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Friday, November 17, 2017

Beneath Her Feet by Author Umm Juwayriyah Part 1

“Surayah, get that boy off these floors! You know this is a hospital. You don’t know what germs growing ‘round here.”

“Ummi, he’s fine. Idris is big and healthy most of the times. You the sick one, let’s just focus on getting you well.”

“I ain’t got much time left, Surayah. This Lupus done wore me ragged. I can’t take much more.”

“Ummi, stop talking like that. You’re not Allah. This was just a little flare up. Enshallah, you’ll be okay and out of here just like all other times. You --”

“Surayah, listen girl, the sunnah is ---”

“I know the sunnah, Ummi. You ain’t gotta remind me. You done drilled it in my head all my life,” she said as she shook her head. A tear rolled down her dark brown cheeks and dropped onto her shirt.

“Whenever Allah takes my soul, don’t let the sun set on my body for more than three days. Get my body in the ground. Call aunty Hafsa and uncle Dawud immediately. Pay off the little debt I got on that JCPennys card and …”

“Put you in the ground to be questioned by the angels. I know, Ummi! I know! You ain’t dead yet! Can we not do this every time you catch a cold?”

“Surayah,” I had to swallowed the assortment of curse words I was ready to dart her with. She was scared and I knew it. I had spoiled her bad. Born 10 years after my oldest, Kareem. I’d been so hard on him he grew right out from under me and went running for the hills. That knuckle head landed right in a jail cell before he was 25. He did ten years behind bars for a crime he committed and it broke me down and rattled my soul for years. Surayah don’t really know Kareem well. They like strangers really. But I raised and trained him to be a Muslim man the best I could. It’s in his veins: Allah, salah, Qu’ran, and the sunnah. He’d come ‘round if something happened to me. He’d protect Surayah and keep an eye on Idris for me 'cause her ex-husband don't do nothing but bring her trouble. .

“You got Kareem’s number?” I asked my daughter as I hit the nurse call button. My chest felt so tight. It was still hard to breathe and my joints were so achy. It felt like if I turned the wrong way, I would split into two.

“Yeah. But I haven’t seen him in forever.”

“That ain’t from sunnah. Call your brother. Let him know his Umm ain’t well. Tell him I said be ready," I reminded her again.

The elderly nurse with the bad knee hobbled into the room, blonde pixie wig, beady black eyes, and tawny brown skin fell into the chair next to me smelling like Avon Skin So Soft in the winter. She was good peoples, but she needed to be in her own hospital bed. “You need something, Miss Patricia?”

“Yeah, I need some more them pain meds. My chest and my back hurting something bad. I’ll also take a strong, young husband and a new house, too. You got all that up in here, Miss Irish?”

Miss Irish slapped her thigh and giggled. “Dog, Miss Patricia! I didn’t know we was looking for the same remedies. If you find him first, we’ll have to split him up, girl!”

“Nah, not this time, I ain’t. I done did that a few times over. Wanted for the sisters, but they ain’t want for me nothing back. Both with Kareem and Surayah’s fathers - I shared them and everything I had. They left me with all the bills and tears and these kids to raise. Too old and too close to death for that mess.”

“Wasn’t Kareem’s father in that band you used to sing with, Ummi? What was the name of that group you used to sing with?” Surayah asked me.

“Yeah, that was before Islam. Jimmy played bass and I sung background for the Blue Notes.”

“Miss Patricia, no you didn’t sing with the Blue Notes. After all these years I've been knowing you and you didn’t tell me. Blue Notes was one of my favorite jazz groups back in the ‘70’s. Lonnie Jackson and the Blue Notes. Ya'll had that song Mellow Time. Ain’t that right?”

“Ummi you sang on that song!”

“I did. Long time ago, Surayrah! Before I knew who Allah was.”

“How that chorus went? Something like: Tears disappear, Crime lay down, Hate don’t live here no more…” Miss Irish began to sing.

Surayah picked the tune right up and harmonized with her, “Let - me - stand -  right - in - my mellow time - mellow time - dooo - dooo- dah -dah - la- dooo-dooo- dah la...”

Miss Irish, I’mma need you to go on now and get me some more meds. This ain’t the Soul Train room. I gotta take my meds, pray the Asr prayer and get on to sleep and rest these bones. Surayah, take Idris home. And make sure you feed my cats and call Kareem. Tell him I said be ready.”

“You one mean old lady,” Miss Irish teased as she struggled to pull herself up out of the chair. “I’ll go speak to Dr. Harris and see if you can have more meds. But you gonna have to sing me that song before you get discharged, Patricia Vaughn.”

“No, I will not. That ain’t my way no more. And you know good and well my name is Yasmeen Abdullah. Don’t play around and get my blood pressure up in here. That’s just one thing I don’t need to be bothered with.”

“Oh, chile, hush up! Ya momma named you Patricia and it’s on your charts! I’ll see you later, Surayah. Bye, Drisi-boo,” Miss Irish waved.

