AT Print Issue 20-21

amal.t434


L E T T E R F R O M T H E

FIZA BALOCH

FIZA BALOCH

FIZA BALOCH

FIZA BALOCH

FIZA BALOCH

ASSALAMU ALAIKUM WA RAHMATULLAHI WA BARAKATUH

(MAY THE PEACE, MERCY, AND BLESSINGS OF ALLAH BE UPON YOU).

editor

in

chief

FIZA BALOCH

FIZA BALOCH

FIZA BALOCH

FIZA BALOCH

FIZA BALOCH

FIZA BALOCH

FIZA BALOCH

Behind every individual is a community shaping, teaching, supporting, and

inspiring one to become who we are today. For me, my community is my family.

I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by my loving parents, sister, and

cousins. We call ourselves the #BalochSquad. Every memory of my childhood is

etched by our bond-- be it stuffing into a car for a ride through the streets

of Downtown Sacramento or sharing laughs huddled around my grandmother’s

dining room table.

When I moved away from home for my first year at UCLA, I yearned to establish

my own community as I no longer had the comfort of my immediate family

near me. I wholeheartedly challenged myself to go out of my comfort zone

and say yes to all opportunities presented my way. The Al-Talib community,

in particular, provided me with a second family consisting of my closest

friends who always remain by my side whenever I feel a sense of emptiness or

loneliness amidst this fast-paced city and equally vast campus.

With this year’s annual print issue, the theme “Unity Amidst Uncertainty”

aims to reflect upon the essense of the Muslim community as the global

community dealt with immense loss since the eruption of the COVID-19

pandemic. For the first time, it seemed as if the entire world hit pause and

each corner of the world began to scramble to adjust to a new normal. Despite

the distance and chaos, the spirit of community failed to diminish.

I hope as you flip or rather -click- your way through this year’s magazine,

you are able to relate and feel a connection to the articles and photos. I

hope they rush in memories from the early quarantine days and force you to

ponder the unfortunate inequalities our fellow BIPOC communities continue to

face everyday.

Al-Talib always has and continues to remain an organization by Muslim

students for the general community. As you read through these pages, if you

are still searching for your community, I hope you find it here with us.

Happy reading!

FIZA BALOCH

FIZA BALOCH

FIZA BALOCH

FIZA BALOCH

FIZA BALOCH

FIZA BALOCH

FIZA BALOCH

FIZA BALOCH

FIZA BALOCH

FIZA BALOCH

FIZA BALOCH

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF 2021

AL-TALIB NEWSMAGAZINE



06

10

14

16

21

24

28

DISCONNECTED

autumn haikal

WE WILL NOT SHUT UP AND DRIBBLE

sami siddiqui

WE GREW APART

semma hadaya

A NEW NORMAL

photography team

YEMEN IN CRISIS: HOW COVID-19 UNDERSCORES

DIVISION IN MUSLIM COMMUNITY

rafay siddiqui

UNDERSTANDING RACIAL DISPARITIES

RELATED TO COVID-19

dzelila maslesa

AL-WADUD - THE LOVING

ayesha aslam-mir

Al-Talib Newsmagazine is published and copyrighted by the ASUCLA Communications

Board. All rights are reserved. Reprinting of any material in this publication

without the written permission of the Communications Board is strictly prohibited.

The ASUCLA Communications Board fully supports the University of California’s

policy on non-discrimination. The student media reserve the right to reject or

modify advertising whose content discriminates on the basis of ancestry, color,

national origin, race, religion, disability, age, sex or sexual orientation.

The ASUCLA Communications Board has a media grievance procedure for resolving

complaints against any of its publications. For a copy of the complete procedure,

contact the publications office at 118 Kerckhoff Hall @ 310-825-9898



06

D

I

S

C

O

N

N

E

C

T

E

D

“the prime time of your life”

“the prime time of your life”

“the “the prime prime time time of of your your life” life”

“the prime time of your life”

“the prime time of your life”

“the prime time of your life”

These are words that people often use to

describe their college years. High schoolers

are told that their lives will be filled with

excitement the minute they step on campus,

while college students are encouraged to make

every moment of these critical years count.

Young people have often been told to craft the

narrative of their college years, to soak up

every moment of their college experience, and

to enjoy these “best years of their lives”

to the fullest. It came as an unforeseeable

shock when many of said students were pushed

out of their classrooms and dorms away from

their friends and peers, and were forced to

quickly adapt to a new, lonelier world of

online learning.

It comes as no surprise that this stark change

has had adverse effects on the mental health

and well-being of students across the nation.

