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Volume 17, Issue 46 The Muslim Observer — Nov. 13 - Dec. 11, 2015— Safar 1 - 29, 1437

Senator Bernie Sanders with George Mason University student Remaz Abdelgader. YouTube.

Bernie Sanders

hosts hijabi onstage

By Aatif Ali Bokhari

TMO Managing Editor

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-

VT) invited a Muslim student

to share the stage with him

during a speech at Fairfax, VA,

last Wednesday.

“As an American Muslim

student who aspires to change

the world currently majoring in

International Conflict Analysis

and Resolution — and I hope to

be a human rights attorney —

hearing the rhetoric that’s going

on in the media makes me

The presidential

candidates and


Page 3

Muslim clock

boy hugged by


Page 9







sick,” George Mason University

senior Remaz Abdelgader told

Sanders, adding. “As an individual,

I’m constantly trying to

raise awareness and make sure

that everyone is treated equally

in this country. As the next

president of the United States,

what do you think about that?”

Think Progress reported, “As

Abdelgader spoke, Sanders invited

her toward the stage and

hugged her. As she finished her

question, the senator led her to

his podium by the hand before

delivering his answer.”

“Let me be very personal

here if I may. I’m Jewish,” said

Sanders. “My father’s family

died in the concentration

camps. I will do everything that

I can to rid this country of the

ugly stain of racism which has

existed for far too many years.

And let me tell you something.

What racism is about is many,

many things. It is pent-up hatred,

it is lashing out at people

in uncontrollable ways, but it is

something very different than

(Continued on page 14)

NZ Muslim player

gives world medal

to fan

OnIslam & Newspapers

New Zealand Muslim star,

Sonny Bill Williams, gave his

Rugby World Cup medal to a

young boy after security guard

wrestled him to the ground,

adding to his fame as a modest

hero of the island.

“A young fella snuck on

the field somehow but when

he was coming up to give me

a hug, he got smoked by a security

guard, full-on tackled

him,” Williams said afterwards,

The Independent reported on

Sunday, November 1.

“He was only eight and the

other fella was a full-on man,

(Continued on page 14)

Conversions to

Islam rapidly


By Carissa D. Lamkahouan

TMO Contributing Writer

The tragedies of Sept. 11,

2001, were a catastrophic and

pivotal moment for the United

States and for Islam. In its aftermath,

the lens through which

millions of Americans viewed

Muslims changed dramatically,

and often for the worse, following

the horrible events of that

day when 19 hijackers took the

lives of more than 3,000 innocent


However, since then it’s

been well documented that

Islam, despite falling victim to

increasingly negative media

portrayals, the continuing rise

of Islamic terrorism around the

world and, as a result, rising

societal prejudice, continues

to win converts, women in particular.

In fact, many researchers

point to Islam as the world’s

fasting-growing religion with

no signs of slowing.

Earlier this year the Pew

Research Center released a

study accompanied by a 245-

page report of its findings.

Its conclusions: By the year

2050 the number of followers

of Islam, now the world’s

second-largest faith only behind

Christianity, is expected to

grow at such a swift rate as to

achieve a roughly equal amount

of adherents as Christianity by

the year 2050.

In actual numbers, the Pew

report concluded Islam will

increase from 1.6 billion followers

to 2.76 billion by 2050,

accounting for almost one third

of 9 billion, the expected global

population by that time. By

contrast, during the same time

period Christianity will only

increase its numbers from 2.1

billion to 2.9 billion, accounting

for more than 31 percent

of the world’s people. What’s

more, by 2050 Muslims are expected

to outnumber Jews in

the United States and assert itself

as the largest non-Christian

religion in the country.

With so much expected

growth, the obvious question is

why. One reason is the higherthan-average

birth rate among

Muslim families, but converts

play a large and important

role in shaping Islam’s future.

Aisha Chudnoff, who was born

in New Mexico to convert parents,

shared her ideas about

why many people are turning

to Islam, despite the challenges

such a conversion could present

in this day and age.

“I heard so many stories

of people converting to Islam

after 9/11,” she said. “After

it happened so many people

(Continued on page 14)

The New Zealand rugby fan with Sonny Bill Williams’ gold

medal. YouTube.

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2 — The Muslim Observer — Nov. 13 - Dec. 11, 2015— Safar 1 - 29, 1437

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By Robert McCaw



Last Friday, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley

denounced the socially-corrosive evils of “Islamophobia and

xenophobia” at a conference held by the Arab American

Institute at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

What should have been an unremarkable statement was

made noteworthy because only a few presidential candidates

have gone on the record to denounce Islamophobia while


The only other presidential candidate to do so is Vermont

Senator Bernie Sanders, when he Tweeted, “we must stand

strong against anti-Muslim bigotry,” after the detention of

14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed for bringing a homemade clock

to school.

On Wednesday, Sanders asked a Muslim George Mason

University student to join him on stage during a town hall

where he responded to her remarks about the personal impact

that Islamophobia in the presidential election was having

on her.

“If we stand for anything we have to stand together and

end all forms of racism in this country,” Sanders said. “I will

lead that effort as president.”

In response to Ahmed’s detention, former Secretary of

State Hillary Clinton also Tweeted, “Assumptions and fear

don’t keep us safe—they hold us back. Ahmed, stay curious

and keep building.”

While Clinton has not directly condemned the rising tide of

anti-Muslim bigotry, she recently released a campaign video

showing her wearing a blue head scarf out of respect for local

customs while on a diplomatic mission in Pakistan as secretary

of state.

During his remarks, O’Malley decried that Muslim “houses

of worship…have been denied permits, worshippers exiting

the mosque in Phoenix (Arizona)…greeted with protesters

carrying assault rifles.”

O’Malley also spoke out against the U.S. Islamophobia network,

describing it as a “shadowy network of hateful” groups

that are “scapegoating and marginalizing Arab and Muslim


It is now common knowledge that to become president of

the United States a candidate must earn the support of minority

voters and unite the country around an inclusive platform.

As the Democratic presidential primary has narrowed

down to Clinton, O’Malley and Sanders, the Muslim community

and other minority voters will continue to watch and

see whether or not these candidates are willing to stand up

to Islamophobia and anti-immigrant and minority sentiment,

and to embrace communities of color and their respective issues

and votes.

American Muslims in particular are somewhat disappointed

that only a handful of Republican presidential candidates

have forcefully denounced Islamophobia from such a large

and competitive field of contenders.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie remains the GOP’s

standard-bearer in speaking out against anti-Muslim bigotry

within the Republican Party and conservative circles.

After Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump

recently failed to correct a man at a town hall meeting who

said the U.S. has a “Muslim problem” and that President

Obama is a Muslim and not an American citizen – Christie dismissed

Trump’s mishandling of the question by stating:

“I’ll just tell you what I would do, and I wouldn’t have permitted

that. If someone brought that up at a town hall meeting

of mine, I would’ve said, ‘No, listen. Before we answer,

let’s clear some things up for the rest of the audience. And I

think you have an obligation as a leader to do that.”

Christie speaks from his own personal experience in pushing

back against Islamophobia.

The Muslim Observer — Nov. 13 - Dec. 11, 2015— Safar 1 - 29, 1437 — 3

Which presidential candidates

have ‘shown backbone’ against


Graham went so far as to say Carson

should also “apologize to American


In 2011, when anti-Muslim activists attacked him with

false allegations that he was promoting sharia (Islamic principles)

for nominating a Muslim judge to the New Jersey

Superior Court, he went on the offensive by saying that, “This

Sharia law business is just crap. It’s just crazy, and I’m tired of

dealing with the crazies.”

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham has also become

one of the strongest Republican voices against Islamophobia

in the GOP primary by Tweeting that Carson “is not ready to

be Commander-in-Chief” in response to Carson’s opposition

to an American Muslim president.

Graham went so far as to say Carson should also “apologize

to American Muslims.”

In July, Graham also shot down an audience member at

an Iowa campaign stop who proposed outlawing Islam in

America, stating: “You know what, I’m not your candidate. I

don’t want you to vote for me. I couldn’t disagree with you

more.” He later added that, “I’m not buying into that construct.

That’s not the America that I want to lead.”

Graham has not always been consistent in standing up to

Islamophobia and has made his own fair share of questionable

if not outright bigoted remarks.

In June, Graham opined that the white supremacist

Charleston, S.C., church shooter displayed “Mideast hate.” In

past remarks, he has also asserted that the common Islamic

phrase “Allahu Akbar” (Arabic for ‘God is Greatest’) is a war

chant and joked that everything that starts with ‘Al’ in the

Middle East is bad news.”

Carly Fiorina said Carson was “wrong” to say he didn’t believe

a Muslim should be president. She added: “You know,

it says in our Constitution that religion cannot be a test for

office. It is also true that this country was founded on the principle

that we judge each individual and that anyone, of any

faith, is welcome here.”

And while Sen. Ted Cruz (TX) also rebuked Carson’s remarks,

he frequently attends public events hosted by key U.S.

Islamophobia network leaders David Horowitz, Frank Gaffney

and Robert Spencer.

In 2012, while making a campaign appearance, Cruz said,

“Sharia law is an enormous problem.” Cruz also recently hired

anti-Muslim activist Kevin Kookogey to chair his Tennessee


Disappointingly, in March former Florida Governor Jeb

Bush’s Right to Rise Political Action Committee hired a longtime

anti-Muslim activist Jordan Sekulow as a senior advisor.

As executive director of the American Center for Law and

Justice (ACLJ), Sekulow leads an organization that in 2011

published an anti-Muslim pamphlet titled “Shari’a Law:

Radical Islam’s Threat to the U.S. Constitution,” which falsely

claims that “devout Muslims cannot truthfully swear the oath

to become citizens of the United States of America.”

Bush never responded to criticism about hiring Sekulow or

about ACLJ’s history of anti-Muslim activism.

Islamophobia and anti-Muslim sentiment will continue to

be a staple of U.S. elections for some time to come because

weaker candidates seem willing to pander to the hateful margins

of society in an effort to obtain media coverage, votes and

contributions they would not otherwise receive.

Thankfully, the majority of our nation wants an end to bigotry,

racism and hatred. Americans will continue to support

leaders who are courageous enough to stand firmly against

that small but loud minority of hatful voices seeking to separate

us with fear of each other’s differences.

What Americans want most in a presidential candidate is

the ability to show resolve in claiming a position and courageously

defending it in the face of opposition. That includes

speaking out against Islamophobia and anti-Muslim bigotry.

If recent history serves as a guide, the presidential candidate

that shows the greatest moral backbone against hatred,

no matter what the target, will become our nation’s next


Editor’s note: Robert McCaw is the government affairs department

manager for the Council on American-Islamic Relations

(CAIR, the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization.)

His views are his own.

- See more at: http://islamicommentary.org/2015/10/


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The Muslim Observer — Nov. 13 - Dec. 11, 2015— Safar 1 - 29, 1437 — 5


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The journey to

becoming a new


By Laura Fawaz

TMO Contributing Writer

The moment you find out

you’re pregnant, your whole

world changes. You plan and

prepare for the arrival of your

baby girl or boy, all as your

body is ever changing.

After 10 months of preparation

and anticipating, I gave

birth to a baby girl who came

four days past her due date.

Once our 7 pounds, 4 ounces

bundle of joy entered this

world, she was immediately

placed on my chest. At that

moment, as she took her first

few breaths, she started right

at me, wide-eyed, somehow,

by the grace of Allah knowing

that I was her mother, and that

I was there to take care of her,

God-willing, for all my years to


I constantly say that I’m so

thankful that my husband and

I are an aunt and an uncle to a

combined 12 nieces and nephews

before we were parents.

There are so many things you

can read about becoming a new

parent, but nothing can compare

to experiencing it itself. Getting

helpful tips and advice from other

parents was also beneficial.

This helped us know what to do

and what not to do when taking

care of a new and delicate person.

Since I was already familiar

with the overnight feedings, the

diaper changes, etc., it made it

that much easier for me. Except

this time I don’t have the luxury

of giving the baby back to their

parents so I can nap, it’s now

all me 24/7, and my husband

when he gets home from work.

There are so many things

that I love about being a mom,

but the absolute best is when

she has her tummy time on my

chest, and she’s resting comfortably.

That bonding time,

feeling her warmth is one that

I wouldn’t trade for anything in

the world.

All doctors and nurses will

constantly tell any new mom to

sleep when their baby is sleeping,

though any new mom will

say that that is not realistic.

While my daughter is sleeping

I’m usually catching up on

phone calls for her doctor, or

from family members who want

to come and visit the new baby,

cleaning or washing clothes

that this new small person

seems to go through so quickly,

or making food to keep up my

strengths since I’m nursing.