As the door closed, Idris dashed to the door. Surayah sprung up and chased the toddler down and grabbed him before he was able to exit. Surayah huffed as she picked her son up.

“See, that’s why I said he shouldn’t have been down there. You betta start listening to me, Surayah. Allah knows best, but I don’t feel like I got much time left. You gotta start listening and being responsible, ‘specially with my grandboy!

“Ummi, I wish you wouldn’t talk down to me like I’m some dummy! I am 25! I know a couple of things. I am managing. I’m praying. I’m still covered.”


“Really, Ummi, that’s not nice. I guess you tired though,” Surayah suggested as she packed her son’s diaper bag. “I'll come back through tomorrow after work, enshallah. Text me if need anything.”

“ Surayah, you alright? You looking tired yourself. You ain’t sick, are you? Don’t mess around and get Idris sick again. That boy get more ear infections than a little. Make sure you call Kareem.”

“I ain’t sick, Ummi!”

“Then what is it, Ray? What’s up with you?” I had to pull myself up in the hospital bed. If there was one thing that would get me out of this bed, Surayah was it. I loved that girl with all of me. “Nadir done did something again? What he do, Surayah? You know you can tell me anything?”

Surayah stopped moving to switch her son to the other side of her hip along with her weight on her plump frame. “I’m pregnant!”

That's it! This child done made my pressure shoot up. My chest. I can't breathe. Oh, Allah! Help me breathe! I am gonna kill Surayah if I make it through this. I really, really can't breathe.

"Nurse Irish! Nurse Irish, come quick! Ummi is choking!"

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Advice for Muslim Educators & Parents on Talking to their Children About Halloween

And Allah said:
ادْفَعْ بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ السَّيِّئَةَ نَحْنُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا يَصِفُونَ
Repel evil with what is better. We are most knowing of what they describe.
Surat al-Mu’minun 23:96

It's that time of year again! You know, the beginning of the holiday season for non-Muslims. As a Muslim educator and/or parent, make no mistakes about it: It is your job to educate Muslim youth about these holidays and not only to avoid them - but why and how they should protect themselves from them. Yes, long ago perhaps - the good ole' "haram, haram" label could send shivers down spines and snatch breath right out of the lungs of many pious elders in their youth - and rightfully so. Sadly, times have changed!

Our Muslim youth live in a time where through social media they are able to see, learn, imitate and fraternize virtually. They don't even have to leave their rooms to engage in something haram. And truthfully - as many Muslim parents and educators suspect, many trends that pop up and become "lit" from the media to the styles of clothing to food to drinks to entertainment -  might be rooted and founded in many things that certainly could be haram, or at the very least makruh (disliked). For some Muslim youth, especially those growing up in the West, the constant classification of everything that seemingly appears fun, cool, "harmless", and trendy as haram or forbidden can be heavy, overwhelming, depressing, and hard for them to cope with. We have to recognize this hardship of theirs and really help to fortify them with love, attention, knowledge of Islam, and solutions. We have to admit that Islamophobia is real and it is not easy for many Muslims (young and old) to face. No, it is not because they don't love Allah or because they have not accepted Tawhid for themselves. This is hardly the case. In fact, I am always hopeful for Muslim youth because those who persist and resist through these times, have been blessed with strong faith. But even those Allah has granted with strong eeman, need to feel at ease, comfortable, able to play, relax, fit in, and feel accepted.

It's important that we start opening up conversations and dialogues with the young Muslims that we are charged with. Lecturing is not always the best  approach to teach with. Ask Muslim youth questions about how they feel about these holidays like Halloween. Do they want to partake and why? Is is just about hanging out with their friends and having some down time? Do they know the history behind Halloween? Do they know what shirk is? What are some ways that we can reconcile our desires if they are leading us to do something that Allah has forbidden? May be they can journal (make sure you sign up for my Ramadhan Journaling course) , paint or draw a picture about the clash between Muslim holidays and non Muslim holidays? May be the youth can put together a panel discussion or a night to volunteer at a food bank the night of Halloween.

It's also important that we move away from ultimatums and start helping our youth to create some solutions. Many teachers and parents will just throw out the haram label like a brick. It trumps (pun intended) everything and the conversation ends before it really started. We can not be afraid to talk with our children. Yes, some will fall out of bounds and some will overstep the limits - be ready to reel them back in. Be ready to model good communication skills. Be ready to listen more than you speak. More importantly, be ready to help and lead them to a solution that will expand their minds about the topic.

If you take something away, replace it with something better. Halloween is not a Muslim holiday. We cannot celebrate All Hallow's Day, the Celtics harvest festival, the Gaelic festival of Samhain, lighting candles for the dead, trick-or treating -- all of which is rooted in pagan ideas that are completely opposite of Tawheed (Oneness of God). But that doesn't mean we cannot talk to our youth about Halloween's history, past and present. It doesn't mean that we can't help Muslim youth create fun and safe alternatives. It is our duty to help Muslim youth to navigate this world and build self-confidence in their Islamic identity until forever! Guidance is always needed for everyone.

