This is a little comic strip I drew towards the end of last year. It’s just meant to be funny, so I apologize ahead of time if it offends anyone!
This is a little comic strip I drew towards the end of last year. It’s just meant to be funny, so I apologize ahead of time if it offends anyone!
June 13, 2009 at 6:14 am (Community, Culture)
Tags: Arab, Bigotry, Ethnic Slur, Hate, Hispanic, Hockey, Ignorance, Latino, Muslim, Racial Slur, Racism, South Asian, Stereotyping, White gaze, White privilege
Over the past week, my friends and I have been playing on a new roller hockey court that isn’t too far from my house. Prior to that, we’ve been playing on a relatively unused basketball court (pictured above) for months, which has been fun for recreational hockey/pick-up games, but we really wanted to play on a better surface and actually use a puck instead of a ball.
We finally found a roller hockey court where a good number of people play at. Although competitive, no one plays a rough game, there are people of all ages, and unsurprisingly, everyone is White. Except for me (also pictured above) and my brother. Being the only person of color at a hockey court isn’t something new to me. When I played for an in-line roller hockey league in high school, I found myself getting self-conscious about it when people, including my teammates, would poke fun at my first and last name. I remember one time, a couple of kids I played hockey with called me a “a stupid Afghanistanian” when I was carrying my hockey gear off the court.
I find myself operating under White gaze a lot, if not always, especially when I’m playing hockey with people I don’t know. I can’t help but think about how they perceive me, a brown-skinned man, playing a sport that is filled with predominately White athletes (at least here in the United States and with what we see in the NHL). If my friends and I are playing hockey on our old basketball court, I don’t feel like I’m going to be judged if I’m wearing my Pakistani cricket jersey or my Egypt and Turkey soccer shirts. I don’t worry about it because I’m playing with my friends — people I know. But when it comes to going on this new hockey court, I feel that if I wear a jersey that says “Pakistan” on it, people will be gunning for me or treating me in a rude way.
Maybe I’m thinking and assuming way too much, right? Wrong. Yesterday, before I went to the new hockey court, I swapped my red Egypt soccer jersey for a red Nautica t-shirt. I figured, “I don’t want to deal with people giving me smack about my shirt saying ‘Egypt’ or making some stupid racial slur or whatever.” I got to the court, laced up, and said “hi” and “what’s up” and “how’s it going, man” to all of the people there. Everyone was friendly, conversational, and pretty much just wanted to have fun. So far so good, I thought.
Since there were so many people, we played with line changes, and I think I played at least six shifts the entire day. I ended up doing really well too and scored four goals. When everyone packed up to leave, my friends and I said “good game” to everyone and that was the end of that. Fun day, right? Well, today, my friends and I played at the court again and a friend of mine told me, “Oh man, I have to tell you something. When you scored your second or third goal yesterday, this kid on the bench said, “f****** spic!” My friend said he was going to say something, but before he could, someone shouted at him and said, “yo, watch your language!”
It kind of messed up the rest of my day. I’ve noticed that some people at that court try to play more aggressive against me (as opposed to others), and it could be because I stick-handle really well and they’re just trying to steal the puck from me, but then there’s another part of me thinks it’s because of my skin color. Playing hockey for a long time in my life means I’m familiar with how the frustration and aggression levels can rise when you’re on the losing team or not performing as well as you would like to. When you factor in a brown guy scoring most of the goals for the other team, would it be wrong to assume that the frustration could build into a racial slur?
The word choice of the person who delivered the racial slur just shows us even more how racists don’t even know who they hate. It shows how ignorant, childish, and idiotic they are. I am familiar with the racial slur, I know it’s directed towards people of Hispanic descent, but since this is the first time I was called it, I decided to run a few online searches just to read about it’s origins and use. Reading about it just made me angrier and I don’t think it’s appropriate to share that information here.
