Her Name Was Nabra Hassanen #JusticeForNabra

Nabra Hassanen. Don’t forget her name. A 17-year old Muslim girl who was brutally assaulted and murdered. All murders are senseless, but Nabra’s life was taken for no reason other than the fact that she was Muslim. Because she was visibly Muslim in her beautifully draped hijab. This was not about a parking dispute or any other junk excuse the media and police are attempting to label it as. This was an Islamophobic motivated hate crime. This was a terrorist attack.

I get it. A lot of people are too privileged to see, let alone care, about how people in power, public figures, and the media constantly demonize marginalized groups.  I’m sick and tired of having to cater to their ignorance. Why is their ignorance costing us the lives of our brothers and sisters? Why do the lives of white Christians and Catholics seem to get way more airtime and global concern while Muslims are being persecuted right beside them and not even getting the least bit of respect? I am never one to compare tragedies, ever, but this is just feeding into the cycle of systemic injustice and oppression. I saw the outrage and heartbreak of my white coworkers when the Manchester attack happened recently. I saw newspapers stacked at the front desk sympathizing and “standing with” the people of London. Do people even realize the immense horror that just occurred in our own country? I don’t care if my coworkers know who Nabra is. I care about why they have a selective sensitivity and humanity towards only a certain group of people. This is a learned action. The media teaches us how we should think and feel, and this gravely skews our stances on justice and injustice. This was not about a traffic or parking dispute. How many times are the media and the police going to use that same excuse when Muslims are violently murdered in America? Whoever actually believes it had nothing to do with the fact that she was a visibly Muslim woman, really needs to wake up. It’s never about a parking dispute.

I am truly heartbroken. I sobbed upon hearing the news concerning my sister Nabra, who lost her life in this blessed month of Ramadan. Although I never knew her, it feels like I did. Nabra was my sister in Islam. A young Muslimah, a believing 17-year old girl in a world that is so against her. Muslim. Black. Woman. Much like many of my fellow Muslim women, her very existence was a political statement, a defiance against what most people in the West are seemingly “comfortable” with. I keep telling myself that I wish I were with her before she was attacked outside of the masjid. As if I could have done something. I wish I could have saved her. My heart goes out deeply to all of the people suffering in the world and my duas are forever with them, but this, this hits home on entirely other level. The fact that this has happened, let alone in the month of Ramadan, is exceptionally upsetting.

She was one of us. She was probably getting ready for these last few days of Ramadan and making plans for Eid. She had her whole life in front of her. To my fellow Muslim sisters, please be careful and be hyper-aware wherever you are. People have sick, evil, selfish intentions and unfortunately we are the ones who suffer the most from it. Especially my sisters who observe the hijab. I can’t even begin to try to think as awfully as the oppressors and attackers do when they act upon their violent thoughts.

Let’s take the very last few days of this blessed month of Ramadan to sincerely make dua for Nabra and her family. May she be granted Jannah al firdous, and may her family and friends find peace, justice, comfort, and sabr through Allah (SWT). May He replace the trauma of those who were with her that night with tranquility. Let’s also take time to reflect on this world that we live in, the state of this ummah, and the state of our own iman (faith). Keep this ummah in your duas every day, and try your best to renew your intentions and your iman each day, as if it was your last. Allah (SWT) Knows best and is the Most-Merciful.

There are many wonderful donations/charities being set up for Nabra and in her name. If you’d like to help support, here are a few:

https://www.piousprojects.org/campaign?id=394

https://www.launchgood.com/project/for_nabra#/

May Allah (SWT) protect all of my sisters in this world. May He grant us courage and steadfastness in our deen and may He bring peace to this hateful world. Ameen.

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajiun. To Him we belong and to Him we return.

