Category: Social Justice

Enriched through International Travel

This is a piece written about me from an organization called Mobility International USA. I love the work they do to ensure the rights of people with disabilities.

“From her experiences in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, Bushra has learned a thing or two about traveling with a physical disability. She understands that planning for medications, bathroom breaks, and navigating the airports can make the overall experience go more smoothly.“I leave my house as early as possible. For example at the airport if I need a wheelchair, I have to get there earlier than usual just to be sure I’ll get the assistance I need. Sometimes the wheelchair doesn’t arrive early and I fear I may be late for my flight.”

Source: Enriched through International Travel

Advertisements

Lessons from a long week

This has definitely been one hell of a week. First of all, this has been the hardest Ramadan of my life. I’ve finally begun to understand what it feels like to be a convert to some extent because of feeling alone. It’s not easy being alone or being around people whom you expect to know everything about you. I really am not sure I’m gaining any benefits from Ramadan like I used to and I don’t know what to do about it. It’s just making me sad.  Then again a lot happened in the past few days that made me rethink my relationship with this month.

The next thing that happened was that Muhammad Ali died. His funeral was in Ramadan, having died just days before it.  This went from shock, to denial, to sadness, to appreciation for everything I could have possibly learned from his life and death. Muhammad Ali was the ultimate example of our time of what a Muslim should be. I can not stress this enough. In every single interview I’ve watched of him, he mentioned something about God and his desire to reach Heaven.  I honestly think that no one in this entire world got a send off the way he did. No one else really deserves that great of a send off, to be honest.  I was so proud that he firmly stood for his beliefs in life and death. I was so proud that for once an Islamic view was on television that showed prayers, not violence, which was on tv for two days. There was absolutely no report about violence in those two days.  He made sure that he got a proper Islamic funeral (Janazah) and that everyone could see Islam for what it really is. He openly spoke of his faith no matter the consequences.  His wife mentioned in her speech during the Memorial that Muhammad Ali wanted his funeral to be a teaching moment and that’s exactly what it was.

As a Muslim, Muhammad Ali’s death reminded me of a story of when the Prophet (PBUH) himself died. The gist of it was that a companion, Umar (rA) came out in the street so emotional and was shouting that whoever said the Prophet had died, Umar wanted to kill. Then another companion, Abu Bakr (rA) came out and had to calm him down and remind him that The Prophet was just a man and that God was alive and could never die. This story reminded me that people die, no matter how great they are. I honestly for a time I didn’t think Muhammad Ali could die. I was just like, he’s fine, nothin’s gonna happen. Boy, did I get my reality check last week.

Everyone knew how proud Muhammad Ali was of his identity. They knew how much he stood up for it as well. He stood up for who he was no matter the consequences.  This is not easy even to this day.  He also never threw himself a pity party because of his illness. Unfortunately, this was the type of person I used to be. I never used to let things get to me. I say “unfortunately” because now I do let those things get to me.  I used to be called “Brave” and “strong” and a “fighter”.  I actually hated being called those things.  Now, I’m realizing that those adjectives were a part of who I am. I’ve only just forgotten.  Muhammad Ali has now made a final attempt to make sure that kids who want to quit, don’t.  It’s not easy picking up the pieces to your life when you feel like you’ve hit rock bottom, but Muhammad Ali did it when he came back after he had to quit boxing for 3 years.  He reminded me that if he can do it, so can anyone else.

With all the diverse groups of people watching both his Janazah and his Memorial either on a live stream video or from actually being there, I’m reminded of one final lesson from Muhammad Ali that resonated with me.  His wife acknowledged all the diverse groups of people and one of the speakers, a university student named Natasha (whose speech I loved), mentioned that Muhammad Ali would help anyone who needed it whether they were Muslim, Christian, Jewish, disabled, able-bodied, white, black, or LGBT.  Muhammad Ali wanted to leave one final message of peace regarding his religion. This reminds me of the verse in the Qur’an (49:13) that says, “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).”  All Muhammad Ali wanted was for people to get along and for everyone to be happy in their own skin no matter what.