Trying to get anything done is a

new talent that is harder than it


I am a freelance photojournalist

who set up my career

schedule in this way when planning

for the future of children,

in order to have a flexible schedule

around their convenience.

With our emotions running all

over, any comment about this,

or anything else make us upset

and annoyed. It’s one that

no one will understand unless


they went through it too. Just

last week my sister Sarah, who

has three kids of her own, and I

were talking about this. Both of

our husbands are involved and

understanding fathers, who yes

are also becoming new dads,

but they can’t truly understand

this feeling.

You always here about the

pain and discomfort of pregnancy

and childbirth, with the

term “pregnancy brain” being

tossed around. But I wasn’t prepared

for all of these symptoms

to be at their worst after giving

birth. Of course the most painful

part was pushing a baby out,

especially since I chose to do

this all natural and drug free.

Though “pregnancy brain” has

nothing on “new mom brain.”

You will no longer have a real

concept of time, not only due

to your lack of sleep, but because

you’re always checking

the time to keep track of your

baby’s feeding schedule.

My baby recently turned

five weeks old, so I’m just starting

to venture out a little bit;

taking a photo job here, an article

there, etc. Seems minor

enough, but while I am trying

to write this article, it’s 1 a.m.

and I’m sitting in bed trying to

sooth my daughter to sleep in

my left arm, and trying to type

this piece with my right hand,

while using my body to hold

Photo credit: Photodune

her pacifier in place and rock

her to sleep, all while hoping

she doesn’t throw up her last


When I find myself smelling

like spit up, sleepy, sticky,

sweaty, and exhausted, I look to

my baby girl and feel blessed to

have a healthy baby to have and

to take care of. God has blessed

me with this trust of a person to

look after, and it is sheer privilege

that it is to know and raise

up these precious little ones.

Allah (SWT) has a plan for us

all, especially for those to raise

families in His path.

Editor’s note: the author’s

views are her own.


The Muslim Observer — Nov. 13 - Dec. 11, 2015— Safar 1 - 29, 1437 — 7

The danger of customizing and privatizing Islam:

4 mindsets we need to change

By Saud Inam

In recent times we’ve encountered

the rise of extremist

groups who theologically twist,

omit and reinterpret Islam in

a way that Islam was previously

not interpreted by the

scholars in our past. As Muslim

Americans living in the West

the struggle to hold onto our

faith is becoming harder and

harder every day. In our efforts

to be accepted by broader

American society some Muslim

Americans knowingly or unknowingly

omit, whitewash or

remove certain Islamic beliefs,

values and morals in their lives

or practice.

In order to preserve our

Muslim identity and truly represent

Islam we must uphold all

Islamic values, principles and

beliefs in our lives. I’ve come up

with a couple of areas or topics

of concern that I’ve heard in the

Muslim American community

that are dangerous both spiritually

for a Muslim, but also

counterproductive in countering


1) “You do know there are

different interpretations on

________ in Islam?”

This phrase often comes

from the layman Muslim, not

students of knowledge or seekers

of knowledge. It comes

from an individual who seeks

to justify his/her opinion or

view without actually having to

defend it. It’s a common phrase

you often hear from Muslims

who seek to simply diminish

anyone’s argument to “interpretations.”

Yes, in Islam there

are several interpretations of

Quran, Seerah and Hadith, but

some principles, values and

practices cannot be negotiated.

Often times when this phrase is

said evidence is not given and

the phrase simply gives the

Muslim the comfort in his or

her mind that what they’re doing

is right. They don’t want to

be proven wrong and are truly

not seeking the Truth. Their

egos and desires get in the way

of hearing the Truth.

2) “Only Allah can judge me”

This phrase is dangerous as

well when Muslims say this it

doesn’t mean what they say it

means. This phrase essentially

means: “do not give me advice

on my spiritual practice.” It

shuts the door on any possible

help you may be able to provide

an individual. Yes, in the phrase

were to be taken literally it is

correct, but often Muslims who

say this are merely deflecting

the advice or the injunction

/ ruling that Islam prescribes

and throws it to the side.

3) “I interpret Islam by myself,

because the scholars/

imams/mullahs can’t be trusted

these days”

By far this is quite possibly

the most dangerous

things that some Muslims do.

Interpretation of Islam by oneself

is virtually spiritual death.

If Islam were to be interpreted

I’ve come up with a

couple of areas or

topics of concern

that I’ve heard in the

Muslim American

community that

are dangerous

both spiritually for

a Muslim, but also


in countering


by the individual then why

did Allah send the Prophet

Muhammad (peace be upon

him) to teach us Islam and

how to practice it? Yes, there

are awful imams, mullahs and

scholars out there who are irrelevant,

ridiculously strict

and extreme in their views, but

just as there are bad doctors

there are also good ones too.

We need to treat our scholars,

imams and mullahs the same


This is not to say to completely

say that we need to shut

off our critical thinking capabilities

and leave it at the door

when seeking spiritual knowledge.

We must ask questions

and keep on asking questions

until the answer we’re seeking

makes sense.

4) “You don’t know how it’s

like to be __________, you have

no right to speak about my lifestyle/spiritual


This is another dangerous

trend where some Muslims

seek to deflect sincere advice

by saying that the one giving

advice is unaware of their

struggle and thus is not qualified

to give them advice. This

shows a problem of ego within

the Muslim that must be


addressed. Regardless of where

advice is coming from it should

be analyzed and processed. If

one truly wants to achieve a

better understanding of Islam

and get closer to Allah they

should treat every moment

of their life as a learning opportunity

to learn more about

themselves and their relationship

with Allah. If that learning

opportunity comes through the

form of advice from one’s fellow

brother or sister then take

it and use it as an opportunity

to use their advice as a mirror

to reflect upon your weaknesses

and how to improve upon


Obviously all of this is reliant

on how the advice is given.

We must give sincere advice in

private to each other and with

sincerity and a clean heart.

Editor’s note: Saud Inam is

a Muslim American activist, social

entrepreneur, blogger and

Project Manager for Discover

Islam-USA a Muslim American

media company dedicated to

producing high quality media

about Islam and Muslims. He is

always on the lookout for more

opportunities to help empower

the Muslim American community.

His views are his own.


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8 — The Muslim Observer — Nov. 13 - Dec. 11, 2015— Safar 1 - 29, 1437


It is time to be more than

just good neighbors.

We are an integral part of the American society

and we respect religious freedom, justice and

human rights as enshrined in our constitution, for

all. just good neighbors.

