The Mental Toll of Being a Muslim in a Post-9/11 World

“The world is a prison for the believers…”

The other day I was speaking with a co-worker of mine who is Black American. We were discussing the mental and emotional toll that racism takes on people of color. During the course of our conversation she asked me a question that has me doing some serious self-reflection. She wanted to know what coping strategies I had developed in order to deal with the discrimination and prejudice against Muslims in our post-9/11 world. More pointedly, she wanted to know if being a visible representative of Islam (wearing hijab every day) has taken a mental and emotional toll on me- especially since the bias and discrimination comes from people of various ethnicities.

When I ask myself how well I’m doing I’m forced to admit that I’m having some trouble. At times I’m angry, other times I’m sad, sometimes I’m frustrated. Generally, I’m okay. I have times when I don’t let things get to me no matter how hateful or ridiculous they are. Then there are times when I’m deeply troubled by how acceptable it has become to degrade Islam and Muslims. My co-worker said that I seem so calm when I talk about my daily experiences. I had to laugh at that one. When I think about it, one of the things I’ve noticed about myself is that my patience is wearing thin with people and their ignorance. There is a silent rage bubbling inside of me and I pray that Allah gives me a way to work through it before it comes out. The source of my rage, you ask? Years of experiencing the following:

  • Being told to “go back to my country.”
  • Being asked where I’m really from.
  • People assuming I’m oppressed, anti-American, and backwards.
  • Not having my own people recognize me as one of them- this includes Jamaicans, Black Americans and even family members. (A distant cousin of mine was visiting from Mississippi. When he came into the house he started hugging everyone in the family but gave me a simple hello. When I explained that I was his cousin he seemed confused. How could this ‘foreign-looking’ lady be his family member? In an attempt to lighten the mood another one of my cousins made a joke about camels…*sigh*)
  • Being complimented on how well I speak English on one hand but having people speak to me as if I am three years old on the other. (It just happened today!)
  • People suspecting me of being a terrorist.
  • People assuming that I am unintelligent and/or passive because I have a scarf on my head. I am still wondering how I can be passive and a terrorist at the same time. (I’m thinking of Azhar Usman’s joke about simultaneously embodying the characteristics of Osama bin Laden and Gandhi- names he has been called by ignorant individuals).
  • The stark contrast between the ways that people receive me in the professional circles I move in; the reactions ranging from fear to hate to curiosity to discomfort to disregard to simply being okay with my presence. The crazy-making part about it is that I never know which one it will be or who will have what reaction to me.
  • The negative portrayal of Muslims in the media in general and Muslim women in particular.
  • Being asked some of the most ridiculous, asinine questions I’ve ever heard in my life.
  • People automatically assuming I’m a Somali refugee (with the entire range of positive and negative behaviors that accompany their assumptions.)

And the list goes on. I told my co-worker that I feel like one more incident could push me over the edge. I think I will snap on somebody. (May Allah save me). I came really close to snapping not long ago. I was walking down the street, minding my own business, marveling at the beautiful weather we were having when this guy rode up next to me on his bike and yelled, “Go back to your country!” Before I could stop myself, I was screaming at the top of my lungs, “This is my countrrrrry!”

The rage I feel is not unfamiliar though. Being a Black person in America, it was always there. As Dr. Joyce Leary so eloquently explains in her book Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome (and I paraphrase of course), many African-Americans have rage that is simmering just beneath the surface of our consciousness. This rage is a result of the experiencing the effects of racism, injustice and discrimination on a regular basis. As a Muslim living in a post-9/11 world, I feel as if my rage has been compounded. I have NEVER, IN ALL OF MY LIFE experienced such overt racism as I have since those towers fell on that tragic day in September 2001.

Aside from the discrimination I face outside of the Muslim community, as you well know by now, there are problems within the Muslim community. We have our share of internal division based on race, nationality, class, gender, religious interpretation, educational level and so. But that is not all. Like many Muslims, I suffer from a social schizophrenia of sorts. I live in two very different worlds. There is the world outside of the masjid (where pretty much anything goes) and the world within it (where there is strict a code of conduct and religious parameters.) Ideally, we should behave the same way in the outside world as we do in the masjid. The reality- if we’re honest with ourselves anyway- is that many of us do not. Some of us are still trying to strike a balance between the masjid and the larger world. (I refuse to cut myself off from the world but don’t want to become completely absorbed in it either). I want to be a person of the “middle way.” In the end what I find is that I come across as liberal in comparison to many of the Muslims in my local community but ultra-conservative to the non-Muslims I interact with. It’s enough to drive someone crazy! I start to wonder where my psychological home is.

