Abuse Is a Blessing, Muslim Cults Taught Me

Who’s going to listen to you? When I was asked this question for the first time, it wasn’t really a question. It was a taunt. And I didn’t really have an answer. The man taunting me was a community leader, a respected imam, who was bragging about how he was going to drag my name through the dirt. He listed …

Forgiveness As Fear and Survival: The Racism Hole

The following is an excerpt from Umm Zakiyyah’s newly released book, The Abuse of Forgiveness: Manipulation and Harm in the Name of Emotional Healing. It took me some time to realize that my emotional triggers in environments of forced forgiveness were at least partially due to having lived daily in a culture that taught me that only white people mattered. …

Guilting Victims Is Disobeying God: The Abuse of Forgiveness

The following is an excerpt from Umm Zakiyyah’s newly released book, The Abuse of Forgiveness: Manipulation and Harm in the Name of Emotional Healing. It is undeniable that God loves forgiveness. It is also undeniable that God views forgiveness as exponentially more superior than blame, punishment, and retaliation. Personally, I highly doubt that there is in existence a single survivor, …

You Can’t Legislate the Human Heart: This Isn’t About Rules and Adab

You cannot legislate the human heart, I once told someone. Emotional needs are real, as are emotional wounds. When our “naseehah” focuses on religious rules and etiquette more than the needs of the whole human being, then we’re likely causing more harm than good. In fact, in this case, our advice isn’t naseehah at all. If offering sincere advice were …

The Truth Is Scary, But I Had To Tell It

I suppose some will see it as courageous to share with the world why I almost left Islam. And maybe some will see it as the unnecessary uncovering of my faults. But for me, it wasn’t a choice. Yes, it’s humiliating and embarrassing, but due to all the stress I was under, the decision was effectively made for me. It …

Super Muslims and Religious OCD in Ramadan

In the beginning, it all seems necessary, and even praiseworthy. The questions, the doubts, the paranoia…and the endless phone calls, emails, and inquiries to the local (or overseas) scholar, imam, or sheikh. Oh my God, am I allowed to wear a colored hijab? Is the ringer on my phone a musical instrument of Shaytaan? I work in a mixed environment. …

How Could You? A Movie!

When I was in high school and still trying to decide how I would use my writing professionally, I imagined I could be a scriptwriter for movies. I felt that the “big screen” was an excellent means to bridge the gaps of misunderstanding between Muslims and those who knew so little about Islam. I also felt it could help dispel …

Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number? Child Marriage and Maturity

Years ago, when television was still a part of my life, I was watching a Seinfeld episode in which the character George saw an attractive, shapely young woman and subsequently made a comment to Jerry urging him to look at her body. Jerry in response told George that the girl was fifteen years old, and he playfully scolded his friend …

He Apologized? We Have No Idea What an Apology Means

“An apology, if it is truly an apology, is no more than a hope and a prayer—that the damage you’ve done can be repaired, and that you will be forgiven by both your Lord and the ones you’ve wronged. An apology should never be shared for the purpose of silencing or dismissing those hurt by the original transgression. If it …

We Love Labels and Following Our Desires

Conditions. Neither your love for someone nor their apparent kindness or goodness cancels out their shirk or disbelief. Allah says, “Only those are believers who believe in Allah and His Messenger then doubt not…” (49:15). Even if you wish to interpret the ayaat in the Qur’an about the believers amongst the People of the Book as referring to religious people today, their …