This brings me to the events that unfolded just two days after his memorial service.  It’s very frustrating that Muhammad Ali spent his entire life refuting violence and promoting peace and just two days later someone commits an act of violence against people in a gay club.  No matter what someone’s views are, killing is wrong period.  Muhammad Ali would not have stood for this and neither should anyone else. If someone kills one person it’s as if he’s killed all of humanity, if he saved one person it’s as if he’s saved all of humanity (Qur’an 5:32).   The one thing I was quite proud of and quite relieved of was how the general public handled the situation. I was expecting tons of hateful comments on various social media outlets, but I didn’t see any! Literally, like none. I did see discussions regarding gun control, but I’m not getting into that.  When I woke up this morning and saw the news, my initial reaction was sadness that this had to happen in the wake of a funeral of a man who represented peace and tolerance and also how much backlash this would cause. Hopefully, in the coming weeks it doesn’t cause any. It seems that social media are doing what Muhammad Ali would’ve wanted and acknowledging that the actions of a few don’t determine the whole.  This is only the beginning of the struggle for peace and learning from one another, but hopefully Muhammad Ali’s legacy remains.  Muhammad Ali defended his religion and promoted peace for everyone til his funeral.  In light of recent events, in addition to praying for peace and for the lives lost, we as an American people should remember the lessons of an American icon. Muslims can’t stress this enough, but if we want to see peace it’s not enough to say peaceful words or even blog about them, we need to live them.  Actions speak louder than words.  No one knew this better than Muhammad Ali. ‘On the authority of Abu Sa’eed al-Khudree (ra) who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (saw) say, “Whoso- ever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart — and that is the weakest of faith.”’ Muhammad Ali changed evil with his actions and his words. He lived and died showing peace for all communities.  Even if condemning one act of violence after another gets exhausting, there is no way I will never stop fighting violence with love because that is what Muhammad Ali did and that’s what made him The Greatest.  Muhammad Ali taught us lessons of peace for all communities including LGBT and various religions.  So if someone asks me how I’m handling the latest crisis, I’ll just tell them to think of The Champ.  Maybe thinking of him and all the peace I could create in this world will help make Ramadan easier for myself.

**I welcome discussion on this or any of my blogposts.

The current election

Ok I honestly thought I would get out of blogging about this whole situation, but I can’t. 1. Trump is a douche, everyone knows that….He can’t figure out who Muslim American sports heroes are (Muhammad Ali RIP). 2. Hillary, well I can’t even right now. All I can think about is a popularity contest and she thinks she can win because she’s a girl. I will have much to say shortly about female leaders in the countries she wishes to “liberate” I can just give a LIST of female leaders in Muslim countries, enough said. 3. Bernie Sanders-He’s The Man. That’s all I got. So being an up and coming Doctor Who enthusiast, I found it funny when an avid fan of DW that happens to be a friend of mine sent me this: potato

That’s it. Strax for President! Holy crap we would all have to deal with his random urges for annihilation.  He would need Madame Vastra & The Doctor to calm his urges.

All I have to say is this: Rather than thinking of annihilation and thinking about “liberating other countries” Let’s just take a look at the fact that Muslim countries have already had female leaders.  America having the first female president, aint got nothin on these women:

  1. Benazir Bhutto-Former Prime Minister of Pakistan
  2.  Megawati Sukarnoputri-Former president of Indonesia
  3. Sheikh Hasina-Prime Minister of Bangladesh
  4. Khalida Zia-She was the Prime Minister of Bangladesh from 1991 to 1996 and again from 2001 to 2006. She was the first woman in Bangladesh’s history and second in the Muslim world (after Benazir Bhutto) to head a democratic government.
  5. Atifete Jahjaga- Not only is she the current President of Kosovo, she is also the first female President, the first female head of state in the modern Balkans and the youngest to be elected to the office.
  6. Tansu Çiller-Turkey’s first and only female prime minister to date, this academician and economist served as the Prime Minister of Turkey from 1993 to 1996.
  7. Mame Madior Boye-Former Prime Minister of Senegal
  8. Aminata Touré-Former Prminister of Senegal
  9. Cissé Mariam Kaïdama Sidibé-Former Prime Minister of Mali
  10. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim-The recently appointed president of Mauritius. She is the Head of State and Commander in Chief  as well.

