There’s a half eaten bag of halal marshmallows sitting next to me, and if I have to eat the rest of it to get this edition of the roundup out to you, then so be it.

Despite a few amazing weeks with Muslim musings on the permissibility of performing Hajj using a Robot double, creeping sharia’ masquerading as a fashionable medical mask, a fatwa against a one-way ticket to Mars, a UK Tory councillor expelled from his party after comparing Muslim women to garbage bags, International Muslimah Fashion Week cancelled amid claims of fraud, and the opening of a German Halal Fry Haus in Toronto while FEMEN tried to *yawn* get Muslim women in Berlin to strip naked for freedom — basically only two items consumed the hearts, minds and social media activities of the entire Islamosphere.

Eesa-gate and Alice in Arabia.

So grab some hot chocolate before the marshmallows run out, and enjoy!

Screen shot 2014-03-23 at 11.51.33 PM1) Do you remember “Not Without my Daughter“? You MUST remember “Not Without my Daughter.” Even if you have never seen the movie, you might have a vague sense of its plot line because it is so ingrained in American pop-cultural stereotypes of Muslims and Arabs.

It doesn’t really matter that this movie was made in 1991 (NOT in the early 80’s folks. Big hair continued for a very long time). Or that it was met with intense criticism and, by all accounts, was a box-office flop, or that Sally Field won the Razzie Award for Worst Actress for her role as a white-woman-surviving-life-behind-the-veil. “Not Without my Daughter” was one of nearly 350 films created in the span of 30 years that depicted Arabs and Muslims as evil terrorists, rich oil sheikhs, belly dancers or oppressed movie props.

What matters is that this movie represents a standard plot outline for the inclusion of Muslim characters in film and television — limiting this inclusion to the irate, angry terrorist and the voiceless Muslim woman.

Last week, ABC Family proposed AND canceled Alice in Arabia — a “high stakes drama” about a rebellious “good” Muslim American teenage girl kidnapped by her extended royal Saudi Arabian family and forced to live with them survive life in, under, through, beneath, surrounded by, within, astern, on the other side of, yonder, backside, lost to, intra-, behind the veil.

But thanks to the combined awesome power of Muslims, Arabs, allies, and concerned interest groups online, ABC fell to the immense pressure from negative responses and got the message that it just wasn’t cool to rely on tired stereotypes to win ratings. So they did the honourable thing and blamed everyone:

The current conversation surrounding our pilot was not what we had envisioned and is certainly not conducive to the creative process, so we’ve decided not to move forward with this project.

What were they expecting? Confetti and a ticker-tape parade with FEMEN floats?

Now, was this show intended to bridge gaps, educate younger viewers on American Muslim Interfaith Dialogue, or perhaps just have a snappy, alliterative title? No, according to the show’s creator, it was “meant to give Arabs and Muslims a voice on American TV.” Awww. Precious. Because outside of token characters on Community and Degrassi Junior High, there are no positive Arab or Muslim voices available for television. Right?

Wrong. From the fantastically brilliant star, Miss Sara Yasin:

There’s an entire generation of creative Arab-American itching to tell stories that fall outside of the usual narrative. There’s Rola Nashef, who wrote Detroit Unleaded, a romantic comedy about two first generation Lebanese-Americans who fall in love. There’s also Egyptian-American filmmaker Jehane Noujaim, whose documentary about Egypt’s 2011 revolution, The Square, earned her an Academy Award nomination this year. There are performers like Maysoon Zayid, a Palestinian-American comedian with cerebral palsy. Or Dean Obeidallah, another Palestinian-American comedian and filmmaker, who has dedicated his career to flipping the narrative around Muslims and Arabs in the United States. And the list goes on and on.

Alice in Arabia never saw the light of day, but I’m certain it’ll be revamped in some fashion for another episode of Law and Order, Homeland, or maybe, if we’re really, really lucky, networks will figure out the importance of having authentic voices as a part of the planning process to create a nuanced and engaging show.

Or, you know, just schedule re-runs of Little Mosque.

womenhateeachother12) From the writers who created your favourite sitcom “Shaykh Yerbouti” and the award winning cooking show “Shaykh and Bake,” comes a new mini-drama guaranteed to ignite community passions: Shaykhdown.

Here’s a brief summary: Abu Eesa, a popular Islamic teacher from the Al-Maghrib Institute made incendiary and violent misogynistic, anti-feminist, and racist comments to ridicule the occasion of International Women’s Day over several Social Media channels.

One post was so horrific, people claimed it should have come with a trigger warning.

Naturally, when the online response was less than positive, the “scholar” used some passive aggressive male privilege to sort-of apologize and say it was all just a joke that feminist and secular-types are just not going to understand.

After the initial shock with a lot of people (myself included) asking, “who IS this guy?” an incredible outpouring flooded Facebook and Twitter. There are “millions of people like Abu Eesa out there who find it funny to demean, mock, and belittle women’s struggles.” Sick of hearing “jokes” made at the expense of marginalized voices in memes and from the minbar, Eesa-gate was a perfect opportunity for people to discuss issues of leadership accountability and rape culture.

And while some lamented that people on both sides of the debate should have taken the discussion offline instead of starting a petition to fire him, others claimed that Abu Eesa should have stopped while he was ahead instead of going for an “abashed articulation of male supremacy.”

Regardless, the entire affair became a great conversation starter on the the importance of responsibility and how we can understand and define feminism of the western and Muslim-type.

The Islamic Monthly had a brief history of Feminism and stressed that community leaders have a responsibility to not make cheap comments. Naheed Mustafa of CBC/Radio-Canada wrote an impassioned open letter on how Abu Eesa is making brown men look like clowns through his casual misogyny. Hind Makki wrote that rape, physical assault and female genital mutilation are topics that should be beyond the scope of acceptable “jokes” within the context of Islamic educational institutions. Many stressed the obvious: women’s rights are human rights and that women deserve respect.

Obvious, right? But this is why we need Feminism AND basic Islamicquette. Because the obvious doesn’t come easy when the norm to ridicule and belittle is supported by an entire patriarchal “joke” system. Or when *soft patriarchy* attempts to make things right by claiming women are actually really awesome when men help them achieve their potential (really? gee thanks guys).

Which is why throughout all of this, so many people stressed: “Speak that which is good or remain silent.”

**”soft patriarchy”™ Laury Silvers 2014.

3) And finally, after the dust settled, people got back to the Islamosphere’s other favourite stereotype-bashing pastime: belly dance.

Check out Why I can’t stand white belly dancers, I STILL can’t stand white belly dancers, and Muslimah Media Watch’s fantastic roundtable on the time belly dance broke the Internet.

And here’s a little 90’s Eurodance cultural appropriation to start your week off right:

It’s Halloween! And that means two things: a deluge of articles debating whether or not Muslims should partake in ghoulish activities, and some lazy photoblogging.