So how am I doing? I’m coping. I’m trying to remain positive. I ask for Allah’s help and his guidance. I try to think about all of the rewards Allah will give me for persevering during these trying times. (I’m seriously considering finding a therapist or life coach to help me gain some focus). But I’m human too. Sometimes I really want to cuss someone out. I want to scream. I want release my rage. Bear it to the world. Fortunately, (for me and for the world) I blog…

One World:

The Other one (is music that contains profanity- remember the rage):


14 responses to “The Mental Toll of Being a Muslim in a Post-9/11 World

  1. UmmMohebyAlIslam

    Keep your head up sister! I have all these emotions you described and couldn’t say it any other way. I have such disdain for the corporate world though; I can’t stand to be around the crabs in the buckets. I don’t think that they target me in particular because I’m a Muslimah, because they do it to each other.

    I made an agreement with my husband that I would be a stay at home wife. I just knew I would’ve gone off; and that was not going to be a nice thing at all. My hatred for this screwing over people to get where you want to go mentality was driving me insane. It’s more than one way to work (on-line); so I’ve decided to do this. I do things now that will help others, like volunteering, and working with children and needy individuals. I’ve had long hard prayers of guidance sister. I thought why was I working among people I couldn’t stand, didn’t want to be around, and it was for financial gains for stuff I didn’t “need” but “wanted” and then I question myself. I asked myself if I needed 50 hijabs? Did I need 3 different types of bread in my cabinets? and so, mostly what I was working for was for excess. These are just examples, okay? I don’t own 50 hijabs, lol!

    However, I’ve truly let my husband be the “KING” of his castle, and of course me the “QUEEN” and I’m the calm to his storm. I treat my love with gloves as I’m carrying expensive gold. I feel his pain working outside the home. I feel his pain struggling, fighting, dealing with racism outside the home for me and the family. I’ve been there done that. If I can say, “my man, can do no wrong” in my eyes, lol! No, seriously. It has been a long hard decision for me and the family, but it’s working. It’s how I cope. I decide mostly what battles I want to fight. If its stressful, or would stress me out, I simply don’t do it.
    To be truthful though! I understand a lot of women can’t afford to stay at home. I understand some women don’t want to stay at home; but I can truly see why Allah(swt) made it that men are the protector and maintainers of women. We need that balance in the house. When two people are out fighting this battle everyday day in and day out;you both are too hyper from work. It takes its toll on a relationship. However, since women are nurturers we can indeed calm our husbands, and help him adjust to living outside work. If you both are so stress from work life. You both are seeking the same attention. The women are the balancer in the family. If you think I’m kidding; please notice how a mother can calm her sons, well most of the times.

    I pray for all the Muslim and Muslimahs who have this same struggles. In’sha’Allah, Allah will help you sister. Just remember even when you are at work among the wolves. Do recite the Quran and Allah names a lot.

  2. Mary Ann a .k.a. Sister Seeking

    Salaam’Alaikum sister,

    Please allow me to share what in my own emotional space has proven to be the nourishment for clear thinking, peace, and healthiness. I hope that some benefit can come out of sharing with with you and the silent readers who share the same struggles secretly.

    “It is a common consciousness. It touches everyone, everywhere. After almost twenty years of religious life, little by little I began to discover that what had made sense to me in the past, what had seemed tome to be essential to a formal religious commitment-long medieval dresses, and veils, child like obedience, passive acceptance of social customs from long past-no longer gave substance to life, no longer made sense of living, no longer spoke to me of God. Suddenly, I was lost amid the shards of the past with no clear destination in sight. I had only the sure certainty that where we were now was religious, as women, we had to leave if God was to be born anew in us in this time and this place. They are not comfortable moments, these glimpses beyond the now. They feel like infidelity. But they taste like life. Transformation is not happenstance; it is a revolution of the soul.”

