targets for public shaming seems to be the bigger problem here, but every Pakistani woman knows that. After all, it’s been embedded into our minds practically all our lives. Once we are old enough to understand what it means to be desirable, we are taught to condition ourselves to fit the stereotype of a good Pakistani wife. And this starts young. I’m talking about little girls at 3 yrs old using skin whitening soap so they can grow up for men to call their fair skin ‘beautiful’. I’m talking about teenage girls being told a good girl is unassuming, unassertive, submissive and obedient.

This isn’t just a few among many. I’m talking about a culture from a country perpetuated by a long history of misogyny: where sons are seen as a blessing and daughters a burden, where honour killings, daughters killed for the shame of being female, still take place, and where Malala Yousafzai was shot for campaigning for a woman’s rights to education. I’m talking about the women who are guilt tripped and shamed for their lack of femininity, the female rape victims who are shunned by society for being ‘bad luck’ and the acid attacks inflicted on women because they were ‘too successful’ for a man to bear.

Woe betide the Pakistani woman who chooses not to marry, for she will garner the hatred of all men and women who think a woman’s place is in servitude to her husband. And woe betide the Pakistani woman who wishes to marry but does not want to conform to the housewife stereotype, for she must face rejection from her own community. And woe betide again for the Pakistani woman who does marry, for her family will abandon her to suffer in silence when she becomes victim to the abuse of her husband and in-laws.

And still, you ask me, why I am worried?

I do not wish to marry because I am afraid marriage will destroy me. I am expected to marry a Muslim man, but how many will actually be accommodating to my asexuality? How many will lure me in with lies and sweet promises to treat me well and then force themselves on me once the contract is signed because it is their marital right? How many will point the finger at me, telling me “do not refuse your husband” because it has been ingrained into every single Pakistani Muslim mind that a woman is submissive and obedient. I will try to seek help from my family, who will use my religion against me and say “you are his wife, it is your Islamic duty to obey him”.

I think I do not need love if marriage is the only way to obtain it. I question why my asexuality feels like a burden on me. Why can I not assume my marriage will be a happy one? Are all people so sexually charged that to even deny sex is wrong? I am left wondering, am I a bad Muslim for not feeling sexual desire? Is my asexuality a sin? Why do I not feel pleasure when everyone else does? Why am I unable to be a good Pakistani and Muslim wife?

I look to my religion for respite. What does Allah actually say about women in marriage? Islam encourages marriage because it contributes to half your deen (faith). Marrying sooner is better for men and women who want to avoid committing illegal sexual activity outside of marriage. Marriage was also recommended by the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, and thus is considered a Sunnah. Some of the benefits to marriage are having a spouse who can provide emotional and spiritual support, receiving certain rights upon marriage and having the ability to create a family of your own.

As an aroace Muslim, I do not consider myself in need to marry for the sake of receiving spiritual and emotional support. I understand the benefits this would have for a couple who are romantically and sexually involved (and for aces who wish to marry), but fail to see how this would apply to me. In my opinion, I find it more appealing to establish that type of bond in a platonic relationship outside of marriage as it avoids all the unnecessary marital expectations that a Pakistani Muslim must face, as mentioned previously. For myself, I believe my spiritual and emotional connection to my faith works best with Allah, as there are no societal/cultural pressures which Allah imposes on me and is a relationship I can establish on my own terms.

I can dismiss the benefit of fulfilling my sexual desire without fear of sin as sexual desire is not something I experience nor is sex something I want to do either. Something worth noting though is that the Prophet PBUH did insinuate that marriage was not necessarily required for those who do not experience sexual desire as there is no fear of sin being committed. I guess you can only listen to the best, right?

Regarding the rights received once married, some would be: a wife’s right to a dowry, sexual satisfaction, financial support and good treatment by her husband. Again, for an aroace woman, none of these rights would personally benefit me as I have no wish to be satisfied sexually, nor do I have the need for someone to treat me well (that would just require good friends/family) and lastly, my aroace identity does not really affect my desire for money nor a dowry (although the extra cash would be handy, it’s not worth the hassle to get married for).