Making the rounds on social media outlets everywhere is this wonderful article from my friend, associate and all-around fabulady, Sara Yasin. In Growing up Muslim in America, and dreaming of Halloween, Sara reflects on her devout family banning Halloween, and how she handled eating too much candy and scary haunts when they gave in to her nagging:

Looking back, I remember feeling angry with my parents for not letting me participate in Halloween, but I can now understand where they were coming from. Maybe part of it was about religion, but a bigger part of it was about an anxiety about watching their children turn into strangers.

The always wonderful Omid Safi explores his love/hate relationship with Halloween and a little insight from Rumi in The demons & monsters are us–and so are the angels.

I love the fact that this is the one day of the year in many neighborhoods where people open their doors and receive one another as what we are all along:  neighbors.   And how I wish we would live like this every day, like a real community.  And I wonder what it says about us when we feel comfortable going up to our neighbors only when we are wearing masks.  How did so many of us get so alienated from our neighbors?

I’ve spoken about our participation in Halloween in years past — but my article on Muslim religious and cultural appropriation on Halloween is making the rounds again.

I really don’t understand the intention behind dressing as a religious Muslim or as a “Muslim cultural” stereotype, except perhaps to have the thrill of experiencing what it feels like being an identifiable religious or ethnic minority for a few hours – without any of the prejudice that comes with it. Because after the pumpkin candles go out and the make-up comes off, I’m the one who continues to experience Islamophobia based on what I wear on my head – even if I’m dressed as a character from Dune.

And here’s an amazingly EPIC piece on appropriation and the sexualization of of Halloween from the 2013 Brave New Voices Grand Slam Finals (some NSFW language):

I will suck every woman stereotype out of your throats. There’s nothing more frightening than a strong woman monster.

I love Halloween because it presents a perfect opportunity to dress up. And I LOVE dressing up in costume. This year I’ve totally been inspired by Tumblr.

I also did Jack Skellington last week. Nail art is SO much fun.

I also did a set with Jack Skellington last week. Nail art is SO much fun.

From nail art to activism, to recipes and life hacks, I find myself turning more and more to Tumblr to find obscure and original ideas. Like Chocolate Brownie Pumpkin Cheesecake Drizzled with Caramel. Yeah, that amazing cake didn’t last long at all in our house.

"In your satin tights, fighting for your rights." Thanks Wonder Woman.

“In your satin tights, fighting for your rights.” Thanks Wonder Woman.

Gee, I don’t know how it happened, but the girls wanted to be superheroes. We started dressing up last week — flying around the apartment, listening to the Superman and Wonder Woman theme songs. Ivy is in absolute love with the Superman theme and asks for it constantly. Maybe she loves being thrown up in the air, or maybe it means she has an ear for classical music. Maybe she’s just a wonder. Or super.

A little broken. How I'm feeling about returning to work on Monday.

A little broken. How I’m feeling about returning to work on Monday.

Both girls just finished spending the evening giving out candy with their Oma to the handful of children and teenagers who braved the rain. There were even a couple of really excited adults with infants, who obviously put a lot of thought and care into creating their costumes and family memories.

Eryn was particularly excited — and when I asked why she felt so happy giving out candy, she said, “Because some childrens may not have candy. So we give sadaqa!”

We started speaking to her about charity this past ‘Eid ul-Adha and it looks like her heart is in the right place — even on Halloween.

*dusts off computer*

Amazing! It’s time for another edition of the Muslim roundup! For new readers, this is one of my favourite blog features where I scan the media for the ridiculous, the outrageous, the amazing and the most fabulous articles about Muslim women and Islam in general and throw a bunch of informal snark into the mix.

This week we look at fashion, fierce fitness, hijab appropriation, and as always, some truly badass muslimahs.


1) Be fashion forward, shocking, and controversial — shine bright like a diamond while wearing Islamic attire!

Singer Rihanna sporting a pseudo-abaya and black hijab.

Singer Rihanna sporting a pseudo-abaya and black hijab.

This week, R&B pop artist Rihanna caused a bit of a stir when she joined the burqa-swag-exploitation ranks of Madonna and Lady Gaga by engaging in a little Muslim appropriation. Authorities at Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque asked Rihanna and her staff to leave the premises after an impromtu photo-shoot on the mosque grounds.

Like most places of worship, the Grand Mosque has protocols in place to maintain sanctity, order, and the privacy of worshipers. Allegedly, Ri-Ri ignored these protocols by entering through an area restricted to visitors, not identifying herself to mosque officials for a private tour, and not obtaining a permit for a photo shoot that had her in various non-mosque-appropriate-poses. After the photos were uploaded to Instagram, the mosque released a level-headed and general statement explaining the incident, saying that “a singer” who was taking pictures “that do not conform with the conditions and regulations put in place by management,” left after being asked to do so. Seems pretty innocuous, right?

Naturally, the media buzz is generating SHOCK and AWE about what she wore — an “Islama-chic” black jumpsuit, hoodie, and burn my hijab, MAKEUP!! *gasp*

From the Globe and Mail:

[In the photos] Rihanna is also wearing eye makeup along with bright-red lipstick and nails – modern fashion accessories spurned in the bustling Islamic city.

Really. Really? Globe and Mail? Obviously the Globe and Mail has never, ever spoken with an actual Muslim woman living in the Gulf region. The literal birthplace of red lipstick.

Look, you want to wear hijab out of respect and take the 100 fils mosque guided tour, go for it. But Rhianna’s instagram betrays just how little she actually thinks of Muslim women and the hijab:

"Bitch stole my look" reads the caption as Rihanna give some cut-eye to some passing women.

“Bitch stole my look” reads the caption as Rihanna gives some cut-eye to passing women on their way to pray.

Nice. Just stay under your umbrella the next time you want to fetishize and sexualize Muslim women’s clothing for your personal fashion shoot Ri-Ri.

"Memories of Childhood" by Selina Roman.

“Memories of Childhood” by Selina Roman.

2) Also cashing in on the grand “burqa swag” narrative is The Burqa Project — recently covered (HAHA) by online art magazine Beautiful/Decay.

In 2009 Selina Roman started documenting the burqa in various poses. Yes, you read that right. She’s not documenting Muslim women — but the burqa.

According to the article, Roman, a former reporter-turned fashion photographer, hopes to offer her audience a different view point, a new way of seeing:

Although the Burqa is shrouded in religious significance, I take it out of this context in an attempt to explore these other attributes. Instead of showcasing it as an oppressive garment, I place the Burqa in idyllic Florida landscapes to let it float and billow. In turn, it becomes an ephemeral and weightless object removed from its politicized context.

I guess there are no idyllic Afghani landscapes to let the burqa float and billow? Oh wait, here’s one. The burqa is an inherently oppressive garment? Here are some Afghan women who might argue that the source of oppression lies in patriarchy, gender discrimination, and religiously-justified misogyny — not in clothing.

