Tag Archives: Islam

Like Sheep to the Sanitized Slaughter Zone

Pelin Keskin first saw her grandfather sacrifice an animal for Eid al-Ahda when she was nine. Years later, visiting Turkey for a family wedding that coincides with the Eid, she reflects on what the day — and the sacrifice — means in a changing Turkey where the farmers and butchers integral to the holiday are hidden from view behind screens at a glossy new mega-grocery-markets, called hypermarkets.

Ten to 15 butchers, covered in blood and sweat, worked the sacrifice zone, trying to get the orders right. One calf panicked as it felt a rope try to lift it by its hind legs, while another next to it was completely gutted. A calf already skinned was sectioned into kilograms. It was like a Shake Shack line, but instead of a buzzer and a burger, you have a butcher yelling your number for kilos of fresh meat. I’ve been an unapologetic carnivore all my life, but there was something soulless, something haraam, about this unrelenting efficiency.

The appeal of formalizing the sacrificial process is understandable for both farmer and customer: There is clarity, ease, convenience. My younger uncle and I could’ve easily walked out with the meat and skipped the hassle of bargaining with farmers, but we still did things the traditional, more humanistic way. Days like Eid may unify the nation, but when you come across the scene at a Carrefour, it symbolizes a reality that’s almost laughably on the nose: Turkey, in all of its modernist efforts, is just covering up the smell of its own shit.

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The Silent Prayer That Derailed Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf’s NBA Career

Despite starting 57 games, throwing 72 touchdowns, and rushing for an additional thirteen TDs, it is likely that Colin Kaepernick will not play in the NFL this upcoming season. The quarterback, who opted out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers this past spring in the hopes of signing with another team, has been blackballed from the league, a side effect of kneeling during the national anthem last year. Kaepernick became a polarizing figure in the resurgence of athlete activism, and as such, he might have taken his last snap in the NFL.

Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf has been in Kaepernick’s position, as he explains in an interview with The Undefeated. Twenty years ago, the guard was one of the NBA’s most electric players, a 6-foot-1 do-it-all scorer who quickly filled up a stat sheet with lightning-quick drives to the rim and perimeter jumpers.

But after eight years and nearly 9,000 points, he was gone. Abdul-Rauf converted to Islam just after he became a pro, and midway through the 1996 season he began a campaign of sitting during the national anthem. As he explained to the New York Times, “I just hope that this can be something that will cause people to look into issues more…It has made me realize more how, whether you want to use the word hypocritical or backwards, sometimes we are.”

Following a one-game suspension by the NBA which cost him $32,000, Abdul-Rauf and the league reached a compromise—the guard was allowed to stand and pray with his head bowed during the anthem. But he was soon traded after the season, and would spend just two more years in the NBA before bouncing around several teams overseas. Perhaps Abdul-Rauf was just ahead of his time; the NBA was still dominated by hulking frontcourts that slogged through an offensive possessions, it wasn’t a league styled for Abdul-Rauf’s talents. Combined with his outspoken beliefs, and what seemed to many to be a radical and dangerous worldview, Abdul-Rauf couldn’t even get a try-out with another team once his contract with the Sacramento Kings expired in 1998.

It’s been two decades since Abdul-Rauf faded from the public eye, but with the arrival of the Big3, a three-on-three basketball league launched this summer for aging ex-NBA superstars (e.g. Allen Iverson, Rashadd Lewis), Abdul-Rauf, who suits up for the 3-Headed Monsters, has been rewarded with another platform to speak his mind. “To try to influence people to be socially, racially and politically conscious opposite of what the mainstream wants us to think is unacceptable,” he told the Undefeated. “Athletes are looked at and viewed with much more importance than teachers and professors by far by the youth.”

When a person like Kaepernick or anybody else comes and stands out against anything that is contrary to what image they want you to have as an athlete, then they will make an example of you because they want to discourage other athletes from doing the same thing.

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Finding Her True Self: Queer and Muslim

When young international student Lamya H arrives in Manhattan, she not only finds the city she’s come to know from books and media, she finds a place to explore her sexuality in a way that surprises even her. In the Los Angeles Review of Books, Lamya H recounts how she started to embrace her true self and all the challenges it would create.

