Ramadan Reflections 2013 (day 10): alignment (ttg)

Greetings beloveds,

It’s been a very long day. I didn’t sleep at all last night in order to support a friend in a ceremony that marked something significant for her. Even though we go on the road at what is typically my bedtime, the energy of alignment carried me. Back in January I wrote about Divine Alignment, and my experience of seeking to surrender my whole being to Allah. I feel I am living in alignment right now. It is a blessing to really feel that where I am is where I am meant to be, that I am with the people I’m meant to be with–like this morning just after sunrise on a beach in Jersey. The last few days, actually the day of the night Ramadan arrived, has been an unexpected whirlwind, with previously unimagined opportunities popping up and bringing with them an unexpected move across state lines–and quickly. The amazing element for me has been the deep sense of peace and clarity that I have in the eye of this whirlwind. That is the best sign that, inshallah, I am saying YES to the leap of faith alignment requires at this time.

Something else I’m beginning to understand is that when I am in alignment, the pleasure of Allah (ridwan) is my greatest motivator. Serving Allah is beginning, middle and end. I can access myself and my gifts with a concentrated depth because I am motivated by love.

I know this may seem rather abstract. Still, I hope you’ll find some nugget to relate to.

I’m on the road again for a Jin Shin Jyutsu training. I bid you goodnight/good morning from the west side of PA!

I am so grateful it is Ramadan. There is such love and tenderness in this month. Alhamdulillah!

Ramadan Reflections (day 9): Infinite: Waz (7.17)

There is a lot that I’ve been thinking about, jotting down, wanting to elaborate on: updates since The Out List came out and the amazing supportive acknowledgments and kind words; reflections on the Bay Area; personal growth… so so much. And inshallah, I will be given the opportunity to emotionally unpack them and have space/time for myself to sit down.

Sometimes time feels so finite.

Sometimes I feel so finite and I give myself so little space to feel what feels infinitely pressing.

Coming upon another Ramadan this year feels very different. I feel so present to having been allowed to be here at this moment, today. I feel present to being shepherded through another year – particularly a time when Ramadan comes at a heavy time.

But I’ve been allowed to be here not by sheer will, luck, happenstance or coincidence. I’m taken into each new day and moment because of fate and because of God. I am supposed to be here and now, with weight on my shoulders and infinite thoughts and feelings racing through my head and heart – during my 30th year alive.

Generally, I am not a fan of celebrating my birthday but this last December, I was willing to acknowledge it more readily – especially as it represented entry into a marked and inarguable adult status. Into a new place and status with a set of experiences that would carry me into the next number of years intended for me. And as I turned 30, I wondered to myself what it would mean for me – what I would accomplish this year? And more than everything else, I wondered what it would mean for me and my parents.

Since then, I’ve been waiting for it to settle in. When would I feel (more) adult? How would I rise to the occasion of being a wiser, in action adult? How would it set me apart from 29 or 25? It wasn’t until the end of June when I came to feel the 30th Ramadan that I would be alive for.

Birthdays seem arbitrary to me. And more than that, I grew up in a family where most family members didn’t have birth certificates (or death certificates) – you were born generally on X date, around about when Y and Z got married… and it was Winter… or Spring.

And in this country, we remember (some) dates for the wrong reasons: to enshrine death and casualty

This year, I felt a tugging that Ramadan was when 30 began. This marked my 30th year alive – my 30th Ramadan. And this month feels significant. It matches the significant and infinite feelings and thoughts swirling and whirling, cooking inside. And this moment/month also underlines a desire to act on responsibility in action and words, that may be received (inshallah) differently than before.

I specifically mean restarting the conversation about my queerness and my life with my parents.

The letter I sent them was intercepted for many/all the right reasons by my siblings. It’s not fair to them to be the messengers, or the ones who bear the brunt of the weight of our parents reactions… I have to return to my role as the older sister and I know in my heart that my parents want me to return to them as both daughter and now adult. It has been undeniably too long that we’ve held our breaths, skirted questions and that I have been restrained in my living, breathing, and being me: as whole self.

Next steps are brewing.

But I feel renewed in this moment, after moment. Infinitely.

(this was started the other day in preparation to be posted yesterday, which didn’t happen: the 8th day of Ramadan- 8, on it’s side: infinity)

Ramadan Reflections 2013 (day 8): Honor in striving (ttg)

web

Salaam beloveds,

This is really just a note to hold space for the commitment we made to post everyday. Life in Ramadan is throwing us some curve balls and we are striving to catch them. Inshallah I want to write about surrender and saying yes to Allah again and again (one of my favorite subjects: ) in a post to come. Before the clock strikes midnight, I hope you have had an inwardly rewarding day. I raise my coconut water (is anyone else burning up in their town??) in honor of striving. Cheers.

