Monday, October 31, 2011


As salaam alaikum,

I was talking to my friend last night, telling a little bit about my life, and I synthesized something in a way that I hadn't before.

I told her that within Islam, the three major sins as outlined in the Qur'an (as I understand them) are murder, zina, and associating partners with God.

I think some Muslims like to glaze over the fact that zina is any sex outside of marriage. This is not just your "Thou shalt not commit adultery." And it's hard to understand. We can see the gravity in killing, the gravity of associating partners with God, the latter if we are Muslims. But in having sex outside of marriage? Is sex ever as bad as killing someone?

Maybe it's Satan making evil seem fair seeming in this society. No one waits until marriage in mainstream media. Abstinence only sex ed would never work for our kids, because everything around them, including their own parents, are giving them alternative messages. Abstinence only becomes one of those "do as I say, not as I do" deals. And people see it of no consequence.

I understand it as establishing marriage as being as sacred as life, something that we shall not disrupt in our own hands.

A progressive may wonder if premarital sex disrupts marriage as much anymore that we do not have as strict cultural mores dictating marriage anymore in this country, but I think that answers its own question. It may be one of those elements that protects it more than it did even then, in the absence of those protective cultural mores of yore.

I realized how much of the way were are currently practicing Islam has to do with being super defensive against zina in a way I consider highly dysfunctional. It's not just Muslim men and women sitting on separate sides of a room during an MSA meeting. It's the way that Muslim men and women do not know each other at all in so many instances. Even if you do succeed in not committing zina and marrying, how successful is that marriage going to be if woman is alien to man, and man is alien to woman. And marriage for some is reduced to a way in which it is okay to have sex, instead of man and woman getting to live together in a complementary way that is within our natures.

And such an argument as this would get flamed anywhere among certain Muslims who would say that what I am calling for, men and women getting to know each other, will inevitably lead to zina. And therein lies the rub. Any straying from the utmost conservative gender relations will lead to zina. And yeah, maybe it could.

But I think that's where personal responsibility comes in.

As someone who has lived on the fringes of Muslim society in this country and has dated non-Muslims and has not committed zina, let me tell takes some effort to have sex outside of marriage. It's fairly deliberate. If someone really wants to have sex, they will. If they don't want to, they won't.

As important as societal standards and the ummah is, baring instances of rape and assault, it all boils down to an individual Muslim's sense of responsibility. I think trying to make gender interactions in the ummah so conservative such that sex outside of marriage is impossible may make harmonious and healthy marriage more difficult.

In this day and with the diversity of our ummah, marriage is not as simple as finding an able-bodies Muslim man and a nubile Muslim woman and putting them together. We should strive for compatibility, yes, in aspirations and personality. As Muslims, our goal shouldn't be marriage with the complete avoidance of sex outside of should be healthy marriage.

Yes, we were made to understand that sex outside of marriage is the greatest threat to marriage itself and a great threat to ourselves, since this was outlined as one of the major sins. But it is not the only guarantee of healthy marriage by far, and if we revere marriage enough to avoid zina so much, we should naturally be doing everything else in our power to protect marriage...

...but we're not.

Good Muslim men and women are failing to find each other. Some of us rush in without much regard for compatibility and get burned. I've seen marriages annulled for frank infidelity...people avoiding one form of zina just to fall into another. Some of us try to work within paradigms that don't make sense for where we are now. And in terms of zina, let's not ignore the so many Muslims on the fringes like me, trying to find their way, who have less defense against zina.

I struggle daily because I think a lot. Everyone else has a paradigm in which they'll find a mate and maybe, eventually get married. Others assume they'll date and leave themselves open and at some point they'll find someone that fits in their life as he fits into theirs. They'll get to know each other through sex, they'll live together, then they'll marry. Some Muslims know that their parents will help arrange a marriage for them out of those that they know, they'll marry and spend the rest of their married life getting to know their spouse.

I don't have any such paradigm other than to wait for a man to drop out of the sky and somehow fit in my life as I fit into his. And insha'Allah we'll have a healthy marriage. That's my primary concern now. I don't just want to be married. I want to have a healthy marriage in which my mate and I can grow in God consciousness, and complement each other in the key areas of aspirations, personality and beliefs that most facilitate our relationship.

