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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

What Is Halal and Haram in Fiction Writing? Or Is It All a “Grey Area”?

What Is Halal and Haram in Fiction Writing? Or Is It All a “Grey Area”?
By Papatia Feauxzar
I’m not a scholar but I will try my best to shed some light on the matter with some common sense and personal experience. So, let’s rephrase the question a little bit in order to answer this controversial topic in the ummah.
Do you consider the stories your parents and family members told you throughout your life to teach you a moral all lies? Additionally, do you consider the scenarios your teachers gave you in class all lies? Fiction is a series of scenarios (plots) and stories.
Of course when the question is phrased these ways, it’s hard to call your relatives, teachers and even people you hold dear: transgressors. Right? I will answer ‘Yes’ for you. Now, even if they made up the stories, you will realize that there was a reason behind the stories they told you. It was either to solve a problem, to deliberate on a case, to teach you a morale, etc. It truly depends on the intention and it is upon intention we will be judged too.
So what’s the difference between oral storytelling and written storytelling?
In my opinion, there is no difference between the two in essence and in form. Only the means of communicating changes; al qalam, the pen.
Allah is the Greatest of Storytellers, and HE told the pen to write. He is the Author of all things in this life and beyond. He chose to bestow part of this attribute to selected scribes in this dunya. If you are a writer, you’ve been chosen as a serious scribe. Honor the art and do it justice by penning true and relatable stories.
Therefore, when discussions of haram and halal start about Muslim Fiction, take a moment to think for yourself and do what your fitra agrees with. Do some istikhara if you need to and carry on. Don’t let people even if they appear religious and are ‘deening’ tell you what’s right or wrong. Go by what your gut tells you. That’s what matters at the end of the day for the sake of your happiness. Don’t be afraid to stand out. Allah didn’t create you to blend in anyway. This is to say that only His opinion of you should take the front seat; nothing or no-one else’s opinion.
Writing is maroof, a good deed. It has always been one. Through fiction, Muslim writers have always extended dawah, entertained as we have to uphold a life that reflects five before five, and portrayed a realistic lifestyle.
Read More On Between Sisters, SVP!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Women's History Month with Author & Educator Umm Juwayriyah

It's 2018 and it's Women's History Month. As a Muslim woman, contrary to public opinion and gross stereotypes throughout the world, I've been loved, supported, guided, mentored and educated by wonderful Muslim women! Since the inception of Islam Muslim women have held enormous and valuable roles in our communities world wide. Much of what we know of the life of the prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings upon him) was memorized by his youngest wife, Aisha bint Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with her). While his first wife, Khadijah bint Khuwaylid (may Allah be pleased with her) who the messenger of Allah (peace and blessing upon him)  was known to be a intelligent and wealthy business woman that supported her younger husband emotionally and financially.

Today Muslim women around the world continue to strive for excellence both spiritually and professionally. Islamophobia isn't our story. Neither is war or domestic violence. Poverty isn't our story either. Those strings of fabric are only pieces of our quilt of life. Muslim women are women! We are diverse. We are courageous. We are thoughtful. We are mothers, wives, single and ready mingle young and old women! We love Islam. We love our prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings upon him) ! We love to pray! We love our families. We love our Muslim men and boys! We love our hijabs and we love shopping for them, too! We even love going home and taking off our hijab and chilling - carefree! We love our sister-friends and we value lazy days sleeping in and waking up to a good cup of coffee or tea! πŸ™‚πŸ™‚πŸ™‚πŸ™‚

Muslim women are women!

We struggle. We have attitudes some times. We might fight or yell or curse, too! We make poor decisions! We fall for the wrong guys! We get divorced.  And even when we make the good relationship decisions - we don't like our husbands every single day! We hide food for our kids so we can have it later. We may even eat last piece of cake! We don't like our husbands every single day (two times worthy)! Yes, we get hot in our clothes during the summer - but so do you, too!

Muslim women are women!

We are Tried and Tested -- and we are also blessed with amazing, beautiful, loving, creative, and fun lives, too!  This Women's History Month get to know some Muslim women, it just might change your life. Just like following American Muslim women are changing lives and spreading awesomeness in their communities:

1. Anse Tamara Gray

As the founder and director of Rabata, Anse Tamara Gray supports positive cultural change through individual empowerment, spiritual upbringing of women by women and the revival of the female voice in scholarship. Rabata provides online classes and workshops for Muslim women taught by Muslim women on Islamic and secular issues that afforded and accessible. She runs around the world - literally - bringing Muslim women and non Muslim together to help break down misconceptions. She is champion of Muslim fiction and even opened one of the coolest bookstores in Minneapolis: DayBreak Press Global Bookshop and Gathering Space. Alhamduleelah, every time I see Anse - no matter is going on or how wacky her day has been - she is smiling and warm and supportive. So for that reason and so many more this women's history month, I celebrate my sister-friend for her love of Islam and her love of women and education and books!