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We are an integral part of the American society

We need your help and we in respect preparing religious a freedom, strong justice contingent

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our message.

We need your help in preparing a strong contingent

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Many past interns of The Muslim Observer are

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Muslim ‘clock boy’

gets hug from




President Barack Obama got

a guided tour of the moon on

Monday (Oct. 19), peering at

its craters through a large reflective

telescope set up on the

South Lawn of the White House

to promote science and technology

careers at “Astronomy


Obama was joined by budding

young scientists who

checked out a moon rock and

took selfies with NASA astronauts

and other science


Chief among the selfie targets:

Ahmed Mohamed, better

known as “clock boy.”

Mohamed, 14, was arrested

last month when he brought a

homemade clock to his Dallasarea

school that teachers mistook

for a bomb.

Mohamed was wearing a

NASA T-shirt when he was arrested.

The photo went viral,

prompting an invitation from

Obama to the astronomy event.

Obama briefly met Mohamed

as he shook hands with students

at the event, giving the student

a hug.

“We need to inspire more

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Some of the examples of our research projects


Demographic survey of Michigan Muslims

and its political impact on Congressional

districts Safeguarding Muslim civil right in

10 states have passed Halal laws but there is

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young people to ask about the

stars,” Obama told the crowd,

urging parents and teachers to

help students explore the field.

“We have to watch for and

cultivate and encourage those

glimmers of curiosity and possibility

– not suppress them, not

squelch them,” he said.

Obama told the students that

his staff don’t let him “tinker

with the telescopes,” and got

help looking at the moon from

high school senior and astronomy

buff Sofy Alvarez-Bareiro of

Brooklyn, New York.

Alvarez-Bareiro explained

to Obama that the craters were

“the result of heavy bombardment

with other gigantic space


“Is ‘space stuff’ a scientific

term?” Obama quipped, drawing

laughs from about 300 students

and teachers at the event.

Obama said that earlier in

the day he spoke to astronauts

living on the International

Space Station. He touted his administration’s

record in science,

noting that NASA was on track

to develop capabilities to send

humans to Mars in the 2030s.

“Some of you might be on

your way to Mars!” Obama told

the students.






We also request you to

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Demographic survey of Michigan Muslims

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The Muslim Observer — Nov. 13 - Dec. 11, 2015— Safar 1 - 29, 1437 — 9


10 — The Muslim Observer — Nov. 13 - Dec. 11, 2015— Safar 1 - 29, 1437

10 things you didn’t know

about Muharram

By Elizabeth Jaikaran

Brown Girl Magazine

Muharram is the first month

of the Islamic calendar and is

the second holiest month of the

year after Ramadan.

For Sunnis like me, the tenth

day of Muharram is observed

as a day of atonement, it commemorates

the day that Musa

(Moses) obtained victory over

the Egyptian Pharaoh.

For Shia Muslims, Muharram

signifies a time of respect and


The following 10 items are

most pertinent for understanding

the power behind this Shia


1. Muharram commemorates

the killing of Imam

Hussain ibn Ali, the grandson

of the Prophet Muhammad,

during the Battle of Karbala.

Imam Hussain was beheaded

by order of the caliph Yazidibn-Muawiah

(Yazid I), the

second caliph of the Umayyad

Caliphate. Imam Hussain disapproved

of Yazid’s tyrannical

rule and explicitly proclaimed

that Yazid’s nomination went

against the spirit of Islam. He

believed that the Caliphate

should uphold the teachings

of the Qur’an and Sunnah,

thus being vigilant in the pursuit

of justice and proclaiming

the truth in dedication to God.

Accordingly, Imam Hussain

refused to give his oath of allegiance

to Yazid.

2. At the Battle of Karbala,

on the tenth day of Muharram,

Imam Hussain, his relatives,

and a small group of supporters

fought against a large military

faction from the forces of Yazid.

During this battle,

the Prophet’s family was

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slaughtered, including Imam

Hussain and his infant son. The

women were taken as prisoners.

The slain family members

from the household of the

Prophet Muhammad, known

as the Ahlul Bayt, and the supporters

are now regarded as

martyrs by both Sunnis and


3. According to narrations

and hadith, the Angel Gabriel

told Prophet Muhammad

(pbuh) that the day of Ashura

would befall his progeny and

that his grandson Hussain

would lead the army of the

faithful in order to resist tyranny

and revive the Islamic


4. After the Battle of

Karbala, Zainab, the daughter

of Imam Ali, narrated the story

of Karbala while she was held

captive by the Yazid forces.

Her words captured the

hearts of many who were appalled

that their ruler could so

brutally massacre the Prophet’s

progeny. Zainab’s defiance set

an example for the important

role of women in Islam.

5. The Mourning of

Muharram is commemorated

for a 10-day period, beginning

on the first day of the month.

This period is observed

through public expressions of

grief, public processions, and

majlis—sitting groups used

to receive guests and discuss

the tragedy of Karbala. Shias

generally wear black clothing

and refrain from taking part

in joyous activities during this


6. The tenth day of

Muharram, known as the Day

of Ashura, is the climax of the

holy period.

While the Sunni tradition

maintains that this is a good day


during which to acknowledge

historical freedom from an oppressive

Egyptian Pharaoh, the

Shia tradition rejects this and

maintains that this is a day of

mourning and sorrow.

7. Most Shias show grief

through a process called


while beating their hands

and chests—as they recite a

Latmiyah, a Shia lamentation

through poetry.

In South Asia, the Battle of

Karbala has historically served

as the inspiration for a host of

musical and literary genres.

These include three genres of

religious elegiac poetry—marsiya,

soaz, and noha. Marsiya

reflects the commemoration of

the death of Imam Hussain and

his supporters as martyrs, Soaz

bolsters the honor of Imam

Hussain and his family, and

Noha describes how he was


8. In the Indo-Persian tradition,

the history of Muharram

has inspired the advent of

Ta’zieh theatre.

This is a form of condolence

theater to re-enact the tragic

fate of Imam Hussain. These

plays employ powerful displays

of music and dance, and carry

common themes of love, heroism,

and sacrifice.

9. Many Shia observers perform

pilgrimage to the shrine

of Imam Hussain in Karbala

during Muharram.

This is one of the holiest

Islamic sites outside of Mecca

and Medina. Pilgrimage is also

made to the shrines of other

members of the Prophet’s family,

including the women of

the household who carried the

message of Islam after Imam

Hussain’s death.

