A Gen Z Muslim On 9/11

A Gen Z American Muslim reflects on the harrowing day of 9/11 and her fear of speaking out on islamophobia.

A Gen Z Muslim On 9/11

A Gen Z American Muslim reflects on the harrowing day of 9/11 and her fear of speaking out on islamophobia.

By

Amirah Ahmed
Photo of Amirah Ahmad, Graphic - Ameer Al-Khatahtbeh

For American Gen Z Muslims, 9/11 is a most perplexing day filled with mourning and unfounded guilt.

There’s something peculiar about pleading with your parents to let you stay home from school to avoid the inevitable stares of your peers; this experience is an annual occurrence. Every year on the 11th of September, American Gen Z Muslims collectively hold our breath in anticipation of the inevitable glares and stinging remarks. When the pledge of allegiance blares from the intercom that morning, you know the extended moment of silence will follow, with it the thick layer of implication that shrouds the room with every awkward glance from a classmate. 

Marketing your patriotism seems like the only way to survive. Shrink your Muslim identity so that maybe you’ll be spared from the gruesome monster that is Islamophobia. These are just two of the rules in the ‘Guidebook to Being American and Muslim’, an instruction manual Gen Z Muslim Americans have memorized almost as religiously as Surah Fatiha. 

But on September 11th, all rules fly out the window and your guidebook becomes a shield. Walking the tightrope between amplifying your condolences for the victims of the attacks and begging people to understand that ‘American’ and ‘Muslim’ are not mutually exclusive terms.

 

 

Terrified to proclaim your exhaustion from constantly defending your humanity, because what if they call you a terrorist? What if they attempt to invalidate your Americanness because you happen to bow your head in prayer the same way that those men did? 

So instead of standing up for yourself, you blanket yourself in an American flag hijab and look down in remorse when they make the same ‘Allahu Akbar’ joke as they have the past three years.

They seem to forget that I’m the daughter of a veteran. They seem to forget that my grandfather served over 20 years as a firefighter. They seem to forget about my uncle’s service in the police force. They honor them until they read the roster. Why? When they hear the stutters in my Teta’s broken English, they seem to forget that she came here for hope, not to deconstruct. When they see me cry for the lives lost that day, they seem to forget that I am an American too, that I was not yet alive 19 years ago and how could I have anything to do with the devastating loss of life? 

Why do they seem to forget that you can mourn a terrible tragedy without turning those who share the faith of the perpetrators into accomplices? 

I am afraid to speak about Islamophobia on a day like today. I’m afraid of being labeled as insensitive in the face of lost life. But nobody worries about sensitivity when ignoring the thousand upon thousands of civilian Iraqi and Afghani lives lost in the resulting wars. Nobody tiptoes around their Islamophobic remarks while scrolling past the endless hate crimes devastating Muslim American communities. And you definitely don’t censor your hatred even though you’re sitting next to a Muslim American that lost a loved one on 9/11 too. In the words of poet Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan, “If you need me to prove my humanity, I’m not the one that’s not human.”

I’m not here to defend the evil, senseless violence of September 11th 2001. I am here to make it clear for what seems like the thousandth time that Muslim Americans lost just as much as you on 9/11. Islam does not condone murder, and blaming an entire demographic based on the skewed actions of a select few is just as ridiculous as blaming all Christians for the actions of the Ku Klux Klan, who also used alleged divine guidance to justify their own violent actions.  

This year, let’s all stand together and mourn the lost lives of our fellow Americans… without displacing your pain on a group that’s hurting just as much as you.

I Tried ‘Halal’ Dating Apps For A Month And Here’s What Happened

For some of us, finding the perfect match comes easy. Other times, it can feel like a roller coaster down a rabbit hole of catfishes and fake profiles.

I Tried ‘Halal’ Dating Apps For A Month And Here’s What Happened

For some of us, finding the perfect match comes easy. Other times, it can feel like a roller coaster down a rabbit hole of catfishes and fake profiles.

By

Ulla Scheik
Art - Ameer Al-Khatahtbeh

I never thought I’d end up on a “halal” dating app. 

To me, Minder always felt like a knock off version of Tinder and I wasn’t sure how to feel about that, especially considering how unsettling the whole “dating” concept is for me as a somewhat-conservative Muslim woman.

Yet there I was, setting up my profile, trying not to get my hopes up but still hopeful. 

Initially, I loved Minder. There were so many potential guys to choose from – I went from having 0 standards and willing to settle for anyone who would slightly understand my religion and culture, to being picky about what height and “religious flavor” I was willing to match with.

(Spoiler alert: I’m still single and maybe I deserve it for swiping left on all the guys who are 5’4 even though I’m 5’4 myself)

Despite being picky, I still had quite a few matches and at times it got overwhelming having to keep up with all these different conversations, many of which were clearly not going anywhere. 