2. Chaplain Matiniah Yahya, M.Ed is the founder and director of the New England Muslimah's Get-A-Way Retreat, Educator, and one of the first Muslim women chaplains at Yale-New Haven Hospital  - and I love her for the sake of Allah and myself. I have known sister Matiniah most of my life, Alhamduleelah!  For over 40 years she has always, always loved helping sisters through New England build and learn and grow!  Allah has blessed her with so much energy and love and vision, Mashallah! I  have had the honor of working with sister Matiniah on many projects, including the Muslimah-Get-A-Way youth program and I have never left her presence without gaining something beneficial, something kind, and something supportive.   

3. Atiyah Angela Havens is an educator, fashion designer, and the owner of Amatullah Treasures - a boutique of clothing and accessories that helps Muslim women and non Muslim alike shine, dazzle, and feel modestly beautiful. Atiyah, a Brooklyn, NY native has helped bring modest fashion to the forefront of Philadelphia and surrounding cities.

4. Fashion Designer Jenneh Mariam Williams is the owner of AL Mujalbaba Fashions and a fashioner designer from Queens, NY. For decades sister Jenneh traveled with her fashion all across the United States to Muslim events, programs, workshops and retreats to sell her designs of jilbabs, hijabs, and accessories. I actually bought with my own money my first jilbab from sister Jenneh back in the mid 90's! Her garments and hijabs are famous! I once saw a sister in Kuwait with one of sister Jenneh's outfits on and I knew from across the street that it was indeed a Al Muljababa New York outfit! I never pack a travel without atleast one or two of her hijbas - their that important and so is sister Jenneh for helping and supporting a generation of Muslim women dress well and feel good! 

5. Sohadah Mohammad is the owner of Madina Therapy, LLC! I was first introduced to sis. Sohadah while was working in Madina, Saudi Arabia as a Speech Therapist. Now that sis. Sohadah has relocated back to the States she has brought her experience and care for the special needs and elder community with her and opened a much needed agency right in Eastern Massachusetts. "Currently, we are serving the Massachusetts and Rhode Island areas through skilled occupational therapy, Hijama Cupping, Special Education Consultations, Disability Advocacy, Mental Health Life Coaching, and Spiritual Care with 1:1 in person services and online.

6. Asiya Jamilah Nasir is the founder of J.E.S.S.I.C.A Cares an empowerment program that targets Muslim girls in New York, Philadelphia, and Delaware. J.E.S.S.I.C.A Cares offers empowerment workshops, 8-10 week academies, book clubs, community initiatives like feeding the hungry, visiting the sick in the hospital, and spiritual classes for Muslim girls as well. Sister Asiya's mission is help encourage Muslim girls to understand the honor of being a Muslimah. 

7. Sr. C. Islaah Abd'al-Rahim, M.Ed is an author, educator and principal of a Muslim school, community worker, and historian from Baltimore, MD. Sister Islaah has worked many Islamic and public schools  in Baltimore and New Jersey, she is a member of sister committee of Masjid As Saffat and the largest and longest running Muslim Women's Conference. She has presented at many conferences and workshops on education, Islam, and Muslim women for over 30 years. She is also serious with her poetry and has penned and staged several plays. Mashallah,  I think I was about 11 or 12 when I attended one of her plays and had one of light bulbs moments - "I can do that, too!" I absolutely love her lectures and her care and love for the Muslim community! Sister Islaah is a beautiful pearl in our community, Mashallah and if you can get to Maryland this April to sit in one of her workshops at the Women's Committee of Masjid As Saffat Conference - you won't regret it, enshallah!

8. Natasha Somalia Hair Care is a brand, a business Muslimah, a hair stylist and an author - and I LOVE IT! Seriously, for those who have read my first novel, The Size of a Mustard Seed  you know the back drop of  the story and where all the tea was drank was in the hair salon, Covered Pearls. Well, sis Natasha Somalia is the owner of Covered - The Salon in Philadelphia!  Not only that, sister Natasha has her own line of hair vitamins and hair products as well! I cannot wait to try this sister's products this summer and get a hair appointment as well! If you have tried her products or have had your hair styled by her, please send us a review! 

9. Sakina Abdul Malik has been a long time Muslim homeschooling advocate in upstate New York. She has helped many Muslim families of multiple children successfully homeschool their children into careers and college. Now Sakina has taken her years of experiences and love of educating Muslim children back to her hometown of Philadelphia and is working with the New Madina Learning Institute! If you read the blog you know that I am also homeschooler who advocates for Muslims in the West to establish collective learning co-ops, centers, and schools so that our children learn together to love love, support, and work in our communities. So I am excited and pleased to see Masjidullah's New Madina Learning Institute flourish and help raise the next generation of Muslims with the help and support of sister Sakinah!