10 Tips for the Last 10 Days of Ramadan

We are winding down to the last few days of Ramadan. The last ten nights are said to be the most abundant in blessings, so naturally we should all strive to make the most out of them. If you feel that this Ramadan has slipped away, do not trick yourself into losing hope or stop trying to gain that state of bliss – it’s never too late! Here are some simple tips to help you to embrace the beauty of these last few days of Ramadan:

Worship all 10 nights

Try your best to go to the masjid, and even if you are unable to, for whatever reason, don’t lose hope and don’t feel bad! You can still 100% worship at home. If you feel like you are unable to worship every night, then try to aim for the odd nights. Laylat Al Qadr (the Night of Power) will be on any of the odd nights of Ramadan, and you don’t want to miss out! Focus in your salah the best that you can, stay in sujood for a longer period of time, talk to Allah (SWT), be grateful to Him, and make dua.

Give charity every night

Whether it’s donating money, clothes, food, or even just simply smiling and saying a kind word to someone, strive to be conscious of giving back in any way you can.

Make a list of duas to make

Sometimes writing out your thoughts can be super helpful in giving you a clear insight into who you are. Allah (SWT) has blessed us with so many duas for so many different occasions. Researching duas is great; Sujood.co is such an amazing site that allows you to easily search for the exact dua that fits any emotion you have. Remember, you can also make dua from your heart and just talk to Allah (SWT). Keep your loved ones, those who are struggling, and the ummah in your duas as well. Never underestimate the power of dua and always remember that Allah is near.

Pray two extra rakats every night

Make an effort to pray extra rakat at night. The benefit that follows with it is something that nothing else can replace.

Surat Al- Ikhlas

Although Surat Al-Ikhlas is one of the shorter Surahs, its benefits and message are powerful. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) told his companions,Gather, because I am going to read you a third of the Quran.” (Abu Huraya RA). After they gathered Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) recited, “Say: He is God, the One!” – Quran, Surah Ikhlas, 112:1. The Arabic root of the word ikhlas means, sincerity or purity. This concept is a running theme throughout the Quran as we are constantly being reminded to attain this state of sincerity in our faith, and genuinely believing that Allah (SWT) is One and nothing should be worshipped, except Him.

Keep your heart pure

If you find yourself having bad thoughts, make dua to Allah and recite any Surah (preferably Surah Al-Fatiha, Surah Al-Falaq, Surah An-Nas, or Surah Al-Ikhlas). If you’ve had a falling out with someone, sincerely forgive them in your heart. Remember, Surah Baqarah tells us, “Kind speech and forgiveness are better than charity followed by injury.” (2:263). Be conscious of your actions and keep your intentions pure in whatever you do. You will find your soul becoming lighter in return, insha’Allah.

Keep your motivation up

Even if you feel like this Ramadan went by too quickly and you haven’t done enough, it’s not too late! Focus on these last few days and nights. Allah (SWT) wants to forgive you and during the last few nights He is the most merciful. Push through and turn back to your Rabb.

You don’t have to stay up all night for your worship to count

A lot of people feel like you have to stay up all night and worship throughout the night but Allah (SWT) knows what’s in your heart and if you are trying then that is enough. All of your efforts and all of your worship counts.

Memorize duas for forgiveness

Allah (SWT) could forgive you for any gesture of yours that he likes. Remember to make dua for forgiveness in these last nights of Ramadan. This website has great duas for forgiveness that are short and simple.

Eat light 

Eat light so that you are not constantly worried about breaking your wudu and you can focus on your ibadah (worship). But also remember to hydrate so you don’t feel hungry and are awake and focused!

Remember that any of the odds nights can be Laylat Al Qadr so in these final days give it your all! Ramadan is still in our grasp, and even when it leaves us, we should still strive to strengthen our faith in every way.

 

 

 

Reflections: “Ramadan Muslims”

Muslims are not a monolith. We all come from different places and experience different struggles. No two Muslims feel and live life exactly the same – and that’s beautiful. What’s not beautiful is when people start openly judging one another on how “pious” the other is. People have actually coined the term, “Ramadan Muslims” as an ongoing “joke” of some sort. The implication is not so nice. Ramadan, unfortunately, has become the battleground for this atrocious behavior.