 

Ramadan Reflections (day 7): Compassionate Rage

compassionate rage pic

Like Wazina, I’ve been wrestling with how to make sense of the Zimmerman verdict, especially how to understand it in the context of Ramadan. The question I ask myself is how do I hold all my rage, grief, and compassion, and still function? We were in the midst of a lovely iftar gathering when we got news of the verdict. The rage coursing through me would surely have been enough to overturn a car, yell and scream and break some things. I daresay all of us in the room went through some serious contortions to maintain our self-control, contortions people of color are adept at through hundreds of years slavery, colonialism, ruthless capitalism, etc. Someone asked “why hold on to the rage?” a question which sparked anger. As a black woman in America, I am very clear that my anger is scary to white folks. Just last year, I caught sight of the nearly-automatic pacifying smile I adopt with white folks I don’t know to signal “peaceful, everything’s alright”, the residue of training which had our ancestors know that “if the white folks alright, we’re alright, we’re safe.” And so even in the face of a crazy, nonsensical verdict that once again reminds us of how the criminal (in)justice system consistently devalues the lives of black and brown bodies, I find myself struggling with what to do with my rage.

The grief, too. What about Trayvon’s family?

It is also true that fasting is not just from food, drink, sexual activity and smoking. Shayka Fariha encourages fasting at this level:

There are as many forms of fasting as there are organs of perception and sensation, and each of these has many different levels. So we ask to fast from all that Allah does not love for us, and to feast on what the Beloved loves for us. Let us certainly fast from the limited mind, and all that it conjures up. Let us fast from fear, apart from fear and awe of Allah’s majesty. Let us fast from thinking that we know, when Allah alone is the Knower. Let us fast from thinking negatively of anyone. Let us fast from our manipulations and strategies. Let us fast from all complaint about the life experiences that Allah gives us. Let us fast from our bad habits and our reactions. Let us fast from desiring what we do not have. Let us fast from obsession. Let us fast from despair. Let us fast from not loving our self, and from denying our heart. Let us fast from selfishness and self-centered behavior. Let us fast from thinking that only what serves us is important. Let us fast from seeing reality only from our own point of view. Let us fast from seeing any reality other than Allah, and from relying on anything other than Allah. Let us fast from desiring anything other than Allah and Allah’s Prophets and friends, and our own true self. Essentially, let us fast from thinking that we have any existence separate from Allah.

What is required to maintain this level of fasting? Part of what helps me is to broaden my perspective and remember. What I know is that I don’t know or comprehend the inner workings of creation. What I know is that things unfold as they are meant to, as Waz said. I don’t know the purpose the unfolding of this case means in the larger view of creation. I know I want to be as faith-full as I can in this life. I know part of what that means is  to strive with my mind, body, and goods for the triumph of love in this world. I know part of that means finding healthy ways to express not just my own rage and grief, but to contribute to the collective exorcising of historical trauma and the rage and grief that accompanies it. I believe it is possible to express such intense emotions and legacies in service of our own goodness and striving and compassion and love and hearts.

For me, it is also to pray for our humanity, for forgiveness, for wisdom to do better, for hearts that break and then heal bigger.

Whoever recommends and helps a good cause becomes a partner therein: and whoever recommends and helps an evil cause, shares in its burden: and Allah hath power over all things. (Surah An-Nisa–4:85).

 

Ramadan Reflections 2013 (day 6): Stuck

I’m stuck.

I’ve been stuck all day on my feelings about the Trayvon Martin and the verdict.

I’ve been asking myself how to contextualize this within Ramadan. Where do I reflect on this?

I’ve been writing little lines here and there… I opened up the Quran to find an answer. I opened to Surah: Al- Araf

Surah 7: Ayah 34 stood out to me:

And for all people a term has been set:to and when [the end of] their term approaches, they can neither delay it by a single moment, nor can they hasten it. 

In this I choose to believe that Trayvon’s murder and the end of his young life was meant to be. This ruling by the court is also an end to apathy, inshallah. I hope that those of like-mind and heart will understand that we must fight for justice in all its forms and name racism, sexism, xenophobia, islamophobia, homophobia and on, in all it’s forms. At all times.

We cannot – I cannot – be as tight-lipped (which generally, I am not) in naming racist actions and remarks around me. I particularly cannot falter or hesitate as a woman with skin-privilege.