    The Story of Ruth Twelve Moments in Every Woman’s Life by Joan D. Chittister
    Page 23 Chapter title “Transformation”

    “The question of course, is what to do with these questions, these old dissatisfactions, these upstart doubts. Swallow them back into the depths of the self, let them out a little at a time like steam out of a kettle, or risk the sweet lunacy of following them to the end, of embracing them, of going where they lead in the hope that the God who signals this journey for us will be there at its end? Safety lies on one hand, possible shipwreck on the other. Both of them, if unattended, are deadly to the soul. If I stay where I am and all my past life learning’s lie at waste, I die before my time. If I leave where I am, but my new questions are bogus, my call to new life nothing but a sham, I die in disgrace. It is indeed the crossroads of the soul. God stands in the dark of it, waiting for me to become the rest of me.”

    The Story of Ruth Twelve Moments in Every Woman’s Life by Joan D. Chittister
    Page 24 Chapter title “Transformation”

    “And yet loss, once reckoned, once absorbed, is a precious gift. No, I cannot be what I was before but I can be—I must be—something new. There is more of God in me; I discover in emptiness, that I have known in what I once took to be fullness. There are spiritual lessons to be learned from loss that can be barely divined by any other means and often despite ourselves. We learn, just when we think we have nothing, just when it feels that we have not one good thing left in the world, that what we do still have is ourselves. We have, deep down inside us what no one can take away, what can never be lost either to time or to chance: We have the self that brought us to this point—and more. We have fits of God in abundance, never noticed, never touched, perhaps, but a breath in us nevertheless, and waiting to be tapped. And more, whatever we have developed over the years in the center of ourselves—the girt; the hope; the calm; the bottomless, pulsating, irrepressible trust in the providence of God despite the turns of fortune—is here now to be mined like gold, scratched out and melted down, shaped and shined into a whole new life. We have within us the raw material of life. And we have it for the taking.”

    The Story of Ruth Twelve Moments in Every Woman’s Life by Joan D. Chittister
    Page 11 Chapter title “Loss”

  3. Mary Ann a .k.a. Sister Seeking

    Salaam’Alaikum sister,

    Here are my own personal thoughts, conclusions, and ideas that I have come to as a result of 11 years of being both a privately, and publicly observant Black Muslim woman.

    I’m not sharing this because I see my self as “the” authority or even “a” authority on the subject: I’m opening my self up because I can relate based strictly off of personal experience. I’m not going to sit up here and tell you: how to think, what to feel, or what to do—I don’t know about you honey, but I’ve experienced enough of that to last a life time or two.

    Here is how/where I see things from my own emotional, spiritual, and intellectual space:

    1) I’ve been an “open” book on the BAM blogsphere. I’ve made it no secret that my family and I benefited tremendously from seeking professional help and by seeking social support outside of the Muslim community. One reason I’ve been such an open book—knowing full well the consequences to revealing this type of personal information is that when I attended a UU grief and loss support group in my area, I discovered that other Muslims who were struggling with similar: religious, spiritual, emotional, mental, and family situations were there. What I know for sure is that black Americans in general have a legacy of 1) not getting help when we need it and 2) not telling others how to or when to get help—in other words Allah gave us limits and boundaries: times do become hard NOBODY on this earth can escape it but you or others can cross the line. The problem is when we don’t see or understand that the line has been crossed. Please don’t make the same mistakes I did sister: don’t walk into the gates of hell with your eyes wide shut.

    2) Let me share a painful reality that I came upon after listening to a BAM sister debate an IMM sister about homeschooling. Long story short, the IMM sister insisted that ALL Muslim children should be reared and educated in ONLY public schools so that non-Muslims would know about Islam, Muslims, and so that Muslims would learn about other religions. This is NOT an issue about home schooling versus Public/Private schools. This is NOT an issue about children or their well being. I put my guard down, and really tried to understand why this other sister felt she had a right to direct the education of all children. The issue was about being accepted by the non-Muslim public and Islam being mainstreamed via the public schools. Instead of just being honest and blunt she manipulated the issue in the disguise of something all parents hold dear and near: our child’s education. Again this NOT an issue about homeschooling.
    What I learned from that conversation (okay near screaming match)

    A- Evidently our entire community has become so desperate for acceptance, respect, and inclusion that we have dumped the obligation of evangelism on our children instead of placing it into the hands of trained persons like during the times of the Prophets pbta and the early Islamic caliphs and sultans.

