Saturday, December 31, 2011


As salaam alaikum,

Hah! After I try to invite more men to read my site, I launch into an altogether more girly topic. Oh well.

I was talking to a friend of mine yesterday, and somehow, we got on the topic of my college crush, MQ. As if I haven't exhausted the subject of that then-boy now-man for my entire lifetime, what with the hundreds of pages of journal entries I've written about him, the obsessive thinking about him my sophomore year fading to the daily praying for him during Ramadan 2005. MQ, also known as MTQ, is the basis for the character Mo in my story, A Rose Much Desired, and is renamed Sadiq in my essay in Love, InshAllah. How I felt about him was so adeptly characterized by Djavan in "Doidice" that I listened to that song over and over again the spring of my first year of medical school.

Me apaixonei? Talvez, pode ser...

I wrote a poem in one sitting the first time I got a whiff that we would never be. I still remember most of it. "I wish I would not melt into you, my oblivious haunter, as you whisper to me of Some Enchanted Evening that exists not in reality but it's alternate..."

I didn't memorize it. I lived it. It was so real for so long it went without saying.

But my friend had never heard the whole story. At the time I met her, I was still embarrassed by the details. I was embarrassed that a big girl like me could have fallen so hard for someone who in real life did not completely exist as I'd imagined them. But time has passed and he's been married for some time and I've since been in a relationship of my own and I finally felt at liberty to describe him.

And it was amazing, I think one of the most beautiful experiences of the year for me of many more.

I usually do year retrospectives, but doing a retrospective of a year that began happily and then ended in a confusing and terribly disappointing breakup, a year that was unfortunately stained by that incident although everything else in the year was excellent...just seemed a bit depressing. I ended up thinking of B and crying really hard the other day as I thought of all I had hoped we would be, what we were, what we realistically could have been, my loneliness.

But I told my friend, I didn't even love B as much as I loved MQ. And, as she is wont to do, she asked why.

I hadn't thought about it in a while. In fact, my editors for "The Hybrid Dance" asked me to expand on what it was about Sadiq that I liked, and I felt embarrassed because, at the time, it didn't seem like enough...

But then I described MQ to her, and what it was about him...and it all seemed plain to me.

We were talking about B.

Her: "It's good that you didn't get swallowed in because some can't see through the pain, sadness, disappointment..."

Me: "No, did that once when I wasn't even in a relationship. Didn't even touch the man. Took me three years to get over him. A 280-page novel with a character based on him... For as much as I came to love B, I dind't love anyone like MQ, for whatever reason."

Her: " you ever wonder why?"

Me: "No. I know why. I loved the idea of MQ, perhaps who he wasn't. I knew B...I never idealized him."

Her: "Why did you love the idea of him? Could it have been anyone? Or was there something about him in particular?" (My friend asks a lot of questions)

Me: "No, just him... I liked him because he seemed to like me. And it seemed so unlikely that this guy liked me, and he was so unlike anyone I'd met before...I was fascinated by him. I mean, now, I know tons of Indian guys who like hip hop and R&B, so it's no longer a novelty."

Her: "Hahahaha."

Me: "Haha, but I read so much into it at the time. I mean, he was also Muslim, funny...he was different."

Her: "What do you mean by different?"

Me: "He was unlike any guy I met at the time. He was loud and boisterous, had a great sense of humor, he was like, over 6 feet but he was a teddy bear. He loved kids... But at the same time, he cursed a lot and had a quick temper... He was loud and awkward. He was a cutester, although his face was not that attractive to me... I liked how he talked to me, related to me... He told me that I amazed him... How awesome I was, how smart I was..."

Her: "Awwwww."

Me: "He always assured me that everything was going to be alright... [I] wasn't as happy as I was with him until B."

Her: "Were you two pretty close?"

Me: "Umm, after the summer after my freshman year, not really. I once went 5 months without seeing him. But I thought about him every day, almost every 10 minutes my sophomore year after that summer. Cried many nights to sleep, and cried myself awake on the last day of the semester when I realized we would never be. I wanted to be everything he wanted, and I sought to find out what he wanted. It became an obsession, for sure."