THIS MOMENT IS RACISM IN ACTION – this is institutional and socio-cultural racism in all it’s glory. I refuse to be engaged or even hear any form of explanation or defense that is contrary to what I know. That is exactly what we, as millions of people in the US and around the world, know to be true.

I started to write a little poem, but I’m not ready to share it yet… I’m taking an easy route right now by ending with something from bell hooks… I hope you’ll understand.

bell hooks on Zimmerman case

“White supremacy has taught him that all people of color are threats irrespective of their behavior. Capitalism has taught him that, at all costs, his property can and must be protected. Patriarchy has taught him that his masculinity has to be proved by the willingness to conquer fear through aggression; that it would be unmanly to ask questions before taking action. Mass media then brings us the news of this in a newspeak manner that sounds almost jocular and celebratory, as though no tragedy has happened, as though the sacrifice of a young life was necessary to uphold property values and white patriarchal honor. Viewers are encouraged to feel sympathy for the white male home owner who made a mistake. The fact that this mistake led to the violent death of an innocent young man does not register; the narrative is worded in a manner that encourages viewers to identify with the one who made the mistake by doing what we are led to feel we might all do to “protect our property at all costs from any sense of perceived threat.” This is what the worship of death looks like.”

– bell hooks

Ramadan reflections 2013 (day 5): Bring your whole selves

dirt road pic

Greetings family,

Ramadan Mubarak! Waz and I returned to the East Coast on Thursday after a wonderful trip to the Bay Area. Thank you to all the beautiful folks who made it out to our performances, who brought friends with them, who sent us light. Inshallah that was just our first trip west.

As we did last year, we’ll be posting Ramadan Reflections each of the coming days of Ramadan. Waz and I will alternate. Please check in with us. We hope you find something that resonates with you as we go along.

If you’ve seen COM, you know that Ramadan is my favorite time of the year: ) I love the sense of community, the generosity and encouragement to move more slowly, to remember Allah with fewer distractions. I find that because I physically don’t have the energy to move at my usual speed, it forces me to be more deliberate about what I do, what I think about, what I focus on. It is also interesting to notice how much more time there seems to be in the day when I’m not thinking about eating, preparing to eat, finding something to eat, cleaning up, etc. It’s actually quite amazing how much time opens up. Before leaving the Bay on Wednesday night, I had the great pleasure of attending an iftar hosted by our beautiful queer and trans Muslim family there. They’ve been gathering for iftars for about 3 years now. About 20 or so people came, bringing with them such light and love. I could feel myself twinkling in their presence. The gathering reminded me of the magic that is in community, when folks feel welcome and safe, especially in Ramadan. Tonight, inshallah, we are hosting our first iftar this year. I have swept and dusted and scrubbed with love. As it is an honor to run to praise Allah, it is an honor to run to serve community, to hold space for a group of people to bring their whole selves, safely to break fast and, inshallah, twinkle in the mystical magic of this sacred time. Wherever you are, if you are able, gather with you community–the place you feel safe and whole–as often as possible.

 

This line from Waz runs through my mind:

The azaan asks us home
to every meal we have missed
Or thought we would never taste again
bring your entire self

Inshallah may this month bring us closer to Allah. May it be a time of mending–for our hearts, for any relationships in need of healing. May it be a time when we are freed from any illusions we’ve been living in. May we be truly burnished in Reality. Ya Allah, Ya Allah, Ya Allah! Amin.

 

Ramadan Reflections 2013: Grace Period

Salaam all,

TTG, Al-Sarah, Laura Marie and I have been in a whirlwind of experience the last week or so. We all safely arrived, trickling in from all ends of the country, and have been sharing Coming Out Muslim with all who we encounter – both through the show and the living/breathing of the conversation.

It’s been stressful, I’ll tell you that. Shlepping, figuring out transport, maneuvering the spaces in which we are performing, and personally, it’s an emotionally overwhelming time for me (more to be shared later this month, I’m certain). In the midst of all this, I am realizing Ramadan is coming!

I am almost certain that God is bringing me to another Ramadan so that I may do exactly as this blog says, reflect. I am excited and nervous too with anticipation of what is ahead, but I cannot foresee them now. I must trust in what is intended.

And so, to our Muslim brothers and sisters who have begun their Ramadan, I/we wish you a mubarak start to y/our month.
For Muslims, like myself, who have not started, for those of us in this in-between 24 hours, take this grace period to prepare yourselves and your intentions for what is ahead of us.

I leave you with my first meditation for the beginning of Ramadan (also words of advice from Terna): SLOW DOWN.

… which I certainly will after tonight’s show 🙂

xoxo Waz