Is it art? Is it life? Is it objectifying the already objectified? How meta.

3) Move over spray tanned, bikini-clad celebrity bodies — here come some seriously fit and fierce hijabi fitness instructors.

Zaineb and

The fierce and fantastic Zainab and Nadine.

I never thought I’d say this, but the Daily Mail has a really great article on the first “Islamic” fitness DVD. Meet Nadine Abu Jubara, a personal trainer, and instructor Zainab Ismail (THE hijabi drill sergeant). Together they make up the team behind Nadoona — a fitness and health support website geared primarily toward women concerned with modesty.

The motivation behind the website and soon to be released fitness video came when Nadine lost over 50 pounds after changing her dieting and fitness lifestyle. Finding there were few Islamic resources in this arena to support her, she decided to create her own.

Women, not just Muslim women, tend to use modesty as an excuse to neglect their bodies. Long sleeves and flowing tops shouldn’t mean flabby arms and love handles. And, a strenuous workout doesn’t require machines and a crowded gym full of spectators.

The Nadoona website reads like a regular fitness resource. Upon first glance, you probably wouldn’t notice anything particularly “Islamic” about it — except for maybe saying “bismillah” before starting on your fitness journey, and the YUMMY “Fit for Allah” smoothie. They have a 30 day challenge, hijabista events, and even workout instructions for men. And the hard work and intention to regain health seems to work, according to the testimonials.

I’m totally in love with these women! They are my heroes for the week. They are fierce. FIERCE!! TIGHT!! Makes me want to workout for Allah for a living!

Check out the body-pumping DVD teaser here:

4) Finally, I did a thing.

Langston Hues is an amazing Muslim visual artist and photographer, and he’s working on a book commemorating the emerging faith-driven culture of modest street style being seen in magazines, runways and on streets worldwide. The write-up on his website explains:

It is the first book to visually document this ever growing international trend that has exploded from the streets of Kuala Lumpur to the alleys of New York City. Profiling some of the top ‘hijabistas’ this is a must-have inside look into a twenty-first-century genesis of a faith driven style.

Now, I wouldn’t call myself a top hijabista — just an urban chic mom trying to hide spilled yogurt with animal prints and looking fabulous while babywearing.

Langston was amazing to work with. He’s incredibly humble, funny and talented — and I’m so honoured and thrilled to be a part of this project.

Check it out, and try to guess which one is me:

The kids are in bed, the Hubby is away on travel and I have a bowl full of popcorn and a bag of chocolate at my fingertips. Yes, you read that right — an entire BAG of chocolate. This can only mean one thing: it’s time for a Muslim roundup!

It’s a super badass muslimah version of the roundup this week. We’ve got real superheroes, rockin’ muslimahs, some motherhood badassery, and of course, hijab.


Ilwad and Iman Elman, inside the Elman Peace Centre. Photo credit: Michelle Shephard, Toronto Star.

Ilwad and Iman Elman, inside the Elman Peace Centre. Photo credit: Michelle Shephard, Toronto Star.

1) Real life superheroes live among us.

With hijab fatigues blazing, Canadians Ilwad and Iman Elwad are helping rebuild Mogadishu, Somalia by taking on gender violence and the militant group Al-Shabab. No small feat for these two amazing sisters!

According to the Toronto Star, about three years ago, Ilwad and her sister left Canada to join their mother in promoting women’s rights and to help run the Elman Peace Centre, a rape crisis shelter.

Iman joined the military and is now Commander for a battalion of 90 men. And while the capital is no longer a war zone, she continues to fight and lead security operations outside the city. Remarking on this success, she humbly explains:

“Being raised in Canada, I was taught you’re no different from any guy, you’re equal, you’re the same,” she says. “When I went into the military they said, ‘You can’t do that, it’s not your job.’ I wanted to break some of the stereotypes here.”

These two sisters are so beyond badass that someone better help me come up with a word that means more badass than badass.

It also seems that superhero powers run in the family. Before his tragic murder, their father was a well-known peace activist, cared for orphans and ran community programs. And their fabulous mother, Fartuun Adan, recently received an International Women of Courage Award from the U.S. Department of State for her humanitarian work.

They’re already saving the world, so the only thing I can say is that I’m keeping you ladies in my dua’as. Well done and keep up the good fight.

Random Stars rockin' out.

Random Stars rockin’ out.

2) No bad veil puns. No subtle allusions to women unchaining the shackles of oppression. Just five women from the United Arab Emirates rockin’ out to Deep Purple. The FIRST band of fantastically fierce Emirati women to belt out heavy metal chords on their electric guitars.

All thanks to Ms Small.

Brought together by their English teacher, these students from the Higher Colleges of Technology at Al Ain, had little to no experience with drums, bass or guitars — but now according to The National, they “perform at a variety of college events such as graduation ceremonies and National Day celebrations.”

Lead guitarist Hamda Al Ghaithi played piano and guitar for two years before hearing about the band:

“I met Ms Small and she told me about how the girls wanted to play and make a band. At first I didn’t like rock because I was studying classical guitar, but I prefer rock guitar now. I hope after I finish studying here that I will study music and play classical piano.”

Smoke on the water baby. Just wait until you all really get into Classic Rock. Ladies, you got to get yourselves on YouTube!

3) A word to the wise, don’t mess with mothers defending their right to motherhood:

PressTV covered a recent protest by civil rights groups and families calling for the religious freedom of Muslim women and their civil liberty to pick up their children from school.

Mothers in headscarves are facing new discrimination at some schools who now object to seeing headscarves in the playground before and after school — claiming that the hijab’s “outward sign of religious practice go against the French law of religious neutrality in state-run institutions.”

*blank stare*

I don’t really need to get into how ridiculous this is, do I?

Try this: stand in-between a mother bear and her cub. Tell the mother bear that she can’t have her child until she looks more human. Pick up a pair of shears. Attempt to shave the bear and liberate her from her fur. Watch what happens.

faiza4) Every little girl named Faiza just had her mind blown.

This is going viral right now just about everywhere, but if you haven’t heard the fantabulous news, Faiza Hussain, British Pakistani doctor by day, Excalibur by night has just been dubbed, Captain Britain.

A little backstory, Brian Baddock (the current Captain Britain) is teaming up with Captain Marvel (Avengers) on a kind of suicide mission against the evil Ultron (in “The Age of Ultron” storyline). Before leaving, he needs Faiza to keep MI-13 running. He needs “Captain Britain” to survive. For hope. For humanity.

A mainstream comic, Muslim, hijabi superhero people! What’s not to love?

This awe inspiring character wields the Arthurian sword Excalibur and can disassemble and reassemble people at the subatomic level. She’s also a healer by nature and a massive superhero fan girl  — so you know she’ll keep to her roots.

