#MuslimGirlArmy: #BlackInMSA


My latest for MuslimGirl was published yesterday, and it takes on the experience of black Muslims in the Muslim Student Association with a Twitter roundup of the hashtag #BlackInMSA.

The thoughts and ideas shared are very insightful and, often, heartbreaking. Black Muslims constitute over a quarter of American Muslims. Before 9/11, the image of a Muslim in America was black. Still, we’ve managed to marginalize them in an already marginalized community. As stated in my article: 

Muslim students come to Muslim Student Associations (MSA) seeking safe haven and belonging, but black Muslims find further alienation instead.

So please, take a look and share/retweet! I’ve heard accusations of those taking part in the hashtag “airing out dirty laundry” (why does this always come up when someone’s calling their community out?), but I think the response I’ve seen so far to the hashtag and this roundup is heartening. Too many people were unaware, and hopefully, this awareness that’s been brought about can bring a new change, which will lead to unity that will help us alleviate our current struggles in the ummah.

My mother’s first dance with bigotry as a doctor


While indoctrinating my 10-year-old brother last night by reading him Goblet of Fire, I received a phone call from my shaken up mom, telling me something had just happened to her that she had never experienced in her 25 years of practice as a doctor.

A patient refused to see her because she’s Muslim.

Now, I’ve told plenty of people not to see my mother due to this reason. But this was often because they are also Muslim, and as a result, I know they won’t be as open with her about their habits regarding the fun stuff: drugs, sex, and alcohol. The patient in question, however, was not a Muslim nor afraid of my mother judging them for their love of getting shitfaced or stoned out of their mind. This person was simply a bigot.

Apparently, after my mother already spent time going over their charts and preparing to see them (which isn’t a minimal effort, mind you), the patient, upon meeting her, asked her about her ethnicity. After my mother replied that she is Pakistani, the patient asked her if she was Muslim. When my mother told her that she was, they told her “very respectfully” that she did not wish to be seen by a Muslim doctor.

First of all, it breaks my heart that my mother for some reason needed to tell me how respectful this person was being. Nothing about this was respectful. My mind worked quick as my mother talked. If a doctor refused to see a patient because of their religious or ethnic background, they would face severe consequences. But there isn’t any type of repercussion for a patient doing the same, other than potentially losing out on good treatment.

You can say that there will always be some awful people who act like this, but the fact that our politicians speak like this doesn’t help. Herman Cain was very vocal about not wanting to see a Muslim doctor or appointing a Muslim to his thankfully never-formed cabinet. Ben Carson has repeatedly expressed that Muslims are unfit for the presidency. I could go on. My point is that Islamophobia, Islamobigotry, anti-Muslim sentiment, whatever you want to call it (because I’ve actually heard people try to derail the conversation by saying they aren’t scared of Muslims, they just don’t like them) is on the rise. The fact that this happened to my mother just days after the attacks in Paris is not a coincidence.

It’s a sign. It’s a sign of frightening times for my Muslim brothers and sisters. So I ask you to be please be careful. The days ahead will be rough for all of us, and we need to stick together. Please reach out to each other, reach out to me, and don’t ever think you have to apologize for those who are not of us. The only thing you need to do is to keep spreading awareness of our own struggles, our own faith. May God be with us.

#MuslimGirlArmy: angry white nerds and Star Wars diversity


So I realized I don’t really post on my blog when one of my articles goes up on MuslimGirl.net. It’s a great site started by a dear friend, Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, that has become the 3rd largest blog for Muslims (last I heard) and is one of the biggest Muslim startups to keep an eye out for.


My latest post was on the #BoycottStarWarsVII movement on Twitter, dubbing the slightly more diverse main cast as an act of “white genocide”. Yep, you read that right.

Here’s an excerpt:

In the world of science fiction and fantasy, many have made the point that racial diversity being unrealistic is ridiculous. But that’s the point. These white boys turn to Star Wars for fantasy. With people of color in the background, if even existent, and women serving to please rather than fight is their fantasy. How dare anyone disrupt that?

