What The Heck Is Going On With Lindsay Lohan?

The Mean Girls star has been getting herself into some interesting situations.

Iconic celebrity and actress Lindsay Lohan has recently been popping up in the world of Muslim news for a strange array of interactions. From ghosting the crew of Ramy in the middle of filming season two, and supposedly dating the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Lohan has been getting herself into some interesting situations.

It’s no surprise that Lohan’s name has been circulating around the Muslim community. Back in 2017, she began making comments about converting to Islam, and since then, multiple news outlets have been keeping tabs on her, including Emirates Woman and Step Feed. Even celebrities have been observing her strange behavior, with Russell Brand making public statements about Lohan’s religious affiliations.

With all of these questions surrounding her commitment to Islam, Comedian Ramy Youssef was looking forward to casting Lohan in the much anticipated second season of his show. After ghosting him, the role was handed to Mia Khalifa.

In an interview with E! News, Youssef explained his experience of contacting Lohan, saying, “We had an idea that it wasn’t just her, but we were interested in this idea of people that you don’t really think are Muslim. We actually cast Lindsay Lohan, because Lindsay had this whole thing about converting to Islam. And so we had cast Lindsay and I talked to her and she was down, and then, you know, like Lindsay does, we just kind of stopped hearing from her.”

Ghosting Youssef is only the start, as it’s rumored that she even has a weird friendship with the infamous Crown Prince of Saudi, Mohammed bin Salman, otherwise known as MBS.

According to an exclusive by Page Six, Lohan and MBS have been getting very close, “flying her around in his jets and showering her with presents — including a gift-wrapped credit card.”

Not only has she developed a strong relationship with the Saudi prince, but she apparently also has ties to UAE royalty. This rumor follows her decision to settle in Dubai in 2014 after facing legal troubles in the United States.

“While Lohan was ready to shed her party-girl image and start anew, many weren’t prepared for the transition. Either way, she knew she wanted a new beginning — and that’s exactly why she went to Dubai, as the focus on pop culture icons doesn’t appear to be as vast,” according to an interview with Showbiz CheatSheet

Her ties with the UAE became apparent when she took over two islands in one of Dubai’s biggest projects: The World. Her decision to wear a hijab during a 2018 London Fashion Show also had the attention of the media.

 

Although many have speculated that she has connections to UAE royals, not much is actually known. What’s more fascinating is that no-one knows where she is either. News outlets have suggested that she still resides in Dubai, but others have reported that she has already made a return to the United States. In an interview with Anderson Cooper, Lindsay went live from Oman.

 

So, we have to ask ourselves one more time, what in the world IS going on with Lindsay Lohan? It’s a mystery that probably only she has the answers to. Whatever it is, we’ll be sure to keep a closer look. 

READ MORE: Has Rumi’s Poetry Fallen Prey To ‘Spiritual Colonialism’?

This Is How I Educated My Parents About Racism

There comes a time when enough is enough. Generational gaps and desi mentality/mindsets need to be broken.

This Is How I Educated My Parents About Racism

There comes a time when enough is enough. Generational gaps and desi mentality/mindsets need to be broken.

By

Nabeeha Asim
Photo - Getty Images/ Art - Ameer Al-Khatahtbeh

 

In many brown families us kids know we are not allowed to talk about certain topics in our households. Sometimes if we do we are seen as disrespectful, badtameez, a brat, or even someone who cannot control their tongue. In some desi and brown households, if not all, politics is one topic that should be left unscathed for many reasons. Either your parents are too stubborn about their own stances or simply dismiss the discussions and tell us to quietly make dua. Although dua and supplication is a huge anchor to change, there is action that needs to take place. 

You can’t leave your camel in the street and ask Allah for it to not wander away, you must tie your camel down and then ask Allah to protect it, and in this case you have taken the action, intent, and supplication route to a better outcome. We cannot just put faith and trust in Allah we have to do our part to educate ourselves and then take action upon our intentions. 

There comes a time when enough is enough. Generational gaps and desi mentality/mindsets need to be broken. Here is a guide on how to have a conversation with your parents or relatives:

 

 

1. Start the conversation.

It all starts off with actually initiating that conversation. I know it can be uncomfortable and anxious to talk about these things with your parents who have grown up in a completely different mindset but be open to the conversation and they will be too. Don’t negate or overpower their thoughts and opinions. 

By starting the conversation you may be seen as loud or too opinionated or to your family you may seem like you are arguing but actually initiating the conversation shows them how much of an adult you are. Relax, take a deep breath and say Bismillah and know that what you are about to do is for the betterment of this dunya and our akhira.

 

2. Debunk the cultural myths

We know our parents and family members have innate and fixated opinions on matters that seem too political, however, we need to debunk the false claims and accusations that take place. Don’t insult them and their Whatsapp groups because they see that as their main source of factual evidence. Introduce them to your sources. Your sources are not necessarily more accurate but it might just be that they are more credible. Ask them what they think about your sources and maybe even compare backgrounds of sources. Sometimes fighting disinformation can be an uphill battle especially when false information starts making convincing stories and headlines. We need to be able to stop the false information from spreading. 

It is important to show them not all perspectives and stances they have grown up with are correct and necessarily still relevant. Times have changed and so should they. 

 

3. Bring in Quranic Hadiths and Ayahs

Do your research beforehand. Don’t scramble on sight trying to find links, ayahs, and hadiths to prove to them that Islam stands for Justice. Our easiest factual support is our Quran. We see examples such as: 

“O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of both. So follow not [personal] inclination, lest you not be just. And if you distort [your testimony] or refuse [to give it], then indeed Allah is ever, with what you do, acquainted.”

[Surat An-Nisā’ (4:135)]

“O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm for Allah, witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah ; indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what you do”

[Surat Al-Ma’idah (5:8)]

Allah does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes – from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly.”

[Surat Al-Mumtahanah (60:8)]

And hadiths such as:

“whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart- and that is the weakest of faith.”

