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Amir Khan’s parents need to cut the ‘nara’ strings.

Nothing gets my goat more than parents who keep making allowances for their children (read: son’s) behaviour, thus teaching them that they can behave like utter pillocks without ever taking responsibility or accountability, yet criticise the wives of these very same men if they so much as lift their eyes. Yes, Shah and Falak Khan, I am talking about you too. I know your son Amir Khan has been a great athlete, representing Britain on the world stage and making us fellow Brit Pakistanis proud along the way. But the way you guys have treated his wife Faryal Makhdoom, and by default, Amir, is quite frankly, disgusting.

You allowed him to marry his own choice, but controlled him (and his earnings). Your constant interference meant that Amir was never really allowed to cut the apron strings and stand on his own two feet. Even when he did wrong along the way, you didn’t reprimand nor try to stop him. His constant forays into night clubs, and various hotel rooms with any number of young women was never properly addressed, knowing full well the impact of Amir being a role model for many young Pakistanis around the world could have. Yet every single time you have taken the opportunity to speak/ moan to the press, you’ve slagged off your daughter in law and now her family.

I saw your interview to the Pakistani press complaining about Faryal’s dress sense, and making out that you were the epitome of piety because you told her to cover up. And yet, you never said anything about Amir and his conduct, especially with other women. You expected Faryal to be the perfect paindu daughter in law, keeping her mouth shut and not speaking out for herself or her rights, yet said nothing about the expectations of a good husband and son in law. You used your daughters going to uni and their dress codes to claim you were not backwards yet we all know that the worse of controlling in laws always have one rule for themselves and another for their daughter in laws.

This hypocrisy was again on display during your (needless, and frankly self serving) interview to the Mail Online today.

You complained that Amir has stopped speaking to you because of his wife and her mother’s influence. Even now, you cannot bring yourself to place the blame for Amir not speaking to you at Amir’s feet. Your interjects today make him look like a weak and easily manipulated man, which is perhaps not too far from the truth given that you both spent years manipulating him and bending him to your own wills.

I know of the conversations you have had with other members of the Pakistani community, complaining that poor Amir is ‘majboor’ (helpless) and being blackmailed by his evil wife’ etc, shamelessly tapping into that ridiculous stereotype of greedy gold digging woman after your golden goose. Yes, I am aware that mother in laws and daughter in laws are traditionally seen as natural foes, but you both have taken to another level. Realise if your son doesn’t want you both in his life, it is because he is trying to salvage his marriage and protect the mother of his two girls, who I’m happy to note, have become the priority for him.

So here is my advice to you and others parents who keep interfering in their precious son’s lives:

1. Stop interfering in your precious son’s life. If Amir doesn’t want to talk to you, accept it and don’t blame his wife, her mother and their pet cat for that.

2. Show respect if you want to receive it. Yes, that does mean being nice to the mother of your granddaughters, even if she does have sharp pointy horns on her head (according to you)

3. Stop using the ‘Divide and Conquer method- it didn’t work for the Romans and it sure as hell won’t work for you. Treat everyone the same, inc daughter in laws and daughters.

4. If you son has behaved like a sex maniac on steroids, take him to one side and tell him off. And recognise that behaviour has caused pain for his wife (and her family) who love him dearly and want him to just be a decent husband. Oh, and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.

5. Similarly, if you know your son has been abusive/ violent/ bullyish to his wife, take responsibility as parents and stop him. Too many parents don’t say anything sooner which in turns cements their son’s shitty behaviour and causes a lot of problems for the daughter in laws and children of that marriage. (Disclaimer: this does not apply to Amir/ Faryal)

6. Stop seeing your son’s earnings as your own. You should be glad to see him wanting to provide for his family, not resent it. Who do expect to provide for them, the Department of Work and Pensions? It is his responsibility so make sure he fulfils it.

7. Finally, if you can’t handle the above, I suggest you never allow your sons to marry, tie them to your shalwar’s naras and blow on their food to cool it down before you hand feed them.

