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Liberty. Justice. Islam.

If you see something, say something!

Got an extension for that unfinished thesis paper so I’m working on it at this Starbucks in Avon. Haven’t even been here for 30 minutes, and I hear someone next to me tell their significant other as they get up to leave, “If you see something, say something?” Immediately my ears perk up and my heart sinks.
 
Whether that was for me or not, the fact is, that phrase is so traumatizing. Every day on the train in NYC for the past few years, every time that announcement came on, I’ve tried telling myself I won’t let it get to me. Yet, every time the announcement was made over the train speakers, I had to fight myself not to look around to check if people were looking at me. Because, of course, although the warning in that statement was meant for all criminals and wrong doers, it was specifically linked to criminals carrying “suspicious packages” aka potential bomb threats aka acts of terrorism aka crimes linked to an Islamic face (truthfully or not).
 
And every time that announcement is made I have to remind myself I am not guilty. My purse is not a suspicious package. My backpack, no matter how huge it looks when I’m traveling between states, is not a suspicious package. I wanna let he people on the train car know that its not, just in case, because I know what they must be thinking. Before I can even convince others, I have to convince myself that the statement was not about me so I don’t need to worry. I struggle not to look up or around at the people in my train car while trying to act unnaturally casual, like I don’t even care this announcement is happening, wishing there were headphones in my ears to block out those words. “If you see something, say something.” Sometimes, I imagine everybody in the train car must turn into some zombie-like AI humanoids at the end of the announcement, with their eyes suddenly red, looking for the nearest visibly Muslim person, a little pause, and then back to what they were doing.
 
On most days, I give in. I look up and mentally hold my breath. But I usually find that everyone is just going about their business. I breath a mental sigh of relief. “If you see something, say something.” And with a statistically insignificant crime rate among Muslims who commit “acts of terror”, I don’t expect regular community vigilantism because of these announcements. What I am really hearing subconsciously is “If you see a Muslim, be afraid”, “If you see you a Muslim, they are different.” You know how people clutch their purses and walk on a different side of the street when they see a black person in an “unsafe” neighborhood? Its like being on the other end of that stick.
 
God, I hate those words. I don’t know if the man sitting next to me in Starbucks was referring to me or not when he said those words to his wife. Was he asking her whether to report something like a Muslim appearing in their perfect, shiny, white town? I hear how ridiculous that sounds, no doubt. And I have every right to be sitting here. But those words are like a scar that hasn’t even begun to heal.
seesomething-stairs_original

Brown, Muslim & My Responsibility to BlackLivesMatter

The Cool Table

It’s an image that’s hard to forget: the lifeless body of 18 year old Michael Brown laying in the street.

For four hours.

For four hours, Mike Brown was left dead in the streets of Ferguson, as though he – to quote Marc Lamont Hill – “belonged to nobody“. I remember being unable to tear my eyes away from the video showing his collapsed body – not out of some morbid desire to see the silence of death from a safe distance, but because his lifeless body in that street meant something immediately.

I had seen the police scene photos of Trayvon Martin’s murdered body. I had seen Oscar Grant get shot in the back. I had seen the aftermath of the 41 bullets fired at Amadou Diallo. I had grown up having seen and always remembering the circle of cops around Rodney King as he crumbled onto the pavement.

But Mike…

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T-2 Months

Ramadan is around the corner and I am far from prepared. In fact, this year’s month of fasting might be my most challenging one yet. I want to have a physically and spiritually healthy Ramadan, but I have done nothing these past 6 months to reach that goal.

Battlefield Hardline​

The only mainstream, “war”-based, non-sci-fi FPS since God-knows-when that doesn’t include brown people as the “bad guys”. I can finally play a game where I don’t gun down people that look like they could be related to me!

In fact, it not only strays from the drumbeat of such ultra-patriotic games with an “episode” about right wing extremist militias in the US, but the protagonist is Latino. The storyline, based on police corruption, is sick, with plot twists that will leave you mind blown.

I guess all that is a bonus because this game is friggin addictive. 12yo CODers beware, the multiplayer is not for little boys who only want to shoot things up. Your precious KDR is not the only thing that matters here. You will need skill and strategy to enjoy the gameplay.

