Do I Have the Right To Exist?

“I have felt at times that I didn’t have the right to exist. Almost everything I was taught about being a ‘good Muslim’ meant living in denial of myself.” —from the journal of Umm Zakiyyah “You have too much confidence in yourself,” a community “auntie” told me once, and from her condescending tone, I knew she meant it in the …

Life Is Unfair, So Islam Is Unjust?

“And wish not for the things in which Allah has made some of you excel others. For men there is reward for what they have earned, [and likewise] for women there is reward for what they earned. And ask Allah of His Bounty. Surely, Allah is Ever All-Knower of everything.” —Qur’an (Al-Nisaa, The Women) 4:32 I resented my husband. It …

When Muslims Wrong You ‘For the Sake of Allah’

“There will come a time when holding on to your emaan (Islamic faith) will be like holding on to hot coals.” —Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him (Tirmidhi) I never knew that the hot coals in my hand would be enflamed by my very own brothers and sisters in faith. I never knew that I would live in a world surrounded …

The Beauty of Not Forgiving

“Forgiveness is more for you than for your abuser,” we are told. And that’s true. But here’s what’s also true: Not forgiving is also more for you than for your abuser. When you make the healthy choice to not forgive because you trust in Allah’s justice, it’s more about your heart being at peace than it is about your abuser …

I Hope We All Die Together, She Said

“Black Muslims are not safe in Muslim spaces, which falsely offer ‘sanctuary’ but end up being asylums of pain.” —Layla Abdullah-Poulos Rage building inside me, I breathed in and out as I walked away from the computer. I recited some supplications to Allah to calm my anger, but the term “holy whores” kept playing over and over in my mind. …

Glorified Victims, Muslim Apologists and Western Culture Worship

Throughout my life, I’ve had several encounters with Muslim immigrants to America, and many of these experiences were not positive. I had an Arab high school teacher tell me that Black people in America could never be Muslim. In a predominately Pakistani masjid that I once frequented, the community’s sooq (store) stocked skin-lightening products that promised to be “the solution …

You’re Not a Scholar, Why Should We Listen To You?

“I’ve read almost all of his books, and I’ve never seen him say anything even close to that,” I said in response to the woman’s claim that a well-known scholar should not be trusted because he was involved in teaching some specific concepts that were contrary to the basic principles of Islam. “That’s because you don’t have the knowledge to …

What Is Forgiveness Exactly? Why Oprah Can’t Help Us

“You can’t dictate what forgiving and letting go of hurt looks like for someone else.” —excerpt of PAIN. From the Journal of Umm Zakiyyah The following is an excerpt from Umm Zakiyyah’s latest book The Abuse of Forgiveness: As I continuously faced forgiveness peddlers who effectively told me that I was a bitter, spiritually devolved person because I didn’t feel …

People Will Abandon You When You’re Hurting

The following are excerpts from Umm Zakiyyah’s latest books I Almost Left Islam and The Abuse of Forgiveness: In my fear of tying my heart and life to something that would harm my soul in some irrevocable way, I began to more and more distance myself from religious groups and communities. However, this was an extremely lonely experience, and I …

Anger Is Part of Healing, and That’s a Good Thing

“Neither forgiveness nor gratefulness can spring from denial of hurts, frustrations, or wrongs.”  —from the journal of Umm Zakiyyah If there’s anything I learned during my own healing journey, it’s that no good comes from denying natural hurt and anger. Some things are just hurtful and emotionally damaging, and they need to be acknowledged as such. Anger is a natural …