OMG MARVEL! DISNEY! DO AN AVENGERS CROSS-OVER MOVIE! I know you’re planning a Captain Marvel movie sometime in the future. Maybe we can hope for an on-screen Muslim woman superhero before 2025.

Me rockin' a turban twist by babylailalov.

Me rockin’ a turban twist inspired by babylailalov.

5) Finally, what DOES it mean to be a modern Muslim woman?

Well, according to the Daily Beast’s great piece on The Rise of Hijab Fashion Bloggers, the modern Muslim woman is “eclectic” and “creative” — bending the visuality of hijab with a blend of “vintage finds, lavish jewellery, Japanese-inspired silhouettes, high-end British sophistication and urban edge.”

The media may portray Muslim females as shrouded in black head-to-toe robes, feeding the stereotypical idea that modernism—not to mention fashion—and Islam cannot mix. But, as this crop of popular fashion blogs shows, wearing a hijab can mean a great number of things to a variety of women.

Well, yes. But point of information: Not all modern Muslim women wear hijab. And some modern Muslim women are shrouded in black head-to-toe robes. And they all have the potential to be eclectic, fashionable and creative.

Oh, but I do love watching hijab tutorials. Honestly, they’re awesome. From make-up to hijab pins — YouTube stars branching off into their own fashion lines and doing what inspires them. Kick-ass.

Here’s my current favourite style. Just in time for summer:

The weekend is almost over, but here it is — a new roundup for your reading pleasure. It’s the activism edition of the roundup and we’ve got bad boob puns, Elvis seekers, atheist allies, promoting the importance of special needs inclusion and a rockin’ hijabi singer.

We’re travelling tomorrow to the UK, so lots of du’a from me to you.



That’s when media sources insist on covering (har har) naked protests by erasing those two, tiny protrusions of mammary papilla found on breasts, and leading with headlines that include the words, “NAKED!” “BOOBS!” “JIHAAAAAD!” and “NOT SAFE FOR WORK!”

Lower your gaze folks, you’re in for a real TEAT.


A “safe for work” photo.

This week the “sextremist” group FEMEN declared a Topless Jihad Day in solidarity with one of their Tunisian members. Almost two weeks ago, FEMEN activist Amina Tyler created a storm of controversy after posting nude pictures of herself on Facebook with the words “My body belongs to me and is not the source of anyone’s honor” written in Arabic across her body. Soon afterward, a cleric and head of the Tunisian Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice publicly threatened her with death by stoning, and she disappeared from the public eye.

So FEMEN and their allies responded by holding an international day of action in support of Amina — by protesting topless in front of mosques and Tunisian embassies across Europe (and parts of Canada, the States, South America too). According to their Facebook page:

This day will mark the beginning of a new, genuine Arab Spring, after which true freedom, freedom without mullahs and caliphs, will come to Tunisia! Long live the topless jihad against infidels! Our tits are deadlier than your stones!

The support was overwhelming, and there are now hundreds of photos of breasts, thousands of comments, and a few penises (wait, what?!) uploaded to Facebook calling for the end of women’s oppression. Slogans and comments include such gems as, “Pakistan Take off Your Clothes!” “Muslim Women Let’s Get Naked!” and “Bare Breasts Against Islamism!”

A counter-protest, in the form of Muslimah Pride Day, was also organized by Muslim women and their allies. Muslim Women Against FEMEN asked women to post photos of themselves in hijab, niqab or no head covering to:

…show people that we have a voice too, that we come in many different shapes and sizes that we object to the way we are depicted in the west, we object to the way we are lumped in to one homogenous group without a voice of agency of our own.

Likewise, there are now hundreds of photos of hijabs, thousands of comments, and a few niqabs calling for the end of women’s oppression. Slogans and comments include such gems as, “Nudity DOES NOT Liberate Me!” “Hijab is my right!” and “A Women Modestly Dressed is as a Pearl in its Shell.”

(A few posts focus on the right way to hijab, hijab tutorials, and anti-West memes — so a moderator stepped in to remind people that the group’s intention was not to convert the world to Islam, justify hijab or criticize the West — but to tell FEMEN to stop telling Muslim women what to wear.)

The absolutely brilliant Sara Yasin sums up the day with this tweet.

Media coverage of course has been all about teh BOOBZ and the Muslim reaction to teh BOOBZ — and not so much about the “true freedom” FEMEN wants to bestow upon Muslim women, and even less about highlighting the specific issues of oppression Amina stood up to in the first place.

Jezebel has a fantastic piece covering how FEMEN’s protests were distressingly Islamophobic in the fantastically titled, Muslim Women Shockingly Not Grateful for Topless European Ladies Trying To ‘Save’ Them. Current responses to the day include brilliant criticisms of FEMEN’s neocolonial feminism, the problem of “white feminism” and the suppression of native voices, and how nudity does not necessarily challenge patriarchy. Al-Jazeera has their own roundup if you want to follow how each TITILLATING moment unfolded.

And the HuffPo has FEMEN’s reaction to the counter-protest (Muslim women say they don’t need liberating, but their eyes say “help me”), and Muslim Women Against Femen’s reaction to this reaction (well that’s a load of “colonial feminist rhetoric”).

You know in all of this discussion and agenda posturing on Muslim women’s bodies, I realized that I too bear my breasts every day in an ongoing jihad. But breastfeeding just isn’t sexy enough. Certainly not for Facebook — who publishes FEMEN’s photoshopped, nippleless boobs, but deletes photos when nipples are obscuresd by hungry babies. For shame Facebook. For shame.

(ps, Amina is allegedly safe, according to a lawyer claiming to represent her. And has been with family at home since last Monday. Also, allegedly in this video, she’s no so fond of people using her name in the protests and says that the struggle is about standing up to fundamentalism and not Muslims. FEMEN has responded to this on Facebook by saying “no comment.”)

Muslims in Las Vegas2) If you haven’t gotten enough of the whole “ZOMG-MUSLIMS-may-or-may-not-be-offended-by-teh-BOOBZ” media sensationalism, the Guardian has a piece on *cue dramatic music* Muslims who live in Vegas!

Stuck in-between a desert land vaguely resembling any number of stereotypical places in the “Islamic world” and an immodest, gluttonous, promiscuous “hell” (all their words, not mine) lies Masjid-e-Tawheed — one of four mosques in the city that never sleeps.

Built on a fascinating interview with the mosque’s charismatic founder, Ahmadullah Rokai Yusufzai, aka “Rocky” — the article paints a colourful picture of Muslim life that includes people gambling away their paychecks, women being tempted to sell their bodies for fast money, the challenges of being Muslim in “sin city” and positively highlighting those trying to eke out a halal living, without judging those who don’t:

Take the time when Yusufzai ended up towing a trailer up and down the Strip, advertising an adult-entertainment club. “I was towing this with licence plates that read Allahu Akbar, listening to the Qur’an, and yet I’m hauling this thing and praying to God to forgive me and to understand I’m just trying to put some halal food on my table without being dishonest and making ‘easy money’, as it’s called in Vegas. I still didn’t feel comfortable. It was halal money I was making, but I had to hand back the trailer. It just wasn’t right.”