The COVID-19 pandemic has left people

in a place of unexpected isolation. No one

was equipped to handle these new changes,

and this quickly reflected in mental health

statistics of 2020. The American Psychological

Association collected data for a mental

health survey conducted last year. In it, 34%

of Gen Z participants reported having worse

mental health, and 73% reported feelings of

loneliness. These statistics seem to just

scratch the surface of the stresses that

young people have been grappling with since

quarantine began. For many students, this is

a lonelier time, and one that has made the

already-difficult growing pains of high school

and college much worse.

34%

“I feel more lonely, probably

because of social distancing not

just in my social life but also in

my overall life,” says Semma Hadaya,

a first-year college student at UCLA.

She, as well as many other students

her age, have stopped to reflect on

how this pandemic has affected them

emotionally. “The pandemic made me

realize that physically being at

school with other people, and being

able to interact with them face-toface

made a difference in my mental

health.”

It’s not just online school

that has sparked these feelings of

loneliness for many young students,

Does spending

too much time

on social

media hurt

or help us,

and to what

degree?

but also an overall struggle to

maintain friendships and connections

with others. “...I’ve had a lot of

time to just think and have found

myself spiraling quite frequently,

which is taking a pretty big toll

on my mental health,” says secondyear

student Amina Durrani. She

continues, “because of quarantining

and isolation, I feel like some of

my friendships have changed as well

and it makes me feel anxious.” It

seems to be a normal occurrence that

people have felt their friendships

quickly change due to the extended

isolation. Many students have felt

it difficult to stay connected with

friends from the past, while also

not making new friends due to closed

classrooms and campuses.

Between adapting to online school

and attempting to maintain some

sense of normalcy during this

time, many have turned to the one

digital space they know best to

stay connected.

Conversations about how

social media affects our mental

health have been happening for

years, but it wasn’t until the

COVID-19 pandemic that these

conversations became increasingly

amplified. Does spending too much

time on social media hurt or help

us, and to what degree? Fourthyear

student Manaal Sayed gives

her experience with social media

during the pandemic, sharing that

“it has turned into an unhealthy

coping mechanism and almost

obsessive.” Manaal is not the

only one feeling this way. The

Harris Poll found that between 46%

and 51% of U.S. adults reported

using social media more since the

pandemic started. Social media can

be a great way to stay in touch

with friends during this time, but

quarantine has given many people

more time to fill with mindless

social media scrolling, and this

doesn’t always have positive

effects on mental health.



In reference to social media,

second-year student Sakeena Siddiq

says it best, “It’s hard to see

other people’s lives and compare

my own to theirs.” Many of these

thoughts about social media are

ones that people have had before

the pandemic as well, but in their

attempt to stay connected in this

time of disconnectedness, many

young people have found themselves

developing an unhealthy dependence

on these online platforms.

Amidst all

the hardships,

loneliness, and

struggles with

mental health

that COVID-19

has brought on

for many young

students, it is

difficult to see

any positives.

If there is

anything that

young students

have proven

during this

time, though,

it’s their

resilience and

never- ending

strive to make the most of this dire

situation. Many of said students

have taken this time to reconnect

with family members and form new

hobbies. Reading, writing, calling

friends, or simply recognizing the

small things that bring joy. Some

are also trying to actively address

their mental health needs at this

time, even taking steps to break

habits that may have been harming

their well-being.

08

One fourth year student, Nada

Elquosey, says she deleted social

media entirely at the beginning

of quarantine, and is now much

more purposeful with her use of

it. So maybe it’s not the college

experience that students expected to

have during the “prime time of their

lives,” but it definitely has still

been a valuable one, especially

for those who have taken this time

to reflect and recognize their own

resilience from this isolation. “I

am also much

“If there is

anything that young

students have

proven during this

time, though, it’s

their resilience and

never- ending strive

to make the most of

this dire situation.”

more aware of

my adaptability

which will

hopefully allow

me to navigate

difficult

situations in

the future,”

says Nada.

The

COVID-19

pandemic

has brought

unforeseeable

challenges.

Everyone is

still trying

to process the

events from

the past year while also finding

the strength to take on life’s new

challenges. For students, these

challenges consist of adapting to

online learning while also trying

to maintain mental well-being. This

task has definitely not been easy.