10. It is customary for the

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The shrine of Imam Hussain (foreground). In the rear is a picture

of his brother Abbas’ shrine.

Ziarat Ashura, a book containing

salutations to the martyrs

of Karbala, to be read on the

Day of Ashura.

Many Shias read this book

every day to send salutations

to Imam Hussain and all those

who died with him in Karbala.

Imam Hussain was a figure

of inspiration through his devotion

to justice and his resistance

to oppression. His teachings

were of love, tolerance, and

forgiveness, and he was killed

for his inability to support a

pseudo-religious political construction

that threatened these

foundational Islamic ideals.

As this period of mourning

comes to a close, the Muslim

ummah, stripped of its perceived

sectarian divisions, can

find powerful opportunities

for reflection as we think of the

current disposition of our Shia

brothers and sisters across the

globe. The persecution of Imam

Hussain hauntingly parallels

with the brutal persecution of

Shias in the world today at the

hands of so-called “Islamic” caliphates

like ISIS.

While Shias mourn the murders

of Imam Hussain and his

family, the Islamic community

as a whole can surely reflect

on how these realities have

hardly changed with respect to

“Islamic” powers acting in contravention

of Islamic teachings

and similarly persecuting those

who refuse to pledge allegiance

to them.

As I write this, our religious

kin are being persecuted for

their perceived otherness, resulting

in one of the largest

refugee crises in world history.

Muharram is not just the commemoration

of tragic history.

It is a reminder of the evil that

still exists around us.

Editor’s note: Elizabeth

Jaikaran is a New York-based

freelance writer, who has written

everything from comedy to legal

analysis. She is a third-year law

student at New York University

School of Law and is interested

in foreign policy, international

law, and corresponding theories

of social consciousness and gender

politics. Her favorite hobby is

binge-watching Netflix with her

husband. Her views are her own.

This article originally appeared

on BrownGirlMagazine.com.

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Our Ummah

Jennifer Zobair

Essential question

for prospective


I lowered myself gingerly

onto the bed while my husband

placed our newborn daughter,

still sleeping in her car seat,

next to me. I struggled for a

comfortable position. She was

my firstborn and, after an unusually

rapid first labor—lasting

only four hours start to

finish but so intense that for

much of it, delirious with pain,

I actually forgot I was having

a baby—our sweet Hannah

showed up weighing just over

nine pounds. I was a swollen,

aching mess. She, on the other

hand, was beautiful. She was

perfect. She was . . . so little

and helpless. And in those first

moments with her at home, as

I lifted her into my arms I felt

decidedly unqualified.

“I can’t believe they let us

just take her home,” I said to

my husband.

And part of me couldn’t. It is

such an enormous responsibility

to care for a new, tiny life.

But we’d also recently been

through the adoption process

with the little boy who would,

two weeks later, become our

son. No one “let us just take him

home.” There were interviews

and financial forms and questionnaires

and home visits with

the social worker, and then

months of visitation with him.

Unlike most biological moms

and dads, we’d had to prove our

worth as parents.

During one of the early interviews,

the social worker sat

across from us at our dining

room table with a yellow legal

pad, jotting down notes I would

have paid a small fortune to

see. Eventually, she got to our


“You’re both very achievement

oriented people,” she

said, referencing our law degrees

and careers. “What

would you do if, say, the child

you adopt doesn’t want to go

to college? Can you love a child

like that? Can you love a child

no matter what?”

“Of course!” I said reflexively.

Who would not love their

child no matter what? But the

truth is, growing up I knew kids

who’d been disowned by their

parents. And as an adult, I’ve

seen parents threaten to have

nothing to do with a child if he

doesn’t conform his life to the

parent’s tunnel-vision idea of

how it should go.

In retrospect, maybe a good

question for any want-to-be

parent to ask herself is this: Can

I love a child no matter what?

It is not the job of the child

to teach the parent who she is.

It’s the parent’s responsibility

to learn who the child is.

As you do this, as you endeavor

to really learn who your

children are, sometimes they

will surprise you—perhaps

by choosing a different career

path than you had envisioned,

or marrying someone who, to

put it politely, was not your first

choice. Sometimes, it might

even be deciding to practice

a different religion, or no religion.

(I write this last part

acutely aware of two things:

First, that the idea is unthinkable

to many religious parents,

and second, that my own

Christian family never wavered

in their fierce love for me, even

after I converted to Islam.)

You’ll learn other, subtler

things, as well. For instance, you

might learn that, while you are

shy and prone to social anxiety,

your seventeen-year-old son is

fearless and warm and open,

and enters any room with the

nonchalant and reasonable assumption

that people will want

to talk to him. Or that while

sometimes you choose scarfing

leftover aloo gobi out of the

takeout container over sweating

for an hour on the treadmill,

your daughter will play

so hard at basketball, even on

a losing team, that for the entire

season and months after,

her knees will look as though

she’s gone through battle. Or

that while you worry about

every possible contingency (or

googleable medical symptom)

your youngest son will say that

as long as you have each other

everything will be okay, and he

will mean it.

Missing out on even the

slightest part of that, just because

your child chooses her

own path, would be such an

enormous loss for both of you.

My advice? Before you have

kids, ask yourself if you can

love them no matter what. And

afterwards, just do.

Editor’s Note: Jennifer

Zobair is a biological and adoptive

mother, an attorney, and a

writer. She is the author of the

debut novel, Painted Hands (St.

Martin’s Press, 2013) and the

co-editor of Faithfully Feminist:

Jewish, Christian, and Muslim

Feminists on Why We Stay

(forthcoming from I Speak

For Myself/White Cloud Press,

2015). She lives with her husband

and three children in the

DC area. Connect with Jennifer

on twitter @jazobair or through

her website at www.jennferzobair.com.

The views expressed

here are her own.


The Muslim Observer — Nov. 13 - Dec. 11, 2015— Safar 1 - 29, 1437 — 11

Photo credit: Photodune

12 — The Muslim Observer — Nov. 13 - Dec. 11, 2015— Safar 1 - 29, 1437

The Muslim Observer

Women in LA

start a mosque

of their own

Volume 17, Issue xx Month xx - xx, 143x n Month xx - xx, 201x $2.00

8 Muslims on Forbes

30 under 30 list

Uzma Rawn

Abe Othman

Headline here for compelling


on an inside page

Page PB

Headline here for

compelling story

on an inside page

Page PB

Shama Hyder

Minhaj Chowdhury

Ali Khan

Ali Zaidi

Karim Abouelnaga

Fiza Farhan


(Religion News Service) — A

downtown Los Angeles interfaith

center that once served

as a synagogue was the site of

a historic worship service last

week, as dozens of women

gathered for Friday Muslim

prayers in what is

being dubbed the

first women’s-only

mosque in the

United States.