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GMC wrong to suspend GP over niqab row

Below is my letter to GMC over their suspension of niqab row GP:

General Medical Council

3 Hardman St

Manchester,

M33AW

18 May 2019

To Whom It May Concern:

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am writing to you in regards to the recent headlines regarding Dr Keith Wolverson and his suspension from his post as a GP after he asked a woman to remove her niqab (face covering) during a medical consultation for her child. I understand that this request was complied with, and the consultation went ahead. However, a complaint was later lodged by her and husband on the grounds of discrimination and victimisation, resulting in Dr Wolverson’s suspension and a pending investigation by the General Medical Council, the public body that helps ‘protect patients, and improve UK medical education and practice by supporting students, doctors, educators and healthcare providers.’ Dr Wolverson could face dismissal if found guilty of the allegations made against him.

 

I do not agree with the possibility of Dr Wolverson facing dismissal if found guilty, and further ask that you reinstate him as a GP immediately while the investigation is underway. I believe he was entirely correct to ask the woman to remove her face covering as he could not hear her properly and therefore could not diagnose her child accurately. The health of the child was of paramount importance, and I am pleased this was addressed by Dr Wolverson’s course of conduct.

 

I have been campaigning for the rights of women, particularly Muslim women, for over two decades. They should be allowed to wear whatever they want to, even the burka, of as long as it is their own choice and not dictated to them by others. For too long, I have seen women from all faiths who are effectively controlled by their family members with external clothing often acting as an indicator of elements of control being exercised over other aspects of the women’s lives, such as reproductive rights, financial independence and civic participation.

 

In this particular case, reports suggest that the complaint itself was only made after the husband of the woman intervened. This in itself is very worrying. Is the woman not capable of making key decisions for herself and is reliant on the interjection of her husband? While I do not know the couple in question nor Dr Wolverson personally, from what I understand about the case, I feel very strongly about the messages this case sends out to the casual observer. That a man has the ability to make decisions for and on behalf of his wife or partner that are given more value and importance than the decisions made by the woman herself. That far right groups will be able to use this case as further ammunition against their war on the perceived pandering to the sharia-isation (sharia creep) of British society. That professionals could be at risk of losing their entire careers for making split second decisions that could endanger other children and vulnerable people.

 

By all means, if the outcome of the investigation is that Dr Wolverson has been lacking in his judgement, then I would suggest a reprimand and diversity training rather than dismissal, which would be far too heavy handed and deprive an already over stretched NHS of the services of an experienced, well liked GP who has given many years of service to the NHS and the communities it serves. I look forward to receiving your response in due course.

 

Kind regards

 

Aisha Ali-Khan

 

Human Rights campaigner.

 

Dr Keith Wolverson was suspended by the GMC after he asked a woman to remove her niqab (face covering) during a medical consultation for her child)

 

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Muslim war efforts in WW1 and 2 deserve greater recognition.

Growing up, my two favourite subjects at school were English and History. I couldn’t get enough of learning about kings and queens, invasions or the way history shaped our future. It didn’t bother me that I did not have a place within the history I learnt about, or that the history was so far removed from the history of my own ancestors (Pakistani Punjabi Muslims who had emigrated from India during Partition) I would go home and discuss whatever I had learnt that day with my mum, who would listen patiently but then always end with ‘you need to learn about our own history, of India and Pakistan and the great Mughals and Badshahs that ruled. The history you are learning is not ours’. ČI had nothing to dispute this given that our history teachers did not even mention the British Empire nor the fact that 1/3 of the armies fighting on behalf of the British Raj were soldiers who hailed from the various countries that were under British rule, including India (the land of my ancestors)

With the benefit of a deeper understanding & knowledge of what actually happened, I can safely say that both my mum and my history teachers were wrong.

Looking back now I find it astounding that not one history lesson mentioned the contributions made my Muslim soldiers. Not one history book referenced the sacrifices that my ancestors made to the war effort, ultimately resulting in the winning of World War 1 against all odds.

It is only in the last decade or so we are seeing a lot of stories of heroic deeds by Muslim, Sikh and Hindu soldiers coming into mainstream consciousness, mainly thanks to efforts by organisations such as the Gul Mawaz Memorial Foundation and others. Social media and petitions lead by the public have also contributed significantly, as the traditional methods of disseminating information have been superceded significantly. Madelaine Hanson, Head of Outreach for the Gul Mawaz Memorial Foundation sees this as a great opportunity to shed a light on the contributions made by Muslims and many others. “We wouldn’t be here without the efforts and sacrifices made by ethnic minorities to our shared histories.”