It’s okay to struggle during these

times. It’s okay to wake up and not

feel your best. Though students are

separated by screens right now, there

is another person on the other side

that is feeling the exact same way.

maybe we are not disconnected as we think

maybe we are not disconnected as we think

maybe we are not disconnected as we think

maybe we are not disconnected as we think

maybe

M

maybe maybe maybe we we

we we are are are not not not disconnected disconnected disconnected as as

as as we we

we we think”

maybe

think

maybe maybe we

we we are

maybe we are are not

are not not disconnected

not disconnected as

disconnected as as we

as we we think”

we think

A

Y

m a y b e w e a r e n o t d i s c o n n e c t e d a s w e t h i n k

m a y b e w e a r e n o t d i s c o n n e c t e d a s w e t h i n k

m a y b e w e a r e n o t d i s c o n n e c t e d a s w e t h i n k

m a y b e w e a r e n o t d i s c o n n e c t e d a s w e t h i n k

m a y b e w e a r e n o t d i s c o n n e c t e d a s w e t h i n k

m a y b e w e a r e n o t d i s c o n n e c t e d a s w e t h i n k

m a y b e w e a r e n o t d i s c o n n e c t e d a s w e t h i n k

m a y b e w e a r e n o t d i s c o n n e c t e d a s w e t h i n k

m a y b e w e a r e n o t d i s c o n n e c t e d a s w e t h i n k

B

E

we are not disconnected as we think

maybe we are not disconnected as we think

maybe



In no world

should anyone

need to

project their

self-worth and

demand fundamental

human rights,

dignity, and

respect on the back

of their sports

jerseys.

YET, IN THE YEAR 2021, HERE WE ARE.

Despite landmark legislation,

staunch activism, and momentous

court cases in recent decades,

racism has remained firmly entrenched

in America’s social fabric.

Although “outlawed” by federal

law, the legacies of America’s Jim

Crow regime implicitly persist

in countless ways. In the United

States, a person of color can

be killed by law enforcement

without the due process of law

“guaranteed” to all citizens by

the 14th Amendment. In the United

States, a person of color can face

disproportionately greater sentences

than Americans of Caucasian descent

for nonviolent offenses. In the

United States, a person of color can

face unending generational poverty

long after slavery was outlawed by

the 13th Amendment.

EXCEPT FOR ONE PROBLEM. IT DIDN’T.

America’s grandest achievement -- a

“magnum opus” one might say -- in

race relations was ultimately a

mirage for struggling people of

color. By permitting involuntary

servitude among prisoners, the

United States allowed for the

creation of a prison-industrial

complex, whereby people of color

toiling in sharecropping tenancies

also faced mass incarceration

schemes that abridged their

fundamental rights

and liberties.

Despite this, minority groups--

particularly African Americans--

are expected to show gratitude for

the “progress” America has made

in race relations since 1865: the

Civil Rights Amendments, Brown vs.

Board of Education, the Voting

Rights Act--you name it. As if any

person of color should be “eternally

grateful” for no longer having to

deal with the ripple effect of

slavery and the brutality of Jim

Crow. Nowadays, people of color

are not expected to demand greater

change but rather trust the judgment

of the predominantly Caucasian,

“enlightened” legislators for the

changes made in race relations.

Nowadays, people of color are

expected to remain complicit to

implicit bias, brutality, and

discrimination.

In the sports world, this mentality

has compelled athletes, most of whom

are of African American or minority

descent, to keep their tongues tied

on critical social justices issues

for years. I mean, who else would

want to endure the endless criticism

that Colin Kaepernick did for simply

kneeling to the National Anthem? Two

years later, Fox News correspondent

Laura Ingraham would further project

this criticism by targeting LeBron

James’ comments against former

President Donald Trump, instructing

athletes of his stature to “just

shut up and dribble.”

10

Here’s the thing, though. We

shouldn’t just shut up and

dribble. We can’t remain silent

to the victim shaming, police

brutality, and systemic racism

that continues to plague the

United States. We cannot merely

be grateful for civil rights and

liberties that should have never

been withheld to begin with.



Almost immediately after Ingraham’s

segment aired on national

television, James would not shy

away from the criticism, posting an

image of neon lights that read “More

Than An Athlete” on multiple social

media accounts. James took it a step

further by publicizing this mantra

as a full-fledged, Nike-endorsed

campaign to empower other athletes

to use their voice to advocate on

behalf of their minority communities

nationwide.

“how many more?”

The momentum generated by this move

carried over into 2020, a year that

featured the deaths of George Floyd,

Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and

other victims of unarmed shootings

at the centerstage of national

media. Last summer alone, countless

NBA superstars, including Stephen

Curry, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and

Damian Lillard, allotted time during

the season’s hiatus to protest

these extrajudicial murders. Not

to mention, Antetokounmpo and the

Milwaukee Bucks organization, upon

hearing the news of Jacob Blake,

would boycott Game 5 of their

playoff matchup against the Orlando

Magic. The team, instead, opted

to issue a statement condemning

racialized violence against minority

communities across the state of

Wisconsin.

