Monthly Archives: June 2008

Until I get back to writing…

enjoy this video. (I’m a temporary hiatus). It’s nasheed which means it has a great taste without all of the calories. 🙂

Protected: Uncommon Ground: Somali Immigrants and African-Americans PART 1

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Protected: Uncommon Ground: Somali Immigrants and African-Americans PART 2

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Ode to Jamaican patwa

I found this video on youtube and it made me realize how much I miss hearing pawta everywhere I go. That’s one of the reasons I miss South Florida. It’s like being in the Caribbean without actually being in the Caribbean. These days I don’t get to speak it as much as I like. But I oh how I love to hear it and oh how I love talk it when I do get the chance. Big all Jamaican, all Caribbean massive!

And another video (dis gyal mek mi laff):

A song that describes me…how did she know?

One day I’ll find relief
I’ll be arrived and I’ll be a friend to my friends who know how to be friends

One day I’ll be at peace
I’ll be enlightened and I’ll be married with children and maybe adopt

One day I will be healed
I will gather my wounds forge the end of tragic comedy

I have been running so sweaty my whole life
Urgent for a finish line
And I have been missing the rapture this whole time
Of being forever incomplete

One day, my mind will retreat, and I’ll know god and I’ll be constantly one with her night dusk and day
One day I’ll be secure, like the women I see on their 30th anniversaries

I have been running so sweaty my whole life
Urgent for a finish line
And I have been missing the rapture this whole time
Of being forever incomplete

Ever unfolding
Ever expanding
Ever adventurous and torturous
But never done

One day, I will speak freely
I’ll be less afraid
And measured outside of my poems and lyrics and art
One day I will be faith-filled
I’ll be trusting and spacious authentic and grounded and whole

I have been running so sweaty my whole life
Urgent for a finish line
And I have been missing the rapture this whole time
Of being forever incomplete

Alanis Morissette “Incomplete”

About blogging…

The other day I was having a conversation with a friend of mine about blogging and whether I have a responsibility to the people- you- who are reading what I write. She was saying that I do. I disagreed with her for the most part. I acknowledged that I have some degree of responsibility for the things I’m writing about but I also felt (feel) like I never posited myself as the resident mufti or advice columnist. I am merely sharing my thoughts, opinions, beliefs, and experiences with you. Sometimes my posts can be serious in nature, other times they are not. I argued that I didn’t start this blog so that I could create a bunch of mini-Jamericans. I’m not trying to control anyone’s mind…well maybe my husband’s but that’s another subject, lol.

From this blog’s inception I started out by saying that I knew my views would spark controvesry at times.  I felt (and still feel) the Muslim community is steeped in denial when it comes to certain issues. We do not want to talk about or deal with certain things so everyone falls back on the Islamic ideal. (Which in turn causes many of us to behave as if we are perfect; like we always behave in accordance to Islamic principles). Meanwhile, little is being been done to change the condition of our community. I’ve also felt (and still feel) that certain people’s voices have not been heard in the Muslim community. By addressing certain subjects on my blog I hoped to engage in an act of resistance. Speaking out by blogging can be a good way to do that.

After our conversation ended, I reflected on some of the things my friend said. I started asking myself some questions:

If the words I write encourage someone to go against their beliefs or principles am I to blame? And if so, what about their own personal responsibility? Choice? Where is the line between challenging someone to think and encouraging them to do something wrong?

Are certain subjects taboo or off-limits? If so, what subjects should I refrain from blogging about?

Should I censor myself when  blogging about an issue or subject? And if so, to what extent? Would I be bowing to the Muslim (or non-Muslim) status quo if I did?  Would my voice lose its authenticity? Would I still be “talking it plain?” 

At the same time, I am a human being. I have my flaws, I make mistakes and I have my shortcomings. (Some of which are apparent by now). I’ve made the wrong decision far too many times and I’m sure I will continue to make more bad decsions in the future.  I’m growing and constantly evolving. By the mercy of Allah, my views may change on a particular subject.  Will that affect the way you (as a reader) live your life? Should it? After all, you don’t know me and I don’t know you. But then again we are a community of sorts…

I do think about how one person’s actions (or thoughts) can affect other people. For example, my friend and I were talking about a sister we knew who was a hardcore niqabi. She was always the first person to speak about the beauty of hijab and niqab, how much she loved it and why other sisters should wear it. Unfortunately, this sister is going through some things in her life and she has taken off everything. Whether she liked or not her decision to “de-hijab” came as a blow to some of the sisters who were around her. It made them question some things about themselves and what they believed in. Should they though? If this sister is “going through some things” shouldn’t they allow her space to deal with her issues? After all, none of us are angels or prophets. We are human beings and sometimes human beings lose their way. The only consistent in life is Allah. But I digress…

Recently, one of blog readers told me that some of my posts are a bit risquĂ©. When I asked how so I was told that my music posts were a good example. Really?  Of all the things I say on here music makes the list? By now many of you know where I stand on the issue of music. Again, where I stand today may not necessarily be where I stand  tomorrow. Who knows, it may stay the same. But am I encouraging those of you who believe that music is haram to listen to it? NO. Absolutely not. If you believe music is haram, please know, it is not my intention to change your mind or recruit you to the “other side.” I think you should simply  ignore my music posts. (And I believe that’s what you have been doing anyway, right?) Or am I being unrealistic? Because sometimes its easier to engage in something that is haram (or you believe to be haram) when you see other people doing it. I don’t know…

So what is my responsibility? What is yours? And is there any cyber land? 