Check out the full article at the link above. You can check out more of my articles on MuslimGirl here. I’ll be sure to keep updating as I write more there.

Our secret’s out: us American wizards don’t use the word ‘Muggle’


While my mother always bemoaned my unseemly (by her standards) obsession with Harry Potter growing up, my dad absolutely enabled it. I still remember when he first bought me my copy of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I truly delighted in the hilarious annotations by Harry and Ron, and I read it so much that my copy is currently quite tattered. (It’s lying somewhere in my basement among a bunch of boxes, safe from me, but I must dig it out again.) For anyone who doesn’t know, 1) where the hell have you been?? 2) Fantastic Beasts is a required textbook at Hogwarts, which J.K. Rowling took the time to write and publish for a charity back in 2001. It’s now being made into a film, much to the delight of Potterheads everywhere.

Just tried digging through my basement and library, and my copy is nowhere to be found... but it's about as old and shabby as this copy of Sorcerer's Stone-- the book in Harry is first assigned the text.

Just tried digging through my basement and library, and my copy is nowhere to be found… but it’s about as old and shabby as this copy of Sorcerer’s Stone– the book in which Harry is first assigned the text.

Yesterday, I managed a glimpse of a poster for the upcoming film and noticed that in the corner it read, “Newt Scamander only meant to stay in New York for a few hours…”


What I hadn’t realized, as I’ve been in a bit of a shell and not really keeping up with all of my obsessions the way I used to, is that the story is set in New York City. Apparently, Jo had sent out a cryptic tweet last year (which I saw) and a fan eventually managed to decipher that it was an anagram for this exact tag line (that update I missed.)

Anyone who knows me knows how much of a nut I am for Manhattan. It’s a city that’s been one of the few constants in my life, and it’s the world hub of media and everything a Karachi-born girl could hope for this side of the globe. My mother believes I make excuses to go to the city to see my fiancé, when it’s really quite the other way around. The fact that we’re going to see a Wizarding World story set in 1920s New York has me positively jittering.

But of course, Jo has to do it to us all over again.

In her typical wonderful way of seriously fleshing out the worlds she creates, Ms. Rowling has dropped the knowledge on the world that Americans don’t use the word Muggle, as we have our own slang for non-magical folks, thank you very much. We say No-Maj.

It makes a lot of sense when you think about it. The British and American lexicons are so different in the non-magical world, why wouldn’t it be the same for wizards and witches? Of course, a lot of fans are a bit upset about this revelation. To be honest, I think some of them just want to use “muggle” because it’s the cool, British term. Either way, I’m seriously excited to see what else will be revealed about the Yanks of the Wizarding World! What do you all think?

Extra Thoughts:

  • Fun fact: (SPOILER ALERT if you haven’t read the books!) Newt Scamander later has a grandson, Rolf Scamander. A magizoologist in his own right, Rolf goes on to marry our very own Luna Lovegood! (Sorry Luna/Neville shippers!)
  • Doesn’t no-maj sound a bit derogatory? I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s meant to be– muggle-borns and muggles are probably treated a lot worse in the U.S. Perhaps there’s a movement to get rid of its use, like with other slurs.
  • What’s the word for “muggle/no-maj” in other languages?
  • Colin Farrell and Jon Voight have reportedly signed on. What other big actors are we going to get? Would love to see some big U.S. names going forward!
  • Why’s the cast of Fantastic Beasts so white? I mean… it’s in New York.
  • When will Jo Rowling come around on the Palestine BDS issue? (I haven’t forgotten… Still wrapping my head around it/crying about it, so I haven’t written anything.)
  • Can I convince my dad to take me to London to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child?
  • What are some classy ways to do a Harry Potter-themed wedding? I’m asking for a friend.

Oy with the poodles already!


Is it unprofessional to write an entire blog post in all-caps? If so, I DON’T CARE BECAUSE THEY’RE THINKING ABOUT BRINGING GILMORE GIRLS BACK!