These progressive actions taken

by NBA players led other high

profile athletes spanning multiple

national sports leagues to quickly

follow suit in promoting a common

message of social justice and racial

equality. Tennis superstar Naomi

Osaka, for one, would refuse to

partake in the Western and Southern

Open semifinal matchups as regularly

scheduled, as “the continued

genocide of Black people at the

hands of police” only made her

12

“sick to the stomach.” New York Mets

player Dominic Smith was driven to tears

while expressing similar sentiments

in a postgame interview, claiming that

“being a Black man in America is not

easy” for this exact reason. NBA legend

Michael Jordan refused to stay silent on

these matters as well, pledging roughly

$100 million to the Black Lives Matter

movement for the next decade. In a

published statement by the Jordan brand,

these funds are representative of their

commitment to “protecting and improving

the lives of Black people” until

America’s “ingrained” systemic racism is

“completely eradicated.”

“say her name”

The overwhelming support for social

justice among our athletes in the

past year was ultimately capped off

with mass campaigns encouraging

American citizens to vote in the

2020 Presidential Election. The

NBA, for one, would convert its

arenas to polling places, providing

ample opportunities for people

once held back by voter suppression

tactics to actively participate in

the electoral process. The WNBA

“i can't breathe”

-- particularly Atlanta Dream

-- doubled down on these efforts

by walking Georgia natives through

the voter registration process,

especially among underprivileged

communities across Atlanta with

historically low voter turnout.

In doing so, the Atlanta Dream

successfully helped “flip Georgia

blue” in the Senate Election by

replacing Republican incumbents

with Democratic Senators

Raphael Warnock and

David Perdue.

Warnock, in particular, went on

to become the first Black Senator

representing the state of Georgia,

serving as yet another testament to

the gravity of sports activism.

The merging of social activism with

sports has, unsurprisingly, left

some fans sour, as they feel that

politics are being forced down

their throats. To that, I must

say: I’m sorry, Karen, but we will

be interrupting your regularly

scheduled Sunday Night Football.

We will not shut up and kick

oblong pigskin across a

goalpost without addressing

disproportionately harmful

attacks against our

fellow African Americans.

We will not shut up and

hit grand slams out of the

ballpark without redressing

the socioeconomic disparities

that imprison people

of color with unceasing

torment and poverty.

We will not shut up and

dribble without promoting

equality of all human beings

irrespective of race, among

other intersectional factors.

“respect us”

To refrain from doing so would

retain the status quo that

has suppressed the voices

of our athletes for years

on end. If sports has

taught us anything,

it’s that it not

only physically

brings people

together in

arenas,

but it

can also

unify

on an

ideological

level by

shedding

light on

our most

pressing

domestic

issues.

For

racism

to be

eradicated

in the United States, we must

educate, lead, and inspire through

any means necessary

-- yes, including sports.



strangers now

14

pink bubblegum

swirled around our

tongues

and we swallowed it

are the myths true?

seven months ago

i became an adult

you didn’t see me then

and i didn’t see you

after all

we’re just strangers now

biting my cheek

i was just tall enough

but

i didn’t want to ride

that

isn’t it funny

how i cried then

you wiped away my tears.

seven days ago

your dad

i had only seen him when

sunshine flowed through

his hands

isn’t it ironic

how it’s pouring rain

today

cacophonous

unearthly

to hear him on the

speaker phone

wailing,

wailing

seven heavens

they say rain means

their gates

are open

but do you even

believe in that now

grey clouds

and within them

serenity

but here

only uproar

and pain

so much pain

i texted you when i heard

i remember her

your mom

vision so blurry

spinning,

spinning

tones, notes, chords

floated through the sky

then

suddenly stopped.

we

she smiled at me

i didn’t know

she was sick then

“preexisting conditions”

you didn’t answer.

grew

don’t even know what you look

like now

is your hair still

black as your eyes

a starless night sky

deep and vast and thoughtful

even though we were only

seven

apart

electric purple and green

heavy eyebags

burn through my skin

you could be a completely different person

and yet

thememoriesflashthroughmyheadand

nostalgiandsympathyandwillyouever

textmebackitsokayifyoudontbut

it’s seven a.m.

and i haven’t slept all night

my mom will be at the funeral

i can’t come

covid regulations

but she’ll see you there

and tell you

“she’s still here for you”

seven years later



a new normal

a new normal

a new normal

a new normal

a new normal

This recent COVID-19 outbreak has uprooted our lives making it a

year unlike any other. COVID-19 has resulted in a heavy load on the

healthcare system and everyone who works to support it. Many hospitals

were witnessing 3x the patient load, resulting in overwork, exhaustion,

and in some cases burnout of our medical professionals. Just in the LA

area, hospital capacity was over 100% for several weeks, forcing medical

teams to make difficult decisions regarding patient care, while managing

their own and their teams’ health and safety. Some healthcare workers

in our local areas have gone weeks without seeing their families due to

their absurd work hours and their high risk for transmission of COVID.

