Kaffiyeh Day: What It’s Really All About

comic_keffiyeh_donut.jpgOn Sunday June 1st, I launched an event which you may by now have heard of: International “Wear Your Kaffiyeh with Pride” Day, to take place this coming Friday, God-willing. This is in response to the now famous Dunkin’ Donut ad incident, which we wrote about last week.

The response so far has been amazing. But now I feel somewhat overwhelmed… I didn’t realise this Kaffiyeh Day thing was going to be noticed by this many people! All good and success comes from God. But even with all the positive comments, I still wonder whether I did the right thing? Is this just a huge waste of time? Are things really going to change after Friday? Will the press even give two hoots about a bunch of Facebookers wearing kaffiyeh?

Sometimes it’s better to go unnoticed. As a former victim of merciless teasing during my school days, my natural instinct is not to do anything which has the potential to make me a butt of someone else’s jokes. So I can’t help but worry: am I setting myself up for some major embarrassment here? Okay, I agree; that shouldn’t matter. That’s a selfish thought. Bad me!

If I am honest, I wasn’t that moved by the whole DD ad episode. It was one of many stupid things reported by the press that made my eyes roll, but not much more than that. What actually inspired me to launch this event was reading how others felt hurt by the actions of the company. This may sound bad, but… it was almost pathetic to see people complain, and feel powerless, just cos some silly woman got her silly way.

Some people might wonder: “So what? Why should this incident cause such a stir? Haven’t we got more important matters to deal with?”. Yes, of course we do. But the thing is, human beings love symbolism. DD pulling the add due to the complaints made by a minority of haters represents a much bigger problem in the eyes of many, and for others, is the straw that broke the camel’s back.

In turn, Kaffiyeh Day is no more than a symbolic gesture: that we’re tired of being misrepresented and branded as ‘evil’, just because we may look the same as other people who do bad things. Either we’re too brown, too hairy (in the case of beards), too covered (in the case of the hijab), or too “Arab”, in the case of the kaffiyeh. Enough, people! We don’t dress this way to emulate terrorists. The terrorists dress this way, cos… well, I guess they need to wear clothes like the rest of us!

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So I thought: why not take back the power? And in my gut, Kaffiyeh Day seemed like a simple way of doing that – in addition to writing complaint letters to DD, and other direct means of activism, which are more likely to change the world, God-willing.

Admittedly, this event is a little superficial on the face of things, and perhaps is more reactive, than proactive. But even if none of the true “evil-doers” take notice of us on Friday 6th June, 2008, I pray that this act of solidarity will at least empower the participants enough to eventually take more significant action than wearing a kaffiyeh on the same day as 2000+ other people (and counting!). We’ve all got to start somewhere, eh? :)

I for one have learnt a fantastic lesson about the power of social networks to rally people to a common cause in a very short period of time. And I couldn’t have achieved this feat if there were not so many people out there with enough good in their hearts, and enough sense in their heads to understand the true concept of this event: we wear the kaffiyeh not to promote Arab culture, but to dispel hate, prejudice and racism. And you gotta love humanity for retaining the willpower to fight against such oppressive deeds – even if it’s just by wearing a scarf.

The Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him said):

“Whosoever of you sees an evil action, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart; and that is the weakest of faith.”

[Related by Muslim]

For more information about Kaffiyeh Day, check the Facebook Events page, or the official blog page. A press release can also be found here.

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31 responses to “Kaffiyeh Day: What It’s Really All About”

  1. […] Kaffiyeh Day, MuslimMatters, Palestine, Personal, Society, Terrorism Something I posted on MuslimMatters.org, that explains the event from a personal perspective. Btw, apologies if you’re sick of me talking about this event… it’ll all be over […]

  2. […] 4: I wrote an article explaining Kaffiyeh Day from a personal perspective for MuslimMatters.org – read it here. […]

  3. Abdul At-Tawwaab says:

    AsSalaamu Alaikum,

    I joined the event on facebook about the kuffiyeh. Honestly I had no idea that this was going on till this morning. JazakAllahu Khairun for standing out for justice, even if it be something simple such as this.

    These fear mongerers have been terrorizing the minds of people around the world for far too long. And will someone point out to these people that anti-semetism is old and played out. Just think, Jews are of the progeny of Isaac, Arabs are of the progeny of Ishmael. THEY WERE BROTHERS. So in fact, the arabs and the jews are cousin races, moreover, they are both semetic. So I don’t know if someone did, but to wear a kuffiyeh or to support the people of Palestine, or to not support the occupation of Israel is not semetic. They are both semites. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

    But you’ve done a wonderful thing with this. May Allah bless you for it. InshaAllah may those who participate in this research the origins of the kuffiyeh and the historical context of what this one situation has now been added to. InshaAllah our ummah will be more aware and unafraid of speaking up for what is right inshaAllah. May Allah guide us on the straight path inshaAllah.

    AsSalaamu Alaikum

  4. Megawati Mustafa says:

    As salamu alaykum,

    I often wear kaffiyeh as my head cover for attending the office or other occasion. I am proud of it, and look good at it as well.


