Muslim Businesses You Should Definitely Be Buying From

I am writing this post because I try hard to support Muslim or minority-owned companies whenever I can, but the problem is that these companies are a lot harder to find. With a google search, you are only limited to certain brands. So, this post is for people like me, that want to purchase from Muslim owned business but are struggling to find them. I decided to do more in-depth research. So, I chose and reached out to the companies in this article because I found them unique and I love the story their brand. (I was working on this for a month before the Allure article came out. However, they stuck only to Muslim fashion and beauty brands.) 

 

Nominal

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SiwarBox 

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Since I took Geometry in high school, I have always been pulled toward the beauty of geometric forms and art. I love seeing each shape with its own design simultaneously and how consistent and inconsistent it can be at the same time and SiwarBox engulfs just that. They are a jewelry company where every piece of jewelry is inspired by geometric art and sacred Islamic architecture, while also focusing on modern and minimalistic design. Their items are earrings, necklaces, scarves, and bracelets

Salam Aref, the founder, and designer behind SiwarBox is an American Syrian from a Circassian descent, currently based in the Greater Washington D.C area.  Through her sales, she aids in sponsoring the education of Syrian children. Salam studied architecture in Damascus, Syria. She graduated with a degree in Architecture, a minor in Art History, with a concentration on Islamic Art, in Maryland.

 

SHUKR Clothing

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SHUKR Clothing is a modest Muslim clothing brand that really hits close to the heart for me. It is founded by a British Muslim convert, Anas Sillwood. The company idea came to be while Anas performed Hajj, Islam’s religious pilgrimage. He saw that people were dressed in the most modest and dignified clothing he had ever seen. It reminded him of the hadith of Prophet Mohamed SAW saying, “God is beautiful and he loves beauty.” He thought the clothing that he had seen during Hajj “was a reflection of this divine beauty the hadith speaks of.

I really recommend you watch this YouTube Video that gives you an insight into the beauty of this company. As a convert, Anas wanted to share the beauty he saw at hajj, with the west. SHUKR Clothing prides themselves on being an ethical and fair-trade Islamic company and putting “faith into fashion”. They also strive to produce a religious work environment, where staff can pray regularly and grow spiritually. They treat every worker as a part of an extended family. They sell products such as, but not limited to: abayas, jilbabs, kufis, hijabs, nursing/maternity clothes, and thobes.

 

Leia

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Leia is a clothing brand that stands for empowerment, equality, and ethical values. The owner, Michèle Jochem Yunus says, the dream of Leia “is to create a supportive community of strong women who support, respect, and learn from one another.” Leia is a company for Muslim or any woman who is looking for a modest and less tight fitting alternative, versus tight fitting activewear. Leia achieves this all without sacrificing function, quality, and style. What I love about the Leia brand is that Michèle puts the same amount of love into designing and creating every single piece of clothing. All Leia garments are designed and manufactured in Los Angeles, California.

The current Leia collection specializes in modest activewear, leisurewear, and swimwear. I have some of their activewear and I use the clothes to dress comfortably around the house or to workout in.

 

Wäbry Organic Syrup

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When I found out I was a carrier of celiac disease, I started to look for gluten-free and allergy-friendly (particularly, cashew- and pistachio-free) products. That lead me to stumble upon Wäbry, which I have now been enjoying for over a year. Though there are many ways of using Wäbry syrups, some of my favorites include drizzling them on my pancakes and ice cream or mixing them in my Italian cream sodas.  

How did Wäbry come to be? Founder Nadia Khan wanted to share one of her favorite childhood treats — strawberry milk — with her children. Upon visiting the grocery store to find the ingredients for the tasty treat, she noticed that all of the syrups she came across contained high fructose corn syrup and artificial additives. Not wanting to feed her kids junky ingredients, she decided to make her own healthy version of strawberry syrup at home. After a while, Nadia saw that her son, family, and friends loved the syrups so much that she decided to take it to the next level. There were no comparable syrups in the market, so she decided to research how she could sell her product to the public.

Wäbry syrup now has five flavors of syrup that are sold online and in some independent specialty stores: strawberry, blueberry, peach, chocolate hazelnut, and No Added Sugar strawberry. The best part? Every bottle sold funds a nutritious meal for an orphaned child in need through Wäbry‘s partnership with the non-profit GiveLight Foundation (https://www.givelight.org/). 

