Monthly Archives: May 2015

The Lover

I could have written legends about our love.

And dreamers from near and far would gaze into one another, searching, longing for a love like ours.

And our children, and our children’s children, would sigh and giggle and find comfort in our story.

And when you left that empty summer, I lay in bed and retold our tale, over & over again, to reassure myself that this was forever.

There is a cavity in my chest, an aching in my head, and I am at a very scary place now.

I found shelter in your arms.

I do not know where is home.

-Madinah, 2011

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Happy Birthday Brother Malcolm


I remember being 15 years old. When I think of high school, sure I think of my friends, prom, all that good stuff. But I clearly remember this feeling of anger, resentment, and confusion, that as I came of age, my people, and those who look like me, were the newest targets of racial bigotry and discrimination.

Enter Malcolm X. Our shining black prince. My 10th grade AP English teacher, Mr. Tovar, had us read The Autobiography of Malcolm X. The book was thick, with an outdated cover. But for that next week, I could not put it down. It felt like the final coming of Christ to me.

This is how serious his legacy was in my head. I had a completely revitalized and new understanding of the world. Everything shifted. What I couldn’t find through Gandhi or MLK, I found in Malcolm. His unapologetic rhetoric, his words that would bury you into the ground, his observations that screamed what so many of us are thinking. I was enamored. I never loved being an Afghan more. I never loved being a Muslim more.

Watching Denzel Washington tell his story on the big screen added to this fervor. I had a newfound love for not only political activism, but Islam.

Because Malcolm did not live a clean cut life. He grew up on the streets, sold drugs, appropriated himself, and finally landed in jail. Upon release, he held a militaristic view of the world, and a deep resentment and hate for the white man, calling for black nationalism and violence against whites as he represented the militant Nation of Islam. But after his pilgrimage to Mecca, he came back with a new message for the world: THE UMMAH IS ONE.

It was in this raw, honest story-telling, in his desire and open-nature in sharing his experiences, that I fell in love. Malcolm is just like any of us. Malcolm today, would have understood what Afghans go through, what Palestinians go through, and most importantly, the genocide his community is currently facing, as they scream, pleading with the white apparatus: BLACK LIVES MATTER.

Inna Lilahi wa Inna Ilayhi Rajiun. Although he is gone, I thank Allah SWT we have a Muslim, Black, AMERICAN leader to look up to in times of calamity. Whose words still resonate so loudly today. Who always greeted his brother with “As-Salaam-Alaykum“. Who told us that no one can be at this peace unless he has his freedom. Who was unafraid to own his history, and call out the hypocrisy of the nation his ancestors toiled and died in.

Brother Malcolm is not celebrated in our history books. Brother Malcolm was hated by the U.S. government. He doesn’t have an “I have a dream” speech, or a federal holiday, or even a reference by any major American politician. Because he was not afraid to point his finger and say: “Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you’re a man, you take it.

Below is his eulogy, and some of my favorite quotes of his. For my friends who have never read his works, I urge you to. I hope it awakens the same revolutionary fervor in your hearts, as it has mine.

“A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.”

“Don’t be in a hurry to condemn because he doesn’t do what you do or think as you think or as fast. There was a time when you didn’t know what you know today.”

“We are nonviolent with people who are nonviolent with us.”

“Stumbling is not falling.”

“There is no better than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance next time.”

“We didn’t land on Plymouth Rock, Plymouth Rock landed on us.”

“I believe that there will ultimately be a clash between the oppressed and those that do the oppressing. I believe that there will be a clash between those who want freedom, justice and equality for everyone and those who want to continue the systems of exploitation.”

“I feel like a man who has been asleep somewhat and under someone else’s control. I feel that what I’m thinking and saying is now for myself. Before it was for and by the guidance of Elijah Muhammad. Now I think with my own mind, sir!”

“It is a time for martyrs now, and if I am to be one, it will be for the cause of brotherhood. That’s the only thing that can save this country.” — February 19, 1965 (2 days before he was murdered by Nation of Islam followers)

“You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.”


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the one who cannot bask in the sunlight

and feel love,

i pity him.

those who cannot drink dawn like rosewater,

have my condolences.

if you cannot tear from the chirping of birds

sleep then.

because the heart that does not feel love,

is not a heart at all


Jawzjan Province, Afghanistan

Jawzjan Province, Afghanistan




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Talking Incest Over Hookah

FullSizeRender-11Over hookah and tea, I had male privilege play out in front of me.

Male privilege is wondering why your aunt wont let your female cousin too long in the room with you.

Yes, to us women, rape and molestation between family and community members is a real threat, because it exists. It exists between males too of course, but right now I’m talking about girls. Particularly Afghan girls.

See, the conversation went like this. I was at hookah, when my guy cousin recalled an instance when a female family member pulled her daughter out of a room of our male cousins.

He was so appalled that our aunt could fathom something would happen to her daughter, in a room full of men that she should trust, that she grew up with and loved.

& I understood his disgust, confusion and frustration. He kept repeating, “That’s sick. That’s disgusting. How could she think that?”

And he’s right, it is those things.

But I cant hold a grudge against a mother who will take ever precaution to protect her child.

I know an Afghan girl who was raped by her grandfather. I know an Afghan girl who was molested by a mullah. I know an Afghan girl who was touched in a bathroom during a family gathering. I also know Afghan men who suffered the same, back home, and here in the States.

These things happen much more than we can imagine.

And by expressing outright disgust or throwing judgements in the air about women who might be paranoid of these things is completely neglecting the very real fact that they do happen within our community. Passing judgments only shrouds the issue, and prevents any real dialogue.

I remember sharing my cousins frustration throughout my life. I was a tomboy as a child, and felt so confused when my mother “checked up” on my guy cousins & I as we played video games. It really grossed me out. Ya I get it, cousin marriages happen mom, but I swear I don’t like him.

Little did I know that was the last of her concern.

As I grew older, my mom told me stories of this woman or that woman, this cousin, or that aunt, who had all been victims of sexual assault.

These things happen in every community. But when it happens to us, it’s a little different. In a culture where victims are vilified and shunned, our women have taken paranoia and defense to another level, so now I know why my mom did what she did with me, and why my aunt did what she did with our cousin.

To them, their nephews were not just their nephews. They were men, just like the men they knew back home, just like the men who donated to mosques while hiding deep secrets, just like the men who fondled their friends.

So to any guys reading this: don’t take it so personally. Ya ya we get it, you’re holier than thou, you’re not a sicko, you have SOME morals and SOME sense of decency. Rapists and child molestors are deviants, so I’m pretty sure none of my friends partake in those weirdo activities (I hope). But have some compassion. Come from a place of understanding. Look at life through our eyes.

It’s a dog-eat-dog world, right? This world, that’s so cold and harsh, that has so many trials and tribulations. Y’all love a war zone right? The fear, the competition, the ruthlessness. Well we’re playing too. We’re on defense mode 24/7, because our prize is between our legs, and we know way too many sisters who’ve been violated and broken and lost in this game.

So please, check your male privilege. And understand that we’ll protect our own at any cost.

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