Our parents will become proud of the fact that we know and listen to our Quran with the evidence we use to support our stances. 

 

4. Have an open ear to what they have to say

Listen with the intent to follow up with questions or facts that could maybe help show them what they think versus what is actually right. There are always opinions that are too stubborn to change and that’s fine as long as you listen to what they have to say, they feel appreciated nonetheless. 

It’s also important to show them you care about their opinion and you don’t just want to give them a lesson about human rights. It gets a little tricky here because you have to make sure you don’t over-do it. However, if you do get a little carried away allow yourself and your family members to step away from the discussion and come back to it at a later time. It’s important to match your body language with your tone of voice so that you are able to have a clear-cut conversation in which you civilly come to a conclusion or solution. But don’t forget when you do walk away from the conversation you should try your best to always come back to it as it will show them just how important it is to you. 

 

5. Have an honest and open discussion about why you think it’s important to talk about such topics

For me, personally, I have always been passionate about politics and I stress this to my parents on a daily basis. Every job, a nurse, journalist, news anchor, engineer, doctor, business man, social workers, lawyer, social media influencers, etc., will have to encounter human rights. Express to your family and your relatives that your job as a human being is even more invoking of standing up for your basic human rights. Me becoming a journalist is my passion and my dream and that is why it’s important to have open conversations that involve change to your own households. 

 

6. Make it clear that Islam talks about action, consequence, and intention within the chains of justice and mercy.

Make sure you relay to your family that in Islam we seek our actions with our intentions and if our intentions are set and clear then we must take a call to action. We have to actively strive to make a change and put that change into motion by incorporating Islamic teachings into our day to day lives. Just making dua is not enough and our Quran teaches us that as well. Islam is a religion of peace, yes, but it is also a religion of mercy, justice, and action. 

 

READ MORE: Who Is Stealing From Whom? Contextualizing The Protests

Here Are 18 Black Muslims You Need To Follow On Social Media

Does your Instagram feed reflect those posts you share on your Stories?

Here Are 18 Black Muslims You Need To Follow On Social Media

Does your Instagram feed reflect those posts you share on your Stories?

By

Mareena Emran & Zainab Damji

(From Left to Right) @villageauntie, @mustafabriggs, @ayesha.sow, @mustafathepoet, @shahdbatal

In the wake of support for the Black community on social media, we compiled a list of some of the most influential Black Muslims you should follow on Instagram and other social media sites. From beauty vloggers, songwriters, athletes and more, here is a growing list of Black Muslims you need on your feed:

 

Angelica Lindsey-Ali @villageauntie – Sexual Health Educator

How often is it that you see a sex health expert in the Muslim world? Intimacy and relationships expert Angelica Lindsey-Ali is one we should all look up to. With sex being a traditionally taboo subject in conversation, Ali’s mission is to educate young and old Muslims alike about topics surrounding relationships.

“My mission is to reclaim them (connections with elders). We owe it to ourselves, our sisters, our daughters. I am striving to be a guide back to the ways of our foremothers,” (Muslim Wellness).

 

Amina Hassan @blackish.gold – Content Creator

From the dynamic text posts, to her wonderfully aesthetic travel photos, Amina Hassan’s feed is full of power. If you’re ever feeling down, Hassan knows just the right words to get your spirits lifted once again, she shared in a tweet:

i used to be afraid of changing my mind bc i thought it’d make me look weak & inconsistent but i’m actually just so much better off admitting that yesterday me was trash & that she doesn’t have to exist tomorrow”

Hassan’s activism has spoken volumes across the black community, with her Instagram profile amassing over 72k followers, and she’s even got some black revolutionary texts linked in her bio.

 

Mustafa Ahmed @mustafathepoet – Poet, Singer, Songwriter

If you’ve streamed songs by the Weeknd or Camilla Cabello recently, there’s a good chance that some of those songs were written by Mustafa the Poet. Canadian songwriter Mustafa Ahmed began his rise to fame back in 2014 after a string of recognition of his poems, where he gained national attention after Drake reposted some of his work. Since then, Mustafa the Poet has been writing for some of the best in the industry. 

Not only is his work notable in the music industry, but he’s also had a history in filmmaking, producing and releasing Remember Me, Toronto in early 2019. The film revolves around the hip hop industry in Canada, discussing hard topics of social class and gun violence.

Mustafa the Poet continues posting his written work on his Instagram page, with his most recent pieces touching on his personal life. 

 

Jibreel Salaam and Mohammad Hassan @youngnmuslim – Podcasters

Jibreel Salaam and Mohammad Hassan are here to share dope Muslim stories through their podcast series “The Young and Muslim.” With their mission of inspiring Muslim culture, community and growth, their content encourages self care through strengthening faith.

“If there’s something that COVID-19 & Ramadan has taught us, it is to be in the moment & appreciate the fact that you are here today – Alive. Remember, somebody wants to be where you’re at. So appreciate what you got, until it’s gone,” Salaam shared one in an Instagram post.

 

Neelam @neelam_ – Rapper

Neelam Hakeem isn’t your everyday female rapper. The multitalented 33-year-old started off as a modest fashion influencer, but quickly expanded her horizons as she dived headfirst into the world of Rap. Receiving praise from those along the likes of Diddy and Will Smith, Hakeem has been a fierce advocate for women’s rights and social injustice through her music.

Hakeem’s advocacy remains steadfast to this day, with her speaking out on her Instagram feed, stories, and IGTV to document her support for the Black Lives Matter movement through self-recorded talks and sharing relevant videos. Hakeem also recently dropped an Instagram post with snippets of her 2019 music video for her song ‘Mass Incarceration’ alongside anti-racism graphics.

 

Shahd Batal @shahdbatal – Sudanese-American Fashion Influencer

Hijabi beauty vlogger and face of ASOS’ Ramadan campaign, Shahd Batal is a 23-year-old taking the world by storm. What started off as a secret YouTube channel during her first year in college has now amassed a large following of 277K subscribers.

