Can I Live?

An excellent article from an exciting new series on Black women in academe over at The Feminist Wire.

“…But I can’t wait for the revolution to begin taking care of myself.  It is imperative that I make space for these things now, because it is clear that the seeds of justice and freedom that I am planting will not likely come to fruition in my lifetime. My battle for health and survival in the communities to which I am accountable must begin with me, and my intrinsic right to live happily, healthfully, and joyfully in the present moment.  As I often remind my own self-sacrificing mother, you are like a tree that sustains many different life forms and ecosystems. If you go down, everyone who depends on you will suffer. Therefore, it is in everyone’s best interest that you are well.”

I guess

I guess it’s time to just declare that I’m on hiatus. I have lots of things I’d love to say, but no time to put them into words that much of anyone would want to read.

I’ll be back when I can. InshaAllah.

This Fast

It’s the month of ramadan. The muses and all other distractions are locked away. There’s no one around to whisssper the words.

It kind of sucks, this summer fasting. I woke up the other morning wondering if I had time to drive far enough outside of the LA metro area to be considered a traveler, and, therefore obligated to break my fast. I’m just healthy enough to have to have to fast health excuse for , just unhealthy enough that fasting is very difficult on my body.

Each day bleeds into the next. I don’t know if we’ve fasted 10 days or 15 or 20.  But one of those days, I had this revelation about how to be more at peace in nature. This sort of amazing feeling/nebulous thought about being at one in the natural world. Today I fell in love with my children like the first time I looked at their little goop-covered, scrunched up faces. I kind of love everyone right now. Ramadan does that. Well, Ramadan and Benedryl. But Ramadan lasts longer.

So here’s the sentimental part. Here’s why I keep the fast every year, when it’s easy, and when it’s incredibly hard.  What feels like deprivation to the body feels like abundance to my heart. And I think I might burst with it. I made up with God. For now. We still have some things to work out, you know, with that whole patriarchy thing. But I listened to nasheed with my kids and decorated the house with lights, balloons and glittery stars. I made this sujood that brought tears to my eyes, tears of gratefulness for God who is so patient with my rebellions,who holds me near as I struggle to tease out the divine will from the human.  I’m so grateful that there is a place to lay my burdens down. I’m too tired to argue, don’t have much energy for anger. War is haraam in the holy month. Anger breaks the fast. But I’ve got a warrior’s nature, so this month is teaching me the ways of the peaceful warrior, the power of love. I’m awed.

I’m awed.

Sataan is chained this month. The muses are praying taraweeh. They have nothing to say to me, only to The One who inspires. I haven’t much to say to you, but I pray for you this month. I pray for us all to learn the ways of peaceful striving, struggle, transformation without violence. It’s hard, sucks sometimes, hurts some. Sometimes what feels awful in the beginning leaves you full of awe in the end.
or something, it’s nearly fajr and I haven’t slept. So, you know, I might just be drunk with fatigue… or awe.


Do Not Let This Universe Regret You

instructions for a body



praise the miracle body: the odd

and undeniable mechanics of hand,

hundred-boned foot, perfect stretch

of tendon



tell me there are no gods then,

no master plans for this anatomy

with its mobile and evident spark



someone says “children of light”

and another, “goddessfragment” and

another, “chosen” / a dozen makers,

myriad paths, one goal:



some scalpel, some chisel, some crazed

sentimental engineer giving rib, giving

eyelash, giving gut and thumb –



all mattering. all set down

in a going world, vulnerable

and divine


in the beginning was the word.



or before time there was a void

until a voice said “I” and was



or there was star and dust,

explosion and animal, mineral, us::



praise the veins that river these wrists

praise the prolapsed valve in a heart

praise the scars marking a gall bladder absent

praise the rasp and rattle of functioning lungs

praise the pre-arthritic ache of elbows

and ankles

praise the lifeline sectioning a palm

praise the photographic pads of fingertips

praise the vulnerable dip at the base of a throat

praise the muscles surfacing on an abdomen

praise these arms that carry babies

and anthologies

praise the leg hairs that sprout

and are shaved

praise the ass that refuses to shrink

or be hidden

praise the cunt that bleeds

and accepts, bleeds

and accepts

praise the prominent ridge

of nose

praise the strange convexity of ribcage

praise the single hair that insists on growing

from a right areola

praise the dent where the mole was clipped from the back

of a neck

praise these inner thighs brushing

praise these eyelashes that sometimes turn inward

praise these hips preparing to spread

into a grandmother’s skirt

praise the beauty of the freckle

on the first knuckle of a left little finger



we’re gone / in a blizzard of seconds

love the body human

while we’re here, a gift of minutes

on an evolving planet, a country

in flux / give thanks



what we take for granted, bone and dirt

and the million things that will kill us

someday, motion and the pursuit

of happiness / no guarantees / give thanks



for chaos theory, ecology, common sense that says

we are web. a planet in balance or out, the butterfly

in tokyo setting off thunderstorms in iowa,

tell me you don’t matter to a universe that conspired

to give you such a tongue, such rhythm

or rhythmless hips, such opposable thumbs –

give thanks or go home a waste of spark



speak or let the maker take back your throat

march or let the creator rescind your feet

dream or let your god destroy your good and fertile mind



this is your warning / this

your birthright / do not let

this universe regret you.

-Marty McConnel

Courting Kufr cont…

I wrote this almost seven years ago. A friend of mine asked for it and I decided to publish it again for everyone to read, to think about, to comment on. Reading this now, I’m surprised at both how much and how little things have changed. I’m surprised at how I awakened only to try desperately to put myself back to sleep so that I wouldn’t have to deal with the contradictions between the Islam I was taught and the Islamic principles that brought me to the religion in the first place. I’ve edited this version a little for ease of reading. I’ve also highlighted some parts in red, those are parts that I plan to comment on in a follow-up post.