Viva Las Vegas Akbar!

I love Vegas. We had a blast doing lots of halal things on the Strip — like playing Elvis Bingo, relaxing at Oxygen Bars, taking in shows, and hanging out at the Masjid as-Sabur. A seriously chill and welcoming community masha’Allah.

3) The very awesome Chris Stedman responds to recent controversial anti-Islamic bus advertisements in San Francisco in his piece, Stop trying to split gays and Muslims. Paid for by Pamela Geller’s American Freedom Defence Initiative, this round of ads quotes anti-gay rhetoric from Muslim leaders, presumably in a bid to create a wedge between the LGTB community and Muslims.

Screen shot 2013-04-07 at 12.43.36 PM

Chris includes details of his investigation into the ads, his Twitter fight with Ms. Geller and her followers, and quotes from key anti-discrimination activists to argue that Ms. Geller “is posing as [an LGTB ally] because it’s convenient to her [anti-Muslim] agenda” and that the ads “provide a misguided view of the current Muslim position on queer rights issues.”

And argues that:

…to rally against Muslims and Islam as if they and it are some monolithic bloc is counterproductive; it creates enemies where we need allies. There are many Muslims who oppose cruelty and violence done in the name of Islam and favor equality for all people, and they are positioned to create change. We should be working with them, not standing against all of Islam.

Oooh! I just want to squish him!

Also, go check out the fantastic Gay Muslims — the Elephants in the (prayer) Room on Suhaib Webb.

4) When was the last time your local community held an awareness event for Muslim families with special needs? How many promote accessibility in the mosque, have children’s events geared toward total inclusion, or have a support and counselling network specifically designed for Muslim families with disabilities?

Theses are some of the questions asked by Dilshad Ali in her fabulous post, The Failure of the American Muslim Community to Help Those with Special Needs. She shares a part of her family’s struggles with Autism — highlighting the seeming dearth of support in many communities, and in some cases, even acknowledgement by others in the community.

For a community well versed in fighting against Islamophobia, in running sophisticated campaigns to combat NYPD surveillance of Muslims or to reclaim the meaning of the word “Jihad,” engaging in social and political activism, hotly debating topics like homosexuality in Islam, equality in marriage, providing better space for women in our mosques, even whether “breathable” nail polish really is wudu-friendly – what are we doing for our Muslim families dealing with special needs?

She doesn’t only offer criticisms — but also praises the American communities and networks working toward raising awareness and who are taking action. Such as the Special Needs Eid Celebration organized by the Muslim American Society — who for the past three years have been creating special memories for these families, and as Dilshad reflects through tears, “Our families were included, accepted, celebrated – such a rare feeling.”

It’s a must read!

5) Finally, check out Iranian singer Ermia, who just won the Iranian version of X-Factor, Googosh Academy. She rocks out in hijab which has gotten a few people upset.

But she rocks! In hijab! And SHE WON!! Mabrook my dear!

Happy February everyone! It’s been a while since hijab has dominated the headlines (har har). But with so many people talking about hijab-as-veil, hijab-as-appropriation, hijab-as-the-only-thing-defining-muslim-women this past week, today is a special hijab version of the roundup.

In other news, Bremen becomes the third German state to recognize Islamic organizations as official religious bodies — meaning that Bremer Muslims can now take ‘Eid off! Muslim students in a Maryland high school can now pray during class time — but only if their grades are good. And while it was feared that extremists destroyed priceless manuscripts in Timbuktu, the bulk of the collection was saved, by fabulous superheros in the guise of mild and meek librarians.

Today’s lesson: Don’t mess with people who command Silence in the Library and smash metadata for fun.



tokenization of Muslim women, “Hijab Day” by Person of Color.

1) So another World Hijab Day has come and gone.

Some marked this social experiment by wearing a special designer, invisible scarf known as the NoHijabHijab,™ some marked it by wearing their touques, Tilleys or sun hats, and some marked it by joining a relatively safe and supportive community environment to see what it feels like to be a “veiled” Muslim woman for eight hours in a relatively safe and supportive community environment. You know, without the hangups of praying, fasting, giving zakat, being discriminated against for having a Muslim sounding name, community racial microaggressions and invalidations based on gender, being overlooked for education/employment/marriage/social mobility because of hijab, or experiencing all sorts of gender and religious based injustice…

I could go on, but my current blogger hero, mama and footballer extraordinaire, footybedsheets, said it all so succinctly:

This exercise reduces a Muslim woman to one yard of material. It is not an action that one can adequately educate and put another woman in their position. It’s completely disingenuous  to think so.

Will having my teammates wear a hijab for a one hour match allow them to understand a lifetime of stares, barriers, “No, sorry you can’t play with that on” decisions, struggles and then my own strength and confidence to embrace it and keep going?

No. No, it won’t.

Just like wearing a hijab for one day will not provide a woman with contextual understanding of challenges and the realities that a woman in hijab may face: misogyny, cultural stresses, financial problems, prejudice, racism and even effects of war.

WHD was created to fight hijab stereotypes by inviting non-Muslim women to try it for a day. Al-Jazeera has a summary of the myriad reactions to the event — everything from, “yay, we all love and understand each other” to “boo, this sucks” to “taking the hijab off the next day defeats the purpose of hijab.”

The BBC used the day as an opportunity to use their horrid “Muslim Headscarves” infographic, and concludes their coverage by saying, “the day is about showing the world that women can choose the hijab willingly.” Making it more difficult to be critical of places where women can’t.

And now, a music video about Class Tourism.

2) This entry should really be in the above piece, but it was too delicious not to give it a seperate honour.

For WHD, the HuffPo published some full on hijab tourism with Natasha Scripture’s investigative journalist fray into a wild and wonderfully desexualizing eight hours of hijab:

So, one morning, after carefully tucking my stray hairs under a plain black headscarf, tightly wrapped around my face (traditional Sunni-style, with my face visible), I looked at myself closely in the mirror. Who is this person? With my long hair concealed, I immediately felt that my face was unequivocally defined by my eyes and that even the faintest shift in my facial expression would be detectable by the least discerning of observers. Most strikingly, I felt instantly de-sexualized. It was as if putting on the veil had melted away my sexuality, and I was left with just me.

Yeah. Because “veiled” Muslim women have absolutely ZERO sexuality. None. Nadda. But oh man, wait until that stuff comes off. Then BAM!

I went to meet a girlfriend at a crowded Thai restaurant for lunch where I was absolutely stunned by the transformation in myself, more so than the way people were treating me. As ridiculous as it sounds, I felt myself becoming more demure, which is not my personality at all. As a journalist at heart, I’m naturally adventurous, even flirtatious, so it was strange to feel this wave of shyness creep over me. I think I became that way because the strangers surrounding me — the server, the hostess, the patrons — expected me to be that way.