In addition to physical strain, like dark circles and bruising due to

the PPE, many of the hospital staff carried the heavy emotional burden of

watching patients pass away without familial support. We must continue

a new normal

to remember, pray for, and show our gratitude for the local healthcare

professionals because as we chill at home, they are out on the frontlines

every day saving millions of lives.

This unprecedented time has forced us to learn to adapt to new situations

and change how we worship and pray to Allah (SWT). For quite some time, we

were unable to enter mosques or other people’s houses to pray together as

a community. We could no longer rely on weekly Jummah prayers, Taraweeh

prayers, Iftar parties, or early morning IHOP suhoors. We needed to

become autonomous and disciplined to rely on ourselves to manage these

key aspects of our faith. Thankfully, we are now starting to see some

semblance of our previously normal daily life. Despite the fact that most

food-related parties are no longer occurring, some of us are fortunate

enough to have indoor socially distanced Jummah and Taraweeh prayers.

Our social lives also suffered as a result of the pandemic. We went from

living with and seeing our friends on a daily basis to mainly seeing the

four walls of our bedrooms. In-person classes were already stressful

enough, yet when COVID hit, students were robbed of their social outlets

rmal

and study groups. Online school and rarely seeing friends became an

incredibly hard adjustment. As precautionary measures lifted slightly,

students found ways to safely visit friends occasionally to maintain

sanity. Students began to meet up with masks for socially distanced Zoom

University, picnics, walks/hikes, and other outdoor activities.

16

We found ways to adapt religiously and socially to the uncertain times

that this year threw at us, ensuring that we maintained connected and

united with our support circles of friends and family. As we all pray that

COVID comes to an end soon, we wish you all the best with the culmination

of this school year. We hope to see you all back on campus in September!

Your Photography Team,

Rida Ismail, Sanah Ali, & Sehar Hussain

Marvi Hussain

2021

On the Front Lines

Special thanks to

John R. Carvalho MD



18

Hamzah Sarwari & Omar Zahid

2021

Physically Distant but

Spiritually Close



Understanding

Racial

Disparities

Related to

COVID-19

Sehar Hussain

2021

See You in Class

Special thanks to

Aliza Ajmal &

Fatima Iqbal

20



A year ago, almost nobody knew what COVID

was, how easily it could spread, and

the long-lasting effects it would have

globally. As cases continue to rise in the

U.S. and researchers make new developments

on the virus, it is evident that racial

disparities persist—and in some cases, worsen.

Highlighting these disparities suggests that

COVID is not just a global health issue but

a racial one as well, putting communities of

color at increased risk of infection and death

from the virus.

According to the KFF, vaccination patterns contradict

who the virus has affected the most. States with

vaccination data by race reveal that the share of

vaccinations among Black people is smaller than their

share of cases in all 16 reporting states and smaller

than their share of deaths in 15 states. Hispanics

share this pattern; in Nebraska, four percent of

vaccinations have been distributed to Hispanics, while

they make up 23 percent of cases and 13 percent of

deaths. On the opposite end, the share of vaccinations

among white people is larger than their share of cases

in 13 of the 16 reporting states and larger than their

share of deaths in nine states.

According to the CDC, the U.S. has surpassed

500,000 COVID deaths and reached 28 million

confirmed cases. All data points to the trend

that people of color suffer from COVID at

higher rates than white people and their share

of the population. An NPR analysis of the

latest data available from the COVID Tracking

Project delves into the race issue state by

state, as well as on the national level.

22

And of course, statewide race data has become more

available. When NPR began reporting on COVID in May

of last year, race was established in only 51 percent

of cases and 88 percent of deaths. Since then, race

has been established in 65 percent of new cases.

Thankfully, vaccine distribution has already begun

in the U.S. In fact, the CDC reported that as

of February 18, over 50 million doses have been

administered across the country. Yet, the Kaiser

Family Foundation (KFF) published findings showing

that as of January 19, only 17 states were publicly

reporting COVID vaccination data by race.ue state by

state, as well as on the national level.