 

Diamanté Scarves

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Diamanté Scarves is a hijab company based out of Southern California. Their “goal is to provide a variety of styles of high-quality scarves.” They know that every hijabi has their “own sense of style.” Finding comfortable, versatile, and fashionable hijabs can be difficult to find and purchase. When the founder of Diamanté Scarves was creating their brand, they acknowledged that by focusing on the difficulty of finding hijabs and the latest styles. So when they created their brand they have made it easy for hijabis to find affordable and fashionable scarves. 

They offer several collections of beautiful scarves. Their scarves vary in style and colors. Currently, they are offering several featured collections of scarves to choose from. Some of their collections are AstroEmbroidery, Matrix, Basix. Basix is my go-to collection to choose from because I live in a very humid area. Since the Basix Collection hijabs are 100% cotton and jersey cotton, the fabric is breathable for humid areas. Their scarves are all very lightweight and comfortable, which works well for women who are involved in sports and other activities. 

 

With A Spin

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With A Spin is my go-to Ramadan and Eid decoration online store, but that is not all they offer. They sell things all of the way from nursery decor, stationery items, to books

I constantly get asked by converts about where they can get decorations for Eid, especially when they have children. A majority of my convert friend’s and followers were Christian before becoming Muslim and always decorated for the holidays as children. Now when you purchase from this company, you will be able to make new or sharing similar holiday cultural traditions with your friends and family.

One of the goals that Lail Hossain, the founder of With A Spin wants to do with her brand, is to help families or Muslims like me whether a convert or not, looking to express their identity. With A Spin offers banners, decorations, cookie cutters shaped like masjids, stars, and moons. I used their cookie cutters last Eid to make cookies and it made me happy to be celebrating the holiday and less lonely. It brought back the nostalgia of my childhood but, with a new spin. (See what I did there?)  One thing I loved that Lail said when I talked to her is that “she is trying her best to find a way on how she can help reverts, so they do not feel lonely during Eid and Ramadan.” She has started by offering open house iftars to converts.

Muslim, So-Called “Pious” Men Abusing Their Platform *Trigger Warning*

Written By: Kaya Gravitter

In today’s time, I have seen that many people change when they become famous or when they come into money. I truly understand and always believed what my dad has told me, “Money changes people.” I have seen it among family members and friends. I have also seen it growing among the peers that I used to look up to. Ones that I followed for Islamic guidance or knowledge from before I even converted to Islam. I have become extremely mindful of this and no longer attach myself to Muslim public figures.

Fame or money can make one more humble and not gloat around what they have. But for some, they change significantly, by using their power and fame to get what they want and if they do not get it, they belittle you. It is possible that they were always that person and now they are just unmasking who they have always been. I know that many men, not just Muslims, in general, use their fame and power to manipulate women into getting what they want.

I am at a crossroads with Muslim men and just Muslims in general. I wonder why when someone is so hungry for fame or money that they manipulate people into getting what they want or they manipulate other people when they get to a certain level of fame. As if they are a god themselves and we should feel blessed to be in their presence or we are the dirt on the bottom of their shoe. I feel that when some Muslim Influencers reach their desired fame, they start to conform to what they think Western society wants them to think.

There have been Muslim influencers that have said, they dress a certain way in white populated areas to make the white people feel more at ease. Why do you care what they think?

Maybe this is another contributor to the fame factor. You use your Muslim followers and put up with what they say until you gain enough fame to abandon them all or put all of them in the same category as the media is constantly doing to Muslims. How can you live with whom you become?

You keep pushing down who you are and it eats at your insides OR maybe you keep telling yourself that this is who you “always” wanted to be. You do not need a million followers to do that. Yes, the Muslim community can be brutal and judge you. I speak out against that because it is not our business to judge others. But when you are a Muslim and you think Muslims are not good enough to hang around you, then you are thinking you are not good enough. Do not forget, you are still a Muslim. Even if you leave Islam do not forget who was there for you from their very beginning.

The main reason I am writing this article is to stick up for Muslim women who are being targeted by so-called “pious” men who use their religious platform and their new found popularity and fame. Then suddenly they get caught. I believe at this time it is not haram for me to write about this, as it is public knowledge now and I am protecting other women from falling into traps by predators like them. Collectively, we cannot support these abusive figures. We need to support the women who have spoken up or others who speak up against injustices. They deserve our support. Let them know you support them. My dear sisters, if we do not look out for one another then who will?

