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Archive for June, 2011

Irvine 11

Salaamz all! I just wanted to let you all know about something that happened recently in my motherland, aka Orange County. Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren came to speak at University of California Irvine (UCI). Some students from the Muslim Students’ Union decided to protest his speech, see video here:

After they left the room, these 11 students were arrested and cited because they exercised their freedom of speech and they are are now being tried for conspiracy to disrupt a meeting and disruption of a meeting. The Muslim Legal Fund of America is collecting donations to help the families pay the legal fees that accompany the trial, which is beginning in August if I’m correct. There’s more info about all of this to be found at: irvine11.com

This is such an important cause and it especially touches me because this is occurring in my home county. If you’re able to, give what you can and if you’re unable to give a financial donation,  spread the word about these students, who spoke out against injustice and even when being put on trial, stand by what they believe in.

I went to a recent event to support the Irvine 11 and I even got a really rad wristband (I actually bought like 5 to take to others as well). If any of you are Orange County residents (or even if you’re not maybe), I’m sure the UCI’s MSU is still selling them and the proceeds go to the Irvine 11’s legal fund. Also, become a fan of irvine11 on Facebook to get updates about fundraisers and court dates so you can come out and support these guys.

FUERZA .

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Taqwacore is a “Muslim punk” movement that sprouted from Michael Muhammad Knight’s book The Taqwacores. There is now in addition to the book, a documentary and a movie based on the book, along with now many young Muslims accepting this as part of their identity. And there things such as sex, drinking and crossing out parts of the Qur’an that can be found shocking to say the least, I’m not going to sugarcoat that at all. However, aside from all that, I found that there is a really beautiful message. In the film (which follows the book well), there are many Muslim “outcasts” who all live in one house: The tattooed, the burqa-wearing feminist, the drinker, the gay man, the pot smoker, etc. Long story short: they aren’t your normal MSA crowd. There is something really beautiful to their faith because they are still proud Muslims, even when some other Muslims tell them that they don’t belong in the folds of Islam.

“The jamaat was an almost silly mish-mash of people: Rude Dawud’s pork-pie hat poking up here, a jalab-and-turban there, Jehangir’s big Mohawk rising from a sea of kufis, Amazing Ayyub still with no shirt, girls scattered throughout – some in hejab, some not and Rabeya in punk-patched burqa doing her thing. But in its randomness it was gorgeous, reflecting an Islam I felt could not happen anywhere else…. every Friday hearing khutbahs and standing alongside brothers and sisters together yelling AAAAAMEEEEEENNNN after Fatiha with enough force to knock you down….” (37)

Jehangir has some of the most moving moments, at one point in the film, when everyone is calling a more conservative Taqwacore band, “bigots,” he says,

“…we’re the ones who have always been f-in excluded, ostracized, afraid to be ourselves around our f-in brothers. They don’t build masjids for us….But let’s not play that bulls- game where once we get our own scene we can push people to the sidelines, to the f-in fringe like they did to us. Do you only want a community so you can make someone else feel like the Outsider?” (216)

Though some people might say Astaghfirullah, the message of this film is something people need to know. There is a problem in the Ummah when college students are chasing gay Muslim students who want to pray out of a prayer room with their shoes. Sad story but true. So before you start condemning this film, stop for a sec and look and see when you have ostracized your own sister or brother. Not that I want to sound like I’m pointing fingers because I know I’ve done it plenty of times. I’ve  thought, “They takes themselves too seriously.”  I’m now embarrassed. Who am I to question another’s faith? They might be right, and I might be wrong. I’m not God so what right do I have to judge their din?

In conclusion, Taqwacore might not be my lifestyle. But I’m now okay with the fact that Spanish rolls off my tongue more easily than Arabic (I’m trying, I promise! lol), that my family has dogs who I love dearly (they’re not allowed in the room where I pray) and I’m okay with the way I dress. And I am also okay with the brother who won’t shake my hand or who won’t pet a dog. That’s his practice and I have mine.  The Taqwacores have made me appreciate and respect the diversity of Islam.