As of September 20, 2020, its key

findings are: African Americans suffer

and die more from COVID than 1.5

times their share of the population;

in Missouri, Kansas, Wisconsin, and

Michigan, African Americans are dying

at a rate more than 2.5

times their share of the

population; Hispanics

and Latinos experience

higher COVID death

rates than their share

of state populations;

Hispanics and Latinos

have a disproportionate

rate of infection

in 45 states and the

District of Columbia;

Native Americans and

Alaskan Natives have

disproportionate rates

of death and sickness

to their population in

21 out of 36 states;

and white, non-Hispanic

deaths from COVID are

lower than their share

of the population in 36

states and the District

of Columbia.

Together, this data

points to racial

disparities apparent in

access to the vaccine,

but it is difficult to

draw solid conclusions

given that the vaccines

are not yet available to

most of the population—

health care workers and

long-term care residents and staff are given priority.

In addition, a lot of racial data is incomplete and

inconsistent, limiting its usefulness. In some states,

race is unaccounted for a significant share of vaccinations.

States also vary in their vaccination data (some report

doses administered, while others report people vaccinated)

and in their racial classifications, causing a strain on

the comparability of data across states. For instance,

some states have a racial category reserved for Hispanics,

while others limit racial groups to non-Hispanics.

Moving forward,

comprehensive,

standardized data

across states is

necessary to identify

racial disparities

related to COVID and

develop solutions to

mitigate or reduce

these inequities.

Moreover, the

U.S. would benefit

from expanding

access to health

care, establishing

equitable care

models, and

addressing social

determinants of

health. The pandemic

has caused division,

which is why everyone

must do their part

to ensure that

communities of color

are taken care of to

the same extent as

privileged groups.



YEMEN

IN

CRISIS

HOW

COVID-19

UNDERSCORES

DIVISION

IN MUSLIM COMMUNITY

Yet, the most disheartening crisis in

recent memory that highlights division in

the Islamic community is centered in the

southwestern region of the Arabian Peninsula,

the centerstage of the dar-al-Islam.

“ A h o u s e d i v i d e d a g a i n s t i t s e l f c a n n o t s t a n d . ”

For centuries, Islam has cultivated an ever-expanding community by espousing core

principles of peace, tolerance, and piety. However, with decades of unceasing civil conflict

afflicting chaos, famine, and casualty, the dar-al-Islam is at a critical historic juncture.

As the pandemic raged on in 2020 and to the foreseeable future, the coronavirus has

introduced the most devastating form of division in the Islamic community: isolation.

Because of the pandemic, we fasted and feasted in confinement throughout the holy month

of Ramadan. Because of the pandemic, we worshipped alone during weekly Jumu’ah prayers

rather than with the umma gathered at our holy masjids. And because of the pandemic,

countless Muslims around the world were unable to embark on their pilgrimage to Mecca.

Since Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) embarked on the hijrah

in 622 CE, billions of Muslims have roamed the Earth from sea to shining sea —

unified in their faith in Allah and pursuit of spiritual salvation. From

the vantage point of headlines, however, it almost never seems to be that way:

24

“KILLINGS SPIKE AT SYRIAN DISPLACEMENT CAMPS,

“KILLINGS SPIKE AT SYRIAN DISPLACEMENT CAMPS,

“KILLINGS SPIKE AT SYRIAN DISPLACEMENT CAMPS,

RAISING FEARS OF IS RESURGENCE”

RAISING FEARS OF IS RESURGENCE”

RAISING FEARS OF IS RESURGENCE”

Since 2004, Yemen has been

embroiled in civil conflict

that has consequently

resulted in mass casualties

and famine — both of which

have been exacerbated due to

the COVID-19 pandemic. To

fully comprehend the scope

of Yemen’s current plight,

dubbed the worst humanitarian

crisis in the world, we must

rewind roughly 10 years back.

“GREAT POWER COMPETITION ADDS

TO CHALLENGES IN THE MIDDLE EAST”

“GREAT POWER COMPETITION ADDS

TO CHALLENGES IN THE MIDDLE EAST”

“GREAT POWER COMPETITION ADDS

TO CHALLENGES IN THE MIDDLE EAST”

“GREAT POWER COMPETITION ADDS

TO CHALLENGES IN THE MIDDLE EAST”

“GREAT POWER COMPETITION ADDS

TO CHALLENGES IN THE MIDDLE EAST”

“GREAT POWER COMPETITION ADDS

TO CHALLENGES IN THE MIDDLE EAST”

During this time, rallies for democratic

rule suffused throughout North Africa

and Southwest Asia in territories that

were once ruled by Islamic empires — the

Umayyads, the Abbasids, the Ilkhanids,

and the Ottomans. With its origins in

2010, the Arab Spring has since denounced

low standards of living and authoritarian

rule — manifesting in protests throughout

Tunisia, Egypt, and in due time Yemen.