I may add that many of these women are covered. Who says covered women are oppressed? These are just a few time Muslim women kicked ass.

10 frustrations people with disabilities face every day

This is just something I came up with a while back. I’ll soon be posting a part 2.

Sure, you think you know about the potential issues people with disabilities face. And maybe you know a little about mobility or accessibility issues. But you probably don’t realize even a fraction of the issues people with disabilities, whether hidden or visible, face on a regular basis.

People living with disabilities – whether hidden or visible – have hopes, dreams and frustrations just like everyone else. There are many struggles people with visible and hidden disabilities go through. I don’t claim to know every single thing everyone with a disability experiences, but these are a few I know inside and out.

10. Pretty much everything in the workplace.

obama.gif

Every school or job setting is supposed to be handicap accessible. Like, legally. It’s not just a nice-to-have, so get it together.

Oh, and just because someone is disabled, doesn’t mean he or she can’t do the job better than other candidates. Hello! It’s called the ADA. Learn your legislation.

9. The many joys of traveling.

shark.gif

Going through airport security is such fun! Add waiting for imaginary help to arrive, and trying to dealing with disabilities while pushing down a crippling fear of flying…such hella fun, indeed.

8. Feeling like you’re being ignored.

office.gif

If a person is physically disabled, it doesn’t mean they’re also deaf. Chances are they can hear you loud and clear.

And if they are deaf – don’t act as if they can’t understand what’s going on.

7. Feeling like you’re slowing people down.

cat.gif

Yes, I can move faster than you if I wanted to. Why don’t you try keeping up? Which brings me to my next point.

6. Being mistaken for physically incapable rather than just lazy.

remote.gif

It’s not that I can’t get up…sometimes I just don’t want to.

5. Being teased and taunted.

tina fey.gif

This is a serious issue for people of all ages who have disabilities, whether they are visible or not. Everyone deserves to be treated with kindness and respect. Period.

Not only is it frustrating, but it’s hurtful. Don’t be a bully.

4. People who think they know how it feels.

Tom & Ben.gif

If someone without a disability says something like “I know it must be hard” or “I know what it’s like”…chances are they don’t. Don’t be patronizing. And Yes, Ben & Tom-especially Tom- will periodically appear in quite a few of my posts.

3. People are way too easily impressed.

pat on head.gif

Just because a person is capable of driving a car or checking their mail doesn’t mean they’re an inspiration to humanity. Seriously. Rethink your condescending standards.

2. Contradictory stereotypes at every turn.

monster's inc.gif

Societies seem to have a set view on people with disabilities: either that they can’t do anything, or everything they do is some sort of inspiration. That gets old, and confusing, fast.

1. Relationships are tricky.

wedding.gif

My friends treat me like everyone else, so much so that they barely even notice my disability sometimes for which I am very grateful. But while they can see me for who I am, in certain cultures, potential spouses or even their parents can’t get past that barrier, let alone feel up to traversing these challenges with you.

Historical Tolerance

So I watched a movie called, “The Physician” with my sister a while back. It’s loosely based off the story of Ibn Sina. For anyone who is not aware, Ibn Sina was a great scientist of Islamic History. Yes, I said it, great scientist of Islamic History. People from all over came to study from him as well as many other scientists and philosophers of the Age. I could honestly write a book on forgotten Islamic History if I tried.