I also ran into a few surprises, I got catfished, I was told off for using slang, and unmatched with because I picked “Shia” as my religious flavor. 

One of my rules for swiping was that I never swiped right on guys that had shirtless photos on their profiles, it was a turn-off and I couldn’t take them seriously. 

For whatever reason though, I made an exception when it came to this one guy named Mahdi. He was local, owned his own business, and I found him really cute. His bio was a mess but I gave him the benefit of the doubt and still swiped right.

Graphic - Ameer Al-Khatahtbeh

I messaged him the day after we matched, and right away with each message I began to realize that something was off. 

For someone who supposedly grew up in the states, his English did not sound like it at all. He also had a picture with a car that had a German license plate, which I thought was odd for someone who lived locally (unless it was just a rental, or he’s super-rich and has a house and car abroad *we love that*). 

His profile also mentioned that he spoke several languages, which I found out he couldn’t speak through our conversation, and he also said a lot of narrow-minded and ignorant things that made me end the conversation altogether.

At one point, I think he genuinely must’ve copied and pasted his message straight from google translate without making any changes to it, and it was very obvious. 

I was convinced that something was off so I did a reverse search image (I know so extra of me but I just had to find out).

And look what came up:

Graphic - Ameer Al-Khatahtbeh

His name is Amin Elkach. He’s a Morrocan athlete/model in Germany.

His real name is not Mahdi, he’s not afghan, he’s not a business owner, he doesn’t live in VA, and he most definitely can’t speak English. 

Unfortunately, he unmatched before I could report him and is still out there cat-fishing. If you run into him tell him he looks like he could be a Morrocan model in Germany!

Another instance I ran into was this excuse of a man who got annoyed because I used slang at one point, and I guess you shouldn’t do that when you’re discussing taxes?

I have so many problems with everything he said in those messages, I wouldn’t even know where to begin, but I’ll leave it at this; it’s him, it’s not me.

Graphic - Ameer Al-Khatahtbeh

I don’t have screenshots for my next point, but on my profile, I purposely chose to show that my “religious flavor” as Minder likes to phrase it, is Shia. 

Even though I don’t believe in sectarianism, there are others who do and there are a lot of misconceptions and prejudice towards the Shia label. For that reason I chose to disclose it on my profile, in case someone had a problem with my label, they could simply avoid me from the get-go and save us both time.

Yet many of the guys I matched with apparently didn’t bother reading through my profile before matching, so a few of them messaged me afterward to let me know that they’re unmatching because I’m Shia and they’re looking for someone Sunni. 

I was most offended by the guys who matched, proceeded to waste my time with a dry conversation, then realized my profile says that I’m Shia and then unmatched.

And while all these things happened on Minder, I also tried MuzMatch at the time and my overall experience made me feel overwhelmed because I didn’t feel like I could keep up with everyone. I also felt like beyond the basic biodata, the apps didn’t really help much in getting to know the other person. I just felt overall disappointed and like I wasted so much time that I’m never getting back. Not to mention all the creeps I ran into on the app.

While my overall experience was definitely not good, and the apps didn’t really help me find anyone, there are people who find each other this way.

I’m not sure what differentiates those who find success on these platforms from the ones who don’t, but I know that it is possible for some people and that there plenty of nice and genuine guys on the app who don’t lie about who they are.

For me personally, the experience wasn’t worth the time I put into it, only to find myself right back where I started. But if you’re thinking about trying out these dating apps, I’d say definitely give it a shot, but don’t be too disappointed if it doesn’t get you the results you want.

Fall Semester’s Online, What Now?

Online classes got you a little stir-crazy? Well, we’re here to help! Here is a guide on how to make the most out of your online classes

Fall Semester’s Online, What Now?

Online classes got you a little stir-crazy? Well, we’re here to help! Here is a guide on how to make the most out of your online classes

By

Zainab Damji
Art - Ameer Al-Khatahtbeh

None of us need to be reminded of our current situation; this pandemic has taken the world by storm, affecting many far and wide. And while a lot of people have it worse, this can be a frustrating time for college students. 


With classes going online for many of us, we now have to learn how to navigate a virtual university environment while dealing with so many other things that may be going on in our lives. Such collective efforts in curbing the spread of this virus are vital, but that doesn’t mean that our feelings of confusion and disappointment aren’t justified. Even though a lot of things seem like they’re out of our control right now, we can still work towards learning the ropes of managing our stress in these circumstances. Here are some things that worked for me!

1) Make a routine (and stick to it!)

It’s very easy to lose a sense of routine when you’re learning online — especially if your classes are pre-recorded. A routine is very important to maintain a sense of normalcy and create a productive working environment.