One of the biggest crimes in TV was The CW letting go of Amy Sherman-Palladino as a writer for Gilmore Girls. GG was her baby. GG sucked without her, as evidenced by the klaüsterfökken that was season 7. Could it be that we can retcon that entire debacle?

The revival will be on Netflix (I swear, the good that Netflix has done in this world… it’s like the cotton gin or J.K. Rowling or the iPhone), and it will be four 90-minute movies, rather than a series, according to Variety. Of course, these rumors have always gone around, but this sounds more serious than before.

Gilmore Girls is my all-time favorite TV show. However, lately I’ve been reflecting on how damn white it was. I mean, the color representation was the kind of racist and just-plain-not-accurate story line of Lane and her mother Mrs. Kim… Oh, and Michel, who was more French than anything.

Maybe Gilmore Girls will come back 9 years later with more color? Maybe it’ll come back with more Jess? (I still think he was end game, and Milo Ventimiglia screwed it up by not taking the 8-year contract). Maybe April will never have existed? What do you guys think? (Crickets as no one reads this anymore…)

We’ll see. Copper boom, Netflix!

The Problem with #MuslimLivesMatter


Maybe not enough people realized this during the uproar over Ferguson. Nearly everyone who uses the hashtag means well. But #AllLivesMatter is a problematic hashtag, full stop. And in the same line, so is #MuslimLivesMatter.

Hashtags matter. They’re not only a way to bring attention to a specific issue or current event, but they are now also used as political statements.

Saying #AllLivesMatter is inappropriate in that it ignores the message that #BlackLivesMatter is conveying. It’s a hashtag that is a reminder— a reminder that black lives matter, because the lives of white people are never in question. Saying “All lives matter!” assumes that everyone is equally targeted, everyone in as much need of protection.

Now, of course, Muslim lives are also very much under threat in this country. Those of us who have been hollering about Fox News, the Republican Party, Bill Maher, Zionists and co. inciting violence against Muslims have been proved horribly right. But by using the #MuslimLivesMatter hashtag, we are appropriating the black struggle, the movement against police brutality towards black men and women. That is not to say that Muslim lives don’t matter, of course. We simply need to recognize that while our struggle is similar, we do have our own and we cannot co-opts others’.

The family and friends of Yusor, Deah, and Razan have adopted the hashtag, #OurThreeWinners, taken from their Facebook page of the same name. We should show our love and support for them, and our respect for the Black Lives Matter movement, by doing the same.

I apologize if my argument isn’t making sense. I’ve been in a daze since the night it happened, a daze that has only overwhelmed me more and more since. This hits home. It hit home when I saw that it occurred in a town not far from my father’s, in a university that some of my relatives attended. It hit home when I saw a couple relatives post about knowing the victims or their families. It hit home when I spent the day with friends wearing hijabs, worry for them spinning in the back of my mind where it should never have to be. It hit home because it could have been any of us, it could become any of us. Unless we refuse to stay silent.

Our Three WinnersAlways,


P.S. Here are a couple links to explain the problem with co-opting the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag:



Eid Interning


September 21st was my first day as a reporter assistant intern at News 12 New Jersey.  News 12 New Jersey is the local 24-hour cable television news channel, reaching more than 1.8 million homes in northern and central New Jersey and is part of News 12 Networks, the first, largest and most watched regional news channel in the U.S.

I work weekends. I’m a sucker who’s got classes Monday thru Friday, and my nights tend to be busy anyway, so it works out. Last Sunday, I suggested a story which I wanted to come in on Tuesday (yesterday) for. And the assignment editors took it.

A few years ago, my friends and I got ourselves into the fight for AlFalah Islamic Center’s mosque in Bridgewater. It was yet another case of people going, “Not in our town!,” although they cleverly backpedaled and presented the building of the mosque at the former Redwood Inn as a “traffic concern”. Mind you, we’d been having holiday prayers and I think some Friday prayers there for years.