Demure Muslim women in hijab isn’t a stereotype at all. Now, why would one’s personality change? Because the hijab has the power to remove one’s sense of self? Yeah, I put it on and wonder where I’ve disappeared to. It’s my invisibility cloak.

Anyway, the piece goes on to talk about how she ended up finally herself again after trying to flirt with a guy over a beer. That’s when she ripped off her hijab and let her hair fly free.

Like a bird.

Lady Gaga in a burqa. To promote her new single, "Burqa." I feel liberated already.

Lady Gaga in a burqa. To promote her new single, “Burqa.”

3) Hijab rapid-fire:

  • More on the fashion front, a Chicago human rights attorney launches a hijab design contest to encourage people to come up with a “truly American hijab style.”

4) And finally, it’s the hijab tutorial to end all hijab tutorials. A must watch for anyone telling you how you should cover (and it’s by a Canadian to boot):


**And a hat tip to the always lovely Krista Riley for inspiring “invisible hijab.”

Happy weekend everyone, and hello from Kuwait!

My apologies for not posting as frequently this past week — Ivy and I are both suffering from terrible colds and the jet lag took a number on all of us. I’ve also been jettisoned into a Christmas wedding season — so there are about a million and one wedding functions to attend over the next two weeks. But I’ll be posting regularly soon enough insha’Allah. I mean, how can I not blog about the Second Cup, Canadian coffee chain now serving sheesha with their signature caramel corretto?

So to start off, this week’s roundup has a bunch of Muslims celebrating Christmas, a bunch of Muslims not celebrating Christmas, niqab, and some pious sexy eye-candy for your stockings.


Ramadan and Trudeau. The first look is halal (and never ends with these two).

Trudeau and Ramadan. Don’t worry, the first look is halal (except when it’s a sultry “come hither” look).

UPDATED 1) It’s one of North America’s largest and hottest celebrations of traditional Islamic knowledge — where the meeting of grand religious minds charge the air with their electric personae, where fanbois swoon over “salaaming” their personal sheikh heroes and fangurrls throw their hijabs on stage, hoping for just one raised eyebrow from the magnificent Dr. Tariq Ramadan.

Yes, it’s the return of the annual Reviving the Islamic Spirit conference in Toronto! And it’s about to get hotter. Justin Trudeau addressed the audience as a part of a little “political outreach” to the Muslim community. *squee!*

Now, you can’t have a high profile Liberal show up at a Muslim conference without having a little controversy. According to the HuffPo, mainstream media picked up complaints about Trudeau’s participation from a few anti-Islamic websites. Complaints concerning allegations that one of the largest conference sponsors has ties to Hamas. *cue dramatic music*

So in response, the sponsor — a previously registered charity now in appeals over alleged fraud — pulled out of the conference. Why the controversy you ask? Conference spokeswoman Fariha Ahmad explains:

Unfortunately, (such criticism) will always exist and I think the idea of a large congregation of Muslims gathering is often attached with speculation over the last decade or so. There’s been wide speculation about whether or not Muslims are all terrorists… That’s also what the media has been portraying.

In his speech Trudeau used the controversy to his advantage, firing back at critics by standing against fear and prejudice like the superhero he is.



Well I truly hope that this year’s conference is beneficial to all in increasing knowledge, deen and imaan. I’ve always enjoyed the RIS experience and would love to live vicariously through anyone who is attending. Let me know!

muslim santa2) Who says Muslims don’t celebrate Christmas?

In an absolutely lovely display of interfaith celebration, Muslim housing groups in East London held a Christmas party for hundreds of their non-Muslim neighbours.

According to the East London Advisor, the local authority’s housing wing, Tower Hamlets Homes, asked families on housing estates in the east end to help organise parties to improve interfaith understanding.

Earlier this year, groups run by non-Muslims organised three fantastic Eid parties — and this week, Muslim-run groups returned the favour with some Christmas pudding, reindeer games and Santa!

C’mon, with that beard, we all know Santa is really a Muslim.


Really Maclean’s? Really??

3) Veils. Who are we to judge indeed?

According to a recent Globe and Mail headline it sounds like veils are on their way out as, “Witness may be required to remove niqab while testifying in court” — or in other words, words that can be found when reading the article, witnesses CAN wear their niqab in court. It just depends. And there hasn’t been an actual case example either way. Yet.

This week, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Muslim witnesses may be required to remove their niqab to testify depending on the seriousness of the case and the sincerity of their religious belief. Answering why the Supreme Court did not rule strictly for or against the niqab for witnesses, Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin explained that:

An extreme approach that would always require the witness to remove her niqab while testifying, or one that would never do so, is untenable. The answer lies in a just and proportionate balance between freedom of religion and trial fairness, based on the particular case before the court.

According to the article, this ruling means a halted sexual assault trial can now resume — as soon as the trial judge assesses the complainant’s request to testify against her alleged abuser while wearing her niqab. While I’m happy to hear that niqabi rights to religious expression will hopefully be upheld, this will not be the last we hear about niqab in the courts.

And if the complainant is ordered to remove her veil during the sexual assault trial, I really hope her face isn’t splashed all over the evening news.

4) Must-read rapid-fire:

  • Did you hear the one about the Muslim Tea Party Crasher? Learn all about Libertarian Islam as Tea Partying Muslim work to educate political Conservatives on the real meaning of shari’a and the dangers of the anti-Muslim movement!
  • And across the pond, Muslims joined Christians in organising a Christmas food drive. Together St. John the Divine Catholic Church and the London Muslim Mosque gathered food for over 100 families. As Muslim organizer, Ali D. Chahbar said, “To us, the spirit of Christmas is the spirit of brotherly love, and why wouldn’t we want to be a part of it?”

5) Finally, if you haven’t already heard it, here’s the latest viral video. It’s supposedly this year’s top Christmas tune — and with over 6 million views, they just might be right!

According to the YouTube video write-up, Muhammad Shahid Nazir moved to London’s East End from Pakistan and started working on a market stall selling fish. His trader’s call, “Have-a, have-a look, one pound fish. Very, very good, very, very cheap, one pound fish” has become the stuff of legend.

Happy Wednesday!

I just realized that in less than two weeks I’ll be heading to Kuwait. This means we’re celebrating Christmas with my family early. Meaning less time to post a weekend roundup (and blog in general). So, surprise! It’s a mid-week roundup treat.


khatib1) Hey, did you hear the one about the halal horse?

