Posted in The Afro Muslimah

Muslimah in the Middle

I used to really love the show Malcolm in the Middle, mainly because I identified well with Malcolm, the main character. The middle knows it all child, always looking at situations like how did I get here. I never really felt like I belonged anywhere, and just kinda felt like an outsider. I always somehow stood out, even when I desperately just wanted to blend in and go with the flow.

I feel like my middle school years was definitely a time period that helped shape me into the woman I am today. I don’t have too many positive memories of my experience and don’t think that highly of most of my classmates. I started off middle school optimistic and excited to finally be around my people. The school was majority Black American, and during all of my years in an Islamic school, the students always felt the need to remind me that I am Black American. 

So, to my surprise, my new classmates did not consider me to be Black American, but instead I was foreign. I realize I was the only hijabi in the school and most of them knew very little to nothing about Islam. So, with lack of knowledge comes ignorant jokes at my expense. Once again I felt like the outsider and did not belong. 

Now as an adult, I no longer have the desire to want to belong, due to me realizing it is extremely overrated. A lot of the cultural and religious values I was raised to believe, I now question and forming my own values. Through my experiences, I’ve learned that we often segregate ourselves and cancel experiences based off of our differences. So, I’m trying to live my life with more of an open mind, but I am still guilty of self-segregation based off of differences.

Posted in The Afro Muslimah

The Misunderstood Afro Muslimah

You know I never took the time to introduce myself as a blogger, and just dived right into my content. I am the Misunderstood Afro Muslimah, navigating through my early 20s and making lifelong memories. 

I am a young black woman in America, and truly am bicultural. For a long time, I struggled with my identity and beliefs. I was raised to believe I was Muslim first and then black, but I learned quickly society sees my skin color first. Sadly, so do most of my Muslim brothers and sisters. I also questioned a lot of things in my religion. Especially regarding wearing hijab, modesty, male/female relationships, and just religion period, that no one gave me a satisfactory answer. 

As a result, I started leaning towards my black culture but learned Christianity is embedded in Black American culture. I honestly knew nothing about Christianity, and felt completely lost! Especially during my first semester in college, attending an HBCU. I saw at the start of any major week event, was a church service. It seemed like everything around me was founded on Christian values. 

I realized it was time to educate myself and cultivate my own faith and values. I learned and studied different religions of the world and not just the 3 monolithic religions. I came to the conclusion all religions have the same goal, to be a good human being. They’re all just different guidelines and rules to achieve that end goal. Although I still prefer Islam the best, I have respect for all of them. 

I have grown and learned to embrace being an Afro Muslimah, who is often misunderstood. I live my life the way I want to, and often times not according to the Sunnah or hadiths, but my goal is to be a good person and make a difference in the world. 

Posted in Being Unapologetically Misunderstood

An Unfortunate Experience of Being a Black Muslimah

Like most young Muslim children, I attended Islamic weekend school. Islamic weekend school is where I learned how to speak and write Arabic, as well as the Quran. An unofficial lesson I learned during my time in weekend school, was the culture of Islam, how it is much deeper than a religion, it is truly a way of life. I was shown the beauty and grace of Islam, but unfortunately this article isn’t about how much I love my religion and culture. I’m here to tell y’all my first friendly reminder, that I am a Black Muslimah. 

One of the important lessons, that my teachers wanted to get across was; we are Muslims first, before our ethnicities and race, we are Muslim. Let’s keep in my mind at this point, I am going to weekend school with majority Somalians, so in my mind I considered us all black. I was quickly informed by my peers, that I was mistaken. I remember distinctly always being questioned and feeling the need to prove how Muslim I was. 

I never fully felt comfortable and they constantly reminded me of the differences between us. I was about 9 or 10 years old, and wore my hair in either 2 huge afro puffs, or 2 jumbo cornrows. I remember the girls would always make mention of my hair, and insisted it was fake. They would pull on my puffs, and tell me how real hair doesn’t go up or curl like in that way, and black girl’s hair doesn’t grow that long. I was always confused, because these girls looked just like me, and some even had the same hair texture as myself.  I never understood, why I was so different.

I finally asked a few of the girls, why do y’all treat me differently and feel the need to critique everything about me? I was informed because I was black, not African, but black American. They went on to elaborate, because my ancestors were part of the trans Atlantic slave trade, I do not have any culture, and need to realize how I am different from the rest of the girls in weekend school. Although, I was raised in an Islamic and East African cultural home, and pretty much had similar experiences and culture as them; I was different. To add insult to injury, they made an ignorant assumption, that Black Americans do not have any culture. To be real here Black Americans influence American culture, and African immigrants benefits off of the Black American culture and advances we made for equal rights.

I digress, unfortunately I didn’t develop my smart mouth yet, so I just listened. I assume I had an upset look on my face, because they tried to make me feel better. One of the girls said, “you should be grateful, you’re not like other black girls, you’re pretty and actually have hair, Mash’Allah. You also have a beautiful complexion, not too dark with mild black features”.  I was beyond insulted, and didn’t know how to feel or react. 

As a result of the negativity I received from the Somalian girls, I developed a bias and dislike for them. In my opinion they were Gremlins, to the rest of my family sweet and adorable little creatures; but to me their true evil and ugliness showed. 

I wish I could I say, that was my only encounter with negativity about Black Muslims from other Muslims; but that would be a lie. Racism in Islam is real, and it is conversation that needs to be had!