I don’t care if people mistaken me for another race, there isn’t anything wrong with being Latino, Asian, Arab, or anything else. What is offensive is when people use racial slurs — there is simply no excuse for it. It’s offensive, it’s racist, it’s flat-out wrong. If he thought I was Arab, he would have used another racial slur; if he thought I was South Asian (which is what I am), he would have had a racial slur for that too. The point I’m trying to illustrate here is that I refused to wear a “team Egypt” soccer jersey for the sake of avoiding ethnic/religious stereotypes, but since I’m brown-skinned, I ended up getting stereotyped anyway. How do you hide your skin color, right? Thank God that I don’t wish I could hide my skin color, but what about the people who do wish they could hide their skin color just for the sake of avoiding conflict? Maybe there are times when I do feel that way.
If there is something positive that came out of this, it’s that it reminded me that people of color face similar struggles. I would say that most people assume I’m Indian (which is correct and incorrect at the same time, lol), but there have been a few people who mistook me for Latino, Arab, and even Greek. When I hear a racial slur that is used against other people of color, it not only angers me, but also makes me think about the struggles they experience. There are so many different stereotypes applied to all of us and they are experiences that we all share. Most of the time, when I’m sharing some of my experiences with racism with a fellow person of color, I feel comfortable because I feel like they can empathize and understand where I’m coming from. This person who used that disgusting word may have thought that it was “ok” or “acceptable” to use it, but I doubt he understands how hurtful it is.
I try to stay positive about it all. At least someone on the bench told him to shut up, right? Much Love to everyone who has experienced any form of discrimination, hate, or racist bigotry in their lives. Keep your chin up, friends.
Wow, and I thought I was harsh on Obama. Isn’t it interesting that there are people on the Left who think Obama is just another Bush, while there are others on the Right who absolutely abhor him because they think he’s a “secret Muslim” (laugh) or the, ahem, “anti-Christ”? I wouldn’t go as far as saying that Obama is exactly like Bush, but I’m not overly enthusiastic about him either. Yes, his speech was brilliant and beautiful, but let’s see how he follows up on his words before we start leaping for joy, shall we?
Anyway, I found this clip almost immediately after I watched Obama’s speech in Cairo. Before you watch it, just be warned that it contains excessive profanity, offensive racial slurs, and homophobic remarks. It’s also very important to keep in mind that these individuals do not represent the opinions of all Jews. The people in this clip are obviously ignorant, childish, and poorly educated, so it would be foolish and counter-productive to associate them with Judaism.
At the same time, this video is important to share because it shows the kind of tension and animosity that exists concerning diplomacy with Muslim nations. Remember when the mainstream western media showed video clips of Palestinians dancing in the streets after the 9/11 attacks? It created the perception that all Muslims and Arabs rejoice whenever Americans and/or Jews suffer. It told us that non-Muslim Americans and Jews were innocent and morally superior to Muslims. Why do we only see Palestinians doing horrible things in the news? Why don’t we see things like this video clip of American Jews and Israelis making racist comments? Will that hurt the “good guy/bad guy” image it’s been trying to promote for the past 8 years?
Don’t count on seeing this clip on CNN.
June 5, 2009 at 12:17 am (Community, Current Events)
Tags: Arab, Barack Hussein Obama, Cairo, Children of Abraham, Christianity, Egypt, Gaza, Inter-Faith, Islam, Israel, Judaism, Muslim, Palestine, President Obama, Qur'an
Also published on Islam on My Side.
President Obama delivered a very moving and powerful speech in Cairo on June 4th, 2009. The speech focused primarily on improving American and Muslim relations, but also addressed issues such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as well as the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
I admit that it was heartening and emotional to hear Obama cite so many verses from the Holy Qur’an, as well as referring to the miracle of al-Isra, the Night Journey, in which the Prophet Muhammad journeyed to the seven heavens and met with Jesus, Moses, and Abraham, peace be upon them all. When Obama said “peace be upon them” after mentioning these Prophets, there was enormous applause from the audience because the attendees, as well as Muslims all around the world, knew exactly what it meant: Respect.