And also read Caffeinated Muslim’s review of Taqwacores on her blog. She makes some same (yay for acceptance!) and some different commentary. And on Sepia Mutiny there is also a review of  The Taqwacores and Taqwacore band the Kominas (Sharia Law in the USA . LOVE this song.) that is worth the read: Halal Punkers.

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I am almost 20 and I have always looked at marriage as something that is far off. But now I see some friends (both Muslim and non-Muslim) getting married and it is a very…grounding experience to say the least. My dad has always jokingly said that I can’t date until I at least graduate law school. And I always thought that I wouldn’t get married until I was like 30. I wanted to be done with my entire education, have seen the world, have survived on my own, etc. And iA I’ll be able to finish all my “single woman” stuff in the manner I have always planned but Allahu alim when my time for marriage will come.

However, as a Latina convert, I have a whole other worry that some Muslim women don’t have: my ethnicity. As I’ve mentioned before, there is no room for racism or ethnocentrism in Islam. But sometimes people seem to forget. From articles and from hearing actual stories from others, it is still present not only in Muslim communities, but just in the whole world in general. The story of the Cuban convert trying to win over his Algerian in laws is incredibly sad and since the author is blunt, I will be too in saying that this is racism. It is scary that this fear that a convert who is not of the same culture is not good enough exists to this day. However, I know I am not completely innocent in this either. I know I am guilty of thinking, “I just want to marry a good Latino man” or “I think I want to marry a Latino because this would make life so much easier.” This is something that I, and we, as an Ummah, need to work on. And I know in my heart that it is Islamically wrong if someone does some day discriminate based on my ethnic identity. But for us convert girls who don’t belong to a traditionally Muslim culture, there is that fear, what if my in-laws don’t think I’m “Muslim enough” because I’m not Arab, Persian, etc. iA, I’m worrying about nothing and my future in-laws, whoever they may be, are wonderful, accepting Muslims who know their son is marrying a woman of faith. I have also seen beautiful intercultural Muslim marriages so we know that it can be achieved InshAllah!

Given that I haven’t met a Muslim boy who I consider a marriage possibility at this point and I’m not yet 20, marriage is not just around the corner. So maybe I shouldn’t worry about these things. But seeing friends and family who are close to my age getting married and having babies is a reminder of what I should at least think about before that time in my life creeps up on me….

ADD ON: I recently remembered that a friend and I came across an Islamic marriage contract that we both liked a lot on HijabMan‘s blog. Here’s the link to his blog entry and here’s a link to the PDF, in case anyone is getting married soon, or even if you just want to check it out for future reference. Heck, just check out his blog too, it’s awesome 🙂

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La Mission

WATCH IT.

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Islam is supposed to be a universal faith and I truly believe it is.

My favorite Qur’anic quote is: “O mankind! We created you from a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes that you may know and honor each other (not that you should despise one another). Indeed the most honorable of you in the sight of God is the most righteous.” – The Holy Qur’an (Chapter 49, Verse 13)

I always think to myself: If God had so chosen, we could have been of all one race, one culture, one ethnicity. But He didn’t do that. He didn’t make me a descendant of the Incas for nothing. However, sometimes it’s sometimes difficult to remember to appreciate these differences. At a past event, a Muslim speaker was talking about difficulties he/she had crossing borders to get to events and he/she said, “I feel like a Mexican!” Everyone laughed and I sat there, not believing what I had heard. It probably wasn’t intentional, but really dude?

This encourages the stereotype that all Mexicans are undocumented and also makes a joke out of undocumented status and fear of deportation, something that is a very serious, very painful, and very real matter to many families. Even though us Latin@ Muslims aren’t the biggest presence, we’re there and we deserve to have our cultures and struggles respected as much as other traditionally Muslim cultures.

To end on a higher note, here are some sources of inspiration to look to if you’re having a down moment because you might be feeling a little of an identity crisis. Somos completamente Musulmanes y completamente Latin@s. Being Muslim is part of your Latinidad and being Latin@ is part of your Islam.