So, what is a “Ramadan Muslim?” Apparently, it’s supposed to label Muslims who seemingly only practice Islam during the month of Ramadan. Meaning, they pray five times a day, fast, don’t swear, eat halal, and overall, put a halt on their haram lifestyles during the month. So many people are so quick to judge these Muslims so much so that it has become an ongoing joke. What’s so funny about someone worshipping Allah (SWT) the right way?

If someone actively gives up a lifestyle in which they are so engrossed in during the other 11 months of the year, how is that laughable? These “Ramadan Muslims” sacrifice haram choices and actions for the sake of Allah (SWT). At least they recognize the great importance and blessing of this month. At least they are worshipping in some way, even it be in the smallest of ways. In addition to that, what if this was the Ramadan that turned and guided the heart of someone who was on the wrong path in life? Allah (SWT) guides whom He wills. We should never feel as if we have an authority to judge those who are striving to please Allah (SWT). This month is not for judging, it’s for reflection. Reflect upon yourself, reflect on the Quran and apply it to your own life. Do not mock others for worshipping in the blessed month of Ramadan. Surah Al-Hujurat tells us,

“O you who have believed, let not a people ridicule [another] people; perhaps they may be better than them; nor let women ridicule [other] women; perhaps they may be better than them. And do not insult one another and do not call each other by [offensive] nicknames. Wretched is the name of disobedience after [one’s] faith. And whoever does not repent – then it is those who are the wrongdoers.” – Quran, 49:11

We should feel joyful and comfort seeing others practicing and praising Allah (SWT). If “Ramadan Muslims” are such an “issue,” let’s ask ourselves, why? Everyone goes through different circumstances, but what are we, as fellow brothers and sisters in Islam, doing to help? If anything, we should be the ones trying to perfect our manners. We should try to implement and renew the characteristics of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) into our own lives. If anything, we should help other Muslims see the beauty in Islam, by setting beautiful examples of what it means to truly be a believer. If we can’t do that, then at least we should make sincere dua for those fellow Muslims who are struggling with balancing deen and dunya.

It is understandable that the dunya distracts us all, but that does not make anyone a hopeless case. Everyone gets caught up in life and we sometimes neglect the most important part of our day – our prayers. Then, when Ramadan comes we’re suddenly reminded that we’re Muslim too and start praying five times a day, fasting, and going for Taraweeh. Many of us have been victims of this behavior. I used to get caught up with school and work and would sometimes just skip over my prayers, but then in Ramadan I would pray five times a day and then go back to my old ways when the month was over.

Why neglect your prayers outside of Ramadan? I think a big problem is that people get caught up in this dunya and don’t focus on deen until later in life. I’m looking at you Pakistani folks in particular, as it’s almost a part of our culture to do so. Why is it that we focus more on education and marriage rather than our deen? That’s a reason why some of us become “Ramadan Muslims,” which is sad, but it’s true for a lot of people.

An easy way to break this continuous cycle is to think of each prayer as your last prayer. Not to be morbid, but anything can happen at any given moment and nothing in this life is guaranteed. It’s important to think of each prayer as your last chance to repent and please your Lord. There are three ways that have helped me keep my deen up and aware of my prayers. First, go to the masjid as often as you can, either for Jummah prayer or a weekly lecture. Second, download the Muslim Pro app and turn on the notifications. This way you’ll know exactly what time each prayer is. Try to pray immediately!!! Get up and go pray as soon as you hear the adhan – this will seriously affect you in making all five daily prayers because you won’t put them off or eventually forget about them. Lastly, learn at least one new thing about Islam every day. It can be anything, read a hadith and ponder it’s meaning, read a page of the Quran, read an Islamic story about any prophet, literally anything that you can. Once you find yourself learning about different topics in Islam, your love and devotion for Allah (SWT) can only grow from there, insha’Allah.

Let’s make this Ramadan the best one yet. Let’s not judge one another on how outwardly pious the other is. Instead, let’s reflect on the true meaning of Ramadan and understand other people’s struggles. Let’s find our innate love for this deen and Allah (SWT), while also allowing the best version of us to come about in this month and let it manifest throughout the rest of our lives, insha’Allah.