I support you.

I don’t know why other Muslim men or women with a social platform are not talking about this and speaking out against men who use their power to manipulate women and girls to do what they want. Will Muslims turn a blind eye or speak up? Muslim women are having their own #metoo movement but most women do not come out and speak out. Muslim women are some of the strongest women I have ever met, for all that we go through.

If a man of power puts you in an uncomfortable position, please speak out. I know it is easier said than done and it can take time to come forward but believe me, you are strong enough. Then once you get out, do not be ashamed or let people see you as a victim, you are a survivor. You are a warrior. You have overcome one of the hardest obstacles.

Follow Kaya on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to follow her writing.

The photo in the article is from Sojourners. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why is the Voice of Muslim Women Only Amplified on One day and Not Every Day?

Article By: Kaya Gravitter and Iman Ibrahim.

As I reflect on Muslim Women’s Day that took place this year on March 27th, I cannot come to realize why they finally decide to post things by Muslim women just on that day. Why is our voice only amplified on one day and not every day? When the very next day headlines are being splattered of how Ilhan Omar is anti-Semitic. So much for amplifying our voices one day a year to just silence them the very next day.

I’m still up for celebrating Muslim women because it is a big step for Muslim Women BUT I’m also for spreading the truth. This is why I decided to be a journalist.

We, as Muslim women, deserve better. Why is our voice only amplified among women on one day and not every day?  I share articles like I read yesterday to publications all of the time and they always deny me. I was shocked to see I pitched almost identical articles to the ones I saw posted on Muslim Women’s Day.

Another thing I would like to add to this article is that there were many Black Muslims who felt like their voice was not even fairly amplified on Muslims Women’s Day.  is a problem amongst Muslim’s as well. Muslim platforms have the capability to express and speak out against this but they do not either.

In 2017, Bobby Rogers created an art project that portrayed and offered a platform for people to express what it is like to be black and a Muslim in America. The viewpoints on this controversial issue were started by women who agreed that being Black and Muslim meant “ sometimes being erased from conversations on Islam and Blackness, but always belonging to both.” Another viewpoint was raised by a Black Muslim Woman that being Black and Muslim means “constantly being asked to choose between your race and your religion because society has tried to convince you that only one can exist.

Iman Ibrahim, a Eritrean British American and a Public Health student, adds that the severity of this issue progresses when we have to witness privileged Muslims dismissing the existence of this issue that they cannot identify with and argue that we are all equal in Islam, as Arab’s simultaneously “jokingly” refer to us as abeed or zingy (the N-word). Would Prophet Mohamed use these terrible words? 

Iman adds that when we celebrate Muslim women, we need to acknowledge the platforms they are highlighting and trying to bring awareness on, as well. Ilhan Omar finally had the audacity to speak what every Palestinian wished they had the platform to voice about AIPAC, but where is the reciprocated solidarity on Black Muslim Woman issues from the rest of the Muslim community? African Americans comprise one-third of the Muslim population but are still the last ones to be asked to speak on Islam. Bilal (RA), a black Muslim, was the first of the Sahaba (Prophet Mohamed’s companions)  to call the Athan but is someone that we only briefly learn about in Islamic schools and rarely reference. It is also said that Prophet Moses was black.

 

Iman Ibrahim’s Instagram Handle: @imanibrahimn
Follow Kaya on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to follow her writing.

 

Link to the photo featured. 

The Names Of The 51 Muslims Killed in New Zealand

I am writing this because I want to share the name of every individual because no one should forget their names. The names of the injured or the names of the innocent Muslims who passed away. They all have stories as to who they are. No one should forget about the tragedy that happened and slip it under the rug. I do not yet have all of the 51 names but I have the vast majority. Some victim’s families and countries do not want to release their names, and I totally understand that. I will continue to add the names, until they are brought to light. If you have any additional names, please email them to me or contact me through social media.

They are children, mothers, fathers, mothers, grandparents, daughters and sons.

They are refugees, immigrants and New-Zealand born. They are humans.

The names I got are from the New Zealand News Herald, article, and from a Aljazeera article.

Mucad (or Muca) Ibrahim, 3, thought to be the youngest of the victims to be killed.

Abdullahi Dirie, 4

Heba Sami, a 12-year-old boy

Khaled Mustafa

Hamza Mustafa, 16

Sayyad Milne, 14

Ansi Karippakulam Alibava, 25, among the missing and presumably dead.