 

2) Craft your workspace

All of us learn best in different ways, so it’s only natural for us to have different set-ups that suit our working style. Some of us prefer more screens, while others prefer notebooks. I know I love having a journal and a physical calendar but my friends prefer apps to manage their productivity. Make your workspace a place that naturally puts you into work mode: it could be a corner in your room, your dining table or the outdoors! The bottom line is you know what works best for you, so be sure to craft your workspace accordingly.

 

3) Practice self-care!

From taking regular breaks in between studying to playing video games, netflixing or going all out with a home-spa set up — make sure you’re making time for yourself! Your regular academic course load is challenging enough, coupled with our given circumstances, it’s super important that we take out time from our day to relax and do the things we like!

 

4) Maintain social connections!

Just because you’re social distancing doesn’t mean you can’t be social! Just like you would in school, make sure you’re keeping your social life going. Whether it’s through video calls, online games or virtual movie nights. And if being on your screen all the time gets you tired, look into planning a socially distant picnic with your friends! There’s so many ways to maintain your social relationships!

 

5) Talk to your parents/roommates

Before you start this Fall, try to sit down and have a conversation with your parents, siblings, roommates or anyone that you will be sharing your living space with. You can discuss expectations and draw boundaries to prevent any disagreements or miscommunication in the future. This can include talking through household responsibilities, privacy or setting a quiet time; this is a perfect opportunity to express how they can best support you! While it may seem trivial or irrelevant, I think it could prove really helpful in making your study-from-home life productive and stress-free.

 

READ MORE: Meet Mohamad Zoror, The Macaroni Vine Guy

UK Police Aggressively Drag Muslim Father From His Dying Daughter’s Hospital Bed

Disturbing footage filmed in September 2019 of police officers mistreating the mother and father of a young patient, after they refused to leave their severely ill child, was recently obtained by the Mail.

UK Police Aggressively Drag Muslim Father From His Dying Daughter’s Hospital Bed

Disturbing footage filmed in September 2019 of police officers mistreating the mother and father of a young patient, after they refused to leave their severely ill child, was recently obtained by the Mail.

By

Maryam Zaynah
Images from Dailymail

Zainab Abbasi, a six-year-old daughter of two former doctors, died in September 2019, days after her parents were mistreated at the hospital their daughter was being treated at. What happened? 

With Zainab’s condition worsening quickly, her parents panicked and asked to leave the room. Not long after they were asked to leave the room but refused to, a complaint was made because of Rashid Abbasi’s lack of cooperation. The police were called to the room, asking the couple to leave. The footage also shows Aliya Abbasi desperately begging a police officer to empathize with her situation. “Do you have children, police officer?” she asked.

The very upsetting footage shows a police officer violently removing Mr. Abbasi from the room, by holding his neck. They strapped his legs and ankles together and forcefully wheeled him away on a bed, as the 59-year-old man attempted to break free. A female police officer can be seen shouting at him in a condescending tone, “You’re acting like an animal it’s disgusting. Get him out of here.”

The video shows Mr. Abbasi repeatedly demanding they allow him to have his medicine as he had severe chest pains from the stress and intensity of the situation.

Later he was told he had suffered from a heart attack. The next day he underwent a heart procedure.

Meanwhile his wife Aliya was screaming at the scene before her, hopelessly urging the police to let go of her struggling husband who had become quite worked up. She was pulled by the back onto the hospital floor screaming, “They’re going to take the tube out of our daughter and she’s going to die.”

Mrs. Abbasi did admit that her husband can sometimes become animated and bad tempered, but that is only because of his health conditions and Zainab’s situation which he felt was not receiving enough attention and care. The couple were both former doctors and knew that enough wasn’t being done. She said, “Because we were both doctors we knew exactly what should be happening and we could point out when our daughter was being failed. If this could happen to us, what about other people?”

Despite this distressing experience they continued to try and save their daughter in any way possible, who had little time left to live. They pleaded for her to be given high doses of steroids which was again denied. The following morning she died, with her mother and father silently watching.

The loss of their young daughter has left the helpless parents traumatized and heartbroken. Mr Abbasi has now began proceedings to sue police for their behavior. A petition is going around which you can sign to help which can be found here.

Muslim Woman Becomes Face Of UK’s National Healthcare System

Dr Farzana Hussain, a British Bangladeshi Muslim, has been recognized for her work as a General Practitioner (GP) in South London.

July 2020 marks 72 years of Britain’s free nationwide healthcare system, the NHS – and to celebrate the occasion, a Muslim doctor graces billboards up and down the country.