It was also nice to hear Obama stress on the importance of Islam being part of America. He acknowledged the contributions of Islamic civilization, particularly in mathematics, science, poetry, architecture, and music. When he spoke of Israel and Palestine, he emphasized on a two-state solution and recognized the struggles that both Israelis and Palestinians face. For many Muslims, the Israeli-Palestinian crisis is crucial simply because U.S. foreign policy has been overwhelmingly supportive (politically, militarily, and economically) of Israel while vilifying and ignoring the plights of Palestinians.
Although there were many times during the speech where it seemed like Obama was hesitant to acknowledge certain atrocities, such as Israel’s recent airstrike on Gaza, it was at least refreshing to hear a U.S. president recognize the Palestinian humanitarian crisis. I really liked when he said “children of Abraham,” because that kind of language speaks to the hearts of inter-faith communities around the world.
While citing the Qur’an and reaching out to Muslim majority countries displays the President’s desire to improve relations, it’s important to stay mindful that actions speak louder than words. As Tariq Ramadan mentions in his recent article, “Obama’s speech to Muslims will mean little if its symbolism is not followed up by concrete measures to restore trust.” In no way am I trying to deny Obama’s efforts, but rather I’m simply pointing out that I truly hope he follows up on his words.
What are your thoughts? If you missed the President’s speech, you can watch it below (it’s divided into 6 parts):
June 2, 2009 at 6:52 pm (Entertainment, Media)
Tags: Arab, Arab-American, Dean Obeidallah, Detroit Red Wings, Jordanian, Justin Abdelkader, Middle-Eastern, Muslim, NHL, Pittsburgh Penguins, Ramzi Abid, Stanley Cup finals, Stereotypes
Justin Abdelkader, the 22-year old rookie center for the Detroit Red Wings, scored two consecutive insurance goals in Games 1 and 2 of the Stanley Cup finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Abdelkader, who was called in as a replacement for an injured Tomas Kopecky, plays on Detroit’s fourth line and is making unexpected headlines with his first, and timely, NHL career goals.
As you can probably tell by his surname (which NHL commentators hilariously mispronounce) there is another exciting fact about Justin Abdelkader: He is of Jordanian descent. The last time I heard about an Arab ice hockey player was when Ramzi Abid (a Muslim of Tunisian descent) played for the Nashville Predators. Abid no longer plays in the NHL, so from what I understand, Abdelkader is currently the only Arab in the league.
As I ran searches to learn more about Abdelkader’s ethnic background, I came across many comments on internet forums and fan websites that said, “He doesn’t look Arab at all” or he is the “least-Arabic looking person with an Arabic last name.” These comments reminded me of an article I read a few years ago called “What Does a Muslim Look Like?” by Mona Eltahawy, an Egyptian-American Muslim, where she writes about the stereotypical images of Muslims that many non-Muslims expect to see based upon limited media coverage and representation. I saw one comment on a forum that read, “[Abdelkader] definitely doesn’t look Muslim.” No, Abdelkader is not Muslim, but even so, what is a Muslim supposed to look like? Islam is a religion open to all people, regardless of ethnicity. There is no such thing as a “Muslim look.” In response to those who say Abdelkader “doesn’t look” Arab: What is an Arab supposed to look like?
Confusion regarding Abdelkader’s appearance and Arab background stems from the stereotype that all Arabs are dark-skinned. What seems to be overlooked (and perhaps unknown to many people) is that the Arab world consists of 25 countries populated by cultural, religious, and genetic diversity. It’s not uncommon to see some fair-skinned Arabs like Justin Abdelkader in countries like Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Jordan. For history buffs out there, this shouldn’t come to a surprise since those regions were colonized and ruled by Western imperialism and empires several times throughout history (Romans, Greeks, Crusaders, French colonialists). On the other hand, Arabs from North Africa (like the aforementioned Ramzi Abid) and the Gulf areas tend to be darker-skinned.
