Posted in Misunderstood Adventures

A Conversation with an Atheist

I typically try to stay away from conversations dealing with race, politics, and religion, especially with people I barely know. In my opinion, those conversations never go well, and rarely does either person change their mind; both parties leave frustrated and upset.

Unfortunately, I had this one co-worker who loved talking about all three! He was Republican and Atheist, seemed to really enjoy the fact that I’m a black Muslim woman. You could see the joy on his face starting a controversial conversation. For the most part, I ignored him and enjoyed watching my other co-worker go back and forth with him, who happened to be a devout Christian. Occasionally I’d chime in and remind them both to calm down, and how it’s an inappropriate conversation for the workplace.

One day and one very ignorant comment got under my skin. I normally don’t let his comments get to me and definitely never wanted to give him the satisfaction of reacting to them, but on this day, I just had enough. He starts off with is normally commentary about God not existing and religious people being stupid, but this time he adds, “I hate when Muslim Women call themselves feminist”.It was like he saw my face and in his head he said bingo! He goes on to elaborate, saying comments along the lines of you can’t claim to care about women’s equality if you support an oppressive religion. Pissed was an understatement of how I was feeling, it wasn’t a surprise he felt that way, but I was officially fed up with all of the comments.

I gave him a brief lesson on Islam, and how he sounded beyond ignorant and offensive. I tried to keep it short, my main objective was for him to know, that no one cares about his small-minded opinion, and he didn’t have the right to dictate who is or isn’t a feminist.

One thing I found interesting about him, he always complained about religious people trying to convert him, but in reality, he was doing the exact same thing. He never respected a different perspective or belief. It seemed like he was trying to convince us all to be atheists and then we’ll have this utopian world.

Posted in Hijabi Adventures

Words From An Ex Hijabi

Dating as an Ex Hijabi is very interesting and sometimes frustrating, well in all honesty dating, in general, is frustrating. I started to notice a pattern or a common theme with Muslim men.

With Muslim men, I placed them in two different categories, and honestly by the end of the first conversation it was easy to categorize. The first category, are the men who believe Muslim women have a choice regarding wearing the hijab but expect when it comes to their wives. The conversation always kind of starts the same, “Why don’t you wear Hijab” or “Have you ever wore the hijab”. I give my reasoning and for the most part, they agree with me. The longer the conversation continues it somehow circles back to me covering my hair or well modesty in general. They may slip into the conversation about how they imagine their future wife in hijab, or how their mothers expect their future daughter in law to cover.  Needless to say, that will never be me, especially not for some man.

The second category is the hijabi bashers. They never ask my opinion about covering, but assume that I hate the hijab and hijabis, which is one of my pet peeves. I have tremendous respect and love for hijabis, especially because I know how hard and the dedication it takes to wear the hijab, especially in a non-Muslim country. Hijabis get enough negativity from ignorant people, they don’t need it from Muslim men, who I believe shouldn’t have an opinion about a woman covering, but regardless you should keep your negative opinions to yourself.

You know what I find funny, the sub-category of hijabi bashers, that end up marrying a hijabi. I find that they want to date or play around with a non-muslim or someone they perceive not to be religious, but when their ready to settle down they find a nice hijabi.

Of course, not every Muslim man fits into those two categories, but the majority I have encountered do.

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 Being Unapologetically Misunderstood

Merry Christmas

It wasn’t until about third or fourth grade, when I realized Christmas was on December 25th. I was aware of the existence of Christmas, but honestly, I was blissfully ignorant of the relevance or anything about it. A lot of people find that hard to believe since I grew up in a Judeo-Christian country, but my parents kept me in a tight Muslim bubble.

As a little kid, my parents never let my brother and I watch regular tv around Christmas time, and we just watched our VHS tapes; later I realized it was to avoid all the Christmas specials. 

Honestly, it wasn’t until my teenage years, that I realized what a big deal Christmas is. I started watching Christmas movies, listening to songs and just learning the whole culture. Although all of those things entertain me, I have no desire to celebrate the holiday. 

My family and I have grown our own Christmas tradition, we forget every year that everything is closed. So, we scramble to figure out what to eat and go to the movies. I enjoy my day of sleeping in, and not having to be bothered by the stress of Christmas, but Merry Christmas to all of my readers, who do celebrate the holiday. 

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! 