As a result, former authoritarian

president Ali Abdullah Saleh abdicated

his power to deputy official Abdrabbh Hadi

in 2011. Despite this administrative

change, Yemen still struggled to

contend with separatists movements,

food insecurity, unemployment, and

other lingering issues. Due to this

apparent weakness, a group of Zaidi Shia

minorities known as the “Houthi movement”

fought a series of rebellions against

the state within the Saada province in

Northern Yemen

— commencing a civil war that lasts to

this day.



Even more startling is the violent

intervention led by neighboring nations, in

particular Saudi Arabia. Since the conflict’s

inception in 2014, Saudi Arabia’s airstrikes

in Yemen have accounted for more than 60

percent of civilian deaths, which have risen

to over 18,400 and counting. What’s worse:

the survivors are not faring much better.

Already, before the pandemic struck, in the Middle East — or for any “Thirdsurvivors

had to contend with homelessness World country,” for that matter. While the

and starvation due to ongoing conflict

Biden Administration is pursuing nuclear

perpetuated by sectarianism in the Islamic talks with Iran — who had been goaded into

community. With coronavirus, however, Yemen conflict by former President Trump’s decision

has become especially vulnerable to the to eliminate top general Qasem Soleimani —

brunt of the disease, as a high proportion several national security think tanks such

of the country’s 3500 medical facilities as the Center for New American Security

“have been damaged or destroyed in air (CNAS) have already been receiving funds

strikes.” As a result, within a nation with from top military contracts. While harmless

only several hundred ventilators, citizens at the surface, these developments may spell

of Yemen have had to endure the symptoms of further conflict in the Middle East, as CNAS’

a respiratory illness with limited access to inherent conflict of interest may result in

vaccinations.

more “here to stay” wars for “democracy and

liberation” in Iraq and Afghanistan. Coupled

Taken together, is division within

with America’s recent current drone strike

the Islamic community the sole campaign in Syria, causes for concern and

contributor to Yemen’s current crisis? alarm in the Middle East are especially

valid.

Well, not exactly. While America’s militaristic foreign

Ultimately, a discussion with regards to

Middle Eastern conflict begins and ends with

the United States’ military-industrial

complex and the ultra-nationalist ideology

that is American exceptionalism. Between

1981 and 1988 alone, Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi

regime “purchased an estimated $46.7 billion

worth of arms and military equipment,” a

substantial portion of which came from

American sources. Such dealings would serve

26

merely as droplets within a decadesspanning

pot filled to the brim with

escalated tensions, proxy wars, and economic

imperialism.

And while the previous election

resulted in the inauguration of Joe Biden,

there are no guarantees that the perpetual

cycle of foreign intervention will persist

policy is certainly not absolved for its

implications in the Middle East, the ongoing

crisis in Yemen collectively underscores

the divisions between Sunni and Shia Islam

and the legacies of said divisions in the

current day.

Fundamentally, the Islamic community has

faced conflicts among Sunni and Shia Muslims

for centuries, some of which boiled over

into violent confrontations. The Battle

of Chaldiran in 1520, for example, became

a prime manifestation of the animosity

between Ottomans and Safavids, who were

predominantly Sunni and Twelver-Shiites

respectively. This geopolitical resentment

would persist even into the tail-end of the

20th century, a time in which Iraqis and

Iranians clashed in several major conflicts —

including the infamous Iran-Iraq War.

As it pertains to Yemen, this ethnic

divide unfortunately applies just as

seamlessly. In the wake of unwavering civil

war between several factions of Yemeni

society, some of which led by Shiite Houthi

rebels, Saudi-led and Sunni-majority forces

have also mobilized forces in response —

resulting in a greater religious divide in

light of an already-isolating pandemic.

Ultimately, to address the ongoing

issues in Yemen, to overcome the coronavirus

pandemic, and to unify the Islamic community

at the international level, it has become

evermore incumbent for Muslims from

all walks of life to keep the faith and

reconcile our differences.

Even within the previous year,

the Middle East is still recovering from

lamentable tragedies.

The devastating explosion in

Beirut.

The chemical weapons deployed in

Syria.

The drone strikes in

Afghanistan.

The famines in

Sudan.

The list, unfortunately, goes on.

Once dubbed the Fertile Crescent, the

Mesopotamian region and adjacent territories

have now become fertile grounds for

unceasing plight, pain, and peril for

millions.

But it doesn’t have

to be this way.

With due diligence, we can mend

the centuries-spanning wounds

that have splintered the Islamic

community for far too long.

Ultimately, we are all

in this together:

united we stand,

united united

we

we

stand,

stand,

divided

divided

we

we

fall.

fall.

divided we fall.

divided we fall.



I often awaken

tired of my world. what I perceive is the ache of

hours as they pass me by. directly: time wasted as I wither away

at a screen, at my desk.

a camera gleams at my face and sees finite footage of my chaos.

I often awaken

weary and annoyed

as the shouts and laughter of a sevenfold clan echo, echo upstairs

as my mother prepares

breakfast, lunch

love, prayer.

I often stay awake

with fear of my sleep.

my fatigue, my weariness

runs deep to my soul. a quivering heart.

news often rushes discussion to argumentative passion, much of which is tragedy--

grief turned to anger.

I turn to my phone screen to see faces unmasked. and I turn to anger,

an unpleasant sensation that scalds my soul as I consider how, without this, I might be able to

experience a college student’s coveted first year.

my mother reminds me, often, to pray.

---

but there are also

zoom intrusions and forgetting to knock on my bedroom door,

family-produced chaos that follows, the storm that cannot allow me a moment of peace.

I grow irritable

I shut off

I am over their torment as soon as it begins.

what a fool

for I cannot see what has been granted to me in this tumultuous time

Allah has blessed me with a security of my own, one that

a society outside cannot find

our continuation of work, the torment we ensue

as a form of ibadah (worship). as a means of attaining rizq (provision).

and Allah has provided to me privilege

when others are in total loss; his Mercy pervades

what a pleasantry she declares

that I may work within the comfort of my home-- she hands me a home cooked meal.

rich with her care. love runs through the air as spices swirl

like a warm, crimson glowing sensation

into the braids she so delicately wove into my hair.

---

five siblings once rarely together

now dance with their words and their echoing

laughter.

it slices the tension in my neck,

the ramble of loud, playful shouts;

video game noises; rattling and clanging in the kitchen.

to forgive the sins of those who are suffering. to bring comfort to the family as they bond beneath

weeks and weeks of the same starlight.

and as another ramadan approaches, where we may share suhur and iftar meals and collective love

through prayer

I admire the unity amongst the divine

in a kingdom of never ending blessing

we reside on this earth.

---

with this endless time

on halt in one sense. and rushed to the end for others

I ask Allah constantly

to open my heart

for his grace

al-wadud ~ the loving

28



to bless me with closeness and never ending faith

in God’s infinitude

and my unimportance, my impotence

I have his rahma - compassion, grace, and mercy

and I still find myself blocked

weighed down upon by time and obligation

preventing me from giving thanks.

so I fear each night of sleep: had I softened my heart

with his remembrance?

perhaps

I would have remembered Allah better with the opportunity bestowed;

prayer and dua

for the ever infinite mercy he has bestowed upon me.

I pray instead

Allah grants me another chance

to devote another day to his mercy.

---

my heart warms

with my brothers and sisters

mother and father sitting close.

as I have the opportunity to be here

as Allah blesses me with another day

in this never ending

test of endless time.

there is strife like a knot,

twisted into the rope of our society.

fraying with damage and deposited dust

and dirt crack as this rope pulls,

tension on either side.

Allah’s mercy is even here

as this rope is held together

may we see the light that shines from the gold of what blessings we have

and the family that remains. what Allah has blessed some with in place of others

yet his mercy is still boundless.

may we be part of the Mercy for those who are not as we

and never may we forget words of remembrance that unite this ummah under the quilt of what is

servitude to our Rabb:

a l h a m d u l i l l a h

30



Saja Zidan

Co-Managing Editor

Insha Hasan

Farah Ahmad

Sehar Hussain

Photo/Video Director

Amal Thommil

Web Manager

Sanah Ali

Rida Ismail

Naqiyah Qadir

Co-Managing Editor

Aurbal Popal Kimiya Ghassemzadeh Hanan Hashem

Eesha Sohail Ayesha Aslam-Mir Sami Siddiqui Autumn Haikal

Amina Nakhuda

Semma Hadaya Dzelila Maslesa Ridah Mazhar Rafay Siddiqui

Hamzah Sarwari

Social Media Manager

Anna Syed

Sabrina Fardeheb

Layout Editor

Ayesha Durrani

Rimsha Hussaini

Events Director

Sarah Hamza

Sumaiya Kaiser Sarah Karim Sakeena Siddiq Fiza Baloch

Editor-In-Chief

Ramsha Farooq

Neha Farhan

& Mohammed Sadiq Mortada



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