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I Prayed as I Was Being Arrested for Protesting in Baton Rouge

I Prayed as I Was Being Arrested for Protesting in Baton Rouge

A blaring siren rang out over the chants of my fellow protesters. I looked frantically for the source of the noise. I quickly learned that this tactic is known as “weaponized sound” and it meant that S.W.A.T. teams were close behind.
I was standing on someone’s lawn peering around the corner down France Street when I saw the human wall of police. They moved toward us with shields, gas masks, and automatic weapons. I saw them slam a photographer to the ground and knee a young woman in the back.
I screamed “No!” and tears filled my eyes as started to move toward the now prostrate protesters, in hopes I could somehow protect them.
A masked officer pointed a gun at me and my legs refused to move any further. Choked by fear and the hot air of the south, I scanned the crowds of people for familiar faces. My voice became shrill as I struggled to called out to my partner. Akeem was helping other protesters get onto the sidewalks and away from the hoards of officers who were intent on grabbing and tackling us. Akeem refused to let anyone get hurt if he could help it.

He shouted, “Write this number down — if you or someone you know gets arrested, have this number memorized or written down.”

He seemed unmoved by the weapons pointed at him concerned only with urging people to comply with the officers’ commands. My phone rang non-stop as my panicked mother urged me to leave the scene. Something in me made me believe that if I left it would be the last time I saw Akeem alive.
Once protesters were safely on Ms. Lisa Batiste’s lawn and the surrounding sidewalk, Akeem scrawled the phone number to the Nation Lawyer’s Guild on the back of a Black Lives Matter sign.
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He shouted, “Write this number down — if you or someone you know gets arrested, have this number memorized or written down.”
I had not stopped crying for what felt like an eternity. I took my phone, Akeem’s backpack, and my “STAY WOKE” jacket and I brought it to my mother who had been waiting for us in the parking lot of the church where the youth-led protest has started.
I told her I would be right back — but that I needed to stay with Akeem. She understood and gave me a huge hug. I returned to Ms. Batiste’s lawn with my hijab, ID, and my mother’s phone.
Moments later, I saw additional S.W.A.T. vehicles roll in, I decided I needed to pray.
I did not stop to make wudu, to make sure I was standing behind onlooking men, or check my compass to see if I was praying in the proper direction. Wearing short sleeves and shorts, I began with the takbir. I was unaware that photographers were capturing these moments.
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(photo courtesy of Whitney Christy of the Advocate)
After these photos of me went public, I was inundated by messages on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram from frustrated (but likely well-meaning) Muslims who were furious about my shorts and short sleeves.

I did not yet have time to acknowledge the trauma and desperation I felt, and still I was being chastised by members of my own community for appearing to be immodest.

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One woman who lives in Toronto chastised me and told me that my prayers “didn’t even count,” since I was dressed the way I was.
I had just been arrested while protesting peacefully, tackled and dragged by armed men as I stood on private property with the home owner’s consent. I did not yet have time to acknowledge the trauma and desperation I felt, and still I was being chastised by members of my own community for appearing to be immodest.
I was so hurt by the comments and the criticism. Why didn’t my community trust me to know my relationship with Allah?

Contributed by Blair Imani

View Comments (20)
  • Allaah is the only Judge. He alone knows the truth of our hearts and that is what matters most. May Allaah have mercy on us and bless us with the goodness of this world and of the next. Aameen.
    Continue the good fight. I hope you and all the protestors are doing well inspite of the trauma you have all endured. #BlackLivesMatter
    Let peace and love prevail.

  • Nobody has the right to tell you your prayers are not accepted. Your prayers are for Allah alone, and they are for Him to judge acceptable or not.
    He loves anyone who turns to Him sincerely. And I have a feeling the sincerity of your actions that day were more real and true than a lot of people ever experience in their prayers.

    • There are some rules for prayer that we Muslims know. Based on that a prayer is null and void if you don’t fulfil the fard requirements. I can not pray without wudu when water is available, I can not go to masjid wearing a hal-pant for congregational prayer, I can not go to masjid wearinf t-shirt full of pictures, and then if a man points that to me, then I can’t say why you judging me.
      So instead of being arrogant, one should accept his/her mistake. If you become adamant then you are the one who loses not the other one who pointed your fault.

  • In a moment of duress. In a moment of pure fear, prayer comes from the heart and goes directly to the creator! In days of fear ,in countries of torture, people would pray by moving their eyes alone. Only Allah has the right to judge!

  • You were NOT arrested.
    What that words means….person making said arrest needs to
    1: Identify themself (i.e. state their name)
    2. Make an accusation i.e. telling you what you are being arrested for
    3. Have some evidence to back it up said accusation…
    4. If they’re doing it an official capacity as opposed to a citizen’s arrest, you are entitled to see some identification.
    If does not involve touching you in anyway. It does not involve threatening to murder you with guns or the threat of violence, intimidation or any actual violence of any sort. I could go on but it still irks me that MSM and most of the so called ‘free press’ if not all still fails to understand the meaning of this simple word….we have soemthing called JOINT Enterprise Law in this country….which means that if you don’t defend yourself and try to make a citizen’s arrest when these anon psychos attack you, break into your home…or you see them doing it to somebody else, then you’re can be legally held liable for doing what they did as you have ‘co-operated’…you can not make this s*** up 🙁

  • Bare thighs, putting your naked ass up in the air in public, in prayer? Is that how a Muslim prays? Is that Islamic? I did not know that.

    • “Bare thighs, putting your naked ass up in the air in public, in prayer? Is that how a Muslim prays? Is that Islamic?”
      No that is NOT how a Muslim prays. No that is NOT Islamic. Here you see the intersection of two trends being encouraged in America:
      #1. The Qur’an is flawed: The Qur’an needs to be updated with a rewritten/revised edition that is acceptable to secular western culture. These people second guess Allah. They call themselves progressives, moderates, modern. Wanting in intelligence and education they want to be seen as hip, sync with the 21st century. They are a new species of Kuffur, Hypocrite, Sophisticate, Heretic.
      #2. Identification with race and skin color: These people – American blacks but not Africans who are strict Muslims to a fault…and dark brown skinned runty bigots from India – suffering from extreme inferiority complex coalescing into like minded coteries. Race, color, ethnic origin is not relevant to the faith of a Muslim. That is fundamental Islam.
      That woman ready to put her naked ass up in the air is at the intersect [#1 & #2]: What you see above is a staged photo. It is the pick of the lot. What you don’t see are other poses taken in sequences, not been posted here, so we can’t really tell if she was wearing panties. With hijab on, bottom bare, she is obviously trying to ridicule Islam. Mocking Allah.

  • “Why didn’t my community trust me to know my relationship with Allah?”
    The reason seems obvious. What is your relationship, then? Are you a Muslim? A Black Muslim? What is your relationship with Akeem?

  • “I was being chastised by members of my own community for appearing to be immodest.
    I was so hurt by the comments and the criticism…”

    You don’t say…!

  • You can make dua in your heart without wudu and without doing sujood. And people are not judging you when pointing out that your prayer/Salah is invalid without wudu and proper clothing, that is just a fact that is indisputable by the Quran and sunnah. But I’m really curious as to what is the point of covering your hair while the rest of your body is exposed? This is not in accordance with hadith at all.

  • I do not understand why you would cover your hair, but not your legs nor your arms. This is not Islamic dress apparel.
    I also do not understand why you attempted to perform salat without wudu and the proper clothing. Despite you saying you saying you were not aware of the photographers present, it seems like you were, which is why you felt a need to “pray”.
    I do not understand your actions, at all.

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