I have never been one to let the negative behavior of Muslims affect my Islam. I have seen the very worst from our community and I have seen some of the very best examples of humanity that I’ve ever known. I’ve been disillusioned and saddened, but never once questioned my faith knowing that while Islam may be the ideal, Muslims, well, we are struggling and human. But those guides, those scholars are supposed to be examples of the best, their advice and rulings the result of decades of intense and rigorous intellectual and spiritual discipline. I was beginning to realize all the things I’d been missing, overlooking, my ignorance was exposed.

First, I rejected taqlid as a wajib (obligatory) act. Taqlid is the practice of choosing one scholar (based on the dubious title of being most learned) and then following all of his fatawa (juristic rulings) on every subject , often without question as taqlid literally means blind following. I still think that scholarship is essential, blessed and important. But I firmly reject the idea that refusing to hand my mind and soul over to an old man in a foreign country is going to rendered my deeds batil (null).

But what if these men were right and I was wrong? What if Allah (swt) really did create me with the same capacity for greed, compassion, rage and restraint, intellect or lack thereof, as men only to keep me forever subordinate to their whims, first father, then husband, then perhaps brother or son? They had so many hadith  and interpretations of the Qur’an telling me how worthless I really am, what if they are right? If they were right, I decided, then Islam can not be true. This is where I drew my line, because from the depths of my heart, I don’t believe it’s true. If Islam is not true, well the Qur’an can’t be divine. Is there even a god?

I went through it all, first rapidly, in the space of a night and then slowly over days. I imagined what it would mean for me to leave Islam. I still believe in modesty, but why continue to wear hijab? Could I raise my children as a kafira, one who had rejected the faith. No, I’d have to divorce, visit them occasionally, but I couldn’t allow my apostasy to affect them. I’d still want to raise them as Muslims. I couldn’t see the hurt in my husband’s face each day. Would the fiqh even permit him to remain married to me?  No, he couldn’t, but he’d be a good father. I’d have to leave the family. Would I drink. Would I have boyfriends? No, I could see the personal and social benefits of avoiding each. I remained convinced of must everything I’d practiced not only because of my faith in Allah (swt), but also because I could see the goodness, beauty  and reason in those laws. Would my brother stop speaking to me? What would it do to my mother?

I went over it all, but one thing continued to haunt me. There was one thing I could not shake. I just could not shake it. I believe. It’s indelible, as if printed on every gene, every cell in my body. It’s physical and in my soul and all over my head. I believe. I believe that Allah (swt) exists with an unwavering belief. I knew that even if I were to deny the Qur’an’s divinity, deny Islam and divinely revealed, that I still believe in Allah. But I had to start from scratch.

I continued to make my salaat. I made it out of habit, out of obligation, out of love and through every moment of doubt, I continued.

Read more…

Courting Kufr

I wrote this almost seven years ago. A friend of mine asked for it and I decided to publish it again for everyone to read, to think about, to comment on. Reading this now, I’m surprised at both how much and how little things have changed. I’m surprised at how I awakened only to try desperately to put myself back to sleep so that I wouldn’t have to deal with the contradictions between the Islam I was taught and the Islamic principles that brought me to the religion in the first place. I’ve edited this version a little for ease of reading. I’ve also highlighted some parts in red, those are parts that I plan to comment on in a follow-up post.

I’ve hinted in many posts that I’ve been going through a particularly tumultuous time in my spiritual life. Really, is there any life but the spiritual one? It’s not as if it can be compartmentalized into some orderly little spaces, lived on Thursday evenings or Friday afternoons, scrubbed, neatly folded and put back until needed once again.

I want to do this not because I’m particularly interested in responses. To a certain extent, the spiritual journey is one that must be between the lover and the beloved alone. It’s a very secretive one and there is tremendous beauty and wisdom and even success to be had through that secrecy. I am sharing this because I know that there are many, many sisters who are going through similar trials. I hope that by sharing my own trials that other Muslims will know that they are not alone, that there is some tranquility, that what they are working through is valuable and valued by fellow Muslims. I hope that it’s not arrogant of me to assume that sharing my own story could be helpful to others. May Allah (swt) forgive me for anything that I may say that leads to misguidance and protect me from arrogance even when it is clothed in modesty and humility. Ameen.

Ama Ba’ad ;0)

Read more…

It’s been a long time, I shouldn’t of left you without a dope post to think to.

It’s been a busy time. The kids are out of school. My attempts to find them summer school opportunities haven’t quite panned out, so they’re home all day. It’s sweetness. I’ve missed the noise, chaos, the closeness and love.  I missed the rhythm and order they impose. Family can be so good.

My mother came to visit this past week. Mom’s visits are always a wonderful challenge.  I’m flighty, dreamy, introverted. I have a mind full of opinions and thoughts, but I’m guarded, don’t speak enough. My mother is earthy, straight shooting and extroverted. If she thinks it needs to be said, she’s going to say it. Mom is my foundation. She brings me back to earth, but she also reminds me that I’m wonderful and deserving. She shatters my insecurities and refocuses me on what’s really important.  She’s my biggest fan. I’m hers too. I should tell her that more.

One of my husband’s children came with her husband and new baby. Having a baby in the house was very good for me. I get broody sometimes. There’s still a part of me that is in love with the idea of having a house full of children. We  would spend our days homeschooling, baking and running our small farm. The reality, of course, is that I don’t like animals. I can barely keep house plants alive and my pensive and introverted nature requires way too much silence and alone time to be able to cope with a house full of children. It’s just a fantasy. Blame the patriarchy.

Read more…


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