Periods & Ramadan: Let’s Talk About It

Periods. Menstruation. The monthly cycle. Such a tabooed subject across the globe. A majority of women from all around the world are taught to hide when they’re on their period. Come Ramadan, and this age old game takes on a new level. You either dread its arrival, or are secretly happy to see it come as it gives you a few days to ‘take a break’ from fasting. Either way, we’ve been taught to mask any indication of it from the men in our lives.

I mean, I don’t think it’s necessary to hold up “I’M ON MY PERIOD” posters all week long or parade around shouting it to everyone you come across, but there needs to be some level of understanding here. Having your period is such a blessing. If you think about it, it really is a beautiful occurrence. It’s a natural event, exclusive to women, that cleanses out the uterus and indicates the chance at the miracle of life. We have the capability to produce life from within us. Can we just ponder at that for a second because wow that’s pretty cool.

We’re never taught to think of our periods in a beautiful way, though. It’s always gross, painful, sickly, impure, unholy, dirty, and the list goes on. We are the bearers of life, yet we have to suffer the most. I’m not talking about the physical pain we often endure during our monthly cycles, but the social and mental burdens we are so heavily weighed down by for no good reason. During the month of Ramadan, many women literally hide the fact that they are menstruating. We wake up for suhoor with our family so that our brothers, dad, husband, or any other male family member is not suspecting (not that many of them even know about periods anyway because they’ve been shielded away from it their whole life). We then proceed to pretend to fast all day long. We eat and drink scarcely, and only if no one can see. We even pretend to break our “fast” at iftar with everyone. I always end up feeling like a traitor inside. We silently suffer alone and in pain. This is not Islam and living like this is not virtuous.

The Quran describes menstruation as “adha,” which translates into “hurt” or “discomfort.” We have to acknowledge our body and it’s needs. If we are hurt we must take care of ourselves. Allah (SWT) has specifically exempted us from fasting during this time so that we may be at ease and not harm our body. So, why are we making it hard on ourselves? It is crucial for us to take care of our body during our monthly cycle. We have to nourish ourselves with food and water – this is not a choice, but rather a necessity. I understand the advice to refrain from eating in front of those who are fasting, out of respect, but that does not entail us to fast alongside them when it is very clear that we should not.

Often times we tend to confuse cultural taboos with religious rulings. This is very dangerous for a multiple of reasons. When it comes to being secretive about our periods, it is not as Islamic as we might think. Period shaming is not of Islam. Menstruation has been one of the most discussed areas in Fiqh. Aisha (RA), one of the most knowledgeable mothers of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad (SAW)’s wife, shared her knowledge on menstruation and other topics about women in much depth. This is a clear indication that periods are something to not be ashamed or secretive of. Why do we have such an issue with even acknowledging periods then? Our cultures have bred unhealthy mentalities that deem periods to be shameful and unnatural, when in reality, they are the exact opposite.

Even in the sirah (factual stories of the Prophet Muhammad) it is told that the prophet would be emotionally, physically, and spiritually intimate with Aisha while she was menstruating. He would lean on her lap and recite Quran while she was known to be on her period. She would let him know when she was menstruating. The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) never shamed Aisha for having her period. He would joke with her and still keep the word of Allah (SWT) near her. There was no disgrace between them. He was understanding and did not ignore the fact that women menstruate. We need to reflect more on how he acknowledged this aspect of life, and implement it in our own lives.

Often times during our periods, we feel as if we are at a loss because we cannot pray salah, fast, or even touch the Quran. This can leave many girls feeling hopeless and disconnected with her faith. It is important to understand that we are not defective because of our menstruation cycles. We are not dirty or impure. We can and still should practice our faith just as much during our period. Nothing can come between you and your sincere devotion to Allah (SWT).