Yannina Casillas of UCLA went through periods of feeling like she had to over compensate for her Latinidad but is finding her way as a Mexican Muslim woman. http://lagente.org/2011/02/19/confessions-of-a-muslim-latina/

Mark Gonzales is part of the Human Writes Project and is also Mexican and Muslim:

Because Allah ta’ala made me both…

By MusliRican

http://muslirican.blogspot.com/

Hejab on my head
With a machete dangling from my neck
I’m not a terrorist
Just a bonafide Boricua with coquis on my mind
I love the flares of salsa skirts
With claves and congas singing to my heart’s content
While I prostrate on the sands of Rincon
Awaiting the whales to make their presence
Borinquen is my paradise
Allah is my creator
Yes–I can inhabit both spaces
And when bachata comes on the radio
I move three steps lift
Three steps lift
And when the azhan is called
“Allahu Akbar” and “Bismillah” run out of my mouth
Give me some piraguas with a side of dates
A little of sunlight with a dash of breeze
As the scarves surrounding me beckon to worship
I can dance merengue in the privacy of my room
As mis hermanas talk about who is cuter in the group
Because–we are Boricuas loving our land
We are boricuas dancing our traditional beats
We are boricuas wearing our big fluffy skirts
We are boricuas eating our arroz con habichuelas
We don’t have to occupy one of your little boxes
Entrenching our identities into something you can
label
We don’t have to deny our abuelitas and our salsa
beats
So I can’t eat pernil anymore.
It’s okay–pork has never been my thing any ways
But I can still enjoy las playas as I wet my feet on
Caribbean oceans
Because I am more
More than your dichotomies
More than your ideologies
I am not just a Boricua
Or someone who worships Allah
So if you need a label to satisfy your curiosity
I’ll give you one now
With Qur’an in hand
Y bandera in the other
I am beyond your words
Because I am a MusliRican

Taken from LADO newsletter, The Latino Muslim Voice January-March 2010 issue. LADO is the Latino American Dawah Organization which gives out info about Islam to Latin@s and gives Muslim Latin@s a place to talk Islam. Definitely check them out.

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My Fellow American

http://www.myfellowamerican.us/

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In May 2011, there were again protests in Orange County. In Anaheim, Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi was receiving an award from the Orange County Human Relations Commission for the interfaith work he has done in Orange County. Protesters were accusing him of being connected with terrorism and wanting to implement Sharia Law in the US…..Sigh. Really? Again, Orange County?

By now, most of the Muslim community in the United States has seen the disgusting video of the protests in Orange County:

People give me the pity look when I tell them, “Yes, I’m from that place,” “No, not everyone is like that,” “Yes, I know the city where it occurred.” I used to get annoyed about the questions about The O.C. and The Real Housewives of Orange County  (I’ll admit I watch this religiously) but now I almost welcome them. So as a proud, lifetime resident of Orange County, here’s what I have to say:

Yes, I was disgusted and outraged by what happened. As a Muslim, I felt attacked and as an OC resident, I was ashamed. However, after the protests occurred, many OC residents united and went to protests, joined coalitions, and wrote letters to denounce the actions and words of the people at the protests. I went to a Yorba Linda City Council meeting where not only did Muslims speak but also other community members, including the Japanese American Citizens’ League, who voiced concern over the similarity between the discrimination their community suffered during and after WWII and the discrimination that the Muslim community is currently enduring. The Interfaith Witnesses of Orange County along with the Orange County Human Relations Commission stood by Dr. Siddiqi through these recent allegations.

As for me, I’m proud of where I’m from and I still love OC. However, I’m NOT saying that there still isn’t some discomfort around Muslims in OC, there is. How is it that when I walked towards a mosque and passed by a group of people outside their house, I was able to smile and say, “Hola, como estan?” and get a smile and similar response, but when I walked back wearing the hijab I had on for Jummah, I couldn’t even get one of the group to look at me in the eye? This is an issue still needs to be addressed, not only in OC, but in all of the US.

So in conclusion, I hope others do not let things like these past protests muddle their views of Orange County. A few extremists cannot stand as a representation of a whole community. Sound familiar?

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