10. Author Emma Apple  is such a cool sister with so many talents, mashallah! She is the an award winning artist who just happened to illustrate my first children's book, Hind's Hands ~ A Story About Autism which is a book that is near and dear to both of our hearts for similar reasons. She is the founder of Blue Hijab Day for Autism Awareness and she is author and illustrator of the charming Owl & Cat on Islam books! Not to mention we both have daughters named Hind/Hend - and Autism parenting Mamas advocating for inclusiveness and awareness, she is super easy to work with! Make sure check out her books! 

Friday, March 9, 2018

#BlackMuslimReads - Hijab and the Policing of Black Women and Girls by Nisa Muhammad

By Nisa Muhammad

On February 1, 2018, World Hijab Day was observed and encountered opposition from an unlikely source. A number of Black Muslims were taken aback on February 13, World hijab Daywhen 10 feminist faculty members of Spelman College released a letter expressing their concerns with the Spelman student who organized fellow students and Spelman faculty who participated in World Hijab Day. It included concerns about the women around the world who protest World Hijab Day spelman-collegeand Muslim women who are forced to wear the hijab (in Saudi Arabia and Iran) with violent consequences if they refuse. While the authors took great care to express their thoughts and concerns about Muslim women who wear hijab from around the world, their failure to mention the many Muslim women who chose to adhere to a command from God to cover their hair, speaks to their incomplete or misunderstanding of hijab. Unfortunately, many people, fail to grasp and comprehend our perspective. It is so foreign to them why any woman would want to cover her hair every time she walks out the door, so contrary to their order of freedom and justice, that it just does not compute.

Why do some women care what or how Muslim women dress? This feigned concern for the rights of Muslim women “forced to wear hijab” seems to be a double standard.  The Spelman faculty wrote about the women in Iran who are protesting the laws requiring them to wear hijab.  However, there were few if any historical protests for the women in Iran in the late 1930’s when they were forced to remove their hijab with violent consequences if fullsizeoutput_75a6they did not.  It was unlawful for them to wear hijab. Women were relegated to their homes because they could not, would not come out uncovered. That was so long ago you may think, however, in Turkey until 2013, just five years ago, it was unlawful for women to wear hijab to government offices, hospitals, universities, and schools. That meant Muslim women who wore hijab could not go to school, to the hospital, work for the government or go to university. Where was the outcry for those women who only wanted to show their devotion to God?

Read More On Sapelo Square 

Saturday, March 3, 2018

#BlackMuslimReads-Lifting Black Voices, Influencing Society By Layla Abdullah-Poulos

Image Source: Bashirah Mack @msbmack

The Black Muslim experience in the United States is intrinsically linked to the tragedies and triumphs of African Americans since before our country was one.
By Layla Abdullah-Poulos
Black History Month presented Black Muslims across the country opportunities to focus on the extensive historical ties and heritage that merges their faith and race.
NbA Muslims, in partnership with Djarabi Kitabs Publications, #Muslim Girls Read and the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative, hosted #BlackMuslimReads—a month-long event that involved daily highlighting of literature and writings from Black Muslims. Participants shared their Black Muslim reads on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
There was also a Twitter chat anchored by five Black Muslim authors, where partakers shared thoughts on how to appreciate and amplify the written works of Black Muslims as well as support writers and authors.
African American Muslims remain the quintessential influence of Islam on the American experience, an extension of the contributions of Black Muslims globally and historically, which include cultural productions impacting society.

Read more at Patheos

Thursday, February 1, 2018

#BlackMuslimReads for Black History Month & Book Giveaway

Bulletin board in a school in New Jersey featuring Hind's Hands - A Story About Autism by Author & Educator Umm Juwayriyah

Happy Black History Month! 

#BlackMuslimReads BHM Giveaway and  Twitter Chat
Sponsored by

Black Muslim authors contribute to a historical heritage comprising the African American
literary tradition.  A foundational element in Black fiction is the utilization of the genre
by Black authors to highlight issues of social injustice, dehumanization, and generate
works that create bonds between Blacks and relay their cultural experiences.
Black Muslim authors draw from this tradition and infuse elements of their
Islamic faith experiences.

As part of numerous Black History Month celebrations highlighting the accomplishments
of African American and Blacks in our country’s dynamic historical continuum and
present impact on addressing social issues and contributions in creating an
Islamic American culture, NbA Muslims in partnership with Djarabi Kitabs
Publishing and #MuslimGirlsRead is launching the #BlackMuslimReads
Book Giveaway and #BlackMuslimReads Twitter Chat.