    This is a major issue because just like it is not the responsibility of children lacking education, training, and mentoring in Islamic sciences to be held liable for our public reputation or image it not the responsibility of women who are also not educated and trained in Islamic sciences to be held liable for the public reputation or image of Islam and Muslims. This is a BURDEN. This is unreasonable request, or demand.

    People can spit on the teachings of the NOI but who ever managed that organization did do so very cleverly so that women and children did not bear the burden of evangelism. This group had effective methods and an infrastructure that both IMM and BAM communities lack—and based off the rate we are going will continue to lack.

    Asking Muslim women to drop out of the workforce, drop out of college, and drop out the family finances in order to wear hijab is spiritual abuse, and a cop out because we lack the courage, integrity to be adults in the real world where being self reliant, and managing your life is apart of living in the real world.
    One could make the argument that removing ones head scarf is a cop out—but is it really? What infrastructural support is in place so that we can do so comfortably? So that we can do safely? So that we can do so with out deprivation?

    Asking Muslim women, the mothers of civilization to endure more unnecessary stress, hardship, and deprivation on top of the stress, hardship, and deprivation that results from just being a wife, a mother, a woman is not healthy for our children—our future. You can’t give what you don’t have.

    Setting up support groups to just “talk” about the issue wont suffice this time: EVERYTHING has CHANGED. Encouraging people to call CAIR and become litigious wont suffice this time: EVERYTHING has CHANGED. The silent acceptance of NON-SALAFI hijabis on welfare wont suffice this time: EVERYTHING has CHANGED. Deceptive Muslim women who were already in executive, or senior management positions in either sector of the American work force PRIOR to veiling who go around deceptively misrepresenting their “success” to young impressionable hijabis wont suffice this time: EVERYTHING has CHANGED. Our religious communities “old” ways of so called dealing with this subject don’t and wont work anymore: EVERYTHING has CHANGED.
    I’ll conclude what’s on my heart by mention the following:

    -Prolonged stress, deprivation, and hardship WILL take its toll on your mind, body, soul—after that its just a matter of time before it becomes cancerous infecting your family relationships, work, etc. The question is not longer “what if” but “when”

    -It is easier to be ANYTHING but publicly Muslim right now. It is what it is. Our people have already been there and done that with out the burden of having terrorist related associations or activities on our back in earning our way into mainstream America. Its really, really, amazing that so many BAM’s have unconsciously accepted that by publicly identifying as yourself as a foreigner you sign up to carry that groups political burdens not only their benefits. This is your choice, this is your life, and like all other adults you half to deal with the consequences when preachers, teachers, and our numerous misleaders are gone in the wind. You will be held liable for your own career; your own wealth; and your own journey.

    I wish you well in your journey, and I hope that you come to a state of peace.
    Take care

  4. Pingback: “Freedom” « Smart Angry Women

  5. Sister I totally get you ! I was going througha similiar dilemma about this a few months back , anyways I did the Landmark forum which is only 3 and a half day course , consider. After I did the course i was like oh my gosh ! I so get people !

  6. Assalaamualaikum-
    I can definitely relate to your feelings of rage…but most of what I feel in my life is a type of isolation/loneliness. It may be because of the nature of my career (a PhD student/teaching assistant) which requires long hours of study or it may be because of the longing for connection (within my Muslim community, within my academic community) that ultimately seems to be forever deferred.

    The schizophrenic life is one that I can relate to. My mother used to say this is how she felt as a working women. At the masjid the separation between sexes, the kind of uniformity that exists there, was different than the requirements of being a professional and having to venture into the working world unsheltered from common traditions.

    I just don’t feel very connected to either part of my life-the professional or religious circles. I don’t fit the script in either one-in the working world I am in no way a stereotype of the silent,stony, passive non-personality having Muslim women. On the other hand, I also demand more freedom for myself than many Muslims think is proper for a sister. In some sense this creates a unique space where I am trying to carve out some type of existence that makes sense to me.

    BTW-I do enter the world in a headscarf-but in many ways this is the least of my problems. I feel reconciled to it-knowing that there are always good and bad days…

  7. ASA,

    Thank all of you commenting and for sharing your own coping strategies. I’m still reflecting, thinking…

    Amal, which landmark course did you take?