Batal’s following extends across multiple platforms as she sits at 379K followers on Instagram, using it as a forum to share daily fashion and beauty inspo to the masses. Speaking to Cosmopolitan Middle East, Batal describes her style as “versatile, comfortable, and elevated.”

 

Husain Abdullah @habdullah39 – Former Football Player

Hussain Abdullah, former football player for the Kansas City Chiefs, has dedicated his feed to all things football and family. His posts range from wholesome photos of his time with his children, to throwback photos on the field. With his active presence on the platform, he takes the time to reflect on his life as a Muslim through occasional text posts and poems.

In an interview with The Players’ Tribune, Abdullah said, “I am a devout Muslim. As such, I am required to be a benefit to society. Being a good husband to my wife and a good father to my children — these acts are my responsibility as a Muslim.”

His life in retirement has been a journey to self improvement. After accumulating five concussions during his career, he had to make the hard decision to quit the sport that he loved, but continued to speak on his experiences on Instagram.

 

Aysha Sow @aysha.sow – Model

Aysha Sow is the jack of all trades – the NYC based Guinean model and natural hair blogger has curated the picture-perfect (pun intended) Instagram feed complete with different natural hair looks, the occasional golden-hour, dewy skin selfie and more. 

Despite her niche being natural hair styling, Sow dips her toes in fashion, beauty, and skincare ever so often. More recently, Sow has also used her Instagram platform to speak about the Black Lives Matter movement and share resources. 

Looking back at an interview she did in 2019, Sow has always been a vocal advocate for Black folks. When speaking to SHEER about ways the different ways the beauty industry can be more inclusive and diverse, Sow said “HIRE MORE BLACK ARTISTS, MORE BLACK PHOTOGRAPHERS, MORE BLACK MODELS, MORE BLACK DIRECTORS, MORE BLACK PRODUCERS, MORE BLACK WRITERS. HIRE MORE BLACK ARTISTS PERIOD.”

Sakinah and Zakiyyah Rahman @aint.afraid – Artists

Sakinah and Zakiyyah Rahman are the duo you won’t want to miss. This “multi-talented double dose of dopeness” are artists and activists who aren’t afraid to do their thing, and their music revolves around topics of empowerment and religion.

We are one of many beautiful, spiritual, cultural faces of this country,” the duo shared in an Instagram post.

 

Aysha Harun @ayshahuranBeauty Vlogger

Canadian beauty vlogger Aysha Harun’s page is exactly what everyone’s feed needs: flare! From makeup tutorials to skincare routines, and even fashion tips and tricks, Harun does it all. In a piece published by On the Dot Woman, “she decided to fill the void, representing as one of the very first hijab-wearing, dark-skinned Muslim gals to take the online video world by storm.”

Not only is Harun an amazing makeup artist, she is also a lifestyle content creator. When scrolling through her page, you’ll find that she loves posting with her husband, and can rock loungewear like no other.

 

Yasin Osman @yescene – Cartoonist

Toronto-based Yasin Osman is a photographer, cartoonist, and early childhood educator whose creative projects know no end! Quite the storyteller, Osman has used his skills and passion for youth empowerment and visual media to found #ShootForPeace — a photography program where he sits down with the children of Regent Park in Toronto every Sunday to explore self-expression and the art of photography. 

Osman recently self-published his webcomic “Grandpa Ali & Friends” into a comic book which is expected to be released sometime this month.

 

Hakeemah Cummings @hakeemahcmb – Stylist

Modest Fashion stylist Hakeemah Cummings created the first modest fashion styling service in the USA. Talking to Haute Hijab, Cummings says her interest in styling piqued when she attended the Haute and Modesty Show for D.C. Fashion Week in 2013.

Cummings has collaborated with over 50 brands to date to provide her styling services spread across different mediums such as for fashion shows or photoshoots. 

Cummings’ business is called “Cover me Beautiful” and the inspiration behind the name is shared on her website, where she says “because being covered is beautiful.”

 

Ikram Abdi Omar @ikramabdi – Fashion Model

British model Kiram Abdi Omar has made strides in the fashion world. From being the first hijabi model to feature on the cover of Vogue, to starring in the Nike hijabi swimwear campaign, Omar is an influencer you absolutely can’t miss. Omar’s list of covers also includes Burberry, Hello! Magazine, Dazed Digital and many more.

Her multifaceted career isn’t limited to just her modeling. As seen in an array of published pieces, Omar is a budding chef, henna artist,” and even a YouTube stylist.”

 

Manal Chinutay @chinutay – YouTuber/ Influencer

YouTuber Manal Chinutay does everything from lifestyle content to makeup tutorials, and when it comes to her Instagram page, you’ll find the most adorable photos of her son Adam. With a combined following of over 600k on Instagram and YouTube, she’s taken over the world of modest hijabi fashion.

Not only does she have a personal page, but she also runs a shop page with a wide variety of beautiful scarves and a page dedicated to her house where she covers all things home and interior.

 

Mustafa Briggs @mustafabriggs – Writer and Lecturer

University of Westminster alum Mustafa Briggs is an all round master of storytelling. From reading, writing, speaking, travelling and even translating, Briggs has taken his career abroad to, “explore and uncover the deep rooted relationship between Islam and Black History,” (Sacred Footsteps).

Briggs rose to international acclaim for his lecture series, “Beyond Bilal: Black History in Islam” in 2019, and has explored spiritualism through his work on Sacred Footsteps. His most recent online lecture explores the tradition of female scholarship within Islam, serving as, “as an inspiring blueprint for Muslim communities the world over.” 

Through his Instagram feed, Briggs documents his worldly travels alongside his wife, Yasmina, and continues enlightening the crowd with his inspiring captions. 

 

Najma Sharif @overdramatique – Writer

Somali-American writer Najma Sharif is the master of all. With her work being published on networks including NBC, Paper Magazine, and even Vice, Sharif has published over 30 dynamic articles across numerous platforms. 

Her website describes her as someone who “is dedicated to telling stories that amplify the most marginalized people.” It also says “she’s interested in creating challenging work that complicates how we think about and navigate the world. Her writing and public speaking centers Black Muslims from the diaspora, technology, fashion and Black womanhood.”