Naeem Rashid, 50 & son Talha, 21

Vora Ramiz, 28, among the missing and presumably dead.

Farhaj Ahsan, 30

Mojammel Hoq, 30

Atta Elayyan, 33, a national futsal player, was or is undergoing surgery, but presumably dead.

Syed Jahandad Ali, 34, among the missing and presumably dead.

Hussain Al-Umari, 36, among the missing and presumably dead.

Osama Adnan, 37, among the missing and presumably dead.

Kamel Darwish, 39, among the missing and presumably dead.

Haroon Mahmood, 40

Husne (or Hosne) Ara Parvin, 42, Parvin was shot when she tried to save her wheelchair-bound husband Farid Uddin, according to a relative.

Mohammad Imran Kahn, 47, among the missing and presumably dead.

Amjad Hamid, 57, a heart doctor from Palestine, is among the missing and presumably dead.

Abdelfattah Qasem, 59

Linda Armstrong, 65

Ali Elmadani, 66, among the missing and presumably dead.

Haji-Daoud Nabi, 71

Lilik Abdul Hamid

Ashraf Ali

Talha Rashid, 21

Amjad Hamid, 57

Talha Naeem, 22

Abdus Samad, 67

Areeb Ahmed, 27

Matiullah Safi

Jahandad Ali

Mahboob Haroon

Sohail Shahid

Ahmed Jamal al-Din Abdul Ghani, 68

Munir(Mounir) Suleiman, 6

Ashraf Al-Morsi(Mursi)

Ashraf Al-Masri

*The photo at the top of this article is mine and no one else’s, unless you pay me to use it.*

Why Are We Not Allowed to Mourn Mass Shootings Against Us?

I’m sickened by what happened at the Christ Church New Zealand Mosque shooting. Some non-Muslims, Australian Senator, Fraser Anning, as an example to be just one of the many people on social media and Twitter that keep justifying and saying it’s Islam’s fault. How could this be the fault of Islam? The guy is not a Muslim but a white nationalist and a Christian. Am I ignorant enough to say all Christians and white people are terrorists, like so many people do to Muslims? No, and he even posted all over social media the manifesto of his intentions and even live streamed the mass murder. How much more proof do you need that this is not the fault of Islam?

I just want me and other Muslims to have the chance to mourn. But how can we, when we are expected, even after people of my faith have been brutally killed, to have to stick up for ourselves. Who will stand up and stick up for us?

Friends, family, society, and Muslim allies, what if it was me? How would you feel? I or my community could be the next people targeted. Do you think I deserve to be killed because I believe in one God, the God of Jesus, Moses, and Abraham and that I pray to God differently than you? Though when I pray I prostrate to God, just like the bible said Jesus did.

How many more hate crimes and deaths do Muslims have to go through? 49 Muslims were brutally killed today. I will never understand why white people/Christians do not have to condemn when a white person shoots up a mosque, black majority church, commit a hate crime, or rapes someone. I stick up and speak out anytime any minority or any race is targeted and innocent lives are lost. But why am I even writing this letter? Why do I feel like I have to write this letter but no white person or Christian is expected to condemn this attack?  Society has let minorities to be alienated and given minorities the mindset like all of the problems of the world are their fault.

Though trauma and discrimination may surround me, like other Muslim writers and journalists, this is why I will never stop writing or being a journalist. I will not let anyone silence my voice. I must and will continue to write for minorities and Muslims. Our voices need to be heard.

Also a note to the media outlets who do not want to label the mass shooter of that New Zealand Mosque as a terrorist, you are in the wrong. People need to start calling ALL mass shooters, terrorists. Just look in a dictionary for the definition or better yet, I will share the definition here for you. If you do not believe my definition look on the United States FBI website.

According to the FBI,

International terrorism defines as one who is perpetrated by individuals and/or groups inspired by or associated with designated foreign terrorist organizations or nations (state-sponsored). Domestic terrorism defines as one who is perpetrated by individuals and/or groups inspired by or associated with primarily U.S.-based movements that espouse extremist ideologies of a political, religious, social, racial, or environmental nature.

The media and the world need to stop it with the hypocrisy and double standards. Muslims have every right to live on this earth as anyone else. We are all humans.