Of course, this is not to say all Arabs from Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, and Jordan are light-skinned. For instance, there are some Syrian Muslims at my Mosque who are blonde-haired and light-skinned, and there are some who are dark-skinned. What also needs to be factored in is the possibility that Justin Abdelkader’s grandmother is not Arab, since it is only reported that Justin’s grandfather is Jordanian. Regardless, when we make statements like, “He doesn’t look Arab,” we’re reinforcing the stereotype that Arabs have a certain or specific “look.” It also underlines the immense amount of influence that the media has played in shaping our perception of Arabs.
At the 2009 CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) banquet in Springfield, Pennsylvania, Arab-American comedian, Dean Obeidallah, pointed out that since he doesn’t fit the stereotype of how an Arab is “supposed to look like,” many people have made racial slurs about Arabs around him. When he told them he was Arab, they replied, “You don’t freakin’ look like it!”
On a positive note, it’s great to see an Arab-American like Justin Abdelkader making a notable presence in the NHL. The recent spotlight on him is an excellent way to break stereotypes about Arabs, especially for those who may not personally know or interact with many Arabs.
Enjoy watching his awesome first goal in game 1:
May 8, 2009 at 12:55 am (Mysticism, Poetry)
Tags: Allah, Beauty, Carnival, Crusader, Delirium, Divine, Heartbreak, Love, Muslim, Mystic, Mysticism, pain, Saracen, Simurgh, Sorrow, Sufism, supernova, Universe
The mystics invited me to their gathering
On the way, a strange man met me on the road
He stood before me, eclipsing the sun in his black robes
He said, “Come to the carnival instead”
I followed him like a ghost crossing into another world
Where everything is spoken through symbols and metaphor
I watched as we passed through the crowded fair
Of old and young lost in the recreation of ancient folklore
Wizards with their tarot cards, magicians in medieval costumes
Mimes trapped in their imaginary prisons
Fire breathers lighting up the sky in wonder
Appearing like dragons in the imagination of children
A sun-colored butterfly fluttered amidst the strange
I followed its flight to a stone-faced audience
Watching the puppet show of Crusaders and Saracens
Hypnotized by the centuries of cruelty and violence
My eyes sank in sorrow
Not realizing that the man I came with
Vanished into the unknown
Leaving only a compass around my neck
It pointed to a tall, thin man watching me with his gothic eyes
A crystal ball levitating in the palm of his hand
I looked inside and saw myself soaring through clouded skies
He veiled the image and invited me into the large tent behind him
“Come, step inside,” he said
Walking through, I listened to the magical bells
Echoing in peaceful jubilee
As a garden bloomed on the concert stage
With rose petals raining like dream-like fantasy
A young girl dressed as a princess
Whirling beneath the falling tulips
With a halo hovering over her head
And a precious smile painted on her lips
She reminds me of the ocean’s dance
When I was another child
Dreaming about portals in the sea
And escaping far, far away into self-exile
For a moment, it was all happiness and bliss
Like living in a floating sphere vibrant with color
Like beautiful words blown into the wind
Touching skin and heart softly like an Angel’s kiss
But how transitory that was
When the wild lights began to spiral
And I heard those crazy circus clowns
Laughing wickedly on their unicycles
Their laughter reminds me of hellfire
Roaring through those endless fields of mine
Burning every flower, slaughtering every dream
Leaving nothing left to grow, nothing left to find
They juggled their sharp and deadly blades
Grinning at the audience like cardboard cartoons
Each dagger spinning and slicing through the air
I can only hear violence and murder in their tune
As if they were putting on a sadistic show
Where I was the dummy flown to the highest cloud
Only to have my strings cut and fall below
Deep into the heart of the darkest abyss
I left the tent, not wanting to stay any longer
Yet it were gypsy strings that called me to another street
Beyond the ferris wheel where families gathered
Beyond the swan boats where Lovers drifted upon the lake
I saw the fiddle player sitting upon a stage
Next to a luminous unicorn glowing like a star in Heaven
A magician bowed her head as the marveled audience clapped
Her eyes searched through the sea of faces and met mine in unison