Sharif’s feed is a colorful blend of far too relatable memes and super cute selfies, but she’ll always keep it real with her insightful commentary and reporting on worldly issues.

 

Alhassan Umar @ally_deen – Public Speaker

Alhassan Umar, better known as Ally Deen, “is a spoken word artist and motivational speaker with the aim of spreading the true image of Islam and enlightening people on life issues.” His poetry is seen all over his page, expanding on topics of self contemplation and worldly affairs. 

At the recent wake of the BLM activism, Ally Deen took the time to reflect on society during this time. “I live in a place where the unfortunate stick together, where the oppressors continue to scramble, continue to find ways to make mice run for cheese. But little do they know that mice want more than cheese.”

His constant words of encouragement will inspire anyone to get up and make a change in the world.

 

Youssef Kromah @youssef.kromah – Author

Award winning author and poet Youssef Kromah has touched the hearts of many with his uplifting and motivational posts. With his posts framing inspirational quotes and lighthearted photos, Kromah has expanded beyond Instagram to enlighten his followers of spirituality.

 

Hulu’s ‘Ramy’ Tackles Spirituality And Self-Identity In Its Second Season

Hulu's 'Ramy' season two focuses primarily on Ramy Youssef’s lack of self-discipline and his internal struggle with faith.

Hulu’s ‘Ramy’ Tackles Spirituality And Self-Identity In Its Second Season

Hulu’s ‘Ramy’ season two focuses primarily on Ramy Youssef’s lack of self-discipline and his internal struggle with faith.

By

Mareena Emran
Photo from Hulu's 'Ramy'

The highly anticipated sophomore season of smash-hit comedy Ramy hit Hulu’s streaming service on May 29th and, unsurprisingly, was both a critical and commercial success. Jam-packed with hysterical scenes and new characters—including Oscar winner Mahershala Ali as Sheikh Malik, and a cameo appearance from actress Mia Khalifa— Ramy season two brought home an overall critic rating of 94% on Rotten Tomatoes. 

Expanding upon season one’s themes of spirituality and self-identity, season two provides viewers not only with more of Ramy’s struggle with his deen, but more profound exploratory storylines revolving around Ramy’s family members, including the now-iconic Uncle Naseem. 

While season one mainly centered around Ramy’s tumultuous journey of navigating adulthood and identity, season two focuses primarily on Ramy’s lack of self-discipline and his internal struggle with faith. Throughout the series, viewers find that, while Ramy’s lack of introspection gets him into trouble, his fragility and knowledge that he is not the “ideal” Muslim makes him relatable. 

 

After failing to “find himself” while traveling abroad, season two starts with a dejected Ramy returning home from his trip. Defeated and more lost than ever, he spirals into a deep depression. As he isolates from the world and falls back into old habits, he reveals a much darker side to himself, juxtaposed with the more lighthearted and youthful Ramy of season one. 

Queue Sheikh Malik, played by Ali, the leader of the Sufi Center across town. In an effort to redeem himself, Ramy asks the Sheikh to be his spiritual guide. Sheikh Malik, a cool, level-headed man, agrees to teach Ramy the ways of “living halal” and becomes a role-model inspiring Ramy to make an effort to change.

 

Initially, we see a seemingly changed Ramy. However, his spiritual demise begins to unfold as his inability to understand the consequences of his actions takes a toll on his relationship with Sheikh Malik. 

Frustrated by Ramy’s behavior, Sheikh Mailk scolds him on multiple occasions: “discipline, Ramy, it’s a muscle; be the solution to your own problems,” are just two of the first lessons the Sheikh struggles to get through Ramy’s thick skull (and honestly, very thick hair). 

Malik’s brazen, yet charming, personality is perfectly portrayed by Ali, and through urging Ramy to set his path straight, he gives the audience a wake up call of their own. 

But while Sheikh Malik’s character development was well-executed, interestingly enough, Uncle Naseem’s was notable as well. Although one of the more unlikable characters of the show, episode nine of the season is focused on delving into Uncle Naseem’s character and how his seemingly dominant masculinity is actually quite fragile. 

In fact, nearly half of the season focuses outside of Ramy’s story, and instead, concentrates on wider cultural issues, including gender roles, stereotyping, the struggles of being a double minority, and  the challenges of achieving the American dream.

But despite Ramy’s efforts to change and become the Muslim he envisioned he could be, towards the end of the season, we see Ramy right back at square one, letting his actions get in the way of fulfilling his ultimate goal of reconnecting spiritually with himself and Allah. Ramy not only lets down the Sheikh, but ultimately, himself. 

This disheartening realization is amplified in the last episode, in which a narration playing from a radio connects Ramy’s originally comical comment on “washing between the toes” to his continual feeling of emptiness, exhibiting how Ramy himself ironically lets his selfish desires get in the way of his happy ending. 

From raising much needed conversations about spirituality and culture, to exploring profound themes about taboo struggles, all while maintaining the cheekiness of Ramy’s character, Ramy season two is not only binge-worthy, but is sure to leave fans in a state of reflection and awe.

READ MORE: Ramy Youssef: Millennial Muslims’ Favorite Conversation-Starter Is Back

British Vogue’s Latest Cover Star Is A Black Hijabi Supermarket Assistant

“I hope the country will have a new appreciation for supermarket workers.”

British Vogue’s Latest Cover Star Is A Black Hijabi Supermarket Assistant

“I hope the country will have a new appreciation for supermarket workers.”

By

Sara S.
Photo - British Vogue

British Vogue has paid tribute to those working on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom by featuring three female key workers on the covers of its July issue.

One of the cover stars, 21-year-old Anisa Omar, is a supermarket assistant working in the London King’s Cross branch of Waitrose. 

Anisa was photographed by fashion photographer Jamie Hawkesworth, who has previously photographed Gigi Hadid and Kate Moss. 