 

I Aint Trippin’

I saw this on Marvalus View’s Blog and I wanted to try it too.

If you would like to play:
1. Put Your itunes/ music player on Shuffle
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
3. YOU MUST WRITE THAT SONG NAME DOWN NO MATTER WHAT!!!
Let’s GO!!!

IF SOMEONE SAYS “IS THIS OKAY” YOU SAY?
Etana, “I am not afraid”
Okay… I sound crazy!

WHAT WOULD BEST DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONALITY?
Vivian Jones “Rebel Woman”
Yes! “Silent river runs deep.” Suh it guh.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE IN A GUY/GIRL?
Nadine Sutherland “Come to Me”
Yeah, he’s gotta come to me! This is a song about a man who comes to his woman when he feels down, in the mood or whatever because he knows she’ll take care of him. Yeah, that’s me.

HOW DO YOU FEEL TODAY?
Poetic Pilgrimage “Unlikely MC”
True. Muslim B-girls represent!

WHAT IS YOUR LIFE’S PURPOSE?
Amy Winehouse “You sent me flying”
To fly? Or to be sent flying? That is the question.

WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO?
Kanye West “Flashing Lights”
Hmmm…not really.

WHAT DO YOUR FRIENDS THINK OF YOU?
Tarrus Riley “Stay with you”
It’s good to know they’ll be around no matter what.

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR PARENTS?
Tyrese “Lights On”
EWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT VERY OFTEN?
Betty Wright “No pain, no gain”
Definitely!

WHAT IS 2+2?
Wayne Wonder “For my Love”
I don’t get it.

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR BEST FRIEND?
Guru feat Vivian Green “Fine and Free”
She is…indeed. So if there are any single Muslim brothers out there…

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE PERSON YOU LIKE?
Maroon 5 “Back at your door”
Yep! I hope to be back at his door soon, insha’allah.

WHAT IS YOUR LIFE STORY?
Sy Smith “Conflict”
This has to be the most true song of them all!

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP?
Althea and Donna “Uptown Rankin’”
More true than the last one. “See mi in mi heels and ting!”

WHAT DO YOU THINK WHEN YOU SEE THE PERSON YOU LIKE?
Buju Banton “Your Night Tonight”
Indeed it is.

WHAT DO YOUR PARENTS THINK OF YOU?
Johnny Osborne “Rock it Tonight”
They know I used to live in the dancehall. “Dub plate playin’ in the ghetto tonight”

WHAT WILL YOU DANCE TO AT YOUR WEDDING?
Tanya Stephens “Still a go lose him”
Uh…let’s hope not. This is a song about a wife who loses her husband because her husband is unhappy so his mistress is telling her she’s going to lose him not matter what she does.

WHAT WILL THEY PLAY AT YOUR FUNERAL?
Macka Diamond “Lilly”
Suits my personality but I’d never want this to be played at my funeral. This is a song about a woman whose man has her in the house washing clothes, cooking, cleaning etc. while he’s out painting the town.

WHAT IS YOUR HOBBY/INTEREST?
Lady G “No tek talk”
LOL! “Wi nuh tek check, win nuh tek talk!” So I’m interested in shutting down people who want to talk bad about me. I’ll take it…

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST SECRET?
Krosfyah “French Kiss”
Hehehe!

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR FRIENDS?
Ignition “I know carnival”
I do. (And my friends know I do). You can’t see me wukking up at home?

WHAT SHOULD YOU TITLE THIS POST AS?
Cherish “I Aint Trippin'”

B-girl Anthem

“Yesterday I saw a B-girl crying,
I walked up and asked what’s wrong, she told me that the radio’s been playing the same song all day long…
so I told her I got something you’ve been waiting for, I got something you’ve been waiting for…”

Yes, I was somewhat of a B-girl back in the day. I couldn’t rap, I couldn’t flow but I could dance. Now I’m retired but it’s still in me… 

Thanks to The Roots (in the youtube video posted above) for recognizing our suffering. Last year was a good year for me in terms of hip hop. I actually found some I could listen to without my ears feeling like they were going to burn and then fall off.  Between Talib Kweli, Common, Lupe Fiasco, Amir Sulaiman, Tyson and now The Roots, the B-girl lurking in me feels a little better. *sigh of relief*

Happy Father’s Day…to my Mom!