The Prophet PBUH encouraged marriage for those who would most benefit from such a contract, and I believe that, as an aroace with no particular desire for a partner, to fulfil my sexual desire nor to receive the benefits, marriage is not necessary for me. Although there is no obligation to marry in Islam, there is still pressure to conform to the general consensus amongst Muslims to get married, especially as it would be following in the example of the Prophet PBUH. As marriage is so overwhelmingly commonplace, the concept of a Muslim choosing to not marry is seen as unusual, and for someone like me, who chooses not do so for the reasons mentioned above, it is even more radical.

Although my asexuality and desire to not marry is not an issue in Islam, I find that the choices I make in how I practise my religion comes under a lot scrutiny, largely due to the fact that Muslims have a monopoly on following the Islam best tailored to their cultural environment. Muslims in general believe that the hetero-norm of marriage is the only correct way of living your adult life. This means that if I am amongst a Muslim community who believe that I should get married for the benefit of society, then I will be under societal pressure to do, regardless of what I or what Islam itself has to say on the matter.

It is here in this grey area between culture and religion that my conflicts lie. In accordance to Islam the decision to marry is my own, so even if my family and my community are pressurising me and I refuse, I am not ‘technically’ disobeying God. I say this sceptically because although it is my Islamic right to refuse, Islam also tells me that I should be obedient to my parents and avoid unnecessary conflict if they do not directly oppose Islamic teachings.

Unfortunately, this is where my culture plays an important role. If I was to refuse marriage and explicitly state so for the reasons I discussed above, my parents would assume I was intentionally causing conflict as my opinion is so obscure to the set Pakistani norm. They would consider my opinion highly disrespectful as it insults the beliefs they have held their entire lives, and as a result, I would be creating a huge division within my family. I care far too much about the relationship I have with my parents to risk breaking it by suggesting something as not getting married. To me, my parents are the most valued people in my life. They are the people who sacrificed so much in order to give me the best of everything, they fed me, clothed me and cared for me like no one else could.

I remember how my father spent 5 days every week after work tutoring us so we were ahead in class and thus had one less worry as Asian Muslims in an all-white Catholic school. How my mother worked during the day and then attended GCSE classes at night to get her UK education as she didn’t grow up here. When I realise that they must have given up their own selfish desires in order to make sure I never experienced that same sacrifice, I think to myself, surely this once, I can return the favour? If my marriage will make them happy, don’t they deserve that happiness? They deserve better than to be hurt by my own selfishness and pride. When I think about my parents in this way, I understand why God said I should listen to them.

In all honesty, I would be quite happy to avoid marriage at all costs if I could, but that would not help my circumstances nor be conducive to my family situation. As a Muslim, it is during these times I remember that this life is not my paradise. I am not a woman free from obligation, I am in subservience to my Creator, Allah, and not everything I wish for will be granted in this world. That is not the life of a Muslim, and I must remind myself that this life is a test.

As a result, I am left praying that in the near future either my opinion of marriage will change or that I will be able to find a partner understanding of my asexuality. In making this choice, I realise some may think I am no better than the society I criticise for making women conform, for I too have conformed to my own fate. Perhaps I am just a hypocrite, slave to the very traps I sought to escape, or perhaps I can reject the notion of accepting my fate quietly and instead choose to control what is inevitable, and turn it into something I will accept only on my own terms. That too, I think, is also a way to not conform.

A Non-Muslim Guide to Standing up to Islamophobia

You have most likely heard some type of comments regarding Muslims and Islam. Whether you know a Muslim or not, felt compelled to respond, but simply did not know what to say, you are not alone. I applaud you for taking the opportunity to find out how you can help fight Islamophobia and encourage peace in the world. This guide will help you to be an ally to the Islamic community and the basic principles can apply to the defense of all groups and help to eradicate stereotypes and discrimination.

OFTEN, HATRED STEMS FROM IGNORANCE, SO BE PREPARED TO PROVIDE SOME INFORMATION!