And it can be no less magic than him dropping from the sky...

Sunday, October 30, 2011

All of My Stuff

As salaam alaikum,

Last night, I watched "For Colored Girls." As a result, I had a dream upon waking that my ex was trying to rape me. Yeah, not cute. Before then, I had a dream where I saw him, and I was just filled with hatred at the site of his silhouette.

Yeah, no more movies like that before bedtime.

But there was one of the poems that I really liked from the work that I just read for full effect. "Somebody almost walked off wid alla my stuff." I liked it, because someone almost did. I especially identified with this part:

somebody almost run off wit alla my stuff
& i waz standin
lookin at myself
the whole time 
& it waznt a spirit took my stuff
waz a man whose 
ego walked round like Rodan’s shadow
waz a man faster
n my innocenc

waz a lover
i made too much 
room for
almost run off wit alla my stuff
& i didnt know i’d give it up so quik
& the one runnin wit it

don’t know he got it
& i’m shoutin this is mine
& he dont 
know he got it
my stuff is the anonymous ripped off treasure
 of the year
did you know somebody almost got away wit me
me in a plastic bag under their arm
danglin on a string of personal carelessness...

This was my ex. I made too much space for him. And I almost let him walk away with so much of me, and my dignity, which I regained when I erased all traces of him from my life, save the backpack that was a gift to me and is actually quite useful and a Chimamanda Adichie book that he lent to me that he may never get back at this point.

I don't know why women do this. We put so much of ourselves into relationships, give so much of ourselves...and the men don't care. They don't know how much they've taken away. We made a space to fill with them, and then they leave us, and now we've got an empty space. And we chase them for a while, for the sake of sensation and sentiment, and they don't want to have any part. They don't even realize what havoc they've wrought.

They can't get too far with all of our stuff if they don't know they even have it. It should be easier to take it back.

Sometimes I wonder why we were made this way, women, to nurture so much, so many times at the expense of ourselves.

Friday, October 21, 2011

I'll Be Doggone

As salaam alaikum,

And I quote,

"So yes, this is, again, my new Center of Awesomeness. And I'll be doggone if, within days of writing this, someone else comes along...because that's what happened last time." - Saturday, October 15.

Hrm. Yes. I didn't feel it in the air at that moment, but I felt it later that night. And then, that very night, I met a man who I'm talking to now. New letter. We'll call him D.

So yes, I'll be doggone.

Whatever on D! I'm talking to him now, we'll see what happens. I'm not giving up on my Center of Awesomeness. Because if/when D goes away, I still have work to do...I still have to work on existing and being without men or the promise of a man in the future.

Hard to do when you have one knocking on your door. Figuratively. He's actually calling me.

As the Isley Brothers said, "I got work to do. I got a job, baby!"

Saturday, October 15, 2011

New Center of Awesomeness, Part II

As salaam alaikum,


So, after a year-long detour, I am resuming the construction of my Center of Awesomeness. A little over a year ago, I had given up on the chase (the chase for men) and I decided to focus on my writing projects while in public health school as the thing that I did and who I was outside of medicine.

And then, there was B.

And then, B did me wrong.

And for months, I suffered the consequences of that...

Well, no more! I'm going back to my Center of Awesomeness as my thing outside of medicine. I still have a feeling that my life is going to change sooner than I'm ready for, actually, in the relationship department, but in the meantime, I must be productive.

...because sometime earlier this year I felt light, like I knew that soon the person was coming. I had that feeling that I couldn't deny...

But I don't know when. So I'm hanging tight.

In the meantime, the Center of Awesomeness continues! I'm composing music and writing songs for my next story idea, "The Misadventures of Nisa." Insha'Allah I'll finally get to do more final edits on RMD. I'm waiting for family to read it and give me is 280 pages long in manuscript form. I mean, it's a novel, not a short story...I don't know what they're expecting.

But yes, my writing projects will be my Center outside of medicine while I wait for God to provide me with who will be my husband so I can start my family. I don't know how long it will be, but I was told that it won't be too long.