Well it took 1,000 years, but academics have finally proven that Muslims are funny. PhD candidate and Arabic translator Emily Selove pretty much has the best job in the world — writing her dissertation on The Art of Party Crashing by revered medieval Iraqi scholar al-Khatib al-Baghdadi (1002–1071):

This book, which contains flirtation, profanity, and even a little drunkenness, is a lot of fun and offers a rather different perspective to the austere image Islam has from that period. The reality is that the Baghdad of 1,000 years ago was actually rather Bohemian — it wasn’t perfect by any means — but not the violent and repressive society you might imagine it was.

Wait, so Muslims ARE a wildly diverse group of “bohemian“-esque jokers and Islam isn’t that austere. Imagine that!

(I’m really hoping that last bit was just a not-so-clever-media-sound-bite. Why would anyone randomly imagine Baghdad as having a violent and repressive society? Because anything remotely medieval is inherently violent and repressive? À la Game of Thrones? Is it a social commentary on Islam? A social commentary on modern Iraq? An allusion to the annoyingly ubiquitous literary trope of a violent Arab society oppressing sexually repressed-but-oh-so-sexy-harem-women??)

Maybe I’ll just take a leaf out of al-Khatib al-Baghdadi’s book, “every serious minded person needs to take a break” and leave it at that.

baris2) Paris Hilton caused quite the stir last month when she opened her new store in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Her fifth store in the Kingdom, the now (in)famous Baaris Hiltoon Handbags & Accessories joins the likes of ALDO, Children’s Place, The Gap, MANGO, Gingersnaps, The Body Shop, ZARA, and *gasp* Etam Lingerie at Makkah Mall.

While not exactly selling the party lifestyle, alcohol, or risqué clothing items, people nevertheless took offense at the fact that THE Paris Hilton, and everything her name represents, is in the Holiest of cities — and that her presence is more proof of the current Los Vegasization of Mecca.

Check out CNN’s roundup of the reaction, Omid Safi’s rundown of the destruction of Islamic historical sites for malls and latrines, and Michael Muhammad Knight’s gritty and honest welcome to Paris:

My problem is when people frame their opposition to the present Saudi version of Mecca as a call to restore a more just past, a return to an imaginary innocence that Mecca had supposedly lost in the 20th century. I’m sorry, but that innocence has never existed. Apart from the Ka’ba, Mecca is just another city. The people of Mecca – the pilgrims, the authorities, and the regular folks who just live there – have never been anything other than people. Whatever rottenness you can find elsewhere in the world exists in Mecca, and it’s not a Wahhabi invention. It has been there since long before Islam and throughout Islam’s history: unjust power, poverty, greed, racism, sexism, intolerance. Paris Hilton doesn’t bring anything new to the place.

3) So, are you mom enough?

The fabulous Tasnim over at Muslimah Media Watch takes a new look at Muslim mommy Wars, and the oft-repeated, only-status-for-women-in-Islam, holy grail of femininity: “paradise is under the feet of mothers.”

The problem I find is that often discussions about the representations of mothers in Islam get caught up in the familiar argument about whether this overwhelming reverence for the mother is potentially empowering or reductive essentialism. What about women who are not mothers? It’s a legitimate and important question. Another question that might be asked is what happens when this Islamic narrative of revered motherhood collides with the pervasive narrative of the Bad Mother?

She goes on to brilliantly explore Bad mother labels, Bad Muslim Child syndrome and that while there is the potential to reduce the status of women only to motherhood, it’s still important to acknowledge the spiritual mythology of motherhood in Islam.

This really is a beautiful and touching post. Go read it!

©Napie Moksin

©Napie Moksin

4) Hijab rapid-fire:

  • Shaomin Chew writes about her week-long hijab tourism experience for the Harvard Crimson — an experience that left her feeling more demure, feminine and taught her more about herself than Islam. The comments are quick to point out exotifying Muslims by playing dress-up just isn’t cool.
  • Leila Ahmed wins the Grawemeyer Award for her book, A Quiet Revolution: The Veil’s Resurgence, from the Middle East to America. She is the first female Muslim scholar to receive the prestigious award. To the tune of $100,000 smackers!

5) Finally, this looks promising! The Other Half of Tomorrow paints a modern, complex and diverse Pakistan as seen through the perspectives of Pakistani women working for change. You can learn more about the project here.

The Other Half of Tomorrow – Teaser from Sadia Shepard on Vimeo.

Happy Friday everyone! As promised, here’s a roundup just in time for the weekend. This week we’ve got gender and human rights wars at a barber shop (sounds like a joke. But it’s not), creeping hijab tourism, fabulous Muslim female mayors and a video with a trigger warning for violence against women.

See you next week after our jaunt to the States!


UPDATED 1) He asks me why, I want hair like a guy. I’m hairy noon and night, hair that’s a fright. I’m hairy high and low, don’t ask me why, don’t know. It’s not a gender sham, just gimme the “businessman,” daaaarrrrliiin.

A local Muslim barber really didn’t know what he was getting into when Faith McGregor walked into his Toronto barber shop and asked for a men’s haircut. The “businessman” — short on the sides, tapered, and a trim on the top. According to the TorStar:

Shop co-owner Omar Mahrouk told her his Muslim faith prohibits him from touching a woman who is not a member of his family. All the other barbers said the same thing.


So, feeling like a second class citizen (and rightly so), Faith filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.

“For me it was just a haircut and started out about me being a woman. Now we’re talking about religion versus gender versus human rights and businesses in Ontario,” said McGregor.

Look. I get it. I pay $70 for a haircut (when I get one… once every other baby) AND pay a surcharge for having my hair cut behind a screen. Because, you know, hairdressers are out to make money off the untapped Muslim hair surplus. But if this isn’t about getting a $10 haircut to challenge gender inequality in the hair industry, a salon can do a “businessman” too.

Barber shops are for men, generally.

Salons are for everyone.

And THAT is what should have been conveyed to Faith. NOT, “Islam prevents me from touching unfamiliar women.” Balderdash. (see comments below) The Prophet and the Companions went to women to have lice removed from their hair — even if you don’t want to. It shouldn’t have to be a gender issue or a violation of religious freedom — but an issue about barber shops lacking the “skill set” necessary to handle the ferocious locks adorning a woman’s crown. That’s right. Rowr.

Fun fact: Salons are not allowed to do facial hair. Apparently it takes away from business of Barbers. As do quartets.

2) Students in California and Florida have taken the Hijab Challenge this week in an attempt to really and truly discover what it’s like to be Muslim. Because we all wear hijab. And we’re all women. And we only live in America. On the sunny, southern coasts.

CBS covered (haha, that never gets old) the Take the Hijab Challenge at California State University San Bernardino, which organizers say was to help their fellow students to:

“Walk in our shoes for a little bit to see what we go through.”

While I’m not a big fan of this type of outreach, the news segment shows the effort it took to hijabify over 100 women on campus, with lots of good intentions — and bright shining scarves to shed a little light on some of the negative and hostile reactions Muslims receive for existing. Just a litte taste — without the requirements to pray, fast, pay zakat, begging your non-Muslim family for acceptance, awkward matrimonial convos with Aunties, racism, mosque vandalism, or any of the fun religious cultural baggage the rest of us deal with.