*I know all rights to this article and the photo in the article*

There is a Price to Pay By Converting to Islam

Being a convert is a hard burden to carry. You have the weight of the dunya (this life), previous life, and your current life all on your shoulders, and you are constantly being pulled into a different direction with the devil’s assistance. I write this as I listen to a cover By Butch Walker Featuring The Dove and The Wolf of the song, The Rose By Bette Midler. I saw Butch walker perform in concert and it was probably one of the best. It reminds me of my past life. It makes me reflect on who I was before I made Islam my priority. Was I happier then or now?   

I used to be in a band, I used to sing, play my acoustic guitar, and perform for people. I was good at it. Maybe I could have been a famous musician. But it doesn’t matter anymore, I left it for the life I am living now. A life dedicated in serving and living my life for the one and only God. The god of Abraham, Noah, Moses, David, and Noah.

This is probably the deepest and most personal article I have wrote.

I have tasted the dunya and yes, sometimes I miss it. My family loved me more. I loved myself more and had more friends. (Though I have made a lot of better friends.) No one hated me for my religion.  

I miss having a glass of wine with my grandma or friends, just for the social aspect. But then I remember I hated having a hangover and how bad it would mess me up if I mixed it with my medicine. I would feel like I was about to die. There is a reason God doesn’t want you to drink and that is because it totally takes over you. Also, Muslim parties are even more fun than a white person’s party and there is not even alcohol to make you enjoy it or have fun.

As a convert, I do feel people in the Muslim community put us on pedestals. I don’t want to be on one. I am not perfect and I still am not. Though so many people tell me I am so special because God chose me to be Muslim but all Muslims are special. God guides and chooses whomever he wants. We should all feel special because we are in God’s eyes, and it doesn’t matter how you got to Islam, you are still a Muslim.  

I ask myself sometimes, could I ever be Christian again? I couldn’t because my views have changed to much. I simply don’t believe what I used to practice anymore. Though when I wa Christian, Christians and Muslims were nice to me. Now that I am Muslim, Muslims and Christian are not nice to me. I ask myself, could I renounce Islam? I never could because it took me a long way to get to this point. I can never turn back from where I am now because it took me so long to get here.

I ask God sometimes, why did you have to show me the truth? Now my family thinks I am going to hell, I have very few friends now, and my life is often lonely. Do I miss the freedom of being able to do whatever I want? Of course but then I remember that now I finally know what can get me into heaven or hell because as a Christian, I knew believing Jesus died for my sins was just not enough. I could not believe that because God judges who gets into heaven or hell by measuring your good and bad deeds.

These moments of extreme sadness bring me closer to God because at the end of the day, when everyone is gone and you have no one. Who else do you have besides God? Who is the person you can talk to whenever you want? Who is always there? The answer to everything is God. That is why I dedicate myself to God and God alone.

The image in this article is from newmatilda.com

Converting to Islam for Love? Here’s words from a Muslim Convert of Why You Shouldn’t. Article By: Ameerah Nahal

Though I, Kaya, do not care a women’s reason for converting to Islam. If you are Muslim, you are Muslim. If you are not, if you are not. It is none of my business. However, I would not personally convert for a man because I love God more than anything on this earth and the ridicule I face by my family and society is not worth any man’s love. However, I do know some women who have converted for a man have turned out to be better people and Muslims then their husbands. I also want to mention, I know a couple Muslim men whose wives are Christian or Jewish and they are still nice and practicing Muslims. Today I will be posting an article by Ameerah Nahal, a Latina Muslim, from Chicago, with a piquant personality, This is in her own words and offers some good information of the subject, if you are contemplating converting to Islam or any religion for a man.

“Okay, I’ll get shot for this but whatever….
Ladies, do not convert for the sake of man… 

1. Muslim men can marry Christian or Jewish women. So if you’re catholic or some kind of Christian, remain as is, unless Islam TRULY interests you (without factoring in that ‘man’). 

2. Converting for the sake of “love” is dumb. If he loved you, he’d be fearful of Allah (God in Arabic) first. He knows the protocol. You probably don’t know it, so if he truly loved you, he’ll tell you the truth. 

3. Should you convert due to your in laws bugging you — I suggest doing your homework on Islam first. Just a touch.

4. The catch of what happens if you marry a born Muslim but don’t convert: your kids become Muslim. It will be between you and hubby on whether to incorporate your faith into their upbringing or not. If he’s 100% against sharing your beliefs with the kids, I suggest re-evaluating the situation in contrast to your personal values. 