Her: "Did you tell anyone?"

Me: "I talked to no one about it. I didn't have a friend close enough to talk to about it..."

Her: "What about [your best friend]?"

Me: "A little bit. She knew the most about it, for sure...but after the first semester of sophomore year, I didn't tell her anything else. I never told anyone the depth of it. I was afraid."

Her: "Afraid of what?"

Me: "I was afraid they'd tell me I was crazy, that he never really liked me, that I needed to get over it."

Her: "Did you ever consider telling him your feelings?"

Me: "I did tell him...halfway. I told him I liked him back that summer after my freshman email...after I graduated. He told me he had no idea I liked him, and nothing more...that he was flattered. And every year thereafter, he's told me happy birthday on facebook. Probably this was the last year, since he's doing residency."

Her: "Did you think about doing it earlier and in person?"

Me: "No, I never wanted to do it in person...I didn't want to if it were possible he didn't like me.

Her: "Oh...I can understand that."

Me: "Yeah, the thing one point, I was convinced that we were going to get married. Like, as sure as I am that I will graduate from med school right now."

Her: "Wow!"

Me: "I didn't want to tell anyone because I was afraid they'd tell me it was impossible, improbably, or just plain crazy."

Her: "You really liked this guy!"

Me: "Told ya! I really held back with B, and every other man. I've never really liked anyone like him since...and I really don't want to."

Her: "Why?"

Me: "I have great potential to be a crazy woman and drive myself crazy. No one has compared to what I saw in him... I'm not sure anyone ever will. But that's okay. Because it may not have been real. I thought that he was transcending cultural norms to like someone like me. I thought he understood a bit about the history of black plight in this country with his love of socially conscious hip hop. I thought he looked thorugh my short, kinky hair and brown skin (we were the same brown) and saw me...and liked me... And that may have never been true.


"Gosh, I talk about him and I feel 19 again...crazy."

(Yes, this was a texting conversation...and yes, I write grammatically correct texts. I cannot but write everything as if I were writing a composition! I've done that since the days of AIM."

I go on to talk about why nothing happened between MQ and I...I think we may have liked each other at some point, but I didn't go forward because I was just beginning my quest to Islam my freshman year of college, and I didn't know how to not make the whole thing haram...and I didn't know what his standards were, and I was afraid of getting to close to him because I was afraid I wasn't Muslim enough...

And I told my friend that he probably did like me at that point, told his sister about it, and after our first "not-date," that's where the "You should meet Pakistani girls" comment came from, and we may have failed because neither of us thought that we really liked each other...

Which was...meant to be.

As I learned later on, if something doesn't work, it doesn't work. Neither of us would have been mature enough to carry forward, and I had to work on discovering what it meant for me to be a Muslimah, and getting a boy mixed up in that would have resulted in great confusion.

My friend also remarked how much I've grown since then. And I said, yes, it was almost 8 years ago that this all came to pass.

I also called to her attention how the attraction was not sexual at all...I told her that a lot of the physical attractiveness was secondary to my liking who he was. And that is what happened with B...besides the base attraction things, I liked and came to love the person, and any physical attraction was secondary. That's the way I operated, so to think of doing things any differently down the road didn't make sense to me.

But the remarkable thing was...after I talked about MQ, years after the last time I pined for him, years after the last time I prayed that one day, we'd be married...I forgot the pain of being alone, the pain of the dumping, which is now 10 months ago, the pain of the remembrance of B. It was irrelevant. I had a greater love, although it was a love for someone who ultimately was not really real, who effectively did not exist...

And I toyed with the thought that I'd feel this way about someone again, but in an actual relationship...I don't know, but even if not...I've felt more strongly about someone than B, and got over it completely. It took years, but I did. Ten months out and I almost have to be reminded of B's last name. I loved him not nearly as much. I'll be fine.

So, instead of a year in review, because a lot has happened but it's been stained by the memory of a man whose actions do not deserve to be remembered, I will do this incident in review, this love in review, the love of an imagined man that I modeled off of a friend, a love unparalleled whose aftermath I never want to live again, a love that was so hard to get over and give up for never again, but a love that I've thrived so well without time and time again.