New Book Release by Author Tohib Adejumo

Congratulations out to author Tohib Adejumo on his latest release, Beneath Her Headscarf. Enshallah, to the top of my reading list it goes and I hope you all with snatch it up as well. Enshallah, you will hopefully see it on our #MuslimGirlsRead Book Club Pick list soon come! Share, gift it, request it, and let's keep pushing Muslim Fiction all over the world. Get it here!

Author & Educator Umm Juwayriyah Does Dubai!

#MuslimGirlsRead Fall Book Pick - Read With Us!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Can Black American Muslims Be More Than A Hashtag?

See, the way this social media thing works is that a new event means a new hashtag will drop! Ramadhan, Eid, weddings, divorces (some times), a summer conference, an all-white or all-black Muslim fashion show, or an Imam who tripped/slipped/exposed his true (racist) feelings during a lecture, buzz words like Salafi/Sufi infighting, and of course Black Muslims dressing up and out will always create some catchy #hashtags. We follow those hashtags and beam with pride: Black Muslims showing out! We reppin' for the internet streets to see! We want the world to know that we are proud, we have numbers, and we are tired of being everybody's after thought. #WeBeenHere they said! Stop speaking for us we done told ya'll. Let us in and give us a seat at the table we have demanded from Muslim organizations. Follow the hashtag - it's the clapback! It also makes us feel good and represented. But then eventually the hashtag fades away. Another Friday rolls around in your real 'hood Muslim community and it's all the same. You're sitting there on the musallah and a few will offer you a weak, fake salam! Don't they know WE out here trending? Don't they know our hashtags moves the crowd! Nah, they don't!

Out comes your smartphone so that you scroll through your Black Muslim #hashtag glory.....

Why are things still same we ponder? Black American Muslim Millennials know so much! We have accomplished so many things! We own the hashtags, but not the masajid! We own the degrees and certifications, but not the schools or universities! We been had passports and done took the trips to Dubai and Hajj (twice or more), but we don't own any homeless shelters, recidivist programs, gardens, Muslim organizations or parenting programs.....but the hashtags - now, we got those things on lock! We will text and type until Fajr creeps up on us about the injustices we face, the narratives of our lives and why they matter, and our golden, celebrity filled history. And those things do matter. And speaking up is necessary. But when do we prioritize our issues and put in the work to start fixing us? When do we Black American Muslims that are educated secularly and/or Islamically, skilled in trades and arts, internet savvy, internet activists, business owners, homemakers, and elders come together, make a plan, cooperate and start getting things done? When are we going to stop craving for the everybody to see us and love us? When are we going to come together and work together? When are we going to put in the #work?

Black American Muslim Twitters, Facebookers, Instagramers and Snapchaters have become kings and queens of hashtag marketing. It's impressive when it goes down. We beam with pride, but let's be very clear, pride don't pay the rent or change our daily realities. Our parents and elders carved their own lanes in our hoods: they built communities with masajid, schools, and businesses -- working together. They helped stamp out crime. They collaborated and shared responsibilities. They put on programs, started the dawah outreach programs in the prisons - all while selling oils and incense,. They helped spread Islam and raised the second, third, fourth, and fifth generations of Muslims. They lived Islam in America and they were happy to do what they did.

We moved up though! Yes, we have a house outside the hood, Muslim children growing up isolated, subscription to Muslim groups on social, the Lexus 300 GS and a new shayla from Saudi that matches a Coach bag that you paid outright for - but it's not enough! Some of us mean muggin' every time jumu'ah rolls around! The khutbah at the immigrant run masjid doesn't make sense to you, the same three classes been offered for the last 20 years, folks coming in and out of the community so you can't build anything meaningful and you really don't even want to waste your time trying. Times have changed. #Hashtag Bring back the old days.

We are a depressed, dissatisfied, and marginalized group of Muslims partly because our generation of Black American Muslims continue to fail to work together! We have no loyalty, we're not too cool with eachother (you know we will throw our own off it at the flick of button) we are certainly fresh out of patience, we're petty, too tired, we are on band wagons, and too bougie! We love to hashtag our talents and beauty because ultimately, that's all we got energy for! We are tired of being tired, but won't work together because that requires that we deal with our own issues by ourselves! We rather not work together because we don't want to change too much - we rather others to change for us! Cooperation also requires some level of sacrifice and sacrifice takes more effort than hashtagging and internet conferencing!

We are talented. We are important. We are excellence. We are hard workers. We are also more than a hashtag. But we are stuck. We are broken. We need us.

And hold fast all together by the rope which Allah (stretches out for you) and be not divided among yourselves; and remember with gratitude Allah’s favor on you; for ye were enemies and He joined your hearts in love so that by His grace ye became brethren; and ye were on the brink of the pit of fire and He saved you from it. Thus doth Allah make his signs clear to you: that ye may be guided. Al-Imran 3:103