5. If you guys are “dating”, this is a red flag that he is not practicing. Non-practicing Muslim men, more times then not, especially if they grew up in a conservative family, are players. He knows he can act in the ways that he wants without the rules Muslims usually follow when it comes to marriage. Muslim girls will tell this type of guy you are dating either, “talk to my wali/father” or just deny him.

6. Should you convert for a man, your reward into Islam is null. Because to be a Muslim, you have to believe in your heart that God is the one and only God and Mohamed PBUH is his prophet. So, after converting, if you do want to learn more about Islam, more than likely you’re gonna turn to him for guidance. This isn’t okay because more than likely he’s not versed in his deen (religion) either and you will grow resentful. Islam is beautiful when u look into it for what it is, without the man involved. 

If he is a good Muslim, he will help you by providing sources to ensure success should, you accept Islam on your own accord and not for a man. Some people found Islam via a man but walked out a better Muslim whether the man stuck around or they left. 

But I advise, don’t do it if it is not in your life itinerary.

-Ameerah Nahal “

See Why Millennials Are Scared to Have Kids

Often times I see children and feel no ticking clock or mommy instinct inside of me that wants to be a mother. There are many reasons why I am confused about having children. Can I even afford a child or will I be a good enough parent? I think I will I have to do all the work and be the only one putting in the effort to raising that child. I feel once I have a child I will not be able to fully live my life anymore. I wonder if am I being too selfish and just putting my needs first. But what I do with my body is my choice and my right, so why do I feel guilty?

Are these common thoughts amongst millennial women? (According to Pew Research, anyone born between 1981 and 1996 is considered a Millennial.) I was curious to if others my age are thinking the same as ,e, so I took a question to my social media, “Are there any of you scared of having children or do you just not want them? If so, tell me your reasoning.” There were several answers to my questions.

A 18-year old-woman, who is not a millenial, answered something very similar to how I feel, she feels scared to have children. Though she loves children, her fear is greater than her love. She said, “I probably overthink but I just think I will turn out to be a bad parent. I’ll literally be raising a human being. What if I don’t do that well? What if my children will turn out bad. What if, what if, what if… That is what really scares me.”

Many other women answered something all the lines of what she said. We are terrified of not being good mothers. Why are we scared, is it because we think our parents did not do a good enough job at raising us or our, we, as women, to hard on ourselves? Do us women think we are not a good enough person to raise a child? To be honest, if we want to admit it or not, raising the child is usually thrown on the women and that is something I am not ready to handle. Unfortunately not everyone can afford nannies.

I often think to myself that I am scared that if I even try to have kids, what happens if I cannot? One women who answered my question said she was scared to even try to get pregnant, just like me.

I know I cannot predict the future, I cannot control how my child will turn out, no matter how hard I try, they will still become their own person and I would want my child to be who they want to be. But what if that is not a good person? Then I would feel guilty. I would feel like a failure.  A 23-year-old women my age answered me that, “I’m excited (to have children) but I don’t think I’ll ever have that gut “I’m ready feelings.” Myself, I often ask people, “When did you realize you were ready to be a mother?” Some say it is, “because I am getting older, so if I don’t have children now, then I probably never will be able to.” Maybe it is something that will come eventually but I do not know. Do you think you ever really know when you are “ready”?

A 29-year-old woman said, “I was always scared and wanted to adopt because this world is harsh, especially if you are a girl.”

A 24-year-old woman said, “I grew up in a family of 6 children. I am the eldest. So I helped my parents a lot. I’ve seen and felt the sacrifices that you have to make as an parent to have children. I don’t know if it is because I am selfish or other reason but that is what makes me not want kids. I also never had the  “feeling” that everybody is talking about. So I don’t know.”

When I was younger, I wanted to have one child and adopt one, but things have changed in my mind since then because as we grow older, our way of thinking also changes. I am not the oldest of all of my dad’s children but I am the middle child and helped raise my eldest niece and little brother. My oldest niece is ten years younger than me and my youngest brother is 17 years younger than me. I am 25 now.

I saw the sacrifices my family made to raise us and they couldn’t do it on their own without my help even, how can I do it on my own? A 31-year-old-woman stated that, “Because the expectations today are so enormous and there’s no societal support for mothers. We’re expected to work, raise children, and be a housewife all together. It’s exhausting enough seeing other women go through it.” She continued, “I’m seriously terrified of the “mental load” carried on by women, especially after children. I can barely make it on my own, I don’t want to think about the stress of managing an entire household while still having a career.”