Unfortunately, my father has not been much of a parent to me. The truth of the matter is that he has been absent for most of my life.  He has not been there for any of the important moments: when I took my first step, when my first tooth came in, when I started primary school (elementary school in the U.S.), graduated high school or college. He was not there when I experienced my first heartbreak, broke my first bone, went through puberty, converted to Islam or got married. If you ask him what I majored in, which university I graduated from, what I do for a living, what my hobbies are or even the name of my husband he would not know. The reality is that he doesn’t know me at all.  I am a stranger to him and he is a stranger to me.

But my mom has been here. She has been the one to support me through it all. So I say Happy Father’s Day to all the mothers out there who have had to be the mother and father all rolled into one!

I know I’m getting older because…

1) I no longer care about purchasing name brand sneakers. My sister who’s 21 was commenting on my payless bought sneakers. She was saying that “everyone” knows that Champion is now a Payless brand. I still do not care AT ALL. Aside from the fact the I seldom wear sneakers (I’m a wedge, platform, stiletto boots kinda gyal), my conscience will not allow me to spend $100 or more on sneakers that only cost $20 or less to make. And what about the factories where the workers are being paid like $5 a day? No thanks.

2) I am starting to use phrases like “these kids today” or saying “these young people today have a sense of entitlement.”(YIKES)! This is especially true when I speak about pop culture and it’s influence on youth. The other day I was lecturing someone about the reggae and dancehall music I grew up with it. I was saying how slack (slack=nasty) the music has become. Gone are the days of innuendo and double entendre. It’s in-your-face, blunt, no-holds-barred language. I say the same thing about television, movies, and even the way young people behave.

3) I can remember when microwaves first came out (remember how big they were?), when computers were not accesible to everyone (remember how simple the programs were?), when there was no such thing as email or instant messaging and when cell phones looked like this:

Naturally, young people today (hear I go, saying it again!) cannot fathom a life without any of those items. I remember using the now obsolete typewriters! Gosh I’m old!

4) I’m getting into interior design.When I was in my early 20’s interior design consisted of a futon, some milk crates, plastic drawers from Target and a nice bed spread or comforter. Now I’m thinking about thread counts, swatches, and decorative pillows. Yes, I have embraced my inner Martha Stewart! (P.S. my mom bought me a comforter set with an exquisite thread count for my birthday).

5) I actually cook. Gone are the days of ordering pizza or living on Ramen Noodles. Nowadays I’m cooking everything from Jamaican to Soul Food to East Indian cuisine. I still haven’t learned how to make one of my favorite dishes in the world:

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It’s called “Doro Wot” and hails from Ethiopia. It’s basically chicken stewed in Berbere (a combination of Ethiopian spices). It is eaten with Injera and served with a hard-boiled egg. Now I know it may not look (or sound) appetizing but I can assure you it’s delicious! Oneday, insha’allah, I’ll learn how to cook it. Until then to Fasika Ethiopian Restaurant I go. (For the record, I do own some Berbere paste which I add to my cornmeal coating and fry with fish. I made it for my husband- who has never tasted Ethiopian food in his life- and he loved it)! Man, I’m getting hungry…

6) Some of the slang being used in songs and by youth today has to be explained to me. And it’s probably for the best but still…when did that start happening? If it weren’t for my sister I’d be completely clueless. I suppose this is what happens when you don’t have children or interact with them on a regular basis. I was thoroughly embarrassed when my friend kept saying “jawn” and I had no idea what she was talking about. Worse yet, if you know anything about Caribbean dialects you know that they change and evolve as much as slang. I won’t say I’m completely behind on my patwa but there are some new phrases people are using that I do not. Sometimes I hear myself and realize I talk patwa like my older aunties or my grandmother. *hangs head in shame*

7) My friends who had kids when we were in our late teens or early 20’s are the proud parents of teenagers. I am now that older person I used to dread who said things like “I haven’t seen you since you were a baby! Look at you, you’re all grown up!” or “You’re taller than me now!” I know how embarrassing it can be for a teenager when an adult approaches them and says things like that yet I keep doing it. At least I’m not pinching their cheeks…(Sadly, some of my friends are grandmothers! Can you imagine? My half sister is a grandmother at 34, which means I’m a great aunt at 33!)   

8 ) I’ve been Muslim longer than some of the aforementioned kids have been alive. Yes, it’s true, I qualify as a “Muslim veteran.”Yet I still feel like a baby when it comes to Islam.  Alhamdulillah, I have learned a lot and grown in many ways but I’m still trying to find my way; still trying to strike the perfect balance between deen and dunya. 16 years.. mashallah!

Old School pic of me when I was a new Muslim:

Check out my hijab style!