The first time I knew of Noor Inayat Khan was when I chanced across a poster detailing her deeds at my alma mater, the University of Bradford. I was gobsmacked and would always return to the social studies department to reread it as often as I could (sadly, camera phones did not exist in those, long gone days!) The fact that a Muslim woman had contributed to the war effort, eventually being caught and executed by the German forces, was something that had never been explored in any of the history lessons I had sat through. This made me wonder- if there was one Noor Inayat Khan, there would be others. When I later qualified as a History teacher, I tried to introduce as many different characters into my lessons as possible- including Sikhs, Hindus, Africans, Chinese etc.

Why should learning about Muslim contributions in history matter?

Countless studies have shown a direct correlation between a lack of feeling a sense of belonging and disenchanted and disengaged BAME youth. History lessons, as well as lessons across all subjects do not easily explore contributions made by various people of colour. This promotes a false sense of white saviourship- that only those who were white saved the world while those who were non white were merely onlookers or minor contributors. This is of course not true.

For young people, who are already struggling with a sense of identity and self worth, such white washing does not help foster a sense of loyalty and belonging.

However, there have been ongoing efforts to set the record straight. A decade ago, Dr Salim T S Al- Hassani launched 1001 Inventions, looking at the contributions made by Muslim scholars, scientists, doctors and inventors to the world of science, medicine, education and centres of study. The project spans a thousand years of Muslim lead discoveries that have been largely ignored or whitewashed by western institutions. For example, the famous philosopher Averroes is none other than Muslim Andalusan Ibn Rushd. Averroes has been credited with reviving Western interest in the great Greek thinkers, most notable of whom was Aristotle, through his own commentaries on the writings and teachings of the Greek philosopher.

Most recently, campaigner Zehra Zaidi led calls to have a female Muslim historical figure on the soon to be launched £50 note. She set up a petition to put Noor Inayat Khan on the front, stating that none of the other notes currently in circulation feature a woman from an ethnic minority.

In today’s divisive political climate, where Islamophobic attacks have increased significantly and the leaders of far right movements such as Tommy Robinson are being brought into safe political folds by established political parties, we need to be ever more vigilant. It is easy to point fingers at the ‘strangers amongst us’ when things are going downhill (the economy, our established institutions, our standing on the world stage) By teaching a shared history, students from all backgrounds will learn that, a hundred years ago, the world was made safer by the sacrifices made by those who fought not for recognition, but for an end to a world order propped up by slavery, colonialism, self interests and nationalism. After all, a shared future rests on a shared history.

 

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Shipley Feminist Zealots to protest against Philip Davies MP for anti SRE reform stance

Shipley Feminist Zealots ready to lock horns with local MP Philip Davies over much needed SRE reforms.

Shipley constituent Katie Jones models a beautiful rainbow skirt in solidarity with LGBTQi campaigners. SFZ are also asking protestors to wear rainbow colours to their protest on 9 April 2019 against Philip Davies MP

The Shipley Feminist Zealots are back on the warpath this week after their local MP Philip Davies (Con) objected to the passing of important legislation that would protect young people and give them valuable sex and relationship education (SRE) in a safe, non-judgemental environment. Mr Davies tried to single handedly block the Bill on 20th March 2019, then seeing his efforts fail, tried to vote against it a week later (one of only 21 MPs to have done so). Thankfully, the Bill passed with a huge amount of support from fellow MPs.

Why is this Bill important?

Age appropriate understanding of SRE is important to help young people develop their identities as they navigate through puberty and beyond. Understanding of diversity is also essential for building cohesive communities and reducing bullying. By attempting to block the Bill, Mr Davies is putting at risk vulnerable young people of LGBT+ identities who may succumb to mental health problems and suicide as they come to terms with their gender and sexual orientation.

“It is vital that we continue our fight to highlight the fact that our current legislation does not go far enough to equip our young people with the information or knowledge they need to make informed decisions about healthy relationships.” Aisha Ali-Khan, a campaigner, member of SFZ and mother to a 15-year-old teen.

“These reforms to statutory education are long overdue and have been welcomed by many organisations that have campaigned for education that can help reduce the levels of violence against women and protect children from Child Sexual Exploitation.” Jenny Wilson, activist, performer and member of SFZ.

 

What are the Zealots planning?

The Zealots have written an open letter setting out the impact that Mr Davies’ stand against SRE long overdue reforms will have on pupils across the country and asking Mr Davies’ constituents to sign and share. A copy of this can be found here.