My mom used to joke and point at me and say, “these kids are your birth control,” to prevent me from having sex. Though I wasn’t sexually active as a teenager, that is besides the point. I do think what my mom said has part of to do with why I am scared to have children but not all of it. It is not that I don’t love kids, I do. I love them so much that I am scared to bring a child into a world like this. I see so many horrible parents too, I do not want to be one of them. I do not want to fail a little human. I see how society fails children. I see how politicians and world leaders are acting like bullies and killing innocent children. So I think to myself, time and time again, is this really a world I want to raise a child in?

When Was America Actually Great? It wasn’t.

I’m a Native of the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican tribe and I’m proud of that. Nathan Phillips, a tribal elder, and Vietnam veteran, was the man who stood in D.C., playing his drum, while little racist teenagers made fun of him.  He was proudly displaying his indigenous culture and playing his drum through their hate. The way Nathan Phillips was treated brought back the thought to me of how America is not yet great, nor has it been. He had a lot more patience than I would have, if I was in his position. He handled it very well. My grandma used to be a civil rights activist for Native rights, in the 1970’s. She is an inspiration to me, and I think she is partly where I get my passion for change from. I will continue my passion, march, and bang on my drum, through the hate that I, and many people are facing in America today.

So, to those teenagers, Trump supporters, people scared of immigrants, and all of the other xenophobic and racist people reading this post, is America great again? Of course it is not! But when was it great? When the white man stole the land from my ancestors? When slavery was legal? When women couldn’t even vote? When black people couldn’t even drink out of the same water fountain of white people?

America is not great, yet, and it cannot be great again because to be great again, you would have had to be great in the first place. So, are you going to say to me to get out of my country then? If I don’t like it here, then why don’t I leave? Well, there is one great thing about the U.S. and that is it’s democracy, that gives me freedom of speech to say that, no, no America is not great, it is far from it. This country gives me the freedom to dress how I want and practice my religion, and the same freedom to write this article. In other countries, I would not have these freedoms. Think of if the Natives of America put up a wall, and were not accepting to the immigrants that came to America, none of you would be in this country to enjoy this country and all of it’s flaws.   

Building a wall will not achieve a better country.  Just like building emotional walls, those walls are put up by fear, just like the one on the Mexican border, but in the long run, a wall protects you from nothing. There is always way around, over, under, or through it. So, work on strategies that will work for both you and the person you are trying to build up a wall against. When in the end, you will learn that building bridges is far more rewarding that putting up a wall and missing out on all of the amazing things, cultures, and people you could experience.

So, no, America is not great, yet, but it can be. Unfortunately, this administration has made is worse. It brought back out racism and hate, that was always there but hiding but this administration pushed it to manifest to a cesspool that was here sixty years ago, as if we are going back in time and not forward. No one can change the past of what happened in this country but together, we could achieve greatness for a better future, and move forward.

My Experience As A Black Muslim

Written By: Renea ‘Ayah’ Thompson

I have been avoiding writing this for some time because it hurts to think about really. I’m happy as a Muslim. Alhamdulilah (Thanks be to God). I can say this with certainty, but my experience as a black Muslim deserves its own separate narrative.  It’s one of tears and self-doubt that has always been present in my life, even before my conversion, but I expected the Muslim community to be one of togetherness—void of simple-mindedness. It’s a story that Muslims of other races and ethnic backgrounds struggle to understand or simply ignore altogether, but it is one that should be told and acknowledged despite how warped it further makes the Muslim community look to non-Muslims. This is my black Muslim experience.

MVSLIM

I grew up in Mississippi, a place with a turbulent history, due to it’s role in black slavery and Jim Crow, thereafter. Whenever I tell someone that I am from there, I always get the same questions. Isn’t it a racist place? Are you afraid for your life? No, I am not. Surely, there is racism, but the entire foundation of the United States of America is based upon racism and bigotry; it exists in every state. I got my first real taste of what it’s like to be black upon becoming Muslim and marrying a pale-skinned Arab from Syria.