  8. , find the American one , excellent ! now I have a jewish Israeli couch couching me , it is all about communication and breaking the social agreements and so on .

  9. Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem,
    Awwwh miskeen, I hear what your saying…but things are definatley different here in DC. Have you ever thought about the fact that it’s your location as a muslimah?

    Believe me..I’ve been discriminated against. Post 9/11 : I’ve been terrorized by my boss, unemployable due to my last name–regardless of what I could do, penniless…but you know…thru it all…I’ve had my DEEN and my Lord.

    Currently I work near the white house, take the subway everyday, see ONE hijabi that works near here. But I can say I’ve had no problems. NO one has ever told me to ‘go back where I came from”..allthough people won’t sit next to me on public transpo (whatever).

    But don’t think discrimination doesn’t happen here in this area.

    I pray for your strength, the increase of your Eman, Tawfiq and Ihsan.

    Insha~allah other muslimah will reach out to you and give you the support you need. You are not alone nor in the minority. I luv your blog, your ideas and your passions for your Deen.


    Umm Amirah

  10. Mary Ann a.ka. Sister Seeking

    Salaam’Alaikum Jamerican

    I’ve been reflecting on your post here AND praying for you–and the rest of us in a similar situation.
    I know you are still “chewing” on our comments but I have some other thoughts, and I wanted to clarify a few statements please and thank you. : )

    I’d like to state for the “record” that I’ve been hijabing consistently the entire time I’ve been Muslim–including through the 9-11 terror attacks.
    I’ve worked the entire time (11 years) I’ve been Muslim with the exception being pregnancy and up to my daughters pre-school years.
    I’m currently an “entry level” supervisor or site leader in a purely administrative and customer service function for a county government citizens assistance.
    I’m enrolled in college pursing both a legal studies diploma, and a bachelors degree in Criminal science.
    I too live in the MD, DC, VA area.

    Before, I state anything else, I wanted to say that it is NOT my intention to attack the validity of Hijab theologically; it is not my intention to pass judgement or condemn sisters who do or don’t hijab; and it is not my intention to deliberately discourage sisters from hijabing. My intention is to present the hard cold fact minus the myths, legends, emotions, and falsehoods peddled so often in our religious community about the impact of hijabing in the workforce–as well as its long term consequences–good or bad. I read Colin Powell’s autobiography when I was a teenager and American, I’ll never forget something he said: “don’t make decisions for other people, and don’t let others make decision for you.” When I hear or in this case see a discussion about this specific issue where the hard cold facts are omitted, I can’t allow my conscience to ignore it becuase the stakes are too high for some of us. When people deliberately omit information they are preventing you and others from making an informed decision–they are also lying.
    This is my issue, and this is the position I was attempting to come from. I’d also like to reiterate again that I don’t see my self as an authority on this issue just a lay person with experience, who strives to think clearly, even when life challenges fog up my mind’s rear view mirror. : )

    NUFF my “add lib” : )

    Some other issues, ideas, and solutions to consider:

    1) There is a HUGE difference between a “job” and a “career.” Anybody dressed any old way can get a “job”. But if you’re seeking a career,– a rewarding vocational journey in which you benefit as well has humanity–completing for that type of career takes thorough, consistent, preparation, and coaching from a career coach or mentor. Yes, you can “get a job” with a career and “some” Muslims have enjoyed a career while veiled. My issue here with my fellow Muslims is that when hijab is discussed in this context this distinction is rarely addressed, especially with educated BAM sisters. I know darn well, that you, and nobody else in their right mind went to college completing a masters degree or a PhD.d to remain confined to some entry level job ( read confined to answering phones and performing clerical work) You and others spent a portion ( 5, 10 years) of your life pursuing excellence and achievement for a reason. Furthermore, anybody who has financial obligations rather childless or not knows darn well, you can not live off Americas median income and live well. And, if you came from a family that gave up every nickle and dime they could to finance your education, and your family members come to the realization that your appearance is holding you back, be prepared for their wrath–and it will come no matter how cleverly disguised. Situations like this have happened to Muslim sisters, and one sisters family went as far as to call Child Protective Services on her to force her out of hijab into a senior management position THEY found for her. Stories like this are kept on the down low unfortunately to the detriment of others who share similar familial situations. I’m not saying this right or that its wrong–I’m just saying that it does and IS happening.