Happy gaming!

^__^

Lifting the Veil {or Plato’s cave}

That is what thesis writing is about. Lifting just a couple of layers off your eyes so you can see the world a little clearer, explain in foreign academic jargon to other scientists in your field trained at lifting just some of their own veils what it was that you glimpsed, and then compare to their renditions and theories which will differ depending on the number of layers they removed and their intentions for wanting to explain the world.

On a normal basis, as lay people, we are submerged in the darkness that is the illusion that is this world. Layers upon layers. “Or [they are] like darknesses within an unfathomable sea which is covered by waves, upon which are waves, over which are clouds – darknesses, some of them upon others. When one puts out his hand [therein], he can hardly see it.” – Surah an Nur, Ayah 40

Descartes had a point when he questioned his senses. So what if you lift ALL the veils and are left with the raw image of a bare and brutal reality–what then?

dark veilTime to create a new language.

I’m Ready

Where’s your heart?

Imam Siraj once narrated a hadith to us about how one can do good deeds their entire life and then do a single deed that displeases Allah before they die and that person will end up in the hellfire. Likewise, someone can do bad deeds their entire life and do a single thing that will please Allah before they die that will save them from hellfire. I figured that last deed would be a reflection of how one truly lived their life, where there heart had been all along–whether it was sincere… or diseased.

It was almost exactly a year ago that Imam Siraj told us about this hadith for a Ramadan prep lecture. It is in this Ramadan that I am reminded of it once again as I think about why I am not getting the most out of this blessed month. It is well known that the companions of the prophet (sws) used to spend the first 6 months after Ramadan working hard to make sure it was accepted, and the remaining 6 months on preparing for the following Ramadan.

In the same spirit, the past 6 months before this Ramadan, I tried to prep myself for this blessed month. However, in the last few days, something entertaining caught my attention for a week of near non-stop, early evening to late night distraction–a time that could have been used in ibadaat. How quickly I dropped the opportunity to excel in Ramadan, all for a lowly distraction. Where was my heart the past 6 months?

time
On Ikhlas & Perspective
Bring me your pride
bring me your sins
I am the tear that falls down your chin
and onto your lap, the lap that shakes
with fear and regret
as you reflect on your mistakes.

Bring me your sins
bring me your pride
I am the devil waiting by your side
strengthening your heart, cold and black
sitting on the Middle Path
advising you, always, to turn back.

Ramadan Reflections – Day 1

Woke up this morning from a vivid dream about the Ramadan moon sighting. I dreamt that I saw the crescent moon–huge, clear, and lit on the left side–on the same night that this dream occurred in. In the dream I realized that “we” (my family and I) were wrong this whole time, and that Ramadan began on Saturday all along. I took a closer look with some telescopic binoculars and the crescent just turned into bubbles and glitter and then disappeared. I wonder how much of the dream was truth and how much of was based on my own internal conflict about the different starting days that started yesterday.

I woke up wishing it was about the Eid moon.

I woke up wanting to keep a fast—it was pinching at my heart–even though it only counts in Ramadan when you make the intention the night before, and even though I was exempt.

I was exempt! How lucky, I thought. I get to start with my family, and, if Eid ends up being celebrated on a unified day, I can make up the correct number of fasts without having hurt anybody’s feelings. I was fasting with my family after all, and my family was following the local masjid in the area, which follows whatever Saudi says.
This is the first year my heart really hurt this much over the conflict. This feeling was compounded by the fact that the sound system at my masjid kept shutting off in the first rakah of every taraweeh prayer on this first night. I couldn’t help but think that maybe this was a sign from Allah telling us that we had started on the wrong day… I’m definitely over thinking it!

Despite all this internal conflict, nothing compared to the feeling of bliss that descended after Maghrib when I realized it was finally Ramadan for us. A sigh of relief. Alhumdulillah times a million–I felt like I was saved. This was the first year that, during the days before Ramadan, I felt as though the possibility of me dying minutes or seconds before reaching Ramadan was very high.

But Alhumdulillah I was saved.

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Liberty. Justice. Islam.