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The Bottom of the Coffee Cub

The Forgotten Voices

By: Hadiya Abdelrahman

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She held her child and tilted her head towards the sky
And she pleaded,
“help”.
She cut a piece of her sleeve and tied it around her bleeding daughters
head, and hummed a tune that only pleaded,
“help”.

Meanwhile, across the ocean, Ahmad got ready
For his big day.
That tie is too loose, he’ll need to buy another one soon.
His shoes, shined to perfection, fit perfectly. Today, he’ll be an active American citizen.
He’ll vote and he’ll campaign and he’ll shake
hands with the important people, and he’ll
smile at the right camera,
and the flash will show his bright smile.
When something begins to affect you personally,
you must be part of the change.
You, you, you.
I, I, I.

Somalia.
She closes her eyes and she places her hand over
Her baby son’s mouth
“please God, before you take his soul, send a miracle,
Don’t make me do this.
I beg of You”.
Her shoulder shakes and shakes as she tightly grips his
Little mouth- tearless sobs that shake the earth as her baby
Loses consciousness and finds his way behind the sun.
Its better, Ya Allah that you have him in heaven and have
him eat from its fruits than me seeing him disappear
In front of me.
The food truck will come soon.
I have faith.
They’ll come.

Meanwhile, the Prince of the oil wells purchases a new yacht.
This time it will be different.
We’ll purchase a new mansion by the water,
And make sure it’ll have a little personal port for
Our new water ride.
Yes, yes. Bring your friends.
Are they young, and blonde, and as beautiful as you are?
Yes, all expenses paid. I’ll even buy you all new dresses.
A blank check.
For your pretty blue eyes.

Afghanistan.
He sits near his grandchild’s gravestone.
“I hope this weather won’t make the flowers die.
Allah, make the harsh weather pass over Hasan’s grave.
He shares his stories with the flowers, and they tell me how he’s doing.
I don’t want him to not find me there to laugh
at his tales.” Just let it pass.
Later on the day, he limps to the nearest aid building
to bring some wheat home to feed Sarah and Zahra.
“Maybe this time, they’ll give me some light to put back into their eyes.
They’ll stop asking why their mother isn’t coming home.”

Meanwhile,
Everyone else pleads to be accepted.
I’ll give you my money,
But just hold me into your arms
And cradle me the way you seem to cradle your own kind.
I’ll ignore their third world pleas, just make me become a part of you.
I am you, you are me.
‘help’ I AM YOU. YOU ARE ME.
‘HELP.’ ACCEPT ME.
‘HELP.’

No one hears them over their own voice. It dwindles in volume. Then dies.

Sisters Claim

By: Hadiya Abdelrahman

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Muslim women have always been strong members of the Islamic society for centuries. They have been scholars, teachers, soldiers, merchants, and in highly respected positions throughout Islamic history. Then why is it that Muslim women are regressing in roles in today’s Islamic outlook? Every time I listen to a lecture geared towards Muslim women, they are spoken about in roles limited to motherhood and being a loyal and loving wife. We repeatedly hear the hadeeths of the value of a mother and a wife, yet we never hear the value of an educated Muslim woman who also works for the bettering of the Muslim Ummah. Are they not also important players in the making of this Ummah? Is Aisha not one of the most important figures in the Prophet’s life? Is she not the one that brought us the many narrations of Hadeeth that help us lead our lives in the footsteps of the Prophet (SAW)? We have many stories of women who stood up for what they believed in, women who fought and were killed for standing firm in their faith, women who stood firmly next to the Prophet when their whole family stood against them, women who sacrificed everything for the cause of Islam and never looked back.

Women who seem to be buried in our books.

