Love in the Time of Islamophobia

Eds. Note: Big love to our Love InshAllah community for four wonderful years! Our site is going on hiatus but we hope to be back with more stories soon. In the meantime, keep telling yours.

Tanzila Ahmed

Tanzila Ahmed

I’ve always been a sucker for a good story – and a happy ending.

Ever enamored by the RomCom, I always pictured myself as the clumsy, awkward but affable protagonist of my own 90 minute, wittily narrated romance. In my story, taking fake boyfriends to Desi weddings, having a hot doctor that stars in telenovelas, and having a back-up baby-daddy for my geriatric uterus were a part of my off-color but meaningful RomCom story. It’s why I loved being a part of the book Love Inshallah, so much – for the first time I saw my narrative side-by-side with 24 other Muslimah’s love stories. It gave me hope that maybe there was a love story for me as well.

I always imagined that the end of the Radical Love column would come when I had fallen in love with the perfect man. In my mind, I thought that after two years of writing about the intersections of grief, love, faith and social justice that I would be able to make someone fall in love with me through my words alone and that closing out my column with a “happily ever after” ending story would make my readers (and myself) content. Finding love was never the point of writing this column – redefining love as a 30-something single Brown Muslimah-American with social justice values was. But I harbored this little romantic hope that with words love could manifest.
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How many racists have I slept with?

Ramy-Eureka on the madakat

Ramy Eletreby

For the first time since 9/11, I am afraid to leave the house.

Even when the bombs started dropping on Afghanistan and Iraq, my naive 20-something self at the time was certain I’d be safe here in the U.S. Especially here, in Southern California.

People always tell me how laid back and “West Coast” my vibe is, right down to the relaxed cadence in my speech. I was confident and comfortable in the knowledge that I was from here. Those distant wars were not about me.

Today, things feel different.

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A Hate Crime Against the Universe

It was a rainy and cold night in Los Angeles. The rarity of the rain added a sheen of intrigue as I drove up the 101 freeway through downtown. I glanced at the overpasses above, nearing the place where I’d been told the signs would be. Sure enough, there they were – jankier than I expected, but still expressing their intended hatred. In black pixelated letters one sign said No, and the other featured the image of a crescent and moon.

I took the next exit. After circling around for a few minutes, I finally found the exact overpass on Alameda St., between the city jail and Union Station. I rolled by, slowly. The signs were four laminated, letter-sized pieces of paper forming a larger rectangle. From the grommets at the corners of each sheet, plastic zip ties kept the signs fastened to the chain link fence.

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Mourning

Arnesa B

Arnesa B

They ask me why I always wear black.

And I answer, “I am in mourning”.

They ask me who am I mourning.

I’m mourning my grandfather, I say.

They found his bones 10 years after his head was cut off, Quran in hand.

I’m mourning my uncle too; his remains still not found. I wonder how much he suffered.

I’m mourning my grandmother, killed by the grenades that left her son handicapped.

I’m mourning the thousands of Ahmeds, Aishas and Fatimas massacred for being Bosniaks, for being Muslim. I’m mourning my Bosnia, the land of milk and honey.

I’m mourning Palestine and her olive trees. I’m mourning Palestine and the land my friends will never get to see.

I’m mourning Palestine and her rascal children, now gone.
 
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