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Friday, January 26, 2018

Writers For Hope









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’Oréal. 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 MuslimGirl.net 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!


Sunday, January 21, 2018

Muslim Girls Matters: Tools For Success Live Chat



Salams! Hey everyone! I thank you all for checking out the blog, following my journey to bring Muslim fiction to the world. I thank you for supporting As Sabr Publications and our books! I got some new tings coming this year, Alhamduleelah! Still got some traveling to do before I return to the States, but God willing new children book's will be dropping this Ramadhan, and bi'thnnillah, when I get back to the States I'll be showing out in a couple of cities this summer for some book signings and chats with ya'll! But before that, I am calling out to my youngins, my baby girls, my shorties, my little bits -- my sisters to check out my online workshops! They're FREE!

Tell all the sisters in your family: Muslim Girls Matters with Author & Educator Umm Juwayriyah will be live once a month, enshallah! We got work to do fam and making sure our little sisters have the love, support, and tools to journey in this world as confident Muslim women is critical. Let's do the work. Let's unpack the hard stuff and spread some good news. Got a topic you wanna speak on? Send it to me! Join me starting this February - right here on this page, enshallah!

With love and thankfulness ~ Umm Juwayriyah

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Some Thoughts On Muslim Fiction by Juwayriyah K. Ayed



#MUSLIMGIRLSREAD

When was the last time you read a Muslim fiction book? Or even looked for a Muslim fiction book?
The feeling of seeing someone who looks like you on the cover or written out in the description is like
no other. Equally otherworldly is relating to words on a page in a way you’ve never really been able to
relate to before. If you are book lover and haven’t experienced good Muslim fiction, you are missing out.
Muslim fiction is a opportunity to connect with the characters, events, and themes in all the important -
deep ways that made you love stories in the first place. So where’s the Muslim fiction hiding at?

Muslim fiction isn’t as rare as some might think it is.  A growing selection of books by Muslim authors
targeting both Muslim adults and Muslim youth is being written everyday. English Muslim fiction in
particular is gaining momentum as well. Umm Zakiyyah, Rukhsana Khan, Emma Apple
(*love her*, mashallah) Naima B. Robert, Nasheed Jaxson, Mark Gonzales, and my mother, Umm Juwayriyah are some of the pioneers creating and expanding genres with Western Muslim inspired narratives.

You can definitely find Muslim at many online retailers like Amazon.com, Islamicbookstore.com, and
the newest and coolest online Muslim bookstore/library/cafe Fofkys.com! If you’re like me and need to see
and hold a book before you purchase, try you library. Libraries are still the best place to find books, even
Muslim fiction. It could be daunting at first because libraries are overwhelming filled with books written
by non muslims. Even in Muslim countries like Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, you  will still need to
hunt for your Muslim fiction fixes. Don’t get overwhelmed.


I work in the library every summer and  librarians are not only resourceful but are usually excited to

connect you to emerging genres. Give your librarian your list of Muslim authors and let them do the heavy
lifting. Librarians can narrow down the books and request them from other libraries through your city and
state. If your librarian can’t  find the Muslim fiction you’re looking for, ask them to order it for the library.
In fact, requesting Muslim fiction from your local library is a great way to create a buzz at your local library
and surrounding bookstores about Muslim fiction. The more Muslim fiction the libraries order, the larger
the audience of readers can grow, enshallah.

What are Muslim authors writing? Good question. Realistic fiction definitely seems to be a hot shelf.
Fewer Muslim writers have delved into science fiction, fantasy, comic books and mysteries.  Why is it that
Muslims tend to avoid these genres? Demand is key in any business but with us Muslims, religious and cultural
boundaries are also important to take into account. Fantasy/ magic, and even science fiction that explores
artificial intelligence can be a taboo subject for a significant number of Muslims worldwide. In fact, there are
still some Muslims who equate writing fiction with lying (insert my side kitty eyes with love and peace)!
Those things can be a difficult feat for Muslim authors to overcome when trying to write a story that is
broadly appealing.  Author Umm Zakiyyah stated  in the article, Is Writing Fiction Allowed:
“If writing fiction constitutes lying, as you claim, then you’d have absolutely no idea it was a
“fiction story” in the first place—because you would have been told it was true.” That said, Muslim
authors have to keep pushing the top off the box that some Muslims and non Muslims alike would want
us to stay in. We don’t all have to write the same type of stories. There is a need for the more fantasy-esque
genre to expand and include Muslim characters and themes. The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi which is a fantasy book did very well nation wide and was even reviewed by Kirkus.  With the continual rise of Islamophobia in
the West (not new - it started when Black African Muslims were forced into
slavery), a book set someplace else: on a different plane, in a different universe overcoming trauma, creating
things can help renew faith and inspire Muslims. In an article entitled: Why Sci-Fi Gives Me
Hope For the Future as a Muslim’ Farah Rishi stated, “...if we allow ourselves, even fictionally, to exist in
the future, then we can be reminded of why we must exist in the now.”

