the Duke Chapel Bell Tower Controversy

Wow, the comments on Duke’s initial decision to have someone announce the call to prayer from the chapel tower AND the comments following their change in heart are just plain mean…

It’s crazy because for the last two days my Islamic Relief USA team and I have been traveling between about 14 different nonprofits in Southern California in the past two days (it’s been a jam-packed schedule) that are doing beautiful work with people of all faiths. We visited food pantries, social service organizations, domestic violence help centers, schools, and a clinic, among others, and it’s been amazing to see how a group of dedicated, kind individuals can work together to bring up their communities. They started these beautiful projects to serve those in need, regardless of faith, and with those goals and open arms, people of all faiths have joined in and brought change to these communities.

I was excited at the decision to broadcast the athan (call to prayer) at Duke, and I’m sad that they changed their minds. I was born and raised in the US, and growing up we went to assemblies at public school where Christmas carols were sang and it was normal despite the class diversity. Being approached by strangers with the sole intent of converting me is something I’m used to (and BOY do I have stories!). There are so many different examples of how I’ve felt excluded from my community. On the flipside, there are the beautiful people who have asked me genuine questions about my faith when they didn’t know something, made simple accommodations for my religious needs, or simply just made an effort to understand. I would say I have a really good mix of friends who come from all faiths, and no faith. Everyone is a diamond to me, but I want to focus on the broader community – the community that includes people who wrote hateful words in response to Duke athan (I won’t provide a link because the comments are deeply offensive and I’d rather not give any more attention to them).

What if ALL faith anthems became normal? What if all students felt included because of it? What if news networks had a positive agenda, like unifying people based on acts of kindness, rather than creating a dichotomy fueled by hatred and fear of the unknown?

Get to know your neighbor. Learn about cultures that differ from your own. Join in efforts to uplift communities based on similarities with people of all backgrounds. Turn off the TV and use your own judgement based on real interactions with people. Learn to be OK with expression of faith, or lack thereof. Be considerate and respectful when discussing faith-based topics because yes, it’s a sensitive topic. If you have an intense hatred for an entire group of people, then I really don’t know what to tell you. That’s a disease of the heart that can only be cured by opening up.

This is NOT a melting pot. Let’s work a little harder to make it one, shall we? 🙂 Let’s extend that model internationally.

I know I’m a bit of a dreamer, and sometimes I feel hopeless. After my meetings today and yesterday, I’m confident that we’re moving in a good direction. I hope and pray that I’m right.

The Listserve – Leading up to Love

Back in May I was selected to write on The Listserve, out of a pool of more than 20,000 people. It wasn’t that I was smarter than anyone, or experienced more; it was a random lottery. Every day someone is chosen to send an e-mail to the rest of the people who are on the list. Literally, you just plug in your e-mail to the site, and you receive an e-mail each day from someone, anywhere in the world. People send WHATEVER they want – all text. The other day I received an e-mail from someone in San Francisco, CA, tomorrow I’ll probably receive an e-mail from someone from a country I’ve never even heard of. I love hearing about peoples’ ideas, adventures, favorite books, life lessons, obstacles, reflections, and all. When I got chosen, I actually missed the 48 hour deadline because I’m AWFUL at checking my e-mail. Luckily, I contacted them and after learning that I could never be put back in the drawing if I missed my turn, the lovely staff gave me a second chance. I didn’t have anything crazy to say, but I was excited at the idea of being able to share my thoughts and experiences with the world, however basic those ideas may be. If I offered some sort of understanding, or had someone relate to me, I did something right… and I did! I received a couple dozen e-mails in response by people who were somehow affected by my words:

[The Listserve] Leading up to Love

I was hoping I would win the Listserve at 25 when I have it all figured out. All the 25-year-olds are probably shaking their heads because they’re waiting for 30 when they’ll have it all figured out. Maybe we’re all clueless. But maybe that’s a good thing! Imagine a life so intricately planned out. Where’s the fun in that?

I’m 23 years young and I have no sense of direction, whether it’s on the road or in life. I really don’t care about being a legend or being remembered. I want to enjoy my life, do good, and be happy with the people I love. I live about 15 minutes away from Washington, D.C., working at a nonprofit where I couldn’t be happier. Part of the reason I think I’m so optimistic is because of my faith, Islam, and the whole whatever’s-meant-to-happen-will-happen idea. I keep this in mind when I’m feeling down and you’d be surprised how quickly it shifts my perspective.

My family is a bit crazy, but it makes for interesting conversation. My mom is a red-headed white woman who grew up in DC, and my dad is a Pakistani brown man who came to the states in the 70’s. I wear a hijab, or headscarf, and we as a family confuse and amuse people quite a bit…

Sometimes I even confuse myself. For the past year I’ve been jumping between wearing a traditionally-styled scarf and a stylish turban. Although I rock the turban, one of the main reasons I wear it is to avoid negative reactions from people who are a little less open-minded. It sucks because I don’t want to hide my religion, but I don’t want to be looked at as an outsider, either.

While I don’t want to get into the implications of displaying my faith openly wherever I go, it’s shaped who I am today. Some of it good, some of it I could do without. I’m overly-considerate. This may sound great, but I envy the people who do what they want regardless of what others might think. I’m very observant of others and I generally make decisions based off how I think others will react. I’m trying to slash stereotypes and change the face of Islam. It’s what got me interested in filmmaking as a hobby.. the Muslim perspective is almost nonexistent. Sometimes I’m excited about the opportunity to represent Islam. Sometimes it’s too big of a responsibility to try and take on.

Ok, that’s enough about me. Today I gave a ride home to my friend Michelle, who told me about how she met her husband and how deeply in love with him she still is. And the cool thing about it is that he’s deeply in love with her too! She talked about something seemingly obvious, but often ignored… A relationship should have an equal amount of input. It can’t be one-sided. So make sure you’re showering all the right people with your love.

Love is the most important thing in the world. Love the little things, like good food. Take it all in. Love yourself, love God if you can, love your family, love your partner. Make sure you’re getting and giving a healthy dose of love.

S/o to my sister/bestfriend Samirah, my crazy brother Khalid, my friends Zaid and Sue Sue, who share my Listserve love, and Lina, who hopefully succeeded in helping me avoid looking like a fool with this email.

I give to: IRUSA
I rant at: PinkGingerale (BlogSpot)
I write for: Coming of Faith





If you had something to say to 1 million people, what would you say? I highly recommend the Listserve to EVERYONE. Meet strangers from across the globe, experience cultures, open your mind to strange and exciting things, offer a hand to someone in need. Every day I get one e-mail that makes me smile wide, and I learn something. Everyone has experienced something that no one else in the world has experienced. This is what makes us unique, while bringing us all together. Join us in connecting the world 🙂

I’m not sponsored by The Listserve, I just wanted to share.

Self-Checkout

Today felt a little weird.
I went to the grocery store and got in line at self-checkout of course, because I’m the fastest self-checkout girl in the world. But I can’t help but notice that all the people who need to check out get into longer lines instead of lining up behind me. And this happens OFTEN. I try to start off speedy so that people will see that I’m not some foreigner girl that doesn’t know how to use the machine… but even a person that’s new to the states would PROBABLY be able to handle it. But I can’t even be that speedy because if I mess up something, the inconspicuous lane number will start flashing uncontrollably and summon the employees for help, and then I’d be living up to this stereotype that I don’t know anything because I wear a scarf and probably don’t speak English. So I have to be super efficient and get all my items swiped and into my reusable bags (nobody notices I’m SAVING THE PLANET), all while trying to balance the weight correctly so that it doesn’t stop me and prompt me to “remove an item from the bagging area” because the weights aren’t matching up. Smart aleck machines. It’s a tough sport, this self-checkout. The feeling afterwards is perfect. Because I’m always speedy, the people who avoid getting behind me end up WAY behind because I’m the fastest self-checkout girl in the world.

Or, they could just be lining up in the next line because that line offers Coke as an alternative to Pepsi. Who knows?