There is also a protest outside Mr Davies’ constituency office in Shipley town centre on 9 April 2019, to start at 2.45pm. A copy of the letter with signatories will also be handed over to Mr Davies. Protesters are asked to wear rainbow colours in solidarity with our LGBTQi brothers and sisters. As with all previous SFZ protests, there will also cake and any donations on the day will be shared between CALM and Women’s Aid Bradford.

What else can we do?

The Zealots ask that everyone check how their MP voted on this very important Bill and organise similar acts of protest against their own MPs if they are found to have joined Mr Davies in voting against it. A list of MPs who voted against can be found here. Please also share and sign the open letter before it is handed to Mr Davies’ office on 9 April 2019 if possible.

Open letter to Philip Davies MP on blocking reform to and voting against Relationship and Sex Education

Dear Philip Davies,

We were disappointed to learn that on 20th March 2019 you chose, single-handedly, to block the new legislation on Relationship and Sex Education, and then on Wednesday 27th March you were one of only 21 MPs who voted against the legislation. These reforms to statutory education are long overdue and have been welcomed by many organisations that have campaigned for education that can help reduce the levels of violence against women and protect children from Child Sexual Exploitation.

As someone who claims to champion gender equality, we would expect you also to be supportive of education about the harmful gender stereotypes that lead to higher rates of suicide among men.

Bradford is Britain’s youngest city. More than one in four Bradford residents are aged under 18 and the child population is predicted to grow at around 2000 per year. It is vital that our children are taught from a young age that consent is a human right, and that their bodily autonomy should be respected. It keeps them safer from harm. This is important in West Yorkshire, where there have been some particularly notable cases of Child Sexual Exploitation.

It is disappointing that the amends to the legislation have retained the right of parents to withdraw their children out of this important learning. With this opt out in place, however, we cannot understand your objection to proceeding with the legislation.

You do not speak for us, the people of Shipley.

Local campaigners have worked hard to address issues such as period poverty, enabling children who need access to sanitary products through the Red Box scheme. The reforms allow younger children to understand their own bodies, not waiting until they’re too old for this education to make a difference to them.

Your specific objection to educating children to build understanding, acceptance and tolerance of LGBT+ communities is misguided. Age appropriate understanding of diversity is essential for building cohesive communities and reducing bullying. The ‘No Outsiders’ programme that has prompted protests in Birmingham and Manchester is about community cohesion and tolerance, principles that we should all hold dear. Objecting to the inclusion of LGBT+ identities and relationships on the grounds of religious intolerance will only serve to create social division.

It will also leave children who are brought up in LGBT+ households open to feeling isolated and lead to bullying. It leaves at risk vulnerable young people of LGBT+ identities who may succumb to mental health problems and suicide as they come to terms with their gender and sexual orientation.

Many of us are Shipley constituents and we are tired of you raising objections to legislation like this, using techniques like filibustering and often being a lone voice of dissent against what is seen by the vast majority of citizens (and MPs) as positive, tolerant and common sense. It is a source of disappointment to have our constituency associated with attitudes that can seem to many like bigotry, misogyny and intolerance. That is not what we want Shipley’s reputation to be.

To conclude, we strongly believe that sex & relationships education should not only be inclusive but it should also be mandatory to ensure our children and young people are fully aware of how best to stay safe & be respectful of others

We the undersigned, say that you do not speak for us.

 

 

 

 

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I was branded an ex-Muslim for speaking out against human rights abuses against women

Last Sunday I was invited onto the BBC Big Questions, a show that debates moral, ethics and religion with Nicky Campbell as the host.

I spoke about the struggles that some Muslim women face when they are trying to seek Islamic divorces, with some being left in limbo while their estranged husbands remarry and have children with other women. Two of the invited speakers, Salma Yaqoob and Abdullah Andalusi, disagreed with me, claiming that Islam gave women the right to leave an abusive or unhappy marriage without question as opposed to the Christian or Jewish faith. Yes, Islam does allow a woman to leave a marriage if she is not happy but the sad reality is that it is very difficult in practice to leave an abusive marriage, with women having to go to Sharia councils, pay a lot of money, produce statements from family members (who often refuse to get involved) and then try to rebuild their lives with a ‘divorcee’ label hanging over their heads for the rest of their lives.