M. Hasna

Maznavi, founder

and president

of the Women’s

Mosque of America,

and co-president

Sana Muttalib,

said they

are following the

example of women

pioneers at

the forefront of Islamic education

and spiritual practice.

“Women lack access to

things men have, professional

or religious,” said Muttalib, a

lawyer. “I think this is our contribution

to help resolve that


Maznavi, a filmmaker, said

women-only spaces have been

part of Islamic history for generations

and still exist in China,

Yemen and Syria. In the United

States, nearly all mosques separate

the sexes. Women pray in

the rear of the prayer hall or

in a separate room from male


About 100 women attended

the jumah or Friday prayer on

Jan. 30 in a rented space at

the Pico Union

Project, just a few

minutes from the

Staples Center.

Edina Lekovic,

director of policy

and programming

at the Muslim

Public Affairs

Council, gave the


Several women

tweeted after

the event, conveying

their enthusiasm.

But some questioned

the propriety of women leading

prayers that have traditionally

been performed by men.

Muslema Purmul, a chaplain

for Muslim students at

UCLA, wrote a post on her

Facebook page that there isn’t

such a thing as a womanled

Friday prayer.

“A women’s jumah is legally

invalid according to all the

(Continued on page 14)

Social media sensation sends $1 million to Africa

By Carissa D. Lamkahouan

In today’s world, no one can

deny the power and ever-expanding

reach of social media,

least of all Karim Diane, who’s

online “singing in the shower”

bits not only gained him a

large virtual following on Instagram

and YouTube, it also

provided the means for him to

raise enough funds to send $1

million worth of medical supplies

to the West African nation

of Ivory Coast.

“It’s super cool,” Diane said

of the recent campaign, which

managed to secure the money

Iman Fund

Allied Asset Advisors

Eight Muslims made Forbes

Magazine’s renowned 30 under 30

lists. Leaders in their respective

fields, none of them has reached

30-years-old yet.

Abe Othman is the co-founder

of Building Robotics, a company

that helps buildings be more

energy efficient.

Ali Khan is one of two

managers on Select Software

and Computer Services Portfolio,

worth more than $2 billion.

Ali Zaidi works on strategies to

help the US government increase

American energy security and cut

carbon emissions.

Fiza Farhan runs a

microfinance organization, the

Buksh Foundation, to bring solar

lighting to rural Pakistan.

Karim Abouelnaga is working

on building a network to redefine

the summer learning experience

for low-income children


Minhaj Chowdhury is cofounder

and ceo of Drinkwell,

which delivers clean drinking

water through water filtration


Shama Hyder is CEO of the

award-winning Marketing Zen

Group, averaging 400% growth

annually since its start in 2009.

Uzma Rawn has brokered

a number of high-level sports

sponsorship agreements at

Premier Partnerships.

in only a few months.

A graduate student in science

and social media at the

University of Southern California

in Los Angeles, Diane

is also an aspiring singer and

songwriter. Looking to gain exposure

for his talents, he created

his “Team Karim” Instagram

profile in 2013 and began uploading

short videos of himself

singing covers of popular songs

— from his shower.

“I wanted a way to differentiate

myself (from other singers),

and this was a fun way to

do it,” said Diane, 24.

(Continued on page 14)



programming that

includes men, but

the prayers will

remain for women

and children,

including boys

Karim Diane’s Instagram photo.

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(Your mosque can do it, but you can do it by yourself !

Today, the image of Muslims is under attack. However, we should not forget, that it is our responsibility to correct it collectively and

individually: it is every Muslim's responsibility. YES, if we do it seriously we can see positive results emerging in a few years.

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these ads can be a continuous reward (sadqa-e-jaria) for yourself, your children, your loved deceased ones and with the prayer

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Best practices of

Muslim blogging

By Sabina Khan-Ibarra


With so many voices and

opinions on the Internet,

launching a blog is a great way

to share real stories, join the

global conversation and add to

the online narrative of Muslim

Americans. When it comes to

“Muslim” blogs, you will find

ones that focus on anything and

everything, from storytelling

like Love, Inshallah, to parentchild

craft projects, like Little

Life of Mine. Islamic financing,

Muslim fashion, Muslim permaculture—you

name it, someone

is blogging about it. Once

you zero in you a blog topic

that both interests you and is

one that you don’t see in the


get to work.

Here are my

eight points

on Best

Practices for


1. Set a goal

Ask yourself, “What do I

want to accomplish with my

blog?” For instance, I started

MuslimahMontage because I

couldn’t easily locate Muslim

women writers. My goal in

starting the blog was to create

a kind of electronic rolodex of

Muslimah writers. Your goals

are fluid and can “mature” as

your blog ages, (my latest aim

is for MuslimahMontage to

serve as a source of mentoring

for budding writers), but nailing

down a clear goal now will

allow you to create a brand.

2. Know your audience

Who will visit your blog?

Know your target audience, so

you can tailor the content and

look of your blog to address

your visitors’ specific needs.

For example, if your blog is

about do-it-yourself home décor,

your following will largely

consist of adult women who

will not be satisfied with articles

alone, but will want large,

sharp images and short easyto-follow

videos/tours of your

interior design projects.

3. Research and organize

Once you set attainable

goals and identify your audience,

start researching. Browse

similar blogs, assessing their

content and look. Play with

fonts, images and displays (this

is when your graphic designer

friends come in use). All the

while, make sure to use a calendar/daily

planner to delineate

long and short term to-do lists.

You can make adjustments to

the lists as you go but always

track your progress.

4. Create good quality


Think of your blog as a job.

Give it the respect, time and attention

it deserves. Spend time

creating diverse content; don’t

limit yourself to articles but

also post videos, podcasts and

photos. However, don’t throw

something up on the blog for

the sake of diversity. Instead,

learn how to create high quality

videos , post high-definition

images and carefully edit any

piece of writing before you

share it with your audience.

Your chosen topic might lure

visitors to the blog the first

time, but high quality content

and presentation will keep

them coming back.