And so shall be every other love I live in this life.

So many people like to say we are born alone and we die alone. I don't like that. We are born surrounded by our mother, literally, at the very least, and without the early love of that mother or a caregiver to feed us at the very least when we could not feed ourselves, we wouldn't live to die. And many do not die alone. It just doesn't feel right. We are born by the grace of God and surrounded by God, and we die by His leave and return even closer to Him. I have felt lonely without the physical or emotional presence of another but I've never been alone.

God was with me as I was a silly 20-year-old girl crying over a man who would never love me, a love that would never be. God saw me through to be the 26-year-old woman I am now, who never cried herself to sleep over a love that was not to be again.

God is with me now, and will be with me this new Gregorian calendar year, 2012.

Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Looking for Muslim Men

As salaam alaikum,

You know what I've realized? Over time, at this blog and the last, I've had a preponderance of female readers, like, always. Maybe it's just the segregated nature of the Muslim community in general, or maybe (and I suspect this is it) it's that my writing is only interesting to female readers...a possible fact that didn't bother me until this year.

It happened when B read RMD and commented first how Mo didn't sound like he thought like a guy (which was good feedback). Okay. Then, he said that he usually doesn't like to read books written by women or about women.

And I was like, waaaahhhhttt? and was all prepared to get all feminist on him, but it's useless for a man who has mostly female friends and who really admires female role models.

And off and on, even after that fiasco relationship ended, I wondered about that...

He wasn't interested in reading books about women or books written by women. I know he is not alone. It's the same thing that keeps many men out of women-themed movies, or chick flicks as they call them (although I also despise most chick flicks) and makes men not understand that works like For Colored Girls was not about them...

Over time, I think InvisibleMuslim (the first version) had one or two male readers, and this blog has some male followers who likely do not follow anymore. I'm not sure if it's the pink that turned them off or the content...or the fact that my entries tend to be really long (that's what one of my male readers said in the past...he liked reading my stuff, but it was too long).

To which I generally thought, well, this is a forum for me to express myself, I'll do what I want, if you don't have a long enough attention span to read a few more paragraphs or don't have the time, then that's your business...

But, I mean, it kind of goes counter to what I'm always talking about here...about how we need to learn from each other, create safe places where we can get to know each other, so maleness and femaleness won't be so foreign to us sisters and brothers, respectively, when we seek marriage. And all interactions between us should not just be with marriage in mind! It's like, we're all human beings, the way this society is set up, we interact with members of the opposite sex on a daily basis, professionally at the very least. Why can't we do that within our own Muslim communities? I think it would make gender relations a lot healthier...

And yet, I guess I write in a way that only caters to a female audience.

This is of special interest for me as I rewrite RMD, because while it may still be a story that more women will want to read, I don't want my male characters to be completely unbelievable or completely negative, just agents to the female characters.

This is also of interest to me, as an invisible Muslimah, because there are many more invisible Muslims, brothers who exist on the fringes of Islam on their way in, brothers who do not appear outwardly Muslim and disappear into the masses...and I feel like a lot of us are singing the same songs and have similar concerns and it would make for wonderful conversation, conversation that I've never had with Muslim men.

So I'm reaching out. My readership is circumscribed, I know, but I'd be interested to know if there's anything that I could blog about, maybe, that would bridge the gender divide with Muslim men so that maybe we could discuss some things, I don't know.

You know, in a way that would not be haram, haha!

...just a thought...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


As salaam alaikum,

I haven't posted a lot as of late because I don't have a lot to say. As tiring and as expensive as the process has been, the application process into residency has been very rewarding. I can wait to make my final transformation into a physician, and I hope I do so at a place that is as nurturing for me and of my aspirations as possible. I'll make the ensuing decision with a lot of care, consideration and foremost, prayer.

I also will make sure I do all I can to make sure I'm a solid new MD upon entering my program. I may take up most of that effort in January when I return to med school, iA.