The pen is mightier than the sword. How many times have you heard this phrase and why is it that it’s so
important to Muslim literature? To create a story to prove a point or teach a lesson is a much more effective
way than others. Authors every day ask themselves, What big idea am I  do I want to convey? What tone I
want to set? What is the underlying message that I want my readers to think about? Authors like
Umm Zakiyyah, and (yep, my Momma) Umm Juwayriyahanswer these questions when writing their books. Writing stories that represents Muslim life, especially
Western Muslim life is  necessary and needed in the world to not only
show Muslim's point of view in the world but to counter some of the straight-up Muslim bashing,
discrimination, and erasure that is commonplace. Muslim authors that are building  bridges for communities
all around the world to come together and recognize the commonalities that we are share are engaged in critical
creative work that needs to be supported and appreciated.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Ten Things Muslims Need To Leave In 2017




 So we've reached the end of the Gregorian calendar year (yes, I know the Islamic New Year was in September!) . May be it isn't important to you or maybe it is, but the way bills, school, banks, and just about everything in the West and the East are set-up, December 31st is about closure. During the last 365 days we've all have seen many blessings and many trials, too. As Muslims, we know no matter what, we have to remain hopeful and praise Allah for all that He has given us. But I think any time you complete something, it's time for reflection. You have to take some inventory of yourself and honestly decide what worked, what failed miserably, and what's left for you to work on. Do ya'll do that? I think more Muslim communities need to come together and share in these types of reflections in order to plan how to more forward, enshallah. Now, even if your community doesn't have town hall meetings set-up, maybe you can get together with your sisters or your brothers and discuss the positives and the negatives. Positives are easy to come up with so I will leave that to your group to do that work. Here is small list of ten things, I pray and hope, we as Muslims can  leave in 2017:



1. Teasing/Taunting and Backbiting Muslim youth: Now, I know prom season is going to be here in a few seconds. I also know that it irks the life out of many elder Muslims to see social media flooded with Muslim teens attending prom. Times have indeed changed.  But dear respected sister/brother - hold your peace. If you can't change it with good words and actions, you stick to the sunnah and hate it in your heart silently! Prom season is not backbiting season, no matter how many camels, sand, Gucci, Louis Vuitton you see on the gram! Let's be proactive! Let's build positive relationships with Muslim youth.  Start a club for Muslim youth. Help create events in your city for Muslim youth! Leave the teasing and taunting in 2017.

2. Iftar Microaggressions at masajid: During Ramadhan the masajid are filled. This is a blessing that Allah brings His servants together to worship Him alone. It should be a time of remembrance, reflection, and camaraderie. We are all guests of Allah in His house. But too often, too often Muslims gather and can't get it right. Brothers, if you can't shake another brother's hand because he is a few shade darker than you - stay home! Sisters, if you got to side eye every sister coming in the building before deciding to return the salams - stay home. If you, your grandmother, grandfather or uncles and them  got issues eating or standing next to folks that ain't from your tribe - stay home! You don't own the masajid and if you can't get over yourself, keep yourself and your issues away from other Muslims - stay away from the community iftar. You don't know if your illness will poison another believer. You don't know if someone has their own illness that they are fighting to hold back! Don't take those microaggressions into 2018. Throw them away for good.

3.  "But the shaykh said":  Which shaykh? Read me carefully now, I am not denouncing our beloved shayuk in the least! Rather, I am calling for their proper due and respect of our learned. If you cant't recall who said what, when,why or from where the reference comes from -- abort that thought until you can properly cite it! Often times your message will be better understood with a aya or one hadeeth. It's not necessary to throw out names of scholars in every sentence to win a debate. Also, recognize that every Muslim may not follow or have even heard of the scholar that you revere. That shouldn't start a fight or dissension either. Knowledge shouldn't cause us to be haughty or harsh. Leave the shaykh said disagreements in 2017.

4. Arguments on Social media about the old hot topics:  It's just not a good idea. People get angry and feelings get hurt. There's never a resolution found on social media. Recognize that people are passionate about certain topics. Find your people and stick with them if you must discuss those topics so at least you can feel right in your group.  The name calling and putting others down publicly isn't a good look as Muslim. Don't let shaytan get you riled up over something you can't control. Keep scrolling and keep those arguments in 2017.

5. Poor Leadership in our communities: Without naming any names, unfortunately there were a couple of scandals involving Muslim leaders in different cities. People were saddened and hurt and rightfully so. But we are part of the problem as well. We love a charismatic speaker who can deliver a dynamic khutbah, who can raise funds for the building fund, and who can bolster the numbers in the community. However, how well do we vet our leaders? Do we care about  the backgrounds of those pushed to the front or are we just concerned about they can do? How many sisters are on the boards of these masajid to interject questions that speak to the needs and protection of Muslimat? Some times poor leadership is unavoidable. Some times we get what we got because we invited them in! Let's leave poor leadership in 2017 and demand more accountability in 2018.