She smiled and said, “I need a volunteer”
As if it was instinct and meant to be
I rose my hand and made my way through the masses
She opened her hand, waiting for me
Like a savior offering eternal refuge and escape
Our fingers touched, our hands merged
I felt my heart tremble as a current rippled inside
She drew me silently up the steps
Like I was the seeker and she the guide
“This Way,” she whispered
While walking me to a double-sided door
Nothing behind it, nothing within
Just a frame of wood, nothing more
She wrapped a blindfold around my eyes
Mystified and blinded in darkness
She told me I could remove it soon
After I opened the door and walked inside
I took my careful steps, hoping for answers
And closed the door behind me
I finally removed the blindfold
Only to find myself in a hall of spiraling mirrors
I turned around and reached for the knob
But watched it unscrew and fall to the crimson floor
Pounding at the door, I heard nothing from the other side
The past sealed shut – no other way but forward
I walked to the center of the room
Watching infinite reflections follow myself
Gazing deep into my own eyes, I saw a storm gather
The joys, the pain, the misery, the light, the gloom
I became lost in my own self
Not wanting the heart’s agony anymore
A desire to flee from this shell swept over me
A desire I never recognized before
I thought to myself and longed for escape:
I’d rather be a statue in the water fountain
Engraved with a smile on my face
Handing out roses to the lonely souls
Who just want to live in a beautiful place
I’d rather be a voice in your mind
Telling you that it’s going to be ok
As you drive home alone late at night
Dwelling on your sorrows and contemplating suicide
I’d rather be the ever-present spirit of Love
Holding you in arms, whispering comfort in your ears
As you weep over your broken heart
And wallow in unwanted fear
I’d rather be a guardian Angel
For an innocent prisoner sitting on death row
Adoring her paintings and releasing her from the shackles
Carrying her beautiful soul into the next life
I’d rather be a drop of rain
Kissing your cheek for comfort
Or a ray of light from the sun
Reminding your heart that it will shine again
I’d rather be the gentle breeze blowing through your hair
Accompanied by the magical tune of the santour
A sheet of wind wrapping around you
Carrying your imagination to a distant seashore
I’d rather be a vision of a better world
Rushing into the arms of artists and activists
Celebrating in tears of joy as each and every dream
Is made real and manifest
I’d rather feel nothing
No anger, no hate, no pain
No one to hurt, no one to blame
Nothing to take, nothing to gain
“I” would rather not exist
And suddenly, the hallway erupted in laughter
My eyes darted down both ends of the room
Before realizing it came from my reflection in the mirror
“Why do you laugh?” I ask
“Because you are the real lunatic,” he answered
Mysteriously, he stepped out of the reflection
Standing in front of me, he said: “Yet you remain a coward”
“For all you know how to do is merely speak of non-existence”
Without warning, like a being possessed
I broke the mirror with my fist
And with one swift motion
I slit my clone’s throat with a blade of glass
The blood splashed on the mirrors
The entire glass hallway shattered – Kshhh!!
The pieces flew into my skin
As the ground beneath me shook like an earthquake
I fell through the floor
And found myself tumbling through outer space
Debris floating around me as I plunged deeper
I became surrounded by stars, distant planets and nebulae
Comets, meteors, galaxies whirling in darkness
I spun like a pinwheel, spiraling in every direction
My arms extending, my fingers reaching
Reaching for something in desperation
Reaching for Love, hope, beauty
For happiness, joy, euphoria
For peace, balance, tranquility
For life, home – something, anything!
My skin turning pale
My body surrendering
My blood freezing to ice
My heart beginning to fail
A voice enters my mind – Look, over here!
I turn and see Simurgh – my old Friend
Soaring through the heavens like a shooting star
Oh, Simurgh, I thought you were dead
Carried by the solar winds
She swoops above me – bloodied from our past
Before I could smile, her talons dig into my chest
And violently tears me open
My screams suffocated by the cosmic void
Only tears and blood can trickle from my eyes
When murdered by the Friend of Love
Only the soul can fill the universe with my endless cries
Amidst the pain, I heard sound emerge in space
I saw Simurgh pulling stars with her flapping wings
Energy and light – They raced in my direction!