I was later branded an ‘ex-Muslim’ by Abdullah Andalusi in his blog and on social media, leaving me with no option but to threaten legal action against him. Mr Andalusi has advocated for the death penalty against apostates in the past. He has now withdrawn the libel and apologised, and I have accepted his apology and retraction.

The fact remains that as a Muslim woman who has spent over a decade helping other women escape abusive, controlling marriages, it was wrong for a man who has never met me, who called me a liar on national TV, who complained that I was abusive to him because I shouted at him, to then brand me an apostate. Everyone knows what happens to those deemed outside the fold of Islam. We don’t need to look further than the many brutal videos posted online by Islamic State or the amazing documentary by Deeyah Khan, that ex Muslims face certain death or a lifetime of looking over their shoulders.

I don’t wish to prolong this sorry saga, but I will add that when we see unacceptable practices happening, it is incumbent on us to stand up and speak out regardless of our religious backgrounds. And we should do so without others branding us ex Muslims.

I have not criticised or belittled my religion, I was pointing out the ways in which some people use religion to justify injustice or wrong doing. Some people may not like that, but as a Muslim, I know I have to answer to Allah and Allah alone. I do not claim to be perfect and I know I have made some very serious mistakes for which I can only pray to Allah for His forgiveness but no one has the right to silence me or to take away my faith. Islam is a wonderful, forgiving religion that recognised women right’s 1400 years ago when they were treated worse than second class citizens. Unfortunately, many of the rights given to women have been reinterpreted over the centuries via male dominated and misogynistic lens. One example if this is are the guardianship laws, as we have seen with the recent case involving Rahaf Mohammed.

I will continue to fight against human rights abuses and to speak out, and I want to do so without a great big target drawn on my back or the backs of my family.

 

 

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Why The 2019 Women’s March Organisers Want You To Bring Flowers

PHOTO: DAN KITWOOD/GETTY IMAGES
It’s nearly two years since thousands of people in London (and across the UK) joined the international feminist movement on the first day of Donald Trump’s presidency; and nearly a year since 2018’s equally impassioned follow-up rally. This month, in what seems to be coming an annual tradition, there will be another demo in the capital, but the focus is slightly different.
The Bread and Roses women’s rally on Saturday 19th January, organised by Women’s March London, will see demonstrators march against austerity in the UK and share their support with the hashtag #WeAreChange. The route and specific timings will be announced in due course, the organisers told Refinery29.
“The latest wave of marches are different because we are now moving away from a reactionary position to one of consolidation,” Aisha Ali-Khan, a co-organiser for Women’s March London, told Refinery29. “We want to outlive the Trump years because we all have so much more to offer than merely being a voice against the regressive and aggressive policies currently being pursued by the White House in the USA.”
With the Bread and Roses demo, Women’s March London activists are “setting out [their] position and stall as a movement independent of a reaction to Trump”. Ali-Khan continued: “We are now rooted more than ever to our British and London communities of activists.”

Why ‘bread and roses’?

The rally takes its name from the 1912 Bread and Roses protests in the US, otherwise known as the Lawrence textile strike, which saw women textile workers protest against a pay cut and helped to bolster women’s rights at work. The phrase was used in a speech by the US activist Rose Schneiderman, a suffragist and influential labour union leader, who said: “The worker must have bread, but she must have roses, too.” Meaning women should be entitled to both wages (“bread”) and dignified living and working conditions (“roses”). The phrase gained traction as a political slogan among western feminists in the early 1900s.

What’s the aim?

The London rally takes aim at the UK government’s austerity programme of cuts to the welfare state and public services. It’s appropriate timing, what with the Brexit deadline looming on the 29th March (the Equality and Human Rights Commission has warned that women risk losing equality and human rights protections when the UK leaves the EU); and the UN recently rulingthat the government’s “punitive, mean-spirited, and often callous” austerity policies were politically-motivated and had inflicted “great misery” on the population.
“[Austerity] is the common denominator in the rise of economic oppression, violence against women, gender pay gap, racism, fascism, institutional sexual harassment, hostile environment and Brexit,” say the rally organisers, with marginalised groups feel the brunt of the impact. (Indeed, countless reports and pieces of research have confirmed that it’s women from poor black and Asian households who have lost – and continue to lose – the most because of austerity.)
“With the imminence of Brexit, we want austerity to end and are demanding specific assurances from the UK government. It is time to eliminate the dividing line between the ‘Haves’ and ‘Have Nots’. Equality demands that we all get to thrive and not just survive. We demand Prosperity not Austerity.”