6. Excuses: Advancement, Education, Sadaqa, Volunteering, Attendance at activities in the community - "Nah, nope, I can't! I don't want to help with that!" If that's your answer to every single thing someone asks you to do in your own community, you might have an issue. It could be something happened years ago and you have never healed from it or you don't like working or being around certain personalities in your community (see next point). Or it could be that you are really that busy. I understand.  We all have our own problems and challenges to overcome. But we need the Muslim community to support the Muslim community! Know that we need you! If you can't give your money to a project, try to give your time. If you can't give your time to the community, try to give a resource. It doesn't have to be money all the time, but we need Muslims involved and engaged. We have to leave the ready-made excuses in 2017. Let's make 2018 the year of yes!

7. Personality Issues: People are different. Islam wasn't sent to make us all carbon copies of one another. Yes, as Muslims we should all be working on our character and putting forth our best effort to be good people. The reality is that we won't ever be exactly same people! Stop cutting Muslims off or not even giving Muslims a chance because they sound or look different than you!  Even in your own family: your children, husband, and parents have different personalities than you. On your job you work and smile at all sorts of people with different looks, beliefs, ideas, and traditions than you and you manage to get through eight or more hours without all the side-eyes! In 2018 let's do our best to be sisterly and brotherly for the sake of Allah. Let's leave personality hate in 2017 and make our best effort to get to know someone new!

8. Celebrity (Busy) A'immah (read: Imams): Now, if your Imam has a theme song, all the latest social media accounts, contacts of sisters in every area code, a calendar full of booked dates out of the country, but only one Friday out of the month that he is in your city, he might be a celebrity Imam.  This is touchy issue and I know intentions are important for why people do what they do. I also know having a big name Imam who travels, has 10,000 followers on YouTube and Instagram brings in resources to the Imam's host community. However, if the celebrity imam isn't bringing about any change in our communities, he got to go! I could have merged this with the poor leadership, but I felt this deserved it's own mention. Brothers gotta eat and provide for their families. I get it and I support it. You just have a choice to make. If you don't know the names and faces of the  Muslims in your community or  the only way your community can get in touch with you is by scheduling a SKYPE meeting, perhaps you need to step aside. It's very difficult to be a celebrity Imam and run a community. You can't mix full-time entertainment with full-time spiritual activism and social work. One focus usually will take over the other. We need dedicated A'immah in our communities invested in our people. Our youth need to be able to connect with their Imam and learn and sit with their elders. So for that reason, we gotta leave the celebrity leadership in 2017. Let's bring some real community workers into our communities in 2018 who are hungry for change and will invest their time and resources in building bridges. 


9. Magnifying Sisters' Issues (while minimizing issues with brothers): When every lecture, conference, or workshop focuses on sisters' issues: how the sisters are not covering properly, why the sisters are gathering, where the sisters hang-out or go to school, if the sisters support this or that, sisters need to get married or more sisters need to do this or that - it's intentional, it's demeaning, it's called micro-aggression and it's time for it stop! Brothers and sisters, it's not your business what color a sister's hijab or jilbab or skirt is. If sisters show up to events with Muslims, think the very best that sisters are there to learn, be inspired, remember Allah and feel welcomed in Muslim spaces. Yes, we all have room to grow. But understand everyone grows differently at the speed and time Allah wills for them, so be kind and merciful. Furthermore, there's a whole lot of growth and development and learning that brothers of all ages need to be called out on as well - learn to show brothers some concern and attention through out the year too. Let's kick this habit of shaming Muslim women once and for all and bury it in 2017.

10. Sectarian Wars: What se(c)t you reppin'? What scholars you take from? What masjid you from? You take from that shaykh? You didn't go to that conference?   - If these are some of the 20 questions you have to ask each and every single Muslim you meet before you decide to behave sisterly or brother, you might be reppin' a sectarian war  - not Islam! We have a lot of problems in our communities and they all need our attention, but these sectarian wars just need a janazah! Let it go. Knock it off. Grow up! Get a Muslim mentor. Learn. Grow. You absolutely have every right to listen and follow what you believe is correct. Let that which is good and best in you show in your actions though. Take off the the arrogance in your speech and in your action! You are not pleasing Allah by hurting Muslims! And you can do better. Every single day at your job, at the bank, at the grocery store, at the airport -- you act right! Be good to the Muslims just like you act good with the non Muslims. Your sisters and brother are more deserving of your good treatment - even if you don't agree with them all the time! Let's break free of sectarian wars! Let's all remember to be patient with each other, to respect each other and that Allah is a Watcher over us all. Don't bring this mess into 2018. Leave it in 2017.

They say: Our Lord, forgive us and our brothers who preceded us in faith and put not in our hearts any resentment toward those who have faith. Our Lord, you are kind and merciful.
Surat al-Hashr 59:10
Anas ibn Malik reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
لَا تَبَاغَضُوا وَلَا تَحَاسَدُوا وَلَا تَدَابَرُوا وَكُونُوا عِبَادَ اللَّهِ إِخْوَانًا وَلَا يَحِلُّ لِمُسْلِمٍ أَنْ يَهْجُرَ أَخَاهُ فَوْقَ ثَلَاثٍ
Do not hate each other, do not envy each other, do not turn away from each other, but rather be servants of Allah as brothers. It is not lawful for a Muslim to boycott his brother for more than three days.
Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 5718, Grade: Muttafaqun Alayhi
With Love,

Umm Juwayriyah & Juwayriyah Ayed