Posted in Afro Muslimah's Love Stories

Dating as a Black Muslimah

I consider myself to be extremely blessed, growing up in a two-parent middle-class home; living with an example of black love and excellence. My mother was married and pregnant with my older brother at my age. I’m sure she looks at me confused, why I’m still single and my idea of a romantic night, is with Netflix, tacos, and of course a bottle of wine. I sometimes think my mom was blessed and escaped all the trials and tribulations of the dating world, especially dating as a black woman.
I often feel like in many aspects of my life I am fighting this war to prove my worth, and succeeding, except when it comes to my love life. My favorite genre to read and watch is Romantic Comedies; I love a beautiful love story. Somehow this hopeless romantic has given up on her own love story. I’m not bitter or an angry black woman, I’m just disappointed.
My parents worked so hard to build up my self-esteem and ensuring I know how valuable I am. It wasn’t until I entered the world when I understood why. Each day there is a subtle reminder, that as a black woman, I’m not good enough. I can’t help but notice that on social media, men glorify every race of women, expect black; admiring all hair textures, except for tight coils. Men seem to love our full lips, curvy shapes, and soulful eyes on everyone, except for black women. I have had a very ethnically diverse upbringing.
I grew up in a Muslim household and had a multicultural experience. At first glance, most people wouldn’t think I am Muslim, and to be fair I don’t always conduct myself in the most Islamic way. When it comes to dating, I’ve had the pleasure of dating three different variations of myself, and each one attracted a different kind of man.
As a hijabi, I suppose there was some type of mystery about me. People assumed I wasn’t Black American, and curious to know about my background. Often the negative image of Muslims in the media kept suitors away. For the others, who pursued me, I placed them in two categories. The first were the ones, who assumed I wasn’t black, and showed their disappointment and disinterest when they discovered the truth. The second were the ones who accepted me and still were interested in dating a black woman. Unfortunately, to my dismay, they always said something to ruin it for themselves. My top deal-breaker lines were, you’re pretty for a black girl, I can tell you have “good hair” under your scarf, and you’re not black, you are Muslim too, so that makes you special. Honestly, hearing those remarks from nonblack men never affected me, but hearing them from black men was disappointing. Although none of them said it, it was obvious being just black wasn’t good enough to deserve their love and affection.
When I decided to come out of hijab, I knew I was ready for a drastic change. I cut and dyed my hair. I left my hair in its the natural kinky state and wanted to announce to the world, yes, I am a Black Woman, and proud of my roots. With this new attitude and style, I noticed I was attracting different types of men. The majority were black men, who loved and wanted to be with a black queen. Everything they did was to express how woke they were, including dating a natural black woman. I often felt that they were more interested in the idea of me than reality. A lot of assumptions are made about black women, with something as simple as hair. Wearing my natural hair, people assumed I was this woke young college student ready to start a revolution. Honestly, I just happen to love my natural hair and wasn’t interested in being a part of any movement. Unfortunately, the young black kings I was talking to never took the time to learn that about me. Instead tried to use me as an accessory piece to their woke persona.
Although I remained with my natural hair, I often decided to straighten my hair or wear a weave. Of course with a less natural look, I once again attracted another type of guy. I do not know exactly how to categorize these men, but I noticed a pattern of similarities. They always spoke about how much they love natural beauty and told me I looked better with my natural texture and without any makeup, but I received the most compliments from them with makeup on and my hair straightened. Honestly, I don’t think they’re even aware of their hypocrisy, but at the end of the day, I knew they weren’t the men for me.
As I stated earlier, I love a good love story and fairytale, and one of my favorites is Princess and the Frog. I like to consider all of my past and failed suitors to be frogs, and I still haven’t found my prince. My prince charming is someone, who loves and appreciates all three variations of Kareema because those three strong sides make a perfect whole. Reflecting on my dating life, I’ve noticed that men or just people in general already have a definition or box they place black women in and expect us to fit this small definition. So, to answer your question, what it’s like to date as a black woman, it is an emotional roller coaster. Unfortunately, too many of us have similar experiences, and the only thing we have in common is our skin color. In a variation of a quote from Forest Gump, but truly black women are like a box of chocolate and you’ll never know what you’ll get, please stop treating us all the same. As for me, I’m going to continue and enjoy this bumpy ride, until I find my prince.