Anisa says being photographed by Jamie was a “big deal” and that she thinks it won’t really “sink in for a while – maybe not until I see the magazine displayed.”

“Before the pandemic, my job was not really that big a deal, but now it’s like we’re important.” Anisa, whose siblings are also part of the Waitrose team working to keep the UK running, says, “it’s nice to feel appreciated.” 

Anisa acknowledges the shared “kindness” she’s seen over the past few months and hopes this new appreciation for supermarket workers continues on into the future.

The United Kingdom is one of the countries worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic with more than 279,000 known cases and at least 40,000 deaths.

The new issue of Vogue UK was published on Friday, June 5th.

READ MORE: What’s With The Islamophobia In Netflix’s ‘Never Have I Ever’?

What’s With The Islamophobia In Netflix’s ‘Never Have I Ever’?

"Are you out of your mind? You heard me say he was Muslim."

What’s With The Islamophobia In Netflix’s ‘Never Have I Ever’?

“Are you out of your mind? You heard me say he was Muslim.”

By

Elizabeth Aziz
Screen grab from Netflix

In the words of the great Kelly Clarkson, “Some people wait a lifetime for a moment like this.” This week, I was “people” and “a moment like this” was tuning into Never Have I Ever, a TV show created by Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher, which premiered at the end of April on Netflix. 

Finally, the teenage dram-rom-com with a brown female lead I have been craving my whole life. And not just *any* brown female lead, but a strong-willed, difficult, grieving, imperfect brown female lead named Devi Vishwakumar (played by the wonderful Maitreyi Ramakrishnan). One with a temper, who smashes glass on the ground at school in front of her whole class when her nemesis scores higher than her on an exam. Not to mention… she has a single mom? AND goes to therapy? Progressive. Unheard of. I’m in. What could possibly go wrong?

Boy, was I in for a ride. I started the show on a Wednesday. I spent the first couple of episodes falling in love with Kamala (played by Richa Moorjani), the seemingly perfect, clueless cousin from back home who lives with Devi and mother Nalini (Poorna Jaganathan) while studying in the US. I instantly felt invested in this all-female South Asian family unit. I related to and cried inside for each one of them for completely unique reasons at various points during the ten episodes which comprise the first season. 

By the time episode four rolled around, I almost forgot that I was yet again watching upper-caste Hindu Indians get to be the official face of South Asians in Hollywood™. I was fully invested by now and wanted to know how this family of strong, independent ladies were going to fare. 

In one episode, we see the ladies at a holiday party, their first since the death of Devi’s father Rohan (Sendhil Ramamurthy) eight months prior. After an unsavory run-in with a swarm of judgmental aunties, Kamala and Nalini search for a place to sit and eat in peace. 

They happen upon a lovely woman dressed in purple (Aarti Mann) sitting at a table alone, who Kamala attempts to approach. Nalini keeps walking, “Come, come,” she insists. The cousin lingers for a moment in the woman’s presence, confused, ultimately following her aunt’s orders. The dialog that ensues next was, let’s just say… a moment.

Kamala: Why could we not sit there?

Nalini: That’s Jaya Kuyavar. She came from Chennai, went to UCLA for her doctorate, parents found her a nice boy back home to marry. Then she ran off with an American man… a Muslim. 

K: *gasps*

N: Parents never spoke to her again.

K: Did they come for the wedding?

N: Are you out of your mind? You heard me say he was a Muslim.

K: I feel bad for her. We should sit with her. 

N: Mm-mm, can’t risk it right now. We’re already borderline outcasts.

 

Pause. “Are you out of your mind? You heard me say he was a Muslim.” 

This line has been playing over and over in my head for days. Hats off to Poorna Jaganathan for tackling that character’s dialog with the hatred of thousands of Islamophobic aunties that came before. When she said that, I felt that. For those of you who haven’t seen the episode, there isn’t even an ounce of jest, let alone compassion in Nalini’s comment about Jaya’s situation. 

One part of me feels like art imitates life. Another part of me wants this entire episode pulled. This line was frankly very distracting from trying to convince myself this show is worth watching, something I didn’t question for a second when I first heard it was coming out but now found myself scrambling to justify watching at all. 

I collected myself. Okay, there are six episodes left. Maybe this topic gets resolved by way of a Muslim friend Devi makes, or some kind of positive encounter to cleanse the palette after this hellish moment. Nothing.

 

The season finale comes and goes, the credits roll, I grab the remote and pause the screen. What did I just spend the last two days watching? A hairy-armed, boy-crazy teen coping with the untimely death of her dad, who happens to have an affirmative-action style social life that includes exactly one person from every major ethnic minority group as per the U.S. Census. Why couldn’t she have a Muslim friend? Why couldn’t she at least have a hijabi lab partner? That seems like an easy place to insert a neutral/positive Muslim character. Maybe a brown boy crush that’s a different religion than her to spice things up? Anything? I could barely spot even a background character who seemed like they could maybe be Muslim.

This feels like a MASSIVE missed opportunity. How much more groundbreaking could this show have been if they weren’t afraid to somehow mess up the bag by including a single Muslim person? How freaking cool would that have been? 

I’m really hoping for some kind of turnaround in season two, if there is one. I would love for this topic to be explored, and for young Muslim girls to see themselves represented in this show that’s supposed to be some kind of watershed moment for South Asians. 

I don’t really feel like this show is a watershed moment for anyone. Not if it had to require putting down Muslims with absolutely no recourse. That doesn’t mean my 12 year old inner child wasn’t extremely psyched to see her own hairy armed, white boy-crazy reflection in the form of Devi, but like… ouch. Either way, she’ll be right here, waiting for season two with an open mind and heart. Can Nalini do the same?

READ MORE: ‘Skam’ Is The Hijabi Representation We Needed

Muslims Celebrated Eid On ‘Animal Crossing’ And It Was Beautiful

Meet the Muslims who spent iftars and celebrated Eid on Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

Muslims Celebrated Eid On ‘Animal Crossing’ And It Was Beautiful

Meet the Muslims who spent iftars and celebrated Eid on Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

By

Lina Qaderi
Art - Noor Ali

Eid is known to be a very social celebration as Muslims traditionally gather together with family and friends and basically enjoy each other’s company while celebrating the end of fasting.  