First things first, respond with patience. While it is tempting to respond to negative statements quickly and with equal or greater negativity, don’t! You will simply be adding fuel to an already kindled fire. Instead, fight fire with water. As humans, we tend to fear the unknown. Often, hatred stems from ignorance, so be prepared to provide some information!

If the statement is vague, ask for clarification or specifics so you can better address the situation. This makes the person think about their statement and the real reason for it. Encourage dialogue and if you do not know the answer, just admit it and offer to find the answer. Text or call someone who does know the answer, or perform a Google search. While generic searches may not give you the complete answer or unbiased information, it is at least a starting point for a conversation. This can also give you an opportunity to point out errors in information.

When someone states another person should “go back where they came from,” ask if they know where that person is from. If the answer is no, suggest they may have been born here or remind the person that unless they are First Nation people, they came from immigrants too. For many, their family has been in the United States for so many generations, they have removed themselves from their immigrant ancestors.

…TERRORISM IS NOT LIMITED TO ONE RACE OR NATIONALITY.

You could go one further and ask what their issue is with either that person in particular or with immigration. Once again, remind them that outside of First Nation people, the United States was founded by people seeking freedom from tyranny and oppression. This should help put things back into perspective for many people. For some, it will not and they will be hell bent on fighting immigration.

Sometimes people are mad about immigrants “taking” jobs from U.S. citizens or jobs being moved to foreign countries. Reminding them that people living legally in the U.S. are entitled to finding a job and that job movement is the fault of the company, not its employees — this can help shift the anger to the right place.

Yes, terrorism is a problem, and phrases like “Radical Islamic Terrorists” will not help prevent people from automatically thinking of Muslims when something horrific happens.  However, terrorism is not limited to one race or nationality. Groups like the Ku Klux Klan came from a collection of like-minded individuals seeking change or resistance to change. This group evolved into a group of people with extreme ideas and actions resulting in a terrorist group.

According to History.com, even the group’s first grand wizard, Nathan Bedford Forrest, tried to break up the group due to their extremity. Extremists come from every background, but do not define the group. Just because the Ku Klux Klan was founded in the southern United States by White military veterans, does not mean all southern White military veterans are part of the Klan or have the same ideals.

HONESTLY, THE BELIEFS OF JEWS, MUSLIMS AND CHRISTIANS ARE FAR MORE SIMILAR THAN THEY ARE DIFFERENT.

Stories of violence and harsh laws are found in the Old Testament of the Bible. The word infidel means a disbeliever and applies to anyone that does not believe, not just disbelievers of Islam. This term is not only in the Quran. The word infidel appears in the Bible in Deuteronomy 13:6 and 1 Timothy 5:8 as well as in other verses. Honestly, the beliefs of Jews, Muslims and Christians are far more similar than they are different. We share laws, prophets and the belief in God. Encouraging people to read reputable information about religious texts will help dispel false rumors.

While there are some cultures that mandate a woman to cover her body, it is not strictly a religious ruling. Islam is not alone in saying women can cover. Orthodox Jewish women adhere to the rulings found in Ketuboth 72 requiring head covering and the Bible commands women to cover their hair in 1 Corinthians 11:4-16. Many other religions and cultures observe head covering as well as some form of modest dressing. Honestly, what is wrong with covering one’s body to preserve it for their spouse and God? Would it be too bold to say many people complaining about overdressing also complain about miniskirts?

It can be very aggravating to deal with people making negative and harsh comments about Muslims, especially when there is no truth or basis for those comments. You probably will not be able to reach everyone or change everyone’s minds about Islam and Muslims, but at least you can plant a seed of information that may bloom later. Advocating and educating these people will help put an end to the senseless violence and aggression associated with Islamophobia.

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Hamtramack, Michigan: Demonstration at City Hall against executive orders issued by Donald Trump banning people from seven predominately Muslim nations in North Africa and the Middle East, January 29, 2017.

Members of the Michigan People’s Defense Network (MPDN) and Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI) were present to show their solidarity with the Islamic community. Later a delegation traveled to the DTW airport for another action that attracted over 3500 people demanding that all people from these targeted states be allowed to enter the U.S. 

Photos and report by Abayomi Azikiwe