Give Muhammad a Chance


At 21 I married a man five years older than me.  The second time around, at 31, I married a man five years younger than me.

Eight years into our marriage, it still sends little shock waves through people when I mention this. There are sometimes oooohs and aaahhhs, eyes get bigger and rounder, and I can almost see folks wanting to high five me and slap my husband on the back for biting the bullet and marrying an older, divorced, single mom.  I have, no joke, been asked at least a dozen times how I managed to pull this off.

But a decade ago when he proposed to me, I didn’t bounce off the walls. I advised him to speak to his elders and family, which he did. I was mature enough to know that marrying into a South Asian family meant actually marrying the family, and without their blessings there would likely be no blessing in the marriage.  So he dutifully approached his parents, armed with the story of Khadijah (ra) and Muhammad (saw), confident as an aalim and haafiz Quran himself.  They took the news fairly well, asking for time to think. Istikharas were had all around and the green light came about a month later, at which point his mother called my mother.

Read the rest of Rabia Chaudry’s brilliant piece at Patheos!


Hipster Muslim, Slouching toward Mecca & other fabulousness

Absolutely Fabulous: logo BBC/Lionheart Source: Warner Home Video Direct

Some phenomenal recent reads:

Author, editor, and anthology contributor Deonna Kelli in Slouching toward Mecca:

“I sat in many church pews as a child and I dipped in many waters. My paternal grandmother made sure that I had a proper Methodist christening. Thirteen years later, I dunked into Southern Baptist waters by my own conviction. Men in my family did not take me to church or talk too much about God. By the time I drank from the Zamzam Well in Mecca, men had started to determine how I interpreted my faith.

That was fine – for a while.”

Novelist, academic and contributor to the upcoming Salaam, Love: American Muslim Men on Love, Sex & Intimacy (February 2014) anthology Haroon Moghul writes about his visit to Jerusalem in A Place for Women:

“Though [American Muslims] have gotten some kind of handle on pluralism, over gender we still stumble.

Instead of creating a comfortable and welcoming space for meditation, contemplation, and prayer, too many mosques—and the Muslim communities behind them—go out of their way to push women out.

A sign in a mosque in bourgeois Virginia: ‘All sisters, please stay in the kitchen.’ In Long Island, there is a mosque whose main door, reserved for men, must have cost tens of thousands of dollars. But the women’s entrance leads to the kind of staircase you expect to be mugged in. In rural New York, a men’s entrance that opens out onto the main prayer area, while the women’s area is not only dumped in the damp basement but also set apart by a rusted chain-link fence.

This is Islam?”

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“Get married or die fasting”


Author and academic Haroon Moghul – a contributor to our forthcoming book Salaam, Love: American Muslim Men on Love, Sex, and Intimacy – writes a provocative new column for Al Arabiya English on marriage, modernity, and Muslims:

In the Muslim world, we love to say proscribe. But to actually take the risk of addressing the real world?

‘Someone’s out there,’ I promised Tariq. Technically true. But cruelly. The very uncertainty that made our rapidly changing world a lonelier place—and thus us in need of more intimacy—makes it harder to find someone. By upending our remaining certainties. Denying us our traditional practices: If a religion cannot speak to changed circumstances, it’ll be left by the wayside.

Either we jettison our moral norms or change our social conditions so those norms become practical again. Did you catch that? We must cultivate the confidence to breed (pardon the expression) the minds who dare to ask: What would our economies, our education, our policies, even our architecture and our culture, look like if we took this mission to marry seriously? Because modernity is not going away, and the only way through it is through it.

But what works somewhere doesn’t work everywhere.

Read the rest of the column, here.

Literary Pick: Alif the Unseen

If you haven’t read American Muslim author G. Willow Wilson‘s extraordinary debut novel & New York Times Notable Book of the Year Alif the Unseen yet, it’s on sale today for $1.99, which also gives you access to the audio for 99 cents.

Pick up Alif the Unseen and dive into its world today!

My X-Men


I have opinions. About the X-Men.

I’m a child of the 1990’s, so my reference point is the amazing cartoon, “X-Men: The Animated Series,” which aired from 1992-1997 (like “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace,” the recent movies simply don’t exist in my brain database). Rogue was my favorite, she of the big hair, epic sass, and ability to fly. I had a crush on Gambit, and an inexplicable thing for guys with N’Awlins accents and the ability to handle a deck of playing cards ever since. As I got older, I appreciated Cyclops’ leadership, Wolverine’s unrequited love, and Storm’s wisdom (and seriously folks, that rockin’ mane of white hair was a force of nature in and of itself). Even Jean Grey managed to kick ass as the Phoenix.

But somehow, I managed to largely discount Professor Xavier, the man who created a school for those who were misunderstood or shunned, some even orphaned, literally and figuratively. He was the man with the plan. He gave society’s outcasts a future.

I found myself thinking of Professor X in Pakistan this past August, during my first trip back in ten years. Since coming back, I’ve been ruminating on Pakistan this time around and what it taught me. Pakistan, for all its damage and strange beauty, has always held lessons for me. I was born there, and though I’ve had the hyphenated Pakistani-American identity since I was one year and one month old, Pakistani earth makes up my skin and Punjab’s rivers flow through my veins.

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