    ** I just briefly wanted to mention that when I tried discussing this issue with a sister locally, I saw just how sick some of us have allowed this issue to make us, when she slipped up and said: if your going to into law enforcement your deliberately choosing a career where you half to take off your hijab and you are going to make any real money starting off anyway.**

    2) I attended a trade school in order to become a professional secretary. During my training I ran across a few Muslims from Morocco. All of us entered the workforce upon completion of our program. The Moroccan women had horrendous struggles on their job. They ended up suing one employer. After the lawsuit one woman took off her hijab, and moved on. The other sister kept on her hijab and moved onto another company. She ran into the same problem she had with her previous employer and began the process to sue yet again. She lost the case. She ran into an Arab woman who worked for the Federal Government and hijabed. She applied for a position with the Federal government but was denied a security clearance due to her history of being litigious. I’m not saying this is right or that its wrong. Just putting it out there. Filing a law suit should be your last resort if you can help. Remember: unless ordered, court documents ARE public records, and future employers who require security clearances or extensive background checks will find out, and the result will be “we are not hiring.”

    3) I also have a word about CAIR. Depending upon what industry you are in or what employer you are seeking employment with be very, very, very careful about listing or using CAIR as a resource for ANYTHING. My intention is NOT to slam dunk CAIR my intention is to make people aware that MANY Non-Muslim employers DO know about CAIR, and react the same way they used to back in the day when the NAACP was fighting for inclusion of AA’s. Again this comes back to the issue of identifying with another group of people with out fully realizing what you’re signing up to.

    4) My understanding is that you were educated in an American University? So you know that generally speaking religion is usually regulated to the private domain of our society and shunned when made public. It gets tricky becuase private, and public life intersect at so many times during life. I recognize that its a balance that can be difficult to maintain over the long run but that it is possible. I also recognize that I live between both possibility, and hope–that I try to live where they intersect so that I do not become disaffected or disillusioned. Realize that there are non-Muslims who still uphold the belief that religion should be private and they themselves are deeply religious people. Some Muslims have run into a landmine of problems with non-Muslims who out of both legitimate dissent, and envy, deliberately cause strife, becuase they are not publicizing (((their))) religion.

    5) I’ve also heard Muslims use the argument that ” you should defy stereotypes and build bridges by reaching out to non-Muslims in the workforce.” I have few issues with both the people ( mostly men) and this specific request.

    * To a certian degree we do have an obligation to “reach out” to non-Muslims in the workforce but the manner in which this is done can make or break your career and livelihood.

    The North American Muslim Community needs to make a decision about just who is responsible for Islamic evangelism and how that evangelism is to be done. Furthermore, our community needs to build a coalition or some type of infrastrue to support evangelism in its proper form or in the manner it was done in classical Islamic history. This concept that Muslim women or Muslim children are responsible for representing the faith is not based on any classical command nor can it be found in our Islamic history in the context it is now happening. I also personally have lost my respect for Muslim scholars who don’t correct this, and hold Muslim men accountable. These men are hiding behind our hijab while the skate free, and we are left with the possibility of physical harm or the loss of a needed job.

    The workforce is NOT the appropriate place for ANY evangelism from ANY religion. It is one thing to befriend or get to know some one. It is quite another to engage in heavy religious discussions.

    If a Muslim sister feels she is Islamically educated enough; emotionally mature enough; physically strong enough; and mentally able enough to engage in a consistent jihad about hijab with out a coalition, support system, and personal payback–that is her prerogative but she needs to know this is what she is doing PRIOR to veiling in these situations not AFTER. That is my beef. No Muslim coalition is coming to save us ladies, we are just on our own. I’m not trying to be negative but it is what it is. I too, once fell for “her experience is just an isolated case” until I looked up the EEOC’s statistics on Arabs, Muslims, and religiously dressed women in the workforce. I too, fell for ” her man is weak and thats why it happened” until I met both Imm and Bam men who changed their names in order to hide their faith and for the Imms some have actually adopted common AA names and are passing? Never thought I’d see that a day in my life. I know who they are becuase usually around Ramadan they start feeling confused, apathetic, depressed, and angry so they confide in me.