But for a more personal account of what it really means to wear hijab for a day, check out the rections from students at Florida Gulf Coast University:

For my Hijab challenge I decided to tie my scarf in a “waterfall” style, completely covering my hair and neck. During the week of the experiment, I alternated between a pink Hijab and a purple Hijab. Before I knew it, I had begun accessorizing.

Creeping sharia’ at its finest.

Yes there are misconceptions about Muslims. Yes more needs to be done to address growing Islamophobia — but we should really sell tickets if we’re going to open up hijab to this kind of tourism.

3) After months of research, training and fundraising, the Women’s Resource Centre in the GTA launched what is believed to be Canada’s first helpline specifically for Muslim women, says the TorStar. The Resource Centre launched the helpline after Muslim women started calling simply to talk to someone — now they’ll also receive emotional support, peer counseling and referrals.

In its first few weeks, the helpline has already received dozens of calls from women across the GTA, with concerns ranging from marriage and relationships to information on shelters and food banks, and in a few cases, abuse.

The helpline operates 7 to 9 p.m. Monday to Wednesday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday and Friday. The hotline number is 888-315-6472 (NISA).

Also, this weekend ICNA is holding it’s first women’s conference, Reshaping Our Future. If you’re in the Mississauga area, do check it out and don’t miss hearing some amazing female experts.

4) Meet Amra Babić. Single mother of three boys. Moonlights as a superhero. And the new mayor of Visoko, Bosnia. Oh, did I mention that she wears hijab and is probably the “only hijab-wearing mayor in Europe”?

Even though her constituents don’t care what she wears on her head, the media is sure to make sure her hijab is headlined. As Babić says in a recent interview:

The victory shows that one “woman is not, and will not allow [herself] to be discriminated because of her dress or commitment to freedom of expression of belonging to one nation, religion and tradition. I hope that Europe will figure out they are positive values.”

“Of course women deserve equal treatment. Women make up more than half of the population, hence the same number of human resources. We must learn to give a chance to the best, most capable, most worthy. Regardless of their gender or what they wear.”

Here’s to her strong political success!

5) Finally, one video alone won’t put an end to honour killings. But it sure sends a powerful message. You can read all about the inspiration for Da Arabian MCs’ If I could Go Back in Time at UNWomen. And if you need a translation, please turn on the English closed captioning on this YouTube video. If you’re sensitive to violence against women, don’t watch.

Happy weekend everyone! We’ve finally recuperated from Eidoween and have a bunch of fun stories for your reading pleasure. So sit back and enjoy some fierce women, romantic Muslims, some historical Hajj and a little ideal Muslimah trolling that’ll have you snorting tea out your nose.


1) Focus and breathe and stretch and Olympics. With this mantra, Amna Al Haddad is one woman I would not want to mess with.

The New York Times recently profiled this fantastic 22-year old athlete from the UAE along with her team mate Khadija Mohammed, the first female Emirati lifter to make the Olympics.

According to the article, a tough training schedule isn’t the only thing these women have to deal with. Negative attitudes about women weightlifting in their country include the belief that they’ll turn into muscular meatheads — thereby making them unattractive to male suitors. Because it’s not their athletic talent that’s important — no, it’s their marriageability. The team also deals with the stereotype that weightlifting only attracts masculine women, and *GASP* lesbians(!!!!)

“A lot of women say, ‘Wow, look at her body,’ ” Al Haddad said. “They ask me how to get lean, and when I say I weight lift, they get scared. But it’s the 21st century now. I don’t want to get married until I make the Olympics.” …

At a recent workout, Al Haddad, in the company of a male trainer, wore full arm and leg compression skins under her shorts and a short-sleeve shirt with the word “beast” printed in bold across it, a concession to tradition.



Seriously, don’t mess with a woman who can clean and jerk 100 pounds in the air. Keep lifting ladies.

2) There is nothing more romantic than receiving an early morning kiss from the Hubby — complete with shaggy hair, scruffy beard, and the dulcet sound of babies yelling. Probably because that’s about the extent of romance in our house.

Half the world away, Kamila Khan has written a terrific article about the lack of “romance” in her life for the online Australian mag Mamamia. In “Confessions of a Muslim Romantic” she recounts growing up in front of the television learning unrealistic expectations of romance:

I can literally quote you every conversation in the Breakfast Club. Sure, I was sent to madrasa and learnt how to pray, but there’s no way a Saturday morning learning Arabic could replace my Saturday night with 21 Jump Street. This is where I learnt all my morals, my standards and my expectations…

After all, from our religious tradition came the Taj Mahal (made by a male out of love for his wife); came the poet Rumi (a male truly in touch with his feelings); and from Arabic came the word ‘carat’ (to measure the size of my future wedding ring). It was impossible then for any Muslim male not to have romance in his blood, right?

Yeeeaaah… I didn’t mind getting my ideas about romance from Johnny Depp and Rumi either. *wink*

Go read and comment on her piece, it’s a hoot guaranteed to make you remember the 80s fondly and grab your partner in a hopefully baby-food-spaghetti-stain-free embrace!

3) Single ladies, listen up! You know those nights when you’re sitting all alone on Twitter re-tweeting Mona Eltahawy, or stalking random cat pictures on Facebook wondering at the ripe educated age of 28 when you’ll find that NORMAL Muslim to complete half your faith? Well, according to a now popular post on MuslimSpice, that IS why you’re all alone! Apparently, the worst women to marry include women on Facebook, Twitter, non-virgins, non-hijabis, the daughters of gas station owners, and feminists.

So instead of giving the troll more link love, here’s a mind-blowingly awesome, satirical rebuttal piece by Sara Yasin over at Muslimah Media Watch in the voice of the slow jam Imam:

You’re using social media: It might be time to axe your Twitter and Facebook accounts, because your online presence is probably warding off potential suitors. It has been proven, by many studies, that no Muslim woman can resist logging into a social networking site without making posts about getting lost in Tariq Ramadan’s eyes. Of course, all conversations held by females are useless, and men only use social networking sites for the important business of men. If you’re using it for professional reasons (trick statement: your only valid role is being a homemaker), then that might be OK — but I’m afraid that I would have to recommend doubling up on your prayer to avoid falling prey to the Internet’s slippery slope.

Oh God it’s true, it’s so true. I get so lost in Tariq Ramadan’s eyes. (I even have a signed copy of his book! *fangirl squeeee!*) Guess I’m on the hairy path to hell.

4) Hajj rapid-fire:

5) Finally, possibly the oldest recording of a Qur’anic recitation. Surah Duha as captured by Thomas Edison’s newly-invented cylinder phonograph, and set to a collection of pictures from pre-modern development Mecca.

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