Why ‘#WeAreChange’?

The organisers believe we each have the power to instigate change, Ali-Khan said. “We can either continue to live isolated, fragmented lives or we can come together for the greater good. We are in the current uncertain predicament because of institutions not willing to listen to the concerns of the person on the street. This has to change.” #WeAreChange will be “a rallying cry towards unity and solidarity, and to stand against the constant use of ‘othering’ minority groups to gain political points.”

Get involved

With young women potentially at risk of having our hard-won rights threatened by Brexit, it’s imperative we show our support for the cause on the 19th January – and pop to the local florist on our way there. “We’re asking those who attend to bring roses and flowers to symbolise, love, harmony and fresh beginnings,” Ali-Khan said.
Other similar events will take place globally on the same day, and while details about UK-based demos are scarce at the moment, we’ll update this page when we hear more.
For more information about the march, visit the event’s website and Facebook page.
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Black, Muslim and Single – The Trifecta of Sorrow

By Rabi’a Keeble

 

When I converted I had no idea that life for me would be significantly “different” than the life of my Arab, S. Asian and White sisters.  For the most part I was extremely happy in my new incarnation as a Muslim.  My friends and family said they saw a change in me that was positive, that pleased me, that told me that I had indeed made the right decision.  The transition was slow of course.  There was a lot to learn.  It encompassed not only diet, but dress, head coverings, learning prayers in a new language, the list never ended.   There were things I could do, and things that I could not.  I learned a new word, “Haram.”  I enjoyed the teaching from the Imam, and the Shaykh.  I enjoyed gathering with the “brothers and sisters” around food, and holidays. It encouraged me to see that my new “family” was so diverse surpassing the black white diversity in most American worship centers, I met for the first time S. Asians from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.  I met African brothers and sisters from Somalia, Nigeria, and Senegal.  I met S. East Asians from Malaysia and Indonesia.  I also saw how many American Black people had swelled the numbers of Muslims.  In time I felt like I belonged a bit more, my ease with what I was supposed to do and not do grew.  

 

My personal life changed.  I took down photographs in my home of my mom, father and other people.  A sister told me no photos were allowed.  I tried to make sure that I ate only halal meats, but I lived far from any halal butcher shops, my diet slowly began to resemble more of a vegetarian one out of necessity.  After awhile, some years, I began to think of marriage.  I lived alone and basically from what I saw a Muslim was not complete until they married.  At least it seemed so for most everyone else.  I noticed something almost right away that the black sisters were not being matched off with anyone, that many of them lingered and in fact grew bitter as they were overlooked for marriage.  Pakistani married Pakistani, Bangladeshi married Bangladeshi, Arab usually married Arab, but as the Imam told me sadly one day when I ventured to ask about possible marriage; “No one is asking to marry Black women, they ask for Arabs, or anything else, I don’t think I will be able to find a husband for you.” I felt at that moment as if I had fallen into a well where there was no rescue and no way out.  So what did that mean for me? That I would grow old alone? That my almost perfect experience in Islam had now come to a complete standstill because of this idea of race, and nationality? I had been told in Islam there was no race, everyone was the same.  Grudgingly I now felt that I had been lied to, that something was not quite right.

 

But it proved to be true enough.  Black men always showed up at the mosque on Fridays with Asian women, white women, anyone besides a Black woman.  I found to my dismay that there was this fiction, this lie being told in male circles that Black American women were somehow tainted or flawed beyond Islam’s ability to fix.  If someone mentioned matching with a Black American the man would act as if he had been slapped.

 

The few who did stray from this racist ideology would ask the most asinine questions: Do you have any hair? One Syrian asked me.  “Yes, I have hair” he then said, “Well how long is it?” I was stymied, what line of questioning was this and how was it important at all? I never heard from him again, perhaps he didn’t believe I had hair at all, who cared? A man that shallow needed a nanny not a wife.  Once a Jordanian man who I knew was interested in me, was so obvious in his desires the sisters who sat around me in the mosque would tease me about him. Problem was he was married, the other problem was he left nothing to the imagination that he desired me and that was embarrassing.  One day his wife who was not Muslim came to the mosque crying and causing a scene as he had told her he was going to marry someone else, a second wife, and she fell apart.  It turns out, he was talking about me, without talking to me about his intentions directly.  