Growing up, I learned about these brave and strong Muslimahs in elementary and middle school. As I got older and more mature, they began to fade away from my textbooks and replaced by stories of a Muslim women limited to the home. Don’t get me wrong, a successful home is what makes a successful nation. It all starts at home. Yet, when a Muslim woman, who is known to have fought in battles, known to have participated in the first community’s decision making, is only known to be nothing more than a machine made for the home, seems very disheartening. What happened to the great women we were encouraged as kids to follow? Khadija bint Khuwaylid, Aisha bint Abu Bakr, Ramla bint Abu Sufyan, Asma bint Abu Bakr, Fatima bint Muhammad, Nusayba the great warrior, the Shaheeda Sumaya bint Khubbat. And many more.

We are not defined by our marriage and our children alone. We, Muslim women, are defined by our strength, our bravery, our wisdom. Muslim women were integral at the start of Islam. Many were forced to sacrifice all that they loved for the message of Islam. They had to leave their families, their husbands, sometimes, their own children just because they uttered and believed in, ‘La Illaha Illa Allah, Muhammad Rasul Allah’. Their strength is admirable and desirable.

Muslim women and men must realize that the woman’s legacy in Islamic history is very important. She is not only confined to the realms of the home. A Muslim woman’s strength is one that illuminates the public but with her wisdom, helps light her private home. Muslim speakers have to start recognizing their contributions to history and speak about them more often. How will the Ummah ever rise when one of their most important foundations is still far behind?

Sisters, reclaim.

Drowned in Colors

By: Hadiya Abdelrahman

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The Prophet said: Let people stop boasting about their ancestors. One is only a pious believer or a miserable sinner. All men are sons of Adam, and Adam came from dust (Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi).

“I am not being racist, but sister, you must be careful of them (insert nationality or color)”.

We are the nation of Muhammad. We are a nation that is defined by its faith, and not the color of its people. Yet, what have we become? We pride ourselves to be followers of a religion that is free of racism. That the only way we judge a person is by their faith and never their background or skin tone. Then why is it that the we have become the most racist of people? We quickly jump to reassure non-Muslims, that unlike other religions, we do not have any tolerance towards racism or inequality based on color. Yet, we soon come to realize that although Islam demands its followers to rid themselves of arrogance that accompanies racism, we, Muslims, have a difficult time following through with it. Our masajid are unofficially, the “Egyptian masjid” or the “Pakistani Masjid, or the “Palestinian masjid”. We do not attempt to erase the borders of racism; we only seem to reinforce them. Do we not remember Prophet Muhammad’s last speech? Have we not looked upon his powerful words as a message in which we lead our lives? Did the Prophet not say,

“O people, Remember that your Lord is One. An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a black has no superiority over white, nor a white has any superiority over black, except by piety and good action (Taqwa).

Indeed the best among you is the one with the best character (Taqwa).” We pride ourselves with features we were born with. We pride ourselves over a color we did not choose.We look upon ourselves as something we have created without ever considering the Creator. The gift of the heavens was not bestowed upon you when you were born fairer skinned than the rest. The gift of the golden tongue was not given to you when you were raised speaking Arabic. And you certainly are not from the chosen ones if you happen to be from the ‘better’ tribe in Pakistan. We have become a people where Islamic words hang as paintings on our walls, but never in our hearts. We have become a people that faith is spoken about, yet never seen through action. To us, the nur of Iman does not glow on the faces of the dark ones. We sometimes acknowledge the light, yet never acknowledge the one that is being lighted. We can sing praises of the good African American brother who stands shoulder to shoulder with us in salah, yet we cannot bring ourselves to recognize him as a potential for our sister. When has the ummah of Muhammad become so shallow? Where the depth of their faith is determined by the color of those reflecting at the surface? Do we not realize that at the time of death we will all be wrapped by the same simple cloth? We will be questioned about what lies within us, not what we are created with. Our reluctance to break outside the ethnic shell is one of the main factors why our Ummah has become as powerless as it is. Our masajid have become cultural centers of those who are nostalgic of a past in a country where their mother tongue is spoken. Our MSAs have become the “South Asian” or “Arab” organizations. We boast of the diverse ummah of Muhammad, yet we have become the antithesis of his message.

