New Blog!

Dear few and dedicated readers,

My husband surprised me on his birthday with my own website. I will still be blogging, but at……drum roll pleaaassee:




Hope to see you there!

Salaam, Peace!

Yesterday (November 4th) I had the great pleasure of being part of a panel discussing Islamophobia and the “Othering” of Muslims at Wesleyan University. It was sponsored by the Interfaith Justice League. Two professors were also a part of the panel, Dr. Ahmed, who teaches for both the Religion Dept. as well as Women and Gender Studies and Dr. Lim, an extremely articulate government professor. The questions were thought provoking and while we couldn’t have possibly answered all of them, I think enough were sufficiently answered to have students reach out and pursue more knowledge in this area.

There were many highlights to the event, but I wanted to mention one in particular which really made me think. Dr. Lim told us that one of the major problems of liberals is that they are too quick to get to the conclusion of remarks as opposed to delineating the premises. When someone says, “I’m just not ready for a black President,” we are quick to either say, “You’re a racist,” or think, “I have to respect this person’s feelings, because people are allowed to have feelings, so I will nod in understanding.” Either way, both reactions are extremely flawed. We should be pushing back and asking, “What do you mean when you say you are not ready?” Whenever people mention any type of discomfort, we should really try to find out what it is that makes them uncomfortable, because while the conclusion will be the same (racism), by having them unpack their feelings, they may be able to come to the conclusion all on their own.

What does it really mean when Juan Williams says, “I get nervous when I see Muslims wearing Muslim garb on my flight.” Let’s push him a little. Does he get nervous when he sees Muslims on the street? How does his nervousness correlate with his fear of Muslims in general? The fact that people actually defended Williams’ remarks because he’s allowed to share “his feelings” is quite frightening. Because this is racism, hidden under the cloud of feelings which usually are not associated with being a threat.

When you feel discomfort, try to unpack it. Those feelings may be a lot more powerful than you think.

Many things remind me of fall. Stomping on crunchy leaves as a kid, volleyball practice as a high-schooler, and yams baking in the oven, always. These memories are cozy ones and are reignited as the humidity of summer is replaced with early morning dew. And maybe this one particular memory is so embedded in my mind because baba and I have made it tradition…

Baba walks into my room.  “I think you should put on a shirt that you don’t really like. Or, one you don’t mind staining.”

I rummage through the pile of clothing laying on my desk chair and find an already stained shirt. More stains won’t matter. I make my way into the kitchen where baba has some newspapers laid out, a sharp knife, a bowl and three large pomegranates. He cracks one open and gives me half. We start the long process of picking apart the pomegranates. We’re careful not to throw the rind in with the seeds since it is so tough and sour. The process is relaxing, just baba and I plucking the juicy seeds out of their cocoons, trying not to make a mess. One can’t be in a hurried dash during this time. The pomegranates won’t let you.

After awhile baba reflects, “You know, pomegranates are mentioned in the Qur’an. Not just once, but three times!”

I nod. In my head I wanted to acknowledge that baba told us this every year since we were little, but I didn’t want to take away his teaching moment. I didn’t need a POM commercial to tell me that pomegranates are powerful fruits. These “Chinese Apples” filled our breakfast bowls before school. Soaked in rose water and sweetened with a little sugar, we would eat our morning pomegranate with some sliced bananas. I don’t really remember anyone else in our family liking it, except baba and I.

After my daughter’s check up at the pediatrician, I decided to make a stop at the grocery store. I had my list somewhere in the abyss of the diaper bag. Too much of a hassle to take out, I reassured myself that I would remember the items our family needed and I wouldn’t go overboard with the things not on the list. As I walked towards the produce section, the pomegranates were staged dead center of the aisle. $1.99 each. I remembered the great times with baba- picking the seeds and counting the purple hued stains on our shirts when it was all over.  Most of the pomegranates there were pretty bruised. I managed to find two that were in relatively good shape.

I walked over to the cash register, proud that I hadn’t veered way off course of my list which was still swimming between the wipes and diapers. A free cashier waves for me to come over, cooing at the sleepy baby.

“Ooh, brave woman! Those pomegranates can get messy. I had one for lunch. It took my whole lunch break to pick it apart!” the cashier exclaimed as she eyed the fruit.

I smiled, secretly looking forward to the peaceful moments and continued tradition of picking apart the pomegranates.

When I came home, I took out the bowl, lay some old magazines around the table, and waited for my husband to return from work. As he entered our apartment, I looked at his shirt and said rather matter-of-factly, “I think you should put on a shirt you don’t really like. Or, one you don’t mind staining.”

What traditions have you carried along from your childhood?

Banana Bread

It has been raining for the past three days here in Connecticut. I was starting to get a little stir crazy staying in the apartment, so I had made the intention the night before that Sumster and I would head out and get some groceries.

Big Mistake. Huge.

It wasn’t really because my skirt was dragging along the puddles absorbing water like a sponge, or because Sumi would not stay in the car seat and demanded to be held while shopping (yes, I was maneuvering the shopping cart with one hand). And no, I wasn’t cool enough to be carrying her in a Baby Bjorn or Mei Tai.