We need to stop implementing these ideas into the minds of our girls, especially the youth. Our periods are special and a blessing. They remind us that we are not only healthy, but we are capable of nurturing life within us. There needs to be a source of education and empowerment of our bodies. We should not have to feel guilty or a burden in any way. If anything, we should see our periods as a gift from Allah (SWT), because that’s exactly what they are. Let’s refuse to surrender any longer to these social constructs that keep us suffering silently in pain. Let’s stand up for and protect this blessing that Allah (SWT) has bestowed upon us. Ramadan should not be a burden on anyone. This is a beautiful month where we should find peace, reflection, and renewal in – not worry about how our periods are a “problem.” Your period does not make you any less.

9 Super Foods to Eat During Ramadan

Ramadan Mubarak everyone! The blessed month is here! This is such a special time for Muslims as we reflect and become more spiritual by simplifying our lives. Most of us are fasting for about 16+ hours each day of this month. It is so important to take care of your body during Ramadan by nourishing it with proper foods. Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to completely ban parathas and chai during Ramadan. Here are some foods that you should try to incorporate during suhoor (pre-dawn meal) and iftar (post-dusk meal)!

1. Avocados

FullSizeRender (18)

Avocados are known to be a “good fat.” Our bodies need the type of fat found in avocados as they not only help our bodies function at an optimal level, but also help us stay full and satisfied throughout a good portion of the day.

2. Dates

FullSizeRender (18)

This one is kind of a given since dates are known to be a sunnah of the prophet Muhammad (SAW). Why are they good for us during fasts, though? Dates are high in anti-oxidants and will help you stay energized. They are also a lower glycemic food so they won’t negatively affect your blood sugar (which is great!).

3. Chia Seeds

FullSizeRender (20)

Chia seeds are high in Omega-3s, fiber, and protein. These are the perfect ingredient to add to any smoothie you make because they are so tiny, but make a significant impact in fueling your body the right way.

4. Smoothies

FullSizeRender (18)

Suhoor smoothies are seriously the best. You can keep them simple by just throwing in a banana, berries (or whatever fruits you have or want), some greens (like baby spinach), and chia seeds. Smoothies are not only delicious, but they nourish your body right and keep you satiated for a longer period of time.

5. Lentils

FullSizeRender (22)

Having lentils for suhoor or iftar is very beneficial. Lentils are high in fiber and they help you stay full and satisfied. If you’re desi, eating lentils (aka daal) is no problem!

6. Hummus

FullSizeRender (18)

Hummus is very high in fiber and very high in protein – which is exactly what you need to help you power through long days. It’s such a versatile food and you can enjoy it many different ways, which makes it even better!

7. Broccoli

FullSizeRender (18)

This vegetable is very high in fiber. Broccoli also helps in cleansing the body during Ramadan so you will definitely feel good physically.

8. Oats

FullSizeRender (18) copy

Another high fiber food is oats. Oats also have nutrients that help you stay energized throughout the day when they are consumed the night before fasting. They are even better if you mix them with your favorite fruits as toppings!

9. Almonds

FullSizeRender (26)

Almonds help you stay full for long periods of time due to their high content of fiber and protein. Almonds are another type of food that can help you stay satisfied for the day to come if you eat them the night before. Not to mention, they’re also such a good and healthy snack!


Remember, Ramadan is a spiritual month, and although we aren’t eating for long periods of time, it really isn’t about food. Don’t deprive yourself of fun foods entirely. It’s all about balance and moderation. There is no way to not feel hungry within 16+ hours of not eating or drinking anything. No matter what you eat in the morning, you will eventually feel hungry. The best way to ignore the hunger pangs is to focus your mind towards Islam and the Quran. Make dua to Allah (SWT) and remember Him always. Insha’Allah we will all have a fulfilled, healthy, and blessed month.

If you have any special foods you like to eat during Ramadan, don’t hesitate to share in the comments!

“Aren’t You Hot In That?” Is Not A Question

As we approach the warmer months in the Northern Hemisphere, the rising temperatures seem to not only be making people sweat, but also judgmental of what others are wearing. Let me be more specific: these warmer days bring nice vibes, but also truly act as a burden for women.