Book Giveaway
The giveaway will furnish 5 winners with a Fofky’s box full of assorted treats and a book
from one of five invited Black Muslim authors:

  1. Khadijah Abdulhaqq
  2. Papatia Feauxzar
  3. Nasheed Jaxson
  4. Umm Juwayriyyah
  5. Umm Zakiyyah

Official Rules will be posted on Instagram and the NbA Muslims website.

The objective of the giveaway is to heighten appreciation for Black Muslim authorship,
spotlight connections between Black Muslims and the deep roots of the  African
American/Black American experience, and emphasize how authors merge Islam
and American ideals to create unique literature.

Twitter Chat
The purpose of the #BlackMuslimsReads Twitter Chat will be to provide a platform
for Black Muslim authors and readers to interact and discuss the significance of fiction
as social commentary, cultural productions, and a platform to convey important topics
affecting the American Ummah as well as Muslims globally.

The chat will be on 2/25/18 at 2 pm EST and include a series of questions,
to which invited authors and participants will have the chance reply.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Fashion Blogger Case: Ameena Khan

And Why I’m Not Mad, But I Am Disappointed

Ameena Khan or Amenakin as I’ve known her is a Muslim beauty and fashion blogger on
YouTube. She’s most famously known for creating the hoojab: a hijab that has a hood like
stitching for easier wrapping. I’ve been watching Ms. Ameena for almost five years.
I’ve been a constant fan of all of her work. Before I had been introduced to the Muslim
community on YouTube or any social platform, there weren’t many Muslim stylist role models
for me to look up to. Watching Ms. Ameena, I was not only introduced to tutorials but to vlogs
about a successful Mulimah and how her family were taking the world by storm with
Islamic fashion. I am sure Ms.Ameena has thousands of Muslim teen fans considering
that her channel has almost 400k subscribers. But for sure she has plenty of non Muslim fans
as well. Her hijab line sells well, she has hosted many fashion shows around the world in
Muslim spaces and non Muslim spaces as well. Amenakin was even tapped by L'Oreal
cosmetics to be a brand ambassador. A crossover success she has proven to be.
But crossing over isn't always easy or pretty as it looks.

Recently Amenakin came under some pretty harsh internet fire when tweets she made back in
2014 about Israel and it's army were screen shot and tweeted back out. The tweets mirrored
sentiments that many Muslims have spoken, tweeted, and written about our dissatisfaction
with the oppression Palestinian Muslims face there. In fact, her tweets actually seemed mild
and weren't ill intended nor were they nasty! But when Amenakin were called out for her
comments she backed away from them instead of standing by her convictions and the rights
for our sisters and brothers living under occupation in Palestine. Not only that, but she also
stepped down as first ever Mulimah ambassador for L’OrΓ©al. Am I just really trying to
figure out why? Did L'Oreal pressure her to step down or was the heat just too much for
Ms. Ameena to stand?

Some Muslims and non Muslims alike have applauded Ms Ameena for stepping down.
Others have are bashing her for ‘flipping on her morals’. One thing everyone can agree on is that she was definitely targeted.
It wasn't a coincidence that those tweets were uncovered the moment she became a
crossover public figure. Crossing over into non Muslim markets definitely seems to come
with a high cost.

Going from being celebrated one minute and then completely villainized the next can't be easy to deal with. I think it’s important to remember that Ameena is ultimately a beauty blogger selling pretty and clothing from a Muslim aesthetic. It's understandable the want and need to quickly give in to internet peer pressure and shut the story down. We’ve all had our hand at dealing with mean and malicious comments on social media and when it’s coming at you like an open dam, saying anything to get out from under from it may seem like the best and only option. But dodging the criticism doesn't mean it will stop. Some of the responses from the Muslim community is that Amenakin has now lost their respect and hurt her own brand. Especially since within in the last week founder Amani Al-Khatahbeh turned down an award from Revlon while refusing to participate with their Israeli Ambassador Gal Gadot due to her support of Israel's army. Some Muslims felt Amenakin should have stood her ground and represented Muslims' voices. There wasn't going to be a win in this battle for Muslim fashion or Amenakin. Crossing over into non Muslim markets comes with battle wounds.

Do I think Amena is anti-Semitic? No. Do I think Ameena is weak for just walking away from the deal? No.  I think she was put in a situation where she was bullied and instead of fighting it out and waiting on her real followers to help her fight the bullies back up off her, she walked away. Fashion bloggers aren't known to fight! I can sympathize with her decision. But I do wish Muslim fashion bloggers learn from this situation. Be ready to stand your ground - if and when the crossover kings and queens come for you!

Moral of the story: Stand firm in your truth!