Anyway, the other reason that I haven't written a lot is that I really do feel at peace with everything around me. My family welcomed 5 new babies on one side, one new baby on the other. The youngest is 4 days old and the oldest is 11 months. I love the field I'm going into and my experiences on the interview trail have been all very positive. I am at home with my loving family and I have friends back at school awaiting my arrival to hang out. God has blessed me beyond what I'm ever able to comprehend, but making discoveries along the way as I live this life I've been given has been amazing. This has been an awesome year, but a year of ups and downs for sure.

Anyway, so I'm feeling pretty good about this stage in my life. Nothing really to say, nothing really to rock the boat with. I was going to venture into the world of politics and write about how I think the President is doing, but the thought of doing that made me feel very tired. Instead, I will share with you that a guilty pleasure of mine is watching Brazilian novelas, and this song is awesome...fits the character it's played for perfectly, and is overall a hilarious song.

And I function like this time...securing things if I'm able, hehe...

Monday, December 5, 2011


As salaam alaikum,

There are moments when I just feel absolute joy, like life could not get any better than that moment. I felt that while on the interview trail, several times...when I walked the beach in Ventura, when I woke up in the morning to "Lift Up Your Hands to the Lord" by Fred Hammond before my interview in Rochester, NY, while watching the plane descend into the most beautiful cumulus clouds as "On the Wings of Love" by Jeffrey Osborne played on my iPod...and so many other moments now forgotten.

I felt the same way as my cousin pulled the blanket from on top of the little car seat and I met my baby cousin for the first time. I looked at her face and gasped with delight, and the little thing raised her eyebrows as she saw my face and a curious smile spread across her face. My cousin told me I could take her out of her seat, and of course I could...I don't know what I was thinking! As I struggled with the car seat, I was reminded that, though I've by now examined tens of babies in pediatrics and family medicine rotations and have delivered maybe 30, I have little experience with babies outside of the medical environment, in their normal habitat. I eventually got her out of the seat through trial and error, and picked her up.

Different from my first exposure to babies at my grandmother and aunt's Islamic School and Day Care, I have since learned how to pick babies up, how to hold them, how to support their head, how to carry them...all from working with so many in medical school. But I think I can count the number of times I've changed a diaper or fed a baby with a bottle still with one hand. But I held her and bounced her and kissed her on the forehead and she smiled and cooed in glee as this new, intriguing person held her in her arms.

Somewhere, my cousin has a picture of me that she took holding the baby, and the look on my face in that picture...I've never seen myself so happy.

I knew this little baby when she was just a concept in her parents' minds. In my life, I've never met a more desired baby, named long before she was viable outside of the womb. She was dressed like a princess, wearing a camouflage bib to match the fatigues her father and older brother were wearing as they graced their presence at an Air Force holiday party. I knew this baby when she was just a desire, a hope, a wish, a prayer, and here she was, a little thing with no idea yet how much she is loved by so many.

So how could I be less than smiling so much when I held her, saw her, heard her little voice for the first time, smelled her, smoothed her hair, wiped the slob from her mouth, played with her little feet, did the Babinski reflex, the grasping reflex and the extinguishing rooting reflex just for fun...

How could I see her as less than amazing? If I like looking at buds on trees in the spring time and admire them for their enormous potential to become the leaves that shade me in the summer, how could I not admire this bebezinha so much for all the potential she carries, unknown to all of us but God in the end.

Sweet, precious, little baby girl in her tutu and lacy socks, her tights with her flat back-to-sleep head that I assured my cousins would go away in time...

I don't think I have ever been happier than in that moment that I met this baby for the first time.

And to know that there will be many more times in my life that will be happier than this, many more babies that will bring me joy just to be in their presence, many more children and adults that will make me happy, many more times of happiness that I will find in myself and in life around me, from small mammals to inanimate objects...

I just have to praise God for the ability to feel so much joy, and the clarity of mind to recognize this joy while filtering out that nay-saying voice that wants me to feel sorrow for what I don't have, that nay-saying voice that wants me to lean more heavily on may not than the may possibilities of my life and to mourn the loss of what I have not yet lost and may never lose.

God, continue to guide me to the good things in this life, as you have already given me so much good without me having to ask for it, without my praying to maintain it, without my foresight to desire it, with my continued ignorance of how good this good is...