  5. Dawud Israel says:

    I know what Keffiyeh day is all about! It’s about sister iMuslim testing out her wardrobe without getting criticized for it HAHA!

    But seriously, I don’t wear it so this will the first time I am wearing it and no worries in getting some criticism cuz I have an excuse! :D

  6. MR says:

    I wear it normally.

  7. ExEx Blogger says:

    I fundamentally think this is more of nationalism then for Islam. Muslimmatters has changed to ProgressiveMuslimDisaster.

  8. iMuslim says:

    ExEx Blogger… I’m not sure if I understand your comment. This is not about nationalism. It’s a stand against racism, and to some degree Islamophobia. As far as I am aware, nationalism is where you consider your own culture, race or ethnicity to be better than others, purely on the basis that you are part of it. I am not Arab, nor are many of the participants of the event… so we cannot be accused of nationalism. Rather, we are acting together as members of the human race to say “no” to those who would seek to negatively stereotype a particular group – in this case, Arabs. But in truth, our support extends to all races.

  9. SarahH says:

    I think its great act to stamp out the racism. We have MSA’s and community members psyched out for this – May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala put barakah in the message we will carry forth. :)

  10. Faiez says:

    You’ve inspired me to eat more krispy kreme donuts. Although, there wasn’t much inspiration needed…

  11. Richard Bowser says:

    What a perfectly marvelous idea! What a SPLENDID statement this will be to haters everywhere, who think the mere fact of looking different makes one an evildoer. I’d wear one myself Friday – If I could find one in El Paso Texas on a Friday morning. And I’m just a Christian who 1) thinks all who love God are my brothers and sisters, 2) dislikes hatred and 3) isn’t Arab at all. As Salam Aliakum!

  12. iMuslim says:

    Sarah, that is so cool how your community & MSA are getting involved, masha’Allah. I e-mailed you a request for photos. That goes for everyone who takes part, insha’Allah! :) Submit them to either the Facebook events page, or the Flickr group I set up.

    Richard, wa ‘alaykum salam & welcome to the site. It’s nice to know this event is able to cross boundaries of race and faith. I think it just shows how despicable the actions of these “haters” were.

    The rest of your guys, thanks for all your support! Now let’s get kaffiyehed up already. ;)

  13. iMuslim says:

    Sarah, that is so cool how your community & MSA are getting involved, masha’Allah. I e-mailed you a request for photos. That goes for everyone who takes part, insha’Allah! :) Submit them to either the Facebook events page, or the Flickr group I set up.

    Richard, wa ‘alaykum salam & welcome to the site. It’s nice to know this event is able to cross boundaries of race and faith. I think it just shows how despicable the actions of these “haters” were.

    The rest of you guys, thanks for all your support! Now let’s get kaffiyehed up already. ;)

  14. OM says:

    Why didn’t you make an eat ‘eat donuts with pride’ day? I would have done that for sure :)

  15. ExEx Blogger says:

    Standing up for justice. What an intention you got there! The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Please try to understand the meaning of kaffiyeh politically. The kaffiyeh is not about Islam. It’s about the Palestinian nationalistic cause. We stand up for Palestine not because they’re Palestinian but firstly because they are our brethren in faith. If it wasn’t because of that, then their plight is just as painful and equal to any other cause such as the people in Myanmar affected by the cyclone or the hungry homeless in New York or the oppressed in Zimbabwe.

    To show support to our brethren is important. But to use the channel and means (kaffiyeh) as Palestinian support under the guise of “support our brothers and sisters in Palestine” is secondary means because there are other means far better than wearing a rag on your neck!

    Truthfully speaking, to bash DD here is cowardly because you all know that the perpetrator is Michelle Malkin not DD. Look how shaytan diverts the good intention and waters down the result. Instead of making a full fledged report refuting Michelle we pathetic rag wearers are now bashing DD and letting Michelle gleefully rub her hands at the bad publicity that she wants for DD even though our cause is different!

  16. Barhuma Al says:

    ASA, I Muslim, brahuma Al with I know I never shared yet how great I think your idea is, and i just wanted to take moment and say Mashallah I think it is great idea.I may self M not Arab, but Muslim living In DC Alhumduallah. Always had and have a connection with our Muslims Arabs no Arabs, peaceful and loving people alike. Thous that stand for whats right and our against what is wrong. My heart always goes out to our beloved Palestinian brothers who are always being misrepresented in this crazy Media, from Identities too now Kofiyah. Whats next on these ignorant people’s minds “under where” that is worn by certain people ” Arab” represent terrorist as well lol . Your cause is good and just and your intention for this event is noble, so Inshallah Allah will grant all of us success. feel free to check out my page on Facebook Brahuma M Al

    My best to you on this day ASA
    Brahum Al :)

  17. ibnabeeomar says:

    exex – thats an interesting point regarding michelle malkin. due to the celebrity involved and it being dunkin donuts, she really did get lost in the mix.