Obviously due to quarantine, Eid felt a bit off since Muslims couldn’t hang out with their friends and relatives as usual, but some Muslims found a unique and cool way to celebrate while being at home.

The game Animal Crossing: New Horizons has been on the rise due to its modern and lifelike simulation where you get to create your own island and also socialize and communicate with other users virtually. 

These Muslims all came together virtually in the game and celebrated their Iftars and Eid together. 

Rami Ismail (@tha_rami) was one of the Muslims who spent iftars and celebrated Eid on Animal Crossing. According to Ismail, not all of the days were consistently the same for his friends on Animal Crossing. He said, “For suhoors and iftars, it varied per day I organized the gatherings. Some days felt very ‘normal’ – people talking, laughing, and discussing their lives. Some days were more game-like with lots of running around and playing.”

Obviously communicating in a game isn’t the same as social interaction, but in the situations we are in right now this is a good way of keeping in contact with others and making Iftar and Eid feel as real as possible.

Ismail also mentions how he was “disappointed” as he says he had to build everything for the celebration himself –  holidays like Christmas or Easter already have set ups. 

He said, “Animal Crossing is a game that is meant to feel homely and it usually succeeds, but when it comes to culture it is homely to Western, Christian, and Japanese people.” He also described what his first ideas of spending Eid on the game were.

Ismail’s friends that joined him for the Animal Crossing experience were a mix of Muslim and non-Muslims that he met from his travels. He states that he loved explaining to the group of what the meaning of the moon in relation to Eid is, as well as what Ramadan is all about, since he only had one other person fasting with him.

The celebrations were made more interesting considering Animal Crossing stands true to realistic simulation, as the moon in the game is the same phase as the moon in real life.

Another Muslim, Ahmed Ali Akbar (@radbrowndads), decided to take his Eid on Animal Crossing and Zoom. Akbar explained that along with dressing up in the game, he and his cousins who were also playing from all around the country dressed up in real life as well. 

Akbar wasn’t completely by himself as he had his wife, his uncle, and his father in the household with him to celebrate and enjoy the day. 

As if in person, Akbar and his cousins were taking pictures – except they were taking pictures of them in the game as their characters, which was apparently a hassle to do according to Ahmed. Despite the difficulties, it was still one of the most memorable experiences for him.

Both Ismail and Akbar had a beautifully decorated setup for each of their “parties.” Animal Crossing may not exactly have Islamic clothing yet but they have some nice options that could resemble it.

Eid was still able to be celebrated safely, whether it was through other virtual games or even just through video calling, proving that Eid is more than just a lot of people being under one roof.

READ MORE: What Celebrating Eid Under Quarantine Looks Like

Has Rumi’s Poetry Fallen Prey To ‘Spiritual Colonialism’?

A viral Twitter thread addresses the absence of any mention of Islam, the Quran, or anything in Barks’ books. Basically, anything that connects Rumi with his original identity.

Has Rumi’s Poetry Fallen Prey To ‘Spiritual Colonialism’?

A viral Twitter thread addresses the absence of any mention of Islam, the Quran, or anything in Barks’ books. Basically, anything that connects Rumi with his original identity.

By

Hafsa Chughtai
Art - Ameer Al-Khatahtbeh

In a world where the influence of poetry has diminished to be important for only a small fraction of people, Maulana Rumi’s writings still garner a large number of fans. He is undoubtedly one of the most widely loved and most-read poets in the world at this point. His poetry is used at weddings, in songs, under Instagram pictures, and circulates social media every day. 

A lot of famous people such as Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Madonna, Beyonce, and numerous others shared how Rumi’s poetry helped them in their spiritual journey. Subsequently, his writings also became a significant part of their works. Various motivational speakers incorporate Rumi’s quotes in their speeches for an added impression of inspiration. 

However, do these words belong to the same Rumi the Islamic world is familiar with?

A recent Twitter thread raised voice on the said matter. It led people to doubt every Rumi quote they have come across.

This thread discusses the interpretations of Rumi’s work by Coleman Barks, all of which are big hits in America even in times when not a lot of people pay heed to poetry. Barks is credited for almost every Rumi English quote that we know. He is an American poet who wrote multiple books translating Rumi’s Farsi scriptures. Almost all of them acquired a large readership, and most would agree that he is the reason how the Western world grew to be familiar with Rumi. 

The thread addresses the absence of any mention of Islam, the Quran, or anything in Barks’ books. Basically, anything that connects Rumi with his original identity.

Persian Poetics, in this thread, put a question mark on Barks’ credibility, given that Barks’ knowledge of Persian, Sufism, and Islam is little to none. Barks’ books on the topic seem to eliminate the essence of Islam from Rumi’s writings completely, changing them in their entirety and alienating them from the original author.

Rumi was a well known Islamic scholar in the 13-century-world. He was a devout Muslim and a true follower of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). This is also why his teachings were highly regarded by those around him. 

What we see in Barks’ books is a different Rumi, he is less frequently described as a Muslim at all. Some enlightening comparisons between Barks’ translations and literal translations were also brought forward:

The act of separating Islam from not only Rumi’s poetry started long before Barks came into the picture. In fact, people in the Victorian Era began to disconnect Islam from the writings of various Muslim poets. 

But no one can deny the fact that it was Barks who contributed most to building a readership around his diluted interpretations for Rumi. He has interpreted these poems even when he has never studied Persian and written them in such a way that it catches the contemporary American eye. 

Barks said, “Of course, as I work on these poems, I don’t have the Persian to consult. I literally have nothing to be faithful to, except what the scholars give.” 

There are other comparisons that show the magnitude of difference between the original words and those written by Coleman Barks. The first book of translations that Barks came across was written by A.J. Arberry in which he translated the poem Like This as follows:

“Whoever asks you about the Houris, show (your) face (and say) Like this.” 