5. Be consistent

Generate new content on

a regular basis so your blog

doesn’t begin to feel stale or

outdated. Part of maintaining

a blog means interacting with

your readers, answering their

questions and simply chatting

with them so they feel welcome.

I can tell you from personal

experience that sometimes

life happens, but as much

as you can, stay on top of your


6. Link Your blog to social


Using social media platforms,

such as Facebook,

Twitter, and Instagram to increase

your public profile and

drive traffic to your blog is an

incredibly effective method.

Make sure that whenever you

do share information from/

about your blog on social media,

it is relevant, pithy and, if

possible, connected to current

trends or events. These ingredients

will peak the interest

of your Facebook friends or

Twitter followers and, in turn,

will garner shares. All this

should then add to your blog

traffic and readership.

7. Do not feed the trolls!

If you don’t know what a

troll is, be thankful! A troll is a

person who sows discord on the

Internet by starting arguments,

upsetting people, and posting

inflammatory or off-topic messages

in an online community.

Essentially someone who creates

fitnah. I like to keep the

following hadith in mind when

it comes to trolls:

This Muslim model of etiquette

applies in the online

world as much as the real one.

So encourage discourse and

even kindly worded, constructive

criticism, but do not tolerate

someone who tries to instigate

fitnah on your blog.

8. Ask for advice!

You will be surprised to

know that people are more

helpful than you think.

MuslimahMontage would not

nearly be where it is now if it

wasn’t for the kindness, advice

and help of others.

Editor’s note: Sabina Khan-

Ibarra is a writer, activist and

Mama. She is an Assistant Editor

at AltMuslimah and the founder

of Muslimah Montage. She is also

the Membership Development

Chair at MuslimARC. This article

originally appeared on

AltMuslimah. Her views are her



The Muslim Observer — Nov. 13 - Dec. 11, 2015— Safar 1 - 29, 1437 — 13

A Muslim Rohingya man is seen at a fishing port at a refugee camp outside Sittwe October 29,

2015. As Myanmar heads to the polls on Nov. 8 the plight of its Muslim minority remains a blot

on what is billed as the country’s first free and fair election for 25 years. Picture taken October

29, 2015. Soe Zeya Tun / Reuters

International newsbriefs

Syrian army

breaks two-year

siege at airbase:

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian

soldiers fought their way into

an airbase in northern Syria on

Tuesday, state television said,

breaking a nearly two-year

siege by Islamic State insurgents

at the facility and freeing

military personnel holed up



highest court

suspends deal

on Serbs

PRISTINA (Reuters) -

Kosovo’s constitutional court

on Tuesday decided to delay

implementation of an

EU-brokered agreement that

would give greater powers to

local Serb communities after

being challenged by the opposition

which wants the deal


Obama, India’s

Modi discuss

climate change

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -

U.S. President Barack Obama

and Indian Prime Minister

Narendra Modi spoke by phone

on Tuesday to discuss climate

change and other global issues,

the White House said.

Iran has




DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran has

stopped dismantling centrifuges

in two uranium enrichment

plants, state media reported on

Tuesday, days after conservative

lawmakers complained to

President Hassan Rouhani that

the process was too rushed.

Russia to

propose Syria

reform process

(Reuters) - Russia wants the

Syrian government and opposition

to agree on launching a

constitutional reform process

of up to 18 months, followed

by early presidential elections,

a draft document obtained by

Reuters showed on Tuesday.

U.S. expects

South China Sea

issue at APEC

summit: official


- The South China Sea issue is

likely to come up on the sidelines

of the APEC summit if it is

not on the formal agenda, State

Department spokesman Mark

Toner said on Tuesday.

Finland tents

for refugees

Finland is preparing to

house asylum seekers in tents

and shipping containers as the

inflow of refugees has accelerated

after slowing down last

month, the interior ministry

said on Tuesday.

Obama to

host Israeli

President Rivlin

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -

The White House announced

on Tuesday that President

Barack Obama will host Israeli

President Reuven Rivlin in

Washington on Dec. 9.

Syria on agenda

at G20 meeting

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -

President Barack Obama will

discuss the crisis in Syria with

U.S. allies during the upcoming

G20 meeting, a White House

spokesman said on Tuesday.

American held

in Yemen dead

The U.S. State Department

on Tuesday U.S. citizen John

Hamen, one of two contractors

who had been detained by

Iran-backed Houthi militia in

Yemen, has died.

14 — The Muslim Observer — Nov. 13 - Dec. 11, 2015— Safar 1 - 29, 1437

Muslim NZ rugby player

gives medal to fan

(Continued from page 1)

so it looked like he would break

his ribs or something.

“The moment probably just

got the better of him but he was

just so excited to get on the field

with the All Blacks. I thought

I’d make it a night to remember

for him, rather than my medal

hanging up at home or something

like that.”

The incident occurred when

14-year-old New Zealand fan

Charlie Lines was flattened after

trying to reach Williams.

The player, deemed a hero

in New Zealand, was photographed

intervening then

handing the dumbfounded

youngster his medal.

Williams acted after seeing

a security guard rugby tackle

the boy, who had run on the

pitch during the All Blacks’ lap

of honor following their 34-17

Rugby World Cup final victory

over Australia.

“It will be hanging around

that young guy’s neck and he

can tell that story for years to

come. He might be a future All

Black!” he said.

“The bonds that we have as

brothers in the changing room

are the most important thing,”

added Williams, insisting he

wouldn’t regret the gesture.

“The medal represents the

win, but going in and seeing

the smiles on the boys faces,

knowing that we’ve accomplished

something no other All

Blacks team has done, is pretty

special,” Williams added.

The nice move was shared

several times on Facebook

pages, including that of Mufti

Ismail Menk, winning Williams

praise on the social website.

“Mashaallah. This is Islam.



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one commented on the post.

“Welcome to Islam brother

SBW,” another wrote.

“MashaAllah he is so talented.

... and aiming for rugby

7s Olympic medal next year!!

Allah give him success in this

life and the next,” a third commenter


Born in 1985, Williams a

top-notch rugby star in New


He reverted to Islam in 2008

after attending prayer services

at a Sydney mosque. The superstar

is the first Muslim to play

for the All Blacks rugby team.

The south-pacific island

country of New Zealand is

home to 36,000 Muslims, according

to the 2006 census.

Conversions to

Islam increasing

(Continued from page 1)

realized they didn’t know a lot

about Islam and they were surrounded

by news of these people

(Muslims) who hate them

and who were causing so much

wrong in the world that they

became curious and started

looking into the religion.”