I heard music! – Like a symphony of strings!
Luminous orbs of plasma gathering like an ocean
And swirling like a solar typhoon
I heard them whistling through the dark
As they charged towards my open wound
I heard the orchestra’s crescendo
The chant of mystics resounding
The passion drums pounding
Duum! Duum! Duum!
I understood now
As the realization came to me
“Death before death”
The Way to eternity
O Giver of Love and Mercy!
You have cut me open
Pull Your storm
Flames shooting out of my eyes
And infinite rays of light beaming in every direction
As my heart swallowed Heaven’s fire
Every star filling me with divine resurrection
I have exploded into infinity
Sailing to that Love I cannot name
Expanding forever with the universe
Bidding farewell to yesterday’s “me”
And upon those memories of sorrow, I smile at you
I am Supernova
And you are Stargazer
Watch the multi-colored flame
Of my Being shine anew
~ Broken Mystic~
April 4, 2009 at 5:42 pm (Poetry)
Tags: Allah, Call to Prayer, Divine Love, Elysium, Grief, Healing, Heartbroken, Jerusalem, Jummah, Kaabah, Karbala, Love, Mecca, Medina, Muslim, Mystic, pain, Sorrow, Spirituality, sufi
I was dreaming of Mecca
The tomb in Medina
The memories in Jerusalem
The shrine in Karbala
Look at the congregations on Friday
Worshipers rushing into the Mosques
Listen to that beautiful call to prayer
It is all for You, my Creator
Believers memorize Your sacred verses
Theologians are absorbed in pursuit of Divine knowledge
Scholars fill endless books about Your Supreme Majesty
Mystics adorn Your Beauty with poetry
I am jealous of all Your Lovers
I want to be the only pilgrim in the holy city
I want to stand before the Kaabah alone
Just You and me
Call me Your slave
Tell me where I belong
Attend to my wounds
Tell me where I am wrong
I am reaching for Elysium
Remove this horrible grief and sorrow
Take me for another dance
And teach me a new lesson
Just You and me
Call it blasphemy, call it selfish
The words of those clerics cannot judge me
For my longings and prayers are only known to One
March 22, 2009 at 7:29 am (Poetry)
Tags: Abraham, Beloved, Checkpoint, Dervish, Discrimination, Gaza, IDF, Islam, Islamophobia, Israel, Jewish, Muslim, Occupation, Palestine, Palestinian, Persecution, Separation, sufi, Terrorist, War, War Crime, Zionism
You watch me closely
With your sniper rifle
A weapon you call security
An instrument I call fear
I show that I am weaponless
As I pass through your checkpoint
Spinning like a whirling dervish
Fearless in this worldly separation
I want to open your eyes
So you can see the unjust persecution
I want you to look into my soul
And listen to the endless cries of desperation
I want you to watch my heart bleed
Every time I pray for Abraham’s children
I want you to hear me gasp for air
Every time a face and name is forgotten
Why are we, brothers and sisters, so torn apart?
Here I cross again, spinning in my Sufi dance
And dancing to the song of yearning
That plays forever in my heart
Like planets dancing around the sun
This is the dance of the celestial heavens
Where even the gunman is invited
No uniforms, no flags, no bombs, no guns
As you watch, I want you to listen:
My Beloved is Here
My Love is Here
My Home is Here
I just came from a community cinema event in Philadelphia for an independent film called “Arusi Persian Wedding” directed by Marjan Tehrani. It’s a really beautiful film that follows an Iranian-American and his American wife who travel to Iran and have a traditional Persian wedding. I was not only in awe of how incredibly beautiful Iran is, but also at how I found myself relating to it. The Iranian-American expresses his pride for his Iranian roots, but also feels a distance because of his inability to fully understand the culture and language. It reminded me about how I sometimes struggle with finding my ethnic identity, no matter how much I’m proud of it.