It has been a wonderful night. “Queer Muslim Show and Tell,” a brilliant idea by my friend, where we’ve all shared something we’re passionate about. Things that we didn’t know about each other: my friend who is a serious academic reads us the poetry that she writes in her free time; another friend brings a comic book collection to show us; another talks about the anti-violence project she’s starting up at her mosque.

It has taken me a while to find these people, this group of queer Muslims who will spend a Saturday night sharing parts of themselves. It has taken me years dragging myself to lesbian bars and pride and dance parties and all that this city has to offer, these places where my Muslimness, my brownness feel acutely out of place. These places where, once, a white lesbian once petted my hijab like I was an exotic creature, where this other time, a Moroccan bouncer looked me up and down and said, “What are you doing here, sister?”

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‘But Islam Does Not Forbid Love’: How Young Muslims Define ‘Halal Dating’

a pink rose surrounded by smaller white roses

At NPR Code Switch, Neha Rashid reports on how careful use of language and a peck of dating apps for young Muslims are helping them find love while observing Muslim beliefs that forbid sex before marriage.

For young couples like them, the idea of dating is common, and it means balancing their religious views with their desire for emotional intimacy. But the term “dating” still invites an offensive suggestion for many Muslims, especially older ones, irrespective of how innocent the relationship may be. Dating is still linked to its Western origins, which implies underlying expectations of sexual interactions — if not an outright premarital sexual relationship — which Islamic texts prohibit.

One way that some young Muslim couples are rebuking the idea of dating being offensive is by terming it “halal dating.” Halal refers to something permissible within Islam. By adding the permissibility factor, some young couples argue, they are removing the idea that anything haram, or prohibited, such as premarital sex, is happening in the relationship.

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Between Their Arab Past and American Present

With each leg of my grandparents’ journey—from Damascus and Istanbul to New York and finally Los Angeles—the markers of their previous lives fell away: my grandmother’s first language, the Koran, the prayer rug, the community of Arab émigrés in Brooklyn. Though certain customs remained: Neither of my grandparents ever learned to drive, and they always spoke Arabic at home. They preferred my grandfather’s Syrian cooking to what they called American food, and didn’t cotton to eating in restaurants or taking vacations. In Los Angeles, they were content to live apart from the mainstream, within the bounds of home, family, and the community of Armenian and Lebanese immigrants who, like my grandparents, found California’s weather and geography agreeably familiar.

In the assimilation that took place between the first and second generation, the tensions between the old and new were constant. When my father came of age, he didn’t care to be matched with the young women my grandmother called Syrian girls. His brothers felt the same, and the result was four intercultural marriages, each a hybrid but uniform in its shedding of Arab identity and customs. None of the grandchildren in the third generation were taught to speak Arabic. Nothing of the religious or cultural identity was passed down. This, more than anything, brought about the break with our history: the missing knowledge of our ethnocultural past. Without it, there was only the sense of our difference, one that was at once deeply rooted and unfamiliar.

In Catapult, Lauren Alwan narrates her family’s migration from Syria to California to explore how people’s evolving identities help gain them a foothold in America and create unintentional tensions across generations.

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An Imam’s Jihad Against Ignorance and Radicalization

In Calgary, Aziz found a Muslim community in conflict—and denial—over how to address the fact that dozens of young men were leaving their community to travel to distant battlefields. The Canadian government estimates that as of the end of 2015, 180 Canadians overseas were actively involved with terror organizations; about half of them are believed to be in Syria and Iraq, having been recruited by groups such as isis. It was difficult for members of the city’s Muslim community to accept that radicalization was happening in Calgary. It seemed implausible that these young men could be capable of carrying out acts of violence abroad—until it started happening.

Many in the community hoped that Aziz might be able to intervene. He was, after all, not much older than those who were leaving. Other imams in the community, most of them foreign born and middle-aged, had trouble connecting with Muslim youth born and raised in Canada. They didn’t know how to address political issues such as the conflict in Syria with those who were unsettled by the slaughter of thousands of civilians. Imams across the country feared that broaching the subject of overseas conflicts and jihad directly might draw objections from others in their mosques—or worse, attract the attention of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (csis).

– At The Walrus, Nadim Roberts profiles one Canadian imam who is working to save fellow Muslims from radicalization, because enlightening people with knowledge is his true jihad.

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