In 2007, shortly after my conversion, I married my now ex-husband only 12 days after my 20th birthday. Before marrying, I was always made to think that I would one day get to live with his family and get the Muslim experience of which I had dreamed. After some months had passed, I had come to realize that this was a lie. His mother and father knew nothing about me, and he wasn’t going to tell them. He had finally told me after I kept asking to speak with his mother to get some Middle Eastern recipes. Not only was she not the atypical Arab mother, cooking and cleaning at home, but she wasn’t fond of the idea of him being married to a black woman, regardless of my Muslim beliefs. To appease me, he had run the idea by her a few times to see if he’d be able to ease into the conversation of telling her about us. Her response was, “You can f*ck her, but you cannot marry her. I am not racist. I just think that black people should be with black people, and white people should be with white people. You’ll never see a dove with a crow”. It was fine for him to marry a Muslim who matched his skin color. He could even marry a non-Muslim just as long as she was fair-skinned. His mom had basically given him the okay to do me whichever way, except the right way. It goes without saying that this is probably one of the main reasons why our marriage didn’t survive. Those words set the tone for our entire relationship and became the cause of many disputes over the years. Experiences within the Muslim community mirrored my experiences at home although my experiences were home were the most tragic and still affect me now in my everyday life.

But there is something I love about being Muslim and that is that our places of worship are attended by various ethnic groups. Converting to Islam colored my world; before, I only knew white and black. I became all the more interested in learning other languages and the histories of other peoples. My interest grew in immigrant issues—something I honestly didn’t think about previously. I became invested in people other than myself and not just the people who looked like me or came from where I had. However, it has become difficult to advocate for the causes of a people who don’t reciprocate that same vigor for justice and compassion when it comes to black Muslims. The Qur’an clearly states that Allah did not create us from different colors and tribes so that we may be divided but for us to join together and learn from one another. Therefore, where is the justification in separating us? Why do some mosques only cater to certain ethnic groups? I’ve been to predominantly Arab, Pakistani, and black American mosques. Strangely enough, I always find myself most comfortable in the Arab mosques as opposed to the black American ones or Pakistani, not because of how I’m treated necessarily but because our religious beliefs and the ways in which we deal with others usually match up more than the other two types I mentioned. Regardless, I still have to wade my way through silly questions and insulting behavior.

“My family would never let me marry a black person!” That’s what a Palestinian girl said to me after finding out I was married to an Arab. She kept going on about how strange it was and how she couldn’t believe we were married. Other Arab girls agreed with her and giggled about it, and I could feel my face becoming hot. I asked them what the big deal was, and they assured me that it wasn’t but that it just wasn’t accepted. I kept asking why, and the reason I kept asking was simply to get them to think about why they continue the tradition of racism and bigotry. If they know that it is wrong to think and behave this way towards black Muslims, it is up to them to do what’s right. A question that is often posed in classrooms of philosophy and physics alike is this, “If a tree were to fall, and no one was around to hear it, would it make a sound?” In other words, if this generation stopped right now and married and befriended whoever they wanted based purely upon the religion and not upon racism, would the idea and practice be able to continue? Would it continue being a topic? Would non-black Muslims be able to accuse black Muslims of “pulling the race card” if there were no racial epithets thrown and racial discrimination exhibited? You know the answer. Our beautiful religion of Islam is too forward-thinking for its followers to be so far behind. Let that sink in a moment.

I’m so tired of non-black Muslims (strictly referring to ‘born’ Muslims who aren’t black, not reverts) having a hard time fathoming how I am Muslim as if this religion is reserved for a certain ethnic group. “Where are you from?” I always say that I’m American, that all my family is American and that we know nothing but the United States, but I MUST be from somewhere else to be Muslim, right? Sometimes I just make something up to stop the questioning, and it’s always accepted over my just converting by the will of Allah. Saying I married an Arab, or my family is from Sudan is always more believable. Yes, this beautiful deen came to the Arabs, but it is for the world. Stop asking me to recite the Qur’an for you as if you’re testing my legitimacy as a Muslim. Stop okaying the bigotry. Yes, not saying anything about it says everything. Start acting like we’re all one under this beautiful religion of Allah. Non-black Muslim brothers, stop fetishizing my blackness as if black Muslim women are not worthy of good Muslim husbands—as if we are only good for quenching your sexual thirsts. If she’s good enough for you to have sex with, she should be good enough to marry. Fear Allah. Even more importantly, mothers teach your sons to respect ALL women, not just those who look like you.

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