Shoulder to shoulder. Feet to feet. Your eyes on the ground. Stand before Allah. Everything fades but the immense power of Allah. You do not care who stands next to you, for he is your brother. She is your sister. We bow our heads, praying that Allah accepts us. We are on the same journey. Break the boundaries of race. Spit out the seed of arrogance. Remember, dust to dust. Nothing determines our worth except our Iman. We are given a test, a trail version before the full purchase, so do not waste it on trivialities of color, of culture, of mother tongues. This all fades away in front of the immensity of our actions and deeds that determines our akhira. It is not the whiteness of your skin, but the purity of your heart that will determine your worth. Whether you are an Arab, South Asian, Spanish, White, or Black, it is a white cloth you will be wrapped with as you are lowered into the ground. Free yourself from the chains of arrogance and racism, and become, once again, the Ummah of the Prophet Muhamad (SAW).

Brave Muslim

By: Hadiya Abdelrahman

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“Oh you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even though it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, be he rich or poor, Allah is a better protector to both (than you). So follow not your lusts, lest you may avoid justice, and if you distort your witnesses or refuse to give it, verily, Allah is ever well acquainted with what you do.” (Surah Nisa: 135)

Turn on your TV. Read your papers. Listen to your radios. Death tolls appear next to celebrity gossip. Murders, occupations, poverty, and injustice appear next to clothing ads. Numbers of the dead in result of poverty and war skyrocket daily. We do not blink when we hear stories of injustice. And if we hear accounts of injustice and oppression, we make excuses for ourselves as to why we can’t help. Simply, we have become a desensitized people to issues that we, as Muslims, are obligated to ending. We have closed our eyes, muted our mouths, and blocked our ears from the sad realities in front of us. I do not know why we have become indifferent to injustice. I do not know why we do not stand up and fight oppression. Is it fear? Or is it that we simply do not care? Have we not all heard the famous hadith that states, “The believers in their affection, compassion and love for one another is like one single body. If a part of it suffers from pain, the whole body will suffer in pain.” Then why is it that Iraq lost a million of its people and we did not flinch? Or that Palestine has been occupied for 62 years and we seem unfazed? Or that Somalia buried thousands upon thousands of its hungry dead? Or that Pakistan wakes up and sleeps on the distant sound of drones? Or. Or. Or.

Oh Allah, we have become too numb to feel. Too scared. Too caught up with our own lives. Too ignorant.

Too selfish.

I do not know what holds us back. Truth is a voice that speaks louder than lies. Then why are we, as Muslims, too scared to raise it? Why can we not stand with the oppressed and needy? We are too comfortable with leading comfortable lives, going to comfortable lectures that preach comfortable topics, in where we can go home feeling comfortably spiritual, and comfortably sleep on it. I often ask myself, what will make them rise? When its their turn? And sadly, I see this as true. With the recent signing of the NDAA, I see a panic of petitions, facebook statuses, twitter posts, and various methods of shock and outrage over the fact that ‘our’ rights have been violated. Oppression isn’t an idea, we, Muslims Americans, fancy when it happens to us, but knowing that it happens across the world to our fellow Muslims does not seem to make us lose any sleep. Although I do not believe oppression, hunger, or injustice has a religion, it saddens me to see that Muslims are not standing up for Muslims when it is embedded in our religion to do just that. We are not an ‘each man to himself’ faith, we are a faith that embodies a painting in where varieties of colors and shapes beautifully compliment each other, where if one color or stroke is missing, it has lost its beauty. Presently, we seem to be staring at an empty canvas.

Oppression and injustice does not need to reach our doorsteps to fight against it. It does not need to claim a loved one for us to speak out. Educate others of the plight of your brothers and sisters in Chechnya, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, China, etc. Do not wait till someone must speak for you, too. Do not hide behind your fears of being ‘too political’ or your excuses of ‘it’s not my thing’. Rise and speak. Be heard. Remember that,

“He who allows oppression shares the crime.” [Desiderius Erasmus]

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