In reference to the poem, Houris are often interpreted as beautiful virgins promised to pious Muslims in Paradise. Barks translated this exact verse as:

“If anyone asks you how the perfect satisfaction of all our sexual wanting will look, lift your face and say, Like this.”

We see an absence of the Islamic context in this translation while the mention of Prophets Joseph and Jesus remained somewhat the same in the same poem. When asked about why he did this, Barks stated he does not remember if he did this knowingly. Where Rumi’s poetry is concerned, he sees religion as secondary and a point of controversy. 

This thread reached thousands in a matter of a few days and a lot of mixed reactions surfaced. Some stood in support of Barks saying he brought Rumi to the modern world, making it easier for people to understand his poetry. Others are completely against him for taking this liberty. Most stand with the fact that Rumi was a Muslim and should be portrayed as one.

 

Other translations that are accused of the same misinterpretations are done by Andrew Harvey, Deepak Chopra, Shahram Shiva, and John Moyne. 

While these distortions may be easily identified by some, this situation poses a problem for those who are unable to understand Persian, especially for Muslims who greatly rely on translations: they are reading words that Rumi wrote in a completely different context.

READ MORE: Muslims Can’t Get Enough Of ‘Dirilis: Ertugrul’

Muslims Can’t Get Enough Of ‘Dirilis: Ertugrul’

We put together the all-you-need-to-know guide to the hit Turkish show.

Muslims Can’t Get Enough Of ‘Dirilis: Ertugrul’

We put together the all-you-need-to-know guide to the hit Turkish show.

By

Mareena Emran
Art - Hedzlynn K.

If you’ve been lurking around Muslim Twitter recently, there’s a good chance you’ve noticed tweets circulating around a Turkish show Dirilis: Ertugrul and a warrior named Erutugrul. At first glance, it may seem like another foreign Netflix show. However, among the global Muslim population, this show represents an unprecedented hype. 

As reported by the Daily Sabah, the show has amassed over 21 million viewers while streaming across 70 countries. Countless social media stan accounts, especially from Pakistan, caused the show to become an overnight sensation that exploded during the month of Ramadan. With its recent Urdu-dubbed version on PTV and YouTube, Dirilis: Ertugrul has received record breaking numbers. It took over five years for the Turkish market to see 240 million views of the show whereas in Pakistan, over four million subscribers and 344 million views occurred in the month of May alone.

It was originally produced by Turkish Radio and Television (TRT) in 2014 with three seasons, but was broken down into a total of five seasons for its recent release on Netflix with English subtitles. With around 70-100 episodes per season, there is no shortage of amazing acting, complex storylines, and Islamic content, but certain episodes can seem long at times, so if you like a good binge-watch session, this show is perfect for you.

Many of the Turkish actors are industry leaders of theater, movies, and music who crossed over to create a sensational production that has millions of loyal fans waiting for episodes each week. The plot lines are full of multiple cliff-hangers and unexpected twists that are different than traditionally redundant Turkish, Arab, and Pakistani shows that focus on just marriage, gossip, or evil neighbors. 

The drama is set in 1280 and revolves around the life and history of Ertugrul Ghazi, son of Suleman Shah, and leader of the Kayi Tribe. The Kayi tribe was a Muslim Turkish tribe that fought the Mongols, Templars, and Byzantine empire to create a foundation that ultimately led to the creation of the Ottoman empire. Ertugrul’s son, Osman, would become the first Sultan of the Ottoman empire and his descendants would rule much of Europe, the Middle East, and Asia for over 600 years. 

Ertugrul is played by Engin Altan Düzyatan, who has won over the hearts of millions. The other characters include Halime Sultan, Turgut Alp, Bamsi Bey, Selcan Hatun, Gundogdu Bey, ibn Arabi, and Abdur Rehman. These were not just historical figures who supported Ertugrul on his quests, but they also provided a viewpoint on family struggles, hand to hand combat, and the value of loyalty in the face of overwhelming odds. 

Many Americans have compared the show to Game of Thrones based on the stunning wardrobes, historical conflicts, and deaths of main characters with surprise twists. Others have compared it to a new age in Islamic drama production by focusing on the role of religion and faith in Allah instead of superheroes, technology, and money. 

The popularity of this show has expanded across the globe with fans showing their love and appreciation of Ertugrul with dedicated fans, artwork and events.

After the fifth season of Ertugral, the demand from audiences spilled over and a new series was produced – Kuruluş: Osman. Some of the characters from Ertugral stay in the new series for continuity and provide two more seasons of similar content with new characters, plot lines, and excitement. 

Many of the names and handshakes have become popular among teens and families. Children address their fathers as Bey. Friends greet each other in hallways and playgrounds with chest-fist bumps like the Alps. Countless plastic, wooden and metal swords, shields, and axes have been ordered online by people wanting to be like the Alps or Templar Knights. Kayi flags and symbols are being displayed proudly in offices, cars, and living rooms of people who are not even turkish in a sign of solidarity.

Fans have even made Pinterest boards dedicated to the fashion and style of characters, and some have even gone as far as to convert to Islam entirely:

Those who have not watched the show are definitely missing out. Many fans are urging their friends and family to watch episodes on Netflix, PTV and YouTube.

Has Ertugrul won you over yet? We know you parents are obsessed, so you might as well hop on too!

READ MORE: ‘Skam’ Is The Hijabi Representation We Needed

‘Skam’ Is The Hijabi Representation We Needed

The hijab stays ON in this one.

‘Skam’ Is The Hijabi Representation We Needed

The hijab stays ON in this one.

By

Najaha Nauf
Art - Merna Ahmed

If you’re tired of trying to gouge your eyes out every time a hijabi on screen molds herself to white supremacy, you’re not in this alone. I like my TV shows with a bit of diversity that retains itself and keeps things fresh and controversial. 

So if you’re anything like me, Skam is about to become your new favorite series. 

