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The Fusion of Two Cultures: Stephanie Diaz’s Story

This past May, Stephanie Diaz was amongst the many 2013 graduates, as she received her Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene from the University of Oklahoma. Aside from completing her undergraduate degree, she was undergoing a spiritual journey. Stephanie, like many other converts, began comparing Catholicism, Christianity, and Islam. “When you don’t have the relationship…

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When In Salaat: 8 Ways to Increase Focus During Prayer

Show of hands: who has trouble focusing during prayer? The first step to conquering a problem is realizing there is one, right? The five daily prayers shouldn’t be a quick jumble of Arabic words and physical movements thrown together for a span of a few minutes. But with our minds in 20 places at once,…

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Arab Cinderella: A Life Poem

I always felt as though my life, my being, my very self were forevermore saddled with the very expectations of generations before me, dusty individuals, their fervent whispers carrying, moving, traveling, across centuries of near-still air, air rippled only with the occasional revolution, scented softly with rosewater and hot Arabic coffee, that their unfulfilled wishes,…

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Why Muslim Americans Should Care About Trayvon Martin

George Zimmerman’s trial has dominated headlines for weeks now. In the wake of the not guilty verdict, I’ve had time to deeply reflect on its relevance and why it garnered the national attention that it did. For those that aren’t up to speed, a 17-year-old boy named Trayvon Martin was walking home from the store…

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The Person who Founded the (first ever!) University was a Muslim Woman

Fatima al-Fihri isn’t a household name, but she should be, because she founded the world’s first University (which, incidentally, is still thriving today). She was born in Tunisia into a wealthy family; her father was a successful businessman. She also had one sister named Mariam (it is unclear if her mother died young). They were…

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Why Every Muslim Should be Thinking About Al-Aqsa: A Primer

Walking along Jerusalem’s millennia old cobblestone steps, my pathway was suddenly blocked. “Muslims on—” “I am Muslim.” Heavily armed and sporting the Israeli Police insignia on his shoulder, the paramilitary police officer seemed startled by my reply. “Do you have your passport?” My U.S. passport in hand, he began suspiciously pawing through its worn, stamp-filled…

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Victims of the Media

The Boston bombings were a dark tragedy, without question. They represented a moral failing that we so often forget is present in the thread of daily life, and three people lost their lives. Although the occurrence was probably the most talked about news item this week, very little attention was given to the victims of…

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The “P” Word!

Whatever you choose to call it, periods are dreadful. During 5th grade, I remember hearing whispers from my classmates about the horrors of getting your period and learning about all the wonders of puberty. However, for a long time, talking about something that was a natural occurrence in the human body was considered taboo. At…

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Candy Bars, the Hijab, and Empowerment

“A man asked a Muslim man: Why do your women cover their bodies and their hair? The Muslim man smiled and took two sweets, he opened one and kept the other closed. He threw them both on the dirty floor and then asked: If I asked you to take one of the sweets, which one…

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Who Defines Liberation?

Liberation has always been a hot topic. Liberation isn’t an ideal, but a journey; it means to break the inevitable chains of societal norms and to rise above whatever causes one pain or hardship. For Muslim women living in Western society, it is particularly hard to decide where to turn when the question of liberation…

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Taking Back Islam

I write this post from the Karachi newsroom of The Express Tribune, a daily English newspaper in the “Islamic Republic” of Pakistan where Shias are being killed daily during Muharram, women are getting raped, robberies are an every day thing, and at least six people were killed daily here in Karachi in 2012. In all…

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“Hijabi” vs. “Non-Hijabi”

I’m sorry, but why does this even matter? All my life, I have always heard this constant battle being spoken among religious gatherings, classrooms, and social hangouts. The distinction between hijabis (those who wear the headscarf) and non-hijabis (those who do not) was always brought up and viewed as a topic of discussion. Why though,…