As I watched the film that’s all I thought about. I kept thinking to myself if people would just study the scientists and philosophers of Islamic History, the world could be a better place.  These topics have been taken for granted.  I want to write a story about a girl who time travels to the time of the Islamic scholars and learns from them, particularly the female ones.  There’s much that can be learned if it’s just remembered.

Take this picture for example.  This is the main scene that struck out in the entire movie for me.  This shows a Muslim teacher with his Christian and Jewish pupils working together to save a life.  In the world we live in today, this message means a lot.  Given recent events in the news, Muslims have already stressed enough that the actions of a few don’t determine the whole and quite frankly I’m sick of making that announcement.  All I will say is that at one point Muslims, Christians and Jews learned together and it’s time they all remembered their history.  It’s time for people to look into the good in the world.  Even the other day I saw a video about this fire fighter in Pakistan that teaches poor Muslim and Christian kids in a park.  These are the types of people we need to look to for a proper example about how humanity should treat one another.

physician

A day to remember

Today is a day to remember. A day to remember for many reasons. Today marks a special day for me as a Muslim. Today is a Friday. Today marks approximately a week (or less) to the Muslim Holiday of Eid Al-Adha. During this time, up until Eid millions of people are currently in Makkah & Medina getting ready to perform the Hajj pilgrimage. For those of us who aren’t aren’t on the pilgrimage, we fast. In addition to all that, today marks the 14th anniversary of 9/11.

For Muslims, Friday is a day to remember God. Of course Muslims are taught to remember God everyday, but Friday is a most special occasion. Friday is the day that Muslims wear their best, go to a mosque, and listen to a sermon. This sermon is usually about remembering God and reminds us to be better people in our societies in which we live.  In order to become better members of our societies, we must better ourselves. Acts of worship such as going to a weekly service or on a pilgrimage serve this purpose.

With the pilgrimage almost underway, Muslims around the world are on a spiritual high, if you will. Whether on the pilgrimage or not, it’s on everyone’s minds. While in Makkah, a pilgrim is surrounded by millions of people in the exact same act of worship as him/herself. He/she is surrounded by Islamic history whilst taking part in ritual reenactments during the pilgrimage. Then going to Medina to visit the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)’s grave. Each of the days spent there can barely be described except by using words like a “sense of calm” and “tranquility”. The kindness that one experiences in Medina is incomparable to anywhere else in the world. It’s honestly almost as if the Prophet’s spirit is on everyone’s faces there. It’s through these acts of worship that Muslims become stronger in their faith.

Through acts of worship, Muslims are reminded of the essence of Islam which is peace. The generosity that one experiences in Medina expresses this essence.  Each Muslim is required to love their neighbors whether they are Muslim or not.  I loved it in Medina because someone told me I was pretty! 🙂

Being in Makkah and Medina during a pilgrimage also prepares one for tests they may experience in their daily lives. Everyone is tested in different ways and one such test is through a specific traumatic event. One such event that was most horrific for Muslims and Non-Muslims alike was that of 9/11. Everyone was affected by 9/11 in different ways. Everyone was saddened by the loss of lives on that day. Muslims were affected because the peaceful nature of our religion was called into question on that day. Time and time again, Muslims have had to explain that the actions of a few do not determine the whole. Countless examples of peace and love in our religion were questioned on that day. Muslims mourn the loss of life on that day along with their fellow Americans. On this day, this Friday, this anniversary of 9/11 Muslims remember the lives lost and the lives affected by those horrific events. As our religion tells us, we pray for peace around the world. This is a day that no one can forget because everyone was affected in one way or another. Everything changed for Muslims living in America after 9/11. In a way, it made Muslims stronger, because as the American principle suggests, United We Stand, Divided we fall. This goes for all members of a society, not just the Muslim ones. Muslims have always been willing to answer any questions people may have, now more than ever. Muslim and non-Muslim Americans are neighbors in this society and treat eachother as such. On this day we remember American as well as religious values of peace, and love and tolerance. This day we remember the lives that were changed forever.