This Norwegian teen-drama is a web series that follows the daily lives of teenagers. It deals with some heavy themes including mental health, homosexuality and in our case, religion. 

Skam in Norwegian literally means shame so you can expect quite a few topics to surface through all four seasons which by society’s standards are considered “shameful,” like sexual assault, breaking gender-stereotypes, and belief in a faith the world thinks is “extreme.” 

Here’s five reasons why Skam is the hijabi representation we needed: 

Screen grab from 'Skam'

1. Sana Bakkoush is a fierce hijabi with her own season. 

Now, if you’re not familiar with how Skam works, each season tells the story of a different protagonist but the cast remains the same. This way, everyone gets a bit of representation and everyone’s story is told. 

Sana Bakkoush is the protagonist of season four, and she’s a practicing Muslim teenager who wears the hijab and struggles to find a balance between high school, faith and family life. You get a thorough run-down of how Sana finds herself in crossroads with religion and self-identity, despite seeming at the beginning to be the physical embodiment of faith-assured. 

It’s the most realistic portrayal of a hijabi I’ve seen in modern day TV. She doesn’t give up on Islam to do the things she likes or get with the people that she likes: what more could a fellow hijabi want the world to know and comprehend?

Screen grab from 'Skam'

2. Her attitude about Islam

While most TV shows hint at Muslim characters feeling forced to deal with the hijab, Skam portrays it as it is: you have this honest, realistic, level-headed hijabi going about her day while being authentically herself. She does not compromise her prayers during the show. She isn’t trying to glorify Islam or defame it. 

Skam includes several scenes where stereotypes are challenged. One of my favorite scenes is when Sana’s introduction occurs and she wants to join the other girls to be a Russ. If you aren’t familiar, russefeiring is a high school tradition in Norway, where students in their last year celebrate their final spring term through means of a parade. It’s usually linked with drunkenness and public disturbances. 

When Sana tries to join, Vilde asks her if “Muslims are allowed to be a Russ” to which Sana jokingly replies with “it’s punished by stoning.” 

While being a Russ is certainly NOT punishable by stoning, western media has made Islam seem more extreme than it actually is and a lot of people truly do believe that Muslims are punished regularly for things that bring them joy. Skam helps burst that bubble and bring to light the truth behind almost everything through Sana’s wit.

Screen grab from 'Skam'

3. The friend group

Every great TV series has a great friend circle, and honestly, Skam has one of the best portrayals of friendship I’ve seen in a long while. While Sana is the only hijabi in her predominantly female circle of friends, there is nothing else that makes her any different from the rest of them. They’re all strong, even-minded females with every bit of teenage angst we know and love. 

In particular, I really loved how the show suggests that hijabis aren’t loners by nature. Sana is an extrovert who isn’t the meek hijabi girl popular stereotypes love to shove down our throats. She’s a genius of her own caliber and her friendships with the other girls are not conceded in any way. It’s nice to see hijabis fitting in, especially in places we were always told we wouldn’t. Bonus points for Sana playing basketball like an absolute legend to reiterate the fact that the hijab is not an obstacle.

Screen grab from 'Skam'

4. Not a damsel in distress 

Although it’s true that Sana’s potential love interest is introduced in season four, her story has more depth to itself than just that aspect. Her struggle with her beliefs and possible relationships plays an important role in reminding us that just because we’re hijabis doesn’t mean we don’t fall in love. We’re Muslims, not monks. The idea that a hijabi girl can fall in love and withhold a relationship so that it adheres with the religion she’s known her whole life is a ray of hope for most of us who have been in similar situations. 

Skam takes a wholesome approach where Sana challenges the norm and uses her religion to make good choices. As early as season one, when sponsors come in for their Russ bus, Sana makes a claim that most people would not believe hijabis are capable of making: she speaks up about sexism and the double-standards people have for women when it comes to earning money through sexual favors. There’s a fine line of appreciation reserved for the way in which this show hints, continuously, of how thinking women owe men anything is a primitive mentality.

Screen grab from 'Skam'

5. Quotes you can plaster your walls with

I have yet to hear of a person who does not willingly quote Skam after watching it. It has these one-liners that give you a very realistic idea of how conversations regarding the hijab, religion and friendships should really go. 

Some of my favorite quotes are, unsurprisingly, Sana’s, mostly because she speaks it as it is and that’s not easy to come by in a time where overly-dramatized lines are the norm. With regards to being asked about Islam being a hateful religion, Sana’s quick to say, “Islam says what it always says… Hate doesn’t come from religion, it comes from fear.”

I believe that’s a timeless line we need in our lives, as a constant reminder that religion doesn’t hate. No religion, especially not Islam, would promote hate. For a teen drama series to capture the essence of Islam so wonderfully is a feat worth many accolades. 

When it comes to defending her friends, Sana likes to use words people have used against her, against them. When a group of girls calls Vilde a slut for hooking up with William, Sana is quick to defend her friend. After the defense she says, “That’s how it’s done in my Muslim gangster world,” air-quoting the words “Muslim gangster” and continuing with, “You don’t judge your friends and you stand up for them, no matter what,” which I believe is as important for hijabis as it is for teenage girls who find themselves in situations where they are pitted against their own friends. 

With regards to the hijab, Sana’s response is easily the most frequent line I’ve used in University every time someone asks me if my parents are forcing me to wear the hijab: “No one is forcing me to wear it. I wear it because I want to.” Could it get any better than this? 

Skam is the hijabi representation we needed and we will continue to need more shows like Skam for a long time to come. It’s wholesome and hilarious in its own way and its range is unparalleled. This is not to say it has no faults: Sana Bakkoush isn’t the poster hijabi or the blueprint other shows need to copy because she has her own shortcomings. However, while there are many ways in which this representation could have gone horribly wrong, they managed to pull it off with quite an impressive character. Hijabi representation in TV series is scarce and most often misplaced but Skam is one of the shows that got it right. And if they can do it, so can everyone else. 

 

READ MORE: 5 Scenes From Hulu’s ‘Ramy’ That Start Important Conversations For Muslims