    Now to possible solutions… continued…

  11. Mary Ann a.ka. Sister Seeking

    Possible solutions

    You and others may want to look into:

    1)Companies listed in Black Enterprise magazine as the top 100 places or best places for minorities to work

    2)Companies listed in Working Woman magazine as the top 100 places or best places for minorities to work

    3) Diverse workplaces such as: colleges or universities, public schools, international businesses, and health care systems.

    4) Start your own business or work as a contractor.

    5) Network with the National Urban League or the NAACP job fairs, and youth meetings.

    6) Read the book “Success runs in our race” and take advantage of the numerous networking opportunities open to AA’s.

    7) Join a professional trade association and gain certification.

    8) Learn how to select staffing agencies or temp agencies wisely–I started off as a temp but worked my way into a government job. You’d be suprised how many senior level staff started off in a temp agency.

    9) Franchising.

    10) Relocate to an urban area within your state or at least be willing to commute to one.
    If you are uncomfortable with the urban areas expect a 1 to 2 hour commute both ways but appreciate the peace, and safety of living further away from the city. If you move out of the state, research the unemployment rates for AA’s before you even interview for any position.

    11) Join an AA womens group and network with the the women there.

    My Coping strategies:

    1) Radical acceptance, distress tolerance skills, emotion regulation, and mindfulness.

    2) Take my lunch breaks out of the office and leave right on time.

    3) Strive to be known for my professionalism, character and judgement instead of being Muslim.

    4) Don’t internalize anyone else’s emotional bull crap becuase its their issue and I refuse to own it.

    5) Cry privately or punch a pillow.


    7) Fellowship with non-Muslims who are not belligerent bigots but are actually normal.

    8) Focus on the reasons why I’m working

    9) Dress professionally according to western culture–no jilbabs or abayahs

    10) Look for allies and partners where ever and whenever I can

    11) Suck up and brown nose my boss and her boss lol : )

    ** Show up as “Mary Ann” representing ONLY me–not a whole group of people and I wont allow others Muslims or otherwise to put me in any other mode either.**

  12. UmmMohebyAlIslam

    As salaamu alaikum Srs/Brs

    Remember Allah much in your everyday lives. Make duaa always for guidance. When we get those whispers from Shaitain, seek refuge in Allah(swt).

    Remember Allah(swt) said “This dunya is like a “prison” for the believers, and paradise for the “disbelievers” and in saying this. Focus more on being at peace with Allah(swt).

    Qadr is what is going to happen to you will happen. We can’t advanced one inch without Allah(swt) permission. We have to let go of a lot of dunya mentality and make “duaa” that Allah(swt) would let us live in this life as we are strangers truly. When you read Al-Quran Al Kareem with the Hadith and Seerah of the Prophet(saaws); we can see the answers. Never, never, never underestimate the power of duaa if you are truly trying to get close to Allah(swt). Make a list, what Allah(swt) command us to do; and what we are doing. Correct our behavior accordingly.

    Allah(swt) has said “our hearts are at peace in remembering him. It’s less at peace when you allow Shaitain’s whispers to become “loud speech” to us. He Shaitain will, whisper to you about being poor, about being bored, about being unhappy, about being depress. In this time, you must talk to Shaitain in a hopeful voice as when the whispers become more than whispers. “Girl, you are not getting ahead financially, or you are too depress, or whatever ” in this time, say “Alhamdullilah, because today I woke up. I am healthy, I have eaten, and seek refuge in Allah from the accursed Shaitain. Ask Allah(swt) to relieve the less fortunate. Think about the sister who couldn’t get out of bed, who didn’t have food to feed her children, who lost her house, car, husband. Think about these things, and your mind will not be concerned about coping with what others are thinking of you.

    I pray the Muslims would read and reflect on Surah8:55, it’s something that is short in words; but very, very deep. This is the words of Allah(swt) and as I ask myself. Do I care what they think about me really? NO! Do I want to look to an animal to inspire me? NO! so, try to work for Allah and to please Allah(swt). Don’t focus to much on the dunya; but work of course. Do good for humanity. However, work harder for Al Jannah.

    We should pray that Allah(swt) keep us away from Asabiyyah. We should pray to Allah(swt) that he help us to be among people that hates Asabiyyah, and we should work towards a common goal. I know some Muslim are stuck on Asabiyyah including African-Americans. However, we are Muslims. If you meet someone like that, keep moving simple as that.