After the screening, there was a guest panel that led an interesting discussion about the film and then took questions from the audience. My friend got a chance to chime in with a great question, while I decided to sit back and listen. I didn’t feel like I had much to contribute to the conversation since the event seemed to aim at breaking stereotypes about Iran, its people, and its culture. Although one of the panelists spoke very highly of her experience as a White woman in Iran, she admitted that “initially, I was frightened, as a feminist, when I learned I had to wear the veil…”
When I got home tonight, her words replayed in my mind over and over again. I really should have gotten up and said something, even though I just wanted to make a small comment. I think I’ll e-mail her after I write this, but what I wanted to point out is that it’s very important for us to not make an association between oppression and the hijaab, or veil. Her comment seemed to implicate that someone who wears the hijaab could not also be a feminist (I would have asked her to correct me if I was wrong). I’m sure this is not what she meant, but I believe it would have been important for one of the panelists to mention that forcing someone to dress a certain way is very different from someone choosing to dress a certain way. There are plenty of Muslim women in other parts of the world, especially in the West, who wear hijaab by choice; therefore it would be very inaccurate to say that Muslim women who wear hijaab cannot be feminists. I’m glad one of the Iranian panelists said that Iranian women still drive, work, and go to school, contrary to the stereotypes and misconceptions that they’re “so oppressed.”
The other thing I should have commented on was on their usage of the word “Islam” whenever discussing the “Islamic Revolution” in 1979 and the current “Islamic Laws.” The Qur’an clearly states that religion cannot be imposed on people. Doesn’t Allah teach us to use our logic and reasoning? What is so logical about forcing someone to believe a certain way? The true spiritual essence and beauty gets lost when someone is being forced to practice a religion. Spirituality and Faith is personal; it must be felt within. Reciting the Shahada (Islamic declaration of Faith) is simple, while believing in it is something deeper and entirely different altogether.
Later, someone asked a question about whether or not these were the dress codes for Muslim women in all Islamic countries, and one of two Iranian panelists said, “I’m not sure, but I would say ‘yes,’ they are universal.” A friend and I spoke about this later after the discussion and both agreed that we felt a strong anti-Islam vibe from her. I was glad that the other Iranian panelist jumped in and explained that these are not universal dress codes in Islamic countries since most Muslim countries don’t force women to wear hijaab or the burqah.
Anyway, my main point is that the hijaab should not be associated with oppression, and Muslim women who wear it shouldn’t be so quickly judged. Just because some feminists are not familiar with certain manners of dress doesn’t mean that it’s not compatible with feminism. I think it’s important for feminists to understand that feminist thought is very diverse rather than being limited to one group of people, one culture, and one skin color.
February 25, 2009 at 7:45 am (Mysticism, Poetry)
Tags: African, Allah, Asian, Beloved, Buddhist, Christian, Divine Love, European, Flame, Hindu, Ishq, Jew, Love, Middle-Eastern, Muslim, Mystic, Passion, South Asian, sufi, Sufism, unity
An old poem I wrote in August of 2007. I recently shared it on one of my friend’s Facebook page, so I decided to share it here as well.
Look beyond the illusion of separation
Call me not by labels of the world
Not even “male” or “man”
Do not look at the color of my skin
Or what flag I “belong” to
Muslim, Christian, Jew, Buddhist, Hindu,
European, African, Middle-Eastern, Asian
Whatever you are, come closer
Love’s flame says, “I can’t take it anymore”
Mystic fire races through the unseen
Burning the walls of separation to ashes
“The gates have been unlocked”, says Divine Love
“And the keys were melted by my passion”
Your maps are wrong, erase those borders
Move closer to each other
Language, culture, religion – these are not barriers
Friendship always finds a way
Throw your labels away for once
And put judgment to rest
Look inside, beneath the skin
Do you see what burns within?
The flame of Being – I am that
You are that
Love has shattered those inner walls
And said, “You will not need these anymore”
Receive with open arms, open heart
Radiate, Shine, and Give
Glow with me, O world!
We belong to the same family
Same Creation, same Source
Take up your instruments
From all corners of the earth
And celebrate this unity!
O Beloved, burn with me!