Monthly Archives: October 2011

Chicken Soup for the Revert’s Soul

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As I am a Muslim and I ask God to preserve my in this state of iman (faith) and thikr (rememberance) of Him, I have a story to tell that may not reflect the potential or beauty of the ummah (Muslim community).

Although I used to wear hijab for sometime and as may hijabis can attest, it can be an incredibly difficult act of faith no matter where one lives, I took it for granted that I was identifiably Muslim. I made the decision to remove my head scarf for many reasons I won’t discuss in this blog. Long story, short, I found myself in mid May looking in the bathroom mirror, hair no longer in a bun on top of my head without the promise of colourful fabrics soon to twist themselves around my face, ears, nape and neck before I walked out the door.

August 2011, Ramadan, commenced with a sincere du’a (prayer) to God asking Him to simplify my life so I could find rida (contentment in what has been given to you by God). During this Ramadan I attended a fundraiser dinner aimed at sending its proceeds to a Muslim country in need. I sat at a table waiting for a friend to join me when I was ubruptly interrupted while waiting to break the day’s fast.

Him ” Excuse me, could I ask you something?”

Me “Urmm… okay?”

Him “Since you’re obviously not Muslim, why are you here?”

Puzzled, I sat there wondering how to answer this question with class. My ears began to burn and I am sure I had that look on my face, inherited from my father -the one that says about 40 expletives before getting to how he really feels look. I am Muslim and I wanted to remember this while responding to him.

Me “I am Muslim”

Him “Oh, well then you must be a convert?!”

Although a lesson in social etiquette was necessary, I thought, I nodded a Yes hoping he would get the hint and move on… He proceeded to ask me about how I came to Islam, but I cut him off to ask why he assumed I wasn’t Muslim and how he would have dealt with me if I hadn’t been a Muslim… he didn’t answer. But I began to question what his assumptions could have been about me and how I may have appeared.

Are only Muslims considered charitable?
Are girls like me or dare I say “W.A.S.P.” not charitable? into this kind of thing? Conscious of the world around themselves?
Although this may seem harsh on the Lad, I was very upset at the assumptions. But this got me thinking about my intentions for why I am in solidarity for Palestine, freedom of any religious expression, my love of the Arab spring that had begun to influence the Youth around the world, those things I cherish and advocate for as a Global citizen.

My answer is this: I don’t need to be a Muslim, Arab, Black, Brown, Indigenous, Franco, Anglo, Chinese speaking to have a conscience. My understanding of Islam and my upbringing dictates that colour, age, race, gender doe not, should not and cannot matter when it comes to showing acts of solidarity. I refuse to believe that I am voiceless because of the actions my European ancestors initiated and facilitated ┬áin places they thought they were “civilizing”. This is another form of oppression: rendering someone’s opinion and actions moot because of their origins, gender, skin colour or outward appearance of their faith. It is my sincere hope that we, not only Muslims but everyone, can encourage one another, dignify our thoughts and respect that not one of us can be fully represented as a unique individual standing before another stranger, assuming about them what they may indeed be assuming about you!

The Pilgrims and Almond Eyes Meet

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And Allah gave me the pilgrims. He placed them on the tips of my fingers and squeezed them out. I made them homes within the pages of a notebook, on cardboard allowing them to explore the soul that birthed them.

Now the almond eyes that have begun to wander into these pages walk with the pilgrims into the future. To the places my creativity can’t let me imagine and place themselves within the hoods of the travelers. They guide them in the direction towards the centre where everything can rest and everything is forgotten.

The Pilgrims, Their Homes and History

The kindness of the Almond Eyes have the Pilgrims surprise as my thoughts are fixated on their colour, and their gentle curves. The Pilgrims show no jealousy, but an understanding seems to prevail as they become partners on this journey, but they know how I feel. I wish for their home to be with me and to be with us the way they have met and guided the followers, but my inability to find myself in the right place and time . But does one amount this to the Most High, Gracious and Merciful taking something away in order to have something better. Will I still find my answers in the Pilgrims? Am I safe to let the Almond Eyes guide them?

Who Is Veda Sultanfuss?

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a scene from the film My Girl (1991)

I work under the name Veda Sultanfuss for a couple of reasons. But I feel telling the story of Veda from the 1991 film “My Girl” is more interesting than anything I could connect about myself.

Anyways, Veda Sultanfuss is a tomboy with a very interesting father who is an undertaker and runs a funeral parlor out of their home and has a hard time understanding his daughter, where he ignores due this inability. Veda’s mother died during child birth and as a result, Veda believes she killed her mother, coupled with growing up in her father’s funeral directory she becomes obsessed with death and is a hypochondriac. Her friendship with Thomas J. is made fun of because he is not popular and a boy by other girls, but Veda’s determination and lack of concern for the opinion of others strengthens their bond. These two become inseparable, becoming blood brothers, sharing their first kiss and final tragic farewell.

The story of Veda Sultanfuss is one that I grew up with and has also been a coming- of- age example for myself. It had let me know during the time of many transitions in my life and family that you figure out how to survive and keep living, we are not built with this knowledge to cope, it is something we do.

I have learned to try to be patient with myself, the present and future and hopefully that honesty will inform my work and help me continue in the direction that seems to have been opened for me.

The Hakawati Speaks of Almond Eyes

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Almond eyes

have looked upon mine

and I’ve seen now;

the lavender which grows

around us.

I would hope

the lavender to always

grow and scent the breeze

we stand within.

No love poems

for years,

but

this set of

almond eyes which have opened mine

Like blooms in may

and the wheat in the yellows of august

where the thought of you has

become a part of my depths

while my dreams are

spent wishing

they could remember

the textures of your curls

and the curve of

those almond eyes

beautiful.

And she said it

will be those almond eyes

which will

make your eyes greener

It will be the search

within those almond eyes

that will bring you

forth; unto Him

The language will

flow from inside you

touching their tongues;

and out louder, becoming musical

Your dark hair will

swing below your elbows

holding an almond eyed boy

both yours and his

close you will become

extensions of movement,

one mind and one tongue,

his almond eyes will be yours

From within you

his voice will grow

and cultivate

the language of your soul

that will sing the lullabies

of the myseteries of

trembling mountains

and the turning of the Earth.

detail of painting