Growing up I used to wear shirts with short sleeves and even capri pants here and there. As I became older and was more drawn to learning about the meanings behind the teachings in Islam, I made the personal decision to not wear clothes that revealed my arms or legs. It’s funny because out of the twelve months in a year, my modest fashion choices seem to be a real concern for others for about five of those months. As soon as the days start getting to 70°F and up in New York, as a woman, you’re expected to whip out your shorts and knee length dresses. There is nothing wrong with wearing shorts or dresses, but please, don’t try and make me feel like I should be too.

Getting comments such as, “Aren’t you hot in that!?” when I’m wearing a full length cardigan and boyfriend jeans, is extremely unnecessary. Why would you say that to someone anyway? It’s just awkward – how am I supposed to respond? Over the years I’ve noticed that people only relay these types of vapid statements to women and girls. You will never (or rarely) catch anyone saying anything of this nature to a guy. I’ve seen men in full suits when it’s 80°F outside, and absolutely no one questions them about it. It’s fine for them. They don’t need to show their skin. No one expects or has been trained to have entitlement over their bodies or their choices.

“There is nothing wrong with wearing shorts or dresses, but please, don’t try and make me feel like I should be too.”

I’ve thought about this concept a lot. It’s honestly not rocket science to understand. It’s easy to see how women and girls are hyper-sexualized to an insane degree. It starts young and develops and becomes a part of our psyche. The “fashion icons” we idealize and give great importance to in mainstream media, dictate how we perceive women in our everyday lives. We begin to expect all women to look and act a certain way. I will stress this again; there is nothing wrong with women who choose to wear shorts, dresses, or anything else for that matter. There is a real problem however, with how much freedom and agency we have over our own bodies. As soon as people see a woman who is wearing clothes that cover her entire body, it’s as if they see it as an invitation to scrutinize and question her to no end. We don’t have a choice anymore. I don’t want you to look at me. I don’t want you to look at my body. My body is mine, and I choose what to do with it. My personal decisions are mine and I don’t need to provide answers for anyone who really doesn’t know or care about me, but is only asking if I’m “so hot in all those clothes,” because they aren’t used to not seeing a woman’s flesh. You’ve been hypnotized to keep your mind within a tiny box. You primarily see women for their bodies. We are objects to the human eye, no different from automobiles at this point. Regardless of what I wear, I will be objectified and belittled down to what I’m wearing. So, I might as well wear what I want and not be succumbed to the pressure of wearing what will please the people. My purpose is far greater than pleasing people.

This also goes out to all of my sisters who wear the hijab every day. I can’t imagine the incessant nagging they go through during these months (let alone the entire year). This is also for women out there who simply don’t feel comfortable with showing off their body for whatever reason. You do not know what a person is going through or why a person chooses to live their life a certain way. By you exclaiming, “WOW! Aren’t you sweating with all of those clothes on?!” you’re impeding on someone’s personal choice. “Aren’t you hot in that?” is not a question. It is a social indication that if you are a woman who isn’t revealing her body, then you are an “other.” It’s a statement that highlights the ever so present, and undying patriarchal structures that keep us imprisoned in immobile mindsets. ‘Asking’ someone if they’re “hot in that” is not a question at all, but a firm reminder that women are not allowed to be in charge of their own bodies and their own choices.

Leave people the hell alone when it comes to what they wear, it literally does not matter. Why are people so offended by me not showing my skin? Also, newsflash, when it’s 90°F out, everyone is going to be hot. Whether you’re wearing a bikini or a burqa, heat is heat and the sun’s power does not let up just because you’re showing some more skin.

“Why are people so offended by me not showing my skin?”

I wear what I want to wear. I will continue to dress how I want based on my own personal decisions and beliefs. I wear what I want to wear and I do not have to give anyone an explanation about it. Ever.

Is The Subway

I live in New York. Not exactly the part that many imagine in their minds (aka Manhattan), but I live cozily nestled in a suburb on the outskirts of the city. Continue reading “Is The Subway”