 

Many of the Black women around me in the mosque environment were unhappy, some bitter when their lifelong spouses opted to leave them for younger women, because Islam allowed this.  Some never overcame their pain and the feeling of rejection.  To say that the completion of the “deen” for black woman was a challenge was an understatement.  Once when a Turkish brother showed obvious interest in me, the other side of the environment of women became obvious, jealousy.  The few single white skinned sisters felt they should have him, not me, and sabotaged the enter situation with lies: Saying things like: I had several batches of kids with several baby daddy’s.  Why he never asked me about the truth of it, I will never know,  this told me that there was a real problem with him and that I dodged a bullet.   I finally married a Persian man from Iran.  Old fashioned, strict in his Islam, but not so strict in his morals.  I caught him cheating on me with a woman who was not Muslim and who had several kids out of wedlock.  I guess I will never know why he did that.  

 

Years later and much disappointment I felt tired, I felt Muslim men in general were spoiled, lacked maturity and needed help growing up.  They were full of demands but brought little to the table except entitlement.  They did the choosing, they demanded virgins when they weren’t, they demanded youth even when they were grey headed and needed double viagra shots, they demanded never married women when they themselves had many marriages.  I was fed up.  I told my friends all the time my desire was to have a wonderful Muslim husband, no matter the race, or the nationality.  A good Muslim man was all I sought.  I got older, and none came forward.  I was always a dancer.  It was my anti-depressant, it was my therapy.  When I wasn’t dancing I gained weight because I ate and slept too much.  The heart wants what the heart wants.  I insisted upon celibacy even when I felt it was a useless exercise, that I should instead be sowing wild oats like there was no tomorrow, at least a kiss.  Hadn’t I lost several friends even recently? Time was not our friend.  I went dancing every Sunday to just be out, to be around people, and to exercise.  I took dancing classes.  I’d take my class and go home.  I never really met anyone in all the years I went out.  I arrived late that particular Sunday.  The class was so crowded that I thought I’d have to leave, but I looked at all the faces of the men, and saw him.  He was clearly middle aged, his hair a mix of black and grey.  He had a kind face.  He seemed uncomfortable as if he didn’t fit.  I thought he was middle eastern.  There was a few Sundays when a series of Turkish men came through, and some Azeri’s, all eager to dance, and show off, but none willing to do much more.  I walked to where this man was standing and asked if I could squeeze in.  He said sure.  We dance in a circle, inside and outside, each man dances once with each woman.  I never danced with him.  I could tell there was a powerful chemistry between us, it seemed like a magnet pulling me towards him, he towards me.  When the class was over, I packed my things to leave, but something told me, dance with him.  I walked over and said, “Would you like to dance?” He smiled.  We danced that night and haven’t stopped dancing yet. We have been dating for four months, we are in love.  It feels right.  It feels like he’s the one.  He is not Muslim.  I am almost glad of that.  He has no “issues” with those parts of me that no longer are in line with what Muslim men want.  He has no issue with my age, my color, my hair, my nationality.  He told me, “I have always like brown skinned Black women.” He himself is not even so olive as Arabs but tending towards a pinker hued Latin color.  His eyes are hazel, a odd if not haunting mix of “colors.”  I find him incredibly handsome, and yes sexy.  I told him I was celibate, and he had no problem with that at all.  I had the luxury of not being pressured by him into sex, we had the time to know one another and relax, and laugh and dance.  It was only recently we began to say “I love you” and that feels so powerful.  I am not worried about marriage at all, in fact if he never asks, I am fine with that.  I would prefer it, but I am not tethered any longer to this idea that my entire worth as a human being is around whether or not I am so called marriageable or marriage material, but rather of my inner existence and desire to be a good person.  He has seen in hijab and without, he likes both believe it or not.  When  he see’s me in hijab his face softens, and he looks at me differently.  I feel safe, and I feel loved.  He does not walk ahead of me, but beside me and searches for my hand before I seek his.  I look forward to his melodic Spanish, and his tender ways.  Yes, there are those who’d say I broke the rules, but I guess I don’t care, I know the God I serve and love wants me happy.  I am happy.  

 

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