From there, Chudnoff

said, the beauty of Islam is


“Once you start to search

and find the actual truth your

eyes are opened to how right

Islam is,” she said.



Chudnoff’s claim. Many converts

have stated they were

drawn to the religion’s simplicity,

logical doctrine and

unwavering commitment to


“Islam is one of the only religions

that believes in one God,

no ifs, ands or trinities,” said

Jack Ross of California.

The Quran’s wealth of scientific

miracles and the beauty of

its text, Islam’s lack of clerical

hierarchy, its doctrine of social

justice and its teachings about

equality toward women are

also listed as strong persuading

arguments for those considering

Islam as their faith of


Georgia Hutchinson of

Minnesota, however, said it’s

the media’s relentless negative

depiction of Islam and the

inherent mistrust many people

have toward mainstream news

outlets that lead people to seek

out answers for themselves.

She said they are often surprised

by what they discover.

“There are so many misconceptions

and confusion out

there that a lot of people feel

the need to know for themselves

what Islam is all about,

and when they do they are

Bernie Sanders

recognizes hijabi

(Continued from page 1)

that. …

“You are right, there is a lot

of anger being generated, a

lot of hatred being generated

against Muslims in this country,

that’s absolutely correct.

pleasantly surprised by what

they find,” she said.

Of course, many people

come to study Islam from a

place of genuine curiosity and

convert out of true conviction.

Still, it must be acknowledged

that others, oftentimes women,

embrace the religion out of

convenience, most especially

before marriage.

In fact, this situation is so

common that many female converts

are often asked if they became

Muslim because of their

involvement with or marriage

to a Muslim man. However, this

type of spiritual conversion is

not exclusive to Islam.

Mary Wilkins of Texas was

a lifelong Baptist Christian before

converting to Catholicism

upon her own marriage. She,

like many Muslim converts,

faced resistance from her family

when she announced her decision.

However, she was able

to find her spiritual and familial

balance by staying true to who

she was not only in her dealings

with her family but also in the

practice of her new faith.

For instance, before converting

she told her husband she

would raise their future children

Catholic but she would

not confess her sins to a priest

as is prescribed in the Catholic

Church. Instead, she held fast

to her original practice of repenting

to God in private.

Samantha Mortz, a Muslim

convert from Louisiana who

accepted Islam after her marriage,

said retaining her identity

and personality also helped

to ease her family into acceptance

of her new religion.

“They saw that I was still

myself and, hopefully, a better

person,” she said. “In fact one

day my aunt said to me, ‘You’re

still you but you with a scarf on

your head,’” Mortz said.

There is hatred being generated

against immigrants in this

country. And if you stand for

anything we have got to stand

together and end all forms of

racism, and I will lead that effort

as president of the United


To advertise here:


‘I’m sorry, but actually I’m a doctor’

By Hammad Aslam

A well-intentioned, middleaged

man came up to me with

an offer about a year ago when

I was outside a masjid after


“I have a very good opportunity

for you!” he eagerly said to

me. I was curious about what

this man wanted to offer and I

accepted the business card he

handed me. “You are probably

good at computers,” he said

to me in a mocking tone, as if

I were a child. “This is something

that you can do just sitting

at your computer. It’s good

for people like you because you

do not have to leave your home

and it is very easy.”

I listened as he briefly told

me about a simple job I could

do on the computer while

again implying that he does not

expect me to be someone who

has a job or leaves my home to

go out in the community very


His approach and assumptions

hurt me. “I’m sorry, but

actually I’m a doctor” I said to

him slowly. He was taken aback

and stumbled over his words

and tried to restate what he had


This interaction is not uncommon

for me now. People

regularly assume I am helpless.

Doing normal activities out in

the community is perceived as

being out of the ordinary.

Perhaps I should explain myself:

about six and a half years

ago, when I was in my early

20’s, I was involved in a car accidentally

with my family that resulted

in a complete spinal cord

injury and a traumatic brain

injury. I was left completely

paralyzed from below the chest

and have to use a wheelchair.

Since my accident, I have had

to overcome many obstacles.

There is one obstacle, however,

that I will continue to face: the

prejudice and stereotypes people

hold about individuals with


Thankfully, I have an amazingly

supportive family and

close friends. Though my life

had completely changed, my

parents never let me feel any

different. I wanted to be a doctor

even before my injuries and

my experiences after this lifechanging

event made me want

to be a doctor even more. My

family made me feel like these

goals were still attainable, never

implying or making me feel

I wanted to be a

doctor even before

my injuries and my

experiences after this

life-changing event

made me want to be

a doctor even more.

My family made me

feel like these goals

were still attainable.

The Muslim Observer — Nov. 13 - Dec. 11, 2015— Safar 1 - 29, 1437 — 15

like I had to accept anything


Unfortunately, not everyone

is molded and shaped by such

a support system. The above interaction

illustrates the prejudice

and stereotype that many

people hold. And it is a crippling

mindset to have--perhaps

more so than the actual physical

(or mental) disability.

I face looks of surprise and

bewilderment when people

learn that I am a physician, or

that I drive my own car, or that

I live by myself, or that I am engaged.

Over time, this makes

me feel like I am an inferior

individual in society and that

people will always look at me

in an inferior manner.

I am blessed to have a support

system that goes against

this, but others with disabilities

may not be so lucky. By holding

these individuals to a lesser

standard and thinking that they

are not “normal” members of

society, what are the long-term

implications? In addition to being

offensive, are we further

preventing the advancement

of these individuals by putting

them figuratively in a box and

making them feel like they are

Photo credit: Photodune

not able to accomplish things

like “other” people?

My life is different now and I

have accepted that. The wheelchair

I use and things I do on

a daily basis are not reminders

of my disabilities, but of how I

need to keep moving forward.

This acceptance would not

have been possible without

the support and love of those

around me. Individuals with

disabilities have enough internal

struggles to overcome; it is

time we as a society let go of

biases and support each other.

Editor’s note: Dr. Hammad

Aslam is a resident physician

specializing in physical medicine

and rehabilitation (PM&R)

at the University of Alabama at

Birmingham. He was in an automobile

accident with his family

on May 23, 2009 that caused

a traumatic brain injury, a C5

brachial plexus injury and a T3

complete spinal cord injury. He

has been featured in numerous

publications and has been asked

to speak at various events, including

two TEDx conferences.

His journey is followed by people

internationally through his blog,


His views are his own.

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