On September 30th, U.S. District Judge Michael A. Shipp ruled that Bridgewater Township can’t enforce a zoning ordinance that effectively meant the mosque could not be built at the site, as the ordinance was not passed until after AlFalah had submitted their application to build there. So after three years… victory! And guess who’s sitting in a newsroom when this happens?

I suggested to an assignment editor a story on Eid al-Adha for Tuesday, because Muslims are such a significant community in New Jersey, the state with the 2nd largest percentage of Muslims in the nation, population-wise. I wrote up the proposal and gave them the background– how Eid al-Adha is a major Muslim holiday in which we celebrate Prophet Ibrahim (aka Abraham)’s willingness to sacrifice his son (either Ismail [Ishmael] or Ishaq [Isaac], as it is not specified in the Qur’an) in submission to God’s command as well as his son’s willingness himself to be sacrificed. (For those of you who don’t know, don’t worry, God intervened and replaced the boy with a lamb, hence another Eid al-Adha tradition of sacrificing goats/lambs/cows/etc and distributing the meat to family, friends, and the poor.)

Now, stories aren’t decided on at News 12 until the morning of, so I had to call in around 7 o’clock in the morning yesterday and was connected to the reporter on the story, Sally Ann Mosey. She gave me the green light, and I met her at The Days Inn in Bridgewater, NJ where she covered the story quite spectacularly. It was only a vosot (short for “voiceover/sound on tape”) rather than a fully packaged story. I have yet to see any of it, but from what I heard, they showed the actual Eid prayers, people hanging out afterwards, and also an interview with a woman explaining the significance of the holiday that happens to be my mother. (I actually wasn’t there yet for that, but needless to say, she is now more okay with my career choice than ever.)

News 12 New Jersey speaking with AlFalah Center board member Omar Mohammedi. Photo courtesy of Arif Khan.

News 12 New Jersey speaking with AlFalah Center board member Omar Mohammedi.
Photo courtesy of Arif Khan.

Sally Ann Mosey speaking with Arshad Jalil, a member of AlFalah Center. Photo courtesy of Nelson Tun.

Sally Ann Mosey speaking with Arshad Jalil, a member of AlFalah Center. (You can see part of yours truly on the right edge of the photo.)
Photo courtesy of Nelson Tun.

Photo courtesy of Nelson Tun.

Photo courtesy of THE Nelson Tun.

I’m only an intern, but this is basically me setting into motion one of my career goals as a journalist. Not only did I bring more media attention to AlFalah’s fight for freedom of religion, but seeing Muslims pray and celebrate a holiday that commemorates an event familiar to Jews and the Christian mainstream points out what should be apparent to the average American, but isn’t: we are a faith just like any other, people like any other. We are nothing like those extremists who have hijacked our religion and brought terror to our world through their attacks on innocent people.

I took this one.

I took this one. Sally Ann speaking with Jalil.

One of the questions that I’ve heard or been asked the most by skeptics of Islam being a non-violent religion is Why don’t Muslims come out and condemn these terrorist attacks? Because, as you can see, we are busy living our lives.

I have heard many other Muslims say that it is not our job to speak up and say what should be obvious, that we shouldn’t have to answer for those who are distorting our religion beyond recognition. But I disagree. I think we should, as an ummah, come together and take offense to those who take the name of God and Islam in vain. If people can riot over an idiotic cartoon, then we can speak out against a suicide bombing or a plane crashing into a national landmark. I personally feel sick to my stomach every time I hear of a Muslim being connected to an attack– Mohamed Atta, Hani Hanjour, Richard Reid, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, Faisal Shazad, Nidal Malik Hasan,  Tamerlan and Dzhokar Tsarnaev. These people are nowhere near being the majority, and yet we are letting them be our representation in the media. The rest of us are going on and living our lives, and I personally think we should stop and try to find ways to contribute to the name of Islam. We are the legacy of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his companions, and we are not taking it seriously.

So this was my contribution. Eid Mubarak, everyone.

Ab imo pectore,