There are a few songs I'm working on right now. They're all 80s-style songs (I Love the 80s!). The first one is the theme song, called "Anisa Taylor." It's by this recording artist who moved to the City (I think I'll make it New York) to go to performing arts school and left behind his childhood friend, Anisa. He's forming his career as a recording artist after a little while behind the scenes doing songwriting (one of the songs whose working title is "I Make Love through the Night" that I'm writing right now) and then he spots Anisa in the city. And he writes a song about what it's like to see her after 10 years. And it becomes his first hit single.

Oh yeah, it's set in the 80s. Thus the 80s theme. That'll be the hardest part to write...setting it in the 80s.

I wish there was a website or something that characterized people's diction at the time. I'll just watch 80s movies, haha.

Yeah, I'm writing a campy musical. But it's fun! Composing music is a lot of fun! I love listening to what I have so far of "Anisa Taylor," the theme song. It's great to listen to in headphones.

So yes, this is, again, my new Center of Awesomeness. And I'll be doggone if, within days of writing this, someone else comes along...because that's what happened last time. But I doubt it. I don't feel it in the air like last time. My goal is to compose these songs by the end of the year...

...while studying and going on interviews for residency, of course. :-D

So on the block for the upcoming year...The Misadventures of Nisa, RMD (hopefully), the publication of "The Hybrid Dance," and maybe a new story idea.

As for a preview, all I have to say is...

Nisa, Na-na-na-na-nisa, Na-na-na-na-nisa! :)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

I Only Have Eyes for You

As salaam alaikum,

So, I just watched the movie Mooz-lum, written and directed by brother Qasim Basir, and man...words cannot describe how much I appreciated so much of that movie. From the representation of black American Muslims to the shots of my alma mommy Umich to the shout-out to Ahmo's in the movie (which made me laugh!), it was genius, it was great.

So, as a result, I decided to do a little internet stalking of brother Basir to learn a little bit more about him. That project ended because I'm currently twisting my hair and that will take a long time...

But as I sent the brother a fan mail and I thought about how much I admired him as an artist, as a fellow Muslim, as a man, these lyrics went through my head,

"I only have eyes for you..."

And I started singing aloud, "I don't know if we're in a garden. Or on a crowded avenue..."

Shoo-bop shoo-bop!

Yes, a year ago, I started seeing a non-Muslim man who made me, frankly, feel very good about myself. Five months into it, he abruptly left and I have been feeling progressively worse about myself and hit rock bottom in very many ways. Ramadan came along, and I took myself through iman boot camp, and am trying to get myself back on a track I began my sophomore year of college. And insha'Allah, I'm there, and alhamdulillah, I'm taking strides to get back where I need to be.

I watched that movie, I read that brother's bio, and I remember something I once said when I debated being with B. I said, "I still will choose you first." (Another song...I listen to a lot of music).

For my Muslim brothers. I read that bio and in the midst of all of the admiration I felt for this brother, I found myself blurting, "I wonder if he's married?"

And I laughed at myself! It's been a while since I did that, since I've allowed myself to do be a Muslim girl.

Instead of having to adapt to secular relationship paradigms and then doubting myself when I'm not good enough in some mysterious way or another.

"...but they all disappear from view. 'Cause I only have eyes for you..."

My Muslim brothers! "I'll always come back to you." (Another song, sorry!) My non-Muslim friends don't understand why I sometimes "limit" myself to Muslim men. It's not a limit. The frank fact of the matter is, more often than not, if it's a non-Muslim man doing something awesome and a Muslim man doing something awesome, I will respect and admire the Muslim man more, especially if the awesomeness that he is doing manifests that his beliefs lie along a similar plane as mine. Within any religion, just because someone is an adherent doesn't mean they believe along the same plane or even in the same realm as you do. I am always open minded but I recognize when someone is my spiritual brother or sister and I can't help but admire that person more because of that...

And sometimes that happens when someone does not call themselves Muslim.

I know it because I admired MQ and loved him from a distance more than I ever loved B...

And though I still hurt from all of that, all of that...

It's good to be reminded. It's good to know where I stand.