  18. Richard Bowser says:

    There are a couple of points I’d like to raise in relation. First, Ms. Malkin, who was indeed the instigator of this particular shameful episode, had hoped to cash in on anti-Arab racism through a ‘guilt-by-association’ attack on Rachel Ray – a vulnerable target. The Kaffiyeh is just a piece of clothing. If we choose to respond to this hatred by being PROUD of wearing Kaffiyehs I think Ms. Malkin will have the EXACT reward her hatred deserves. Rather than returning hatred for an attack with our hatred, it is FAR better to do some good. People HAVE to be able to wear ordinary clothing. I don’t think this response neglects Ms. Malkin AT ALL.

    Secondly, we cannot neglect DD’s responsibility here. I quite understand they only want to earn a profit. The problem I have with them is that they chose to try and earn a profit by pandering to racist smears, as though that smear WAS true. Speaking only for myself, it’s going to be quite a while before I’ll spend any of my money there. If they choose to support racist slurs in order to turn a greater profit I want to appropriately reward their moral courage: which means by spending NOTHING there. I can not accept that my refusal to support those who buy into racist slurs is inappropriate or cowardly in any way. (PS: That’s also why I’m not up for an ‘eat donuts with pride’ day as a response!)

    Wa Aliakum Salam
    May God bless EVERYONE

  19. OM says:

    Donuts don’t kill people, people kill people.

    Leave DD alone!

  20. iMuslim says:

    Richard… you’ve sorta taken the words out of my mouth. Except you put them together in a far better order. :)

    ExEx, I appreciate the criticism. Honestly I do. I’ve had many moments of doubt about this venture – which is why I stressed that it is not the be all and end all of our campaigning.

    Plus I never linked the kaffiyeh to Islam. I freely admit that it is a cultural icon of the Arab people – not just Palestinians. However, I am not saying “be proud to be Palestinian”, or “be proud to be Arab” – rather I am saying, be proud to speak out against racism and scaremongering. Michelle Malkin tried to make out that wearing a clothing accessory commonly worn in the Arab community means that you affiliate yourself with a terrorist cause. That is ridiculous. So if everyone starts to wear the kaffiyeh, does that mean we’re all terrorists? Umm, no! And that is the whole point of the this event. It is akin to exclaiming: “I’m Sparticus!”.

    I quoted another protest in the press release to help people better understand:

    A similar newsworthy, clothing-based protest took place last year in several Canadian schools, as part of an anti-bullying movement. A large number of students attended school donning various pink items of clothing, to display their solidarity with a fellow male pupil who had previously been harassed by school bullies for wearing a pink polo shirt.

    At the end of the day, the significance of Kaffiyeh Day extends past the misrepresentation of an article of clothing, and the misguided actions of one of America’s many fast-food chains. It is about self-empowerment, justice, and a call to the end of derogatory stereotyping of all peoples, irrespective of race or religion.

    I hope you better understand now, insha’Allah.

  21. Faiez says:

    donuts don’t kill donuts, people kill donuts

  22. ExEx Blogger says:

    And is supporting a “nationalistic” cause halal in Islam?

  23. ExEx Blogger says:

    The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:“Whosoever leaves off obedience and separates from the Jamaa’ah and dies, he dies a death of jaahiliyyah. Whoever fights under the banner of the blind, becoming angry for ‘asabiyyah (partisanship and party s pirit), or calling to ‘asabiyyah, or assisting ‘asabiyyah, then dies, he dies a death of jaahiliyyah.” [Sahih Muslim (6/21) from Abu Hurayrah radiallaahu’Anhu ]
    … Narrated by Abu Da’wud that the Messenger of Allah (saaw) said,
    “He is not one us who calls for `Asabiyyah, (nationalism/tribalism) or who fights for `Asabiyyah or who dies for `Asabiyyah.”

    And in another Hadith, the Messenger of Allah (saaw) referring to nationalism, racism, and patriotism said: “Leave it, it is rotten.” [Muslim and Bukhari] and in the Hadith recorded in Mishkat al-Masabith, the Messenger of Allah (saaw) said, “He who calls for `Asabiyyah is as if he bit his father’s genitals”

  24. Nihal Khan says:

    How was your “International “Wear Your Kaffiyeh with Pride” Day?


  25. Al-'Iraaqi says:

    – Oddly, I find ‘Kaffiyeh’ and poor transliteration of the word from arabic.
    – A word that more closely resembles the arabic is Koo-fiyyah. ( كوفية‎)
    – You know, some say it comes from ‘Iraaq ie. Koofa.
    – So let’s call it ‘kufiyyah’ at least.

  26. Dawud Israel says:

    ^Yes well Arabonics aside and the whole nationalistic hoo-haa…



  27. Goofiya says:

    Al-‘Iraaqi, same here, I was totally confused what’s ‘Kaffiyeh’ I know the Arabic word so when I read this word, thought it’s a food, (now I think about it maybe DD’s competitor)

    I guess the one who transliterated the word is non-Arab or Arab speaking non-standard Arabic, ‘Kaffiyeh’ sounds more like Palestinian accent :P

    Anyway, I agree with the PR and anti-racism, but I hate kufiyah or whatever you call it. Enough black and white, put some color please.

  28. