Colorado

The first time I went to Colorado, I hated it. I was there for a week on business, and there were literally three blizzards during my stay. I remember eating every single meal in the hotel for about 4 days straight. Not the most enjoyable experience. But ya know what? You make the most of it. I met the Muslim community and found some of the most dedicated and aspiring young people of all the places I’ve been. Before the blizzards, I attended some programs they had put on for Black History Month, and I was really impressed by how diverse and accepting the community is. I’ll share some photos eventually of Minkailu and my adventures in trekking through the blizzard but for now, a photo of summer:
from our ride up to Mt. Estes earlier this year – Abdullah, Nunu and I

Colorado is SO BEAUTIFUL. Living in California really makes me miss the greenery I was blessed with in Virginia my whole life, so it was nice to see such lush hills and mountains, and rivers and creeks flowing nearby. This trip was a vast change from the weather and conditions I experienced on my past trip. I can’t wait to continue exploring the next time around ๐Ÿ™‚ I don’t think I’ll go back in the winter unless there’s a 4-wheel drive car available at the car rental!

The Grandest of Canyons

a few days ago i took a short trip to the Grand Canyon. how crazy is that to be able to say?

Minkailu and i spontaneously drove up from Phoenix after work, took a short hike down Bright Angel Trail in the wrong shoes and just stared out into the never-ending twists and turns of the canyon imagining what kind of life the valley below held.

looking into the canyon gives you such a strange feeling. your eyes can’t quite take in the magnificent views. it seems almost 2-D with all of the sediment layers and the extensive depth. if you have the chance, this is a site worth seeing in person.

we had a difficult but doable hike back up to the top and we walked over to a look-off point to see the sunset, an indicator of iftar. not too long after i squeezed through the crowds to sit on the ground by the edge did we start to see lightning in a distant thunder storm. it was incredible to say the least. everyone was oohing and aahing at the intense strikes of lightning and counting the seconds between thunder.

yep, that’s a rainstorm.
the sun finally set and we made our way back to the car while downing water and chomping on delicious beef jerky, as the storm grew closer.
alhumdulillah. i’ve now experienced the canyon twice. the first was with my family on a cross-country road trip. next time i’ll hike down to the valley and explore for longer than a few hours, inshallah!
side note: i should really start using my camera. excuse the quality of my phone pics. no photo could do the canyon justice anyway ๐Ÿ˜› hope you’ll have the chance to visit!

This is Strong

Today I’m wearing my “THIS IS STRONG: Mudderella” t-shirt to support Futures Without Violence and to remind myself of my own self-worth. There are so many warning signs for an unhealthy relationship that you may not recognize until it’s too late. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t ignore that feeling. A healthy relationship should feel GOOD to be part of. If you feel inadequate, guilty, or like you’re walking on egg shells all of the time, chances are you are not with theย right person. If you’ve stopped telling your family and friends about the person you’re with because they’re convinced he’s an asshole to you, chances are you’re not with the right person. If you need help leaving an unhealthy relationship, because it’s often extremely difficult to leave despite what people say, it’s OK to seek professional help.

Samirah sent me this article on some of the characteristics of a manipulator. I highly recommend reading this and similar articles on signs of manipulation and abuse.

And the article talks about guys, but I think it’s important to note that girls can be just as manipulative as men.

“Emotional manipulators have no sense of accountability. They take no responsibility for themselves or their behavior – it is always about what everyone else has “done to them”. One of the easiest ways to spot an emotional manipulator is that they often attempt to establish intimacy through the early sharing of deeply personal information that is generally of the ‘hook-you-in-and-make-you-sorry-for-me’ variety. Initially you may perceive this type of person as very sensitive, emotionally open and maybe a little vulnerable. Believe me when I say that an emotional manipulator is about as vulnerable as a rabid pit bull, and there will always be a problem or a crisis to overcome.” –cassiopaea
The article can be found here. And yes, I’ve linked it three times in this post because it’s THAT important.

my blog rules

I love looking back at my blog posts and seeing where my mind was at at different points in my life. I’ve grown so much, but still some things never change.

tip – music can make all the difference in your day. today, I recommend Marina and the Diamonds – I am not a Robot.

side note: i love andrew ward. ride or die.

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๏ปฟ 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? ๐Ÿ™‚ 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.