Dr Farzana Hussain, a British Bangladeshi Muslim, has been recognized for her work as a General Practitioner (GP) at a medical center in a deprived area of South London. The mother of two has, like medical staff worldwide, been on the frontline during the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr Hussain is among twelve National Health Service staff who have been photographed especially for the anniversary by acclaimed British photographer Rankin, known for his portraits of Kate Moss, the Rolling Stones and even Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. 

The NHS pictures can be seen across the country on billboards and in shopping centers, not to mention at the iconic Piccadilly Circus lights in central London – undoubtedly the most famous advertising spot in the UK.

Dr Hussain hasn’t let it go to her head. “It’s difficult to put into words how privileged I feel to be able to go to work every day and make a difference to people’s lives and to help battle this global pandemic.

Now more than ever, it’s important that we see the humanity that makes up our GP practices, community services and hospitals. Every member of staff has their own story, fears and hopes for the future. I think Rankin’s photography brings this out really well.”

You can read her full statement on the official NHS page.

This is a great achievement not just for the Muslim community, but also specifically Muslim women, the hijabi community, the Bengali community and the South Asian community. It is yet another proud moment for Muslims in the UK – earlier in the year a British key worker graced the cover of Vogue –  towards finally achieving the recognition British Muslims deserve. 

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

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’?

Yemen Suffers As It Deals With Over 343 Cases Of Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Yemen has little capacity to test those suspected of having the virus because of the 5-year-long civil war.

Yemen Suffers As It Deals With Over 343 Cases Of Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Yemen has little capacity to test those suspected of having the virus because of the 5-year-long civil war.

By

Maryam Zaynah
Photo - Wail al-Qubaty/AP

June 1, 2020People of Yemen have to deal with coronavirus cases (COVID-19) and face a big pandemic that is on the rise. 

Yemen encountered its first case of the virus on April 10, after which hundreds more have been affected across the war-torn country. 

The country is already facing the ramifications of a bitter five year war. Some sources say there are currently 343 confirmed cases but to know the reality of cases and deaths is near to impossible. 

Sky News spoke with the head of the United Nations Refugee Agency for Yemen Jean- Nicolas Beuze, who fears that “coronavirus (COVID-19) may be the straw which will break the camel’s back in Yemen.” 

Yemen was already dealing with a range of severe illnesses including dengue, malaria and one of the worst cholera epidemics in history. It’s therefore unclear as to whether the recent deaths have been due to COVID-19, or as a result of prior illnesses already present in the country. Because authorities in the country have banned reporting on the virus, it’s likely that figures are much higher. Either way, it seems that if nothing is done to help the struggling nation, it could deteriorate to its lowest point. 

But what makes Yemen worse off than other countries battling the virus? One of the biggest factors stopping people from recovering is the more or less nonexistent healthcare system. The UN has announced that Yemen’s healthcare system has “essentially collapsed. 

A large amount of doctors and nurses have fled the country, leaving the people with little to no help. The lack of beds, medical equipment and oxygen has forced hospitals and ICUs to turn people away, even the most vulnerable. The BBC said the country is surviving on only 200 ventilators for a population of nearly 30 million. 

The people of Yemen are already known to have low immunity, since they’re used to an environment of illness and infection. The absence of proper medical attention to victims of the virus means the risk of further illness and death rates are much higher. 

 While the rest of the world takes stringent measures to stop the spread of the virus like social distancing and extra sanitation, Yemen is not able to do the same. It’s hard to find clean water when infection is rife, and the water that is available must be used for essential needs. To add to that, social distancing is out of the question. Large families live in small makeshift tents and big groups are restricted to one bathroom. 

Although coverage on the war in Yemen is not a regular occurrence, it has been dealing with an array of obstacles for half a decade, from constant fighting to starvation. 

To put it briefly, the Houthi rebels, a Shia group based in Yemen, have been at war with the Saudi-led coalition which is backed by the Yemeni government. The ongoing dispute between the two parties has negatively affected the citizens of Yemen more than anyone. 

It has led the Hudaydah port – one of their main sources of food and supplies – being blocked off by the Saudi-led coalition. The blockade of such an important port has resulted in shortage of supplies and food which the people are in desperate need of. Even before the war, 90% of Yemen’s food was imported. The UN estimates that this hostile conflict has killed more than 100,000 as a result of starvation, disease or missiles and airstrikes. 

With America recently announcing it has cut off around $70 million in aid, the future looks bleak for the people of Yemen. While we can appreciate that the entire world is enduring this virus collectively, most governments have a structured plan and thriving health care system to ensure their citizens are cared for in comparison to Yemen. It’s described by many as the worst humanitarian crisis in modern history. If swift action is not taken soon, COVID-19 could be the thing to completely destroy the country.

READ MORE: U.S. House Passes Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act