It was…okay, to be honest, it was because of the stares. Maybe because Islam has been on the news more-so than ever before, but the stares were piercing. I was joking with my husband that I should make a business card with my photo on it, saying, “Here’s my picture. It’ll last longer. Questions? Email me anytime…”

I think it gets to some people that there is a covered Muslim woman shopping at the same store they frequent and *gasp* she doesn’t have an accent but she does have a child….and it’s a girl😦 will she be forced to wear that thing around her head too?!

It really throws them off when Sumi is all smiles and Ahmed makes a fool of himself getting her to laugh her head off.

Sigh…I’m allowed one rant post, no? All this so I can buy some baking powder to make banana bread.

Anyway, Sumi finally cried herself to sleep while I was driving home. As I shifted the car into park, the only audible sound was the thudding of the raindrops onto the pavement. I sat there, still,  making dua in the rain, enjoying the quiet moment where no stares existed and it was just me with my Lord.

I sat there thanking Allah that He has given us the opportunity to be like the companions of the Prophet Muhammad (sas). Now, if we can only live up to such amazing role models.

At least the banana bread came out nice🙂

Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips and Walnuts

Ahmed’s video sums it up in a nutshell🙂

Wesleyan Fastathon 2010 from EidFilms on Vimeo.

Seeking Mercy

I have been listening to Suraht Maryam quite often ever since having baby Sumi, but even before pregnancy or even marriage for that matter, this Surah has been one that I regularly gravitate towards. There are so many lessons that can be gleaned from the surah. It is called Suraht Maryam and she (alayha salaam) is sandwiched between all these male prophets. Sandwiched, and yet, she still stands out so brightly. The surah begins with the plea from Sayyidna Zachareya to have a child and concludes with the remembrance of Prophets Ibrahim, Idris, Ismail, Noah, and Adam (may Allah have peace upon them all).

There are three major parent-child relationships in this surah- Prophet Zachareya with Prophet Yahya, Maryam and Prophet ‘Isa, and Prophet Ibrahim with his father. While I hope to share other reflections from this surah, I wanted to write about one particular aya (verse) today.

Prophet Ibrahim mentions to his father,

what can be translated as, O my father! Do not worship Satan: for Satan is a rebel against the Most Merciful.

Ya abati is the most respected and loving way to address one’s father in Arabic. It’s a loving, “Oh my Father,” not a DAAAD! or Pops, or any other title that we readily assign to our fathers. He lovingly tried to advise his father even after his father threatened to kill him for not worshiping his idols.

However, there is an even more striking comparison in this verse. Prophet Ibrahim tells his father not to worship Satan because he is a direct enemy to the Most Merciful. God could have inspired Prophet Ibrahim to use any one of His names. He could have said that Satan is the enemy of the Lord of the Universe, or the One Deserving of All Praise. Rather, Allah juxtaposes His Mercy with the most arrogant persuader.

Reflecting further, what does this mean then about our actions that are inspired by Shaytan? This means that those actions are lacking in mercy, actually they are completely void of mercy, because of the diametric opposition that was mentioned earlier. It makes us rethink the reason why we are postponing our prayers. Is it really because we want to give our bodies some “mercy” (i.e. rest)?

This aya is also extremely inspiring. When we work so so hard to hold our tongues, or to control our anger, we know that Allah (swt) is watching us and insha’Allah we will be receiving His Mercy because of it.

So, when we think of doing something that Shaytan has a part in because it is easier, we should also consider how much ultimate mercy we could lose because of it.

Ya Rahman, Shower us with Your Mercy, and forgive us for our shortcomings!


I could have thought of a more clever title, but I think that one word really captures the message. After getting married, I tried to get our apartment in order by buying things. Appliances that would make life faster, more convenient, or even more enjoyable- include panini maker here. It’s something that many girls dream about. Conversations with close friends turn into a critique of whether the benefits of Calphalon cookware outweigh their heavy lifting requirement.

Before getting married, my roommate and I had two knives and no curtains. They worked fine, we didn’t starve, and the blinds provided us with enough privacy. So what sparked the change from simple single to materialistically overburdened spouse?

Is it because of the fact that we don’t have this picture perfect image of the way things should be when we’re single? We definitely do have a an idea of how we want our married life to look like, which includes the curtains, bedroom set, and kitchen-aid. I guess there is also no bridal registry when you’re single. None of this really bothered me until I had my lovely little daughter. Swamped with diapers that didn’t fit, hand me down strollers that didn’t work, a revamping was in order. I was slowly suffocating and found myself too preoccupied with the clutter.

Bit by bit my husband and I have been going through each room of our 2 bedroom apartment and decluttering. Why do I physically feel lighter? Recently, I listened to a lecture by Sheikh Abdul Sattar who said that every item comes with its own taqdir. As in, the shoes in my closet come with their own story- who will wear them, how many steps they will take, where they will go, and what will bring about their ultimate demise. Now imagine all the things we privileged Americans own. Do we really want to carry the baggage of every item’s taqdir? I don’t.

My husband and I have an 8×11 inch piece of paper taped on the wall next to our treadmill. On it is a handwritten graph to document our running distance and time. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and stare at that graph knowing that today is a day where I must fill it in. Approaching the end of my run, my motivation is to finish strong so I can write on that piece of paper a respectable number.

It cost about five cents, if that, but is one of the most valuable things we own.

I leave you with this beautiful saying of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, that we may all strive towards, “If you renounce the things that people love, people will love you.” Ameen.