    Allah(swt) said “You are the best people created for the good of mankind. (3:111) if this isn’t a big self esteem lifter I don’t know what could be. It’s words directly from your Lord. How do you have low self esteem after reading this. How do you hold your head(hijabi) down after hearing what your own Creator said about “you” and coping skills? hahaha! Allah(swt) our Creator said “we are the best” and “non-believers” don’t even have the value of an animal. Muslims come on! Reflect on the Quran. Don’t just read, but reflect. Sometimes, I read one ayah and it gets me thinking for days.

    Reflect on Quran!!!! Muslims should have the best coping skills in the world. Muslims should have the best self esteem in the world. No trained psychologist can give us what our own “Creator” has given us. And what did Allah(swt) say that will give us ease, coping skills, etc.,?
    Verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest!) (Qur’an 13: 28

    Wa alaikum salaam

  13. ASA all,

    Wow, I don’t even know where to begin. For the past few days I have been thinking about a few of the points Mary Ann made:

    1) “People can spit on the teachings of the NOI but who ever managed that organization did do so very cleverly so that women and children did not bear the burden of evangelism. This group had effective methods and an infrastructure that both IMM and BAM communities lack—and based off the rate we are going will continue to lack. ”

    2) “The North American Muslim Community needs to make a decision about just who is responsible for Islamic evangelism and how that evangelism is to be done. Furthermore, our community needs to build a coalition or some type of infrastrue to support evangelism in its proper form or in the manner it was done in classical Islamic history. This concept that Muslim women or Muslim children are responsible for representing the faith is not based on any classical command nor can it be found in our Islamic history in the context it is now happening. I also personally have lost my respect for Muslim scholars who don’t correct this, and hold Muslim men accountable. These men are hiding behind our hijab while the skate free, and we are left with the possibility of physical harm or the loss of a needed job. ”

    3) “Asking Muslim women to drop out of the workforce, drop out of college, and drop out the family finances in order to wear hijab is spiritual abuse, and a cop out because we lack the courage, integrity to be adults in the real world where being self reliant, and managing your life is apart of living in the real world. One could make the argument that removing ones head scarf is a cop out—but is it really? What infrastructural support is in place so that we can do so comfortably? So that we can do safely? So that we can do so with out deprivation?”

    Sis, you have me really thinking about some things. I could write an entire blog based on each of the points I’ve highlighted above. I would love to pose these questions to the community, to husbands, to fathers, and most importantly to leaders. So many times I have been commended by brothers for daring to wear hijab in places where a hijabi is seldom seen but I do not receive emotional and sometimes physical support from the same brothers. One could say, “well, seek it from Allah.” This is true but as a community, as men, they have a responsibility to protect their women. (Protectors and maintainers , right?) Some of our brothers are passing at work but want to come down on sisters about wearing hijab.

    Back in the early 90’s I remember when non-Muslim men (esp. in the Black community) wouldn’t dare approach a Muslim sister because they knew they’d have to deal with Muslim men. I’ve actually heard them say to one another “don’t mess with them Muslim women, those men will go off on you.” What happended to that environment? That safety? I remember one time, back in the 90’s, I was on the bus and this guy was harassing me. A Muslim brother stood up and told him to leave me alone. The guy grabbed a bottle and was approaching the brother but something in the brother’s look must’ve told him to relent because he sat back down. Another guy who was on the bus leaned over and said, “you can’t mess with them Muslim ladies bruh.” Fastforward to 2008. Apart from my husband, I feel like I’m on my own. I can’t say for certain that a brother would come to my aid if I had an encounter like the one above. In fact, I defended a niqabi sister in one situation while a Muslim brother stood back chillin’. WTH?

  14. asa. sister, i have been bending my husband’s ear for some time about these very issues, especially since we have a daughter. like many sisters, i try to ignore the looks, the ignorance, the all that comes with being a muhajabah in a post 9/11 western society. what i really have trouble with is contemplating the impact on my child and i cannot say that we want “this” (drama) for her. we want to shield her from what may be in store for her unless things change, unless we change. we have also decided to recover some aspects of our collective african-american and dominican cultures that got lost in the process of learning to differentiate between islamic culture and arab culture. “Not having my own people recognize me as one of them” hurts.

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