Being the “Same”

I was at a seminar/workshop earlier today, and it was very informative to say the least. One of the workshops was entitled: Traveling while “_____”. Fill in the blank: Black, Muslim, American, female. All of these are applicable in my situation. However, the professor leading the discussion said she was doing an ethnography for 12 years!? (long time) And within this time frame, she was studying a South American community which was a part of the large African diaspora, which is interesting in and of itself. She (who was African American) told us that she had to catch herself from bring her African diaspora background in to the mix because her version of being part of the African diaspora is different from their experiences being South American. One of the reasons it is different is because of something she called blue privilege.

Blue privilege is an interesting concept, which is very similar to white privilege. However, white refers to the color of one’s skin and blue refers to the color of one’s passport. Being American abroad is interesting especially while traveling through the MENA region (where I have done all of my travels). Because I wear the hijab and can pass for some sort of Arab, being American doesnt really cross people’s mind. When people do realize that I am American, that makes me all the more harder to place. American? Muslim? African? Possibly Arab?…….Most of the above identities are completely manufactured to some extent (to a large extent).

It is just interesting how you may perceive yourself as one way in one context, and be perceived in a completely different way…

Sunni, Shi’i, or Sushi?

Yesterday, the Muslim Students Association had who guest speakers, one of whom was Abdullah Antepli. The topic was Sunni versus Shia. Now when this can of worms is opened, chaos usually ensues – especially if there is already an air of intolerance. The panel was extremely enlightening, and I am very glad we are having such open discussions as Muslim youth.

It reminded me of two similar instances that happened to me on two different occasions. Both senarios happened when I was studying at Islamic schools in Atlanta, which shall refrain from being named. But the first instance happened when I was in 6th grade. My teacher paused as asked the class a question. Are you sunni or shia? We preceded to go around the room and answer (to the entire class and teacher) if we were either sunni or shia. Granted, I had no idea what their one was, I did what any other kid would do in that situation – follow the majority. I was closer toward the end of the procession, and all previous answers had been “sunni” so I went along with that one. This was a bizarre situation. But better believe this same scenario played out at a different Islamic school I went to for 8th grade. It was the same deal – go around the room and tell the world of your religious affiliation. Again – all children answered as sunni…

About four or five years after these occurrences. I was talking with my mother, and I prefaced a statement by “since our family is sunni…” and she stopped me right there. And she said that our family wasn’t sunni, we were simply mulims. That is when I realized how those past situations affected me.¬† I grew up knowing that I was Muslim, and just Muslim. Because we practiced similar to how “sunni’s” practiced, I began to assume that was name we were called¬† by default. But I question why we break ourselves up so: Sunni (Hanafi, Hanbali, Shafi3i, Malaki), Shia (Twelvers), Ahmadis, Ismailis, Druze (?), Alawaites, the list continues…

We are all Muslims, right…

Flirting with Blog

Its funny, actually. How I have had the homepage of Word Press open for weeks on my laptop. I am very particular about my FireFox tabs, I do not like closing them because they remind me of things I have to do, interesting articles I have yet to read, email tabs etc. So basically, I always have about 15 tabs open – the home page for Word Press was one of them. I was deliberating when the right time would be to make my blog…Ironically, its when my computer is in the shop and I am using a loaner (which does no have my dear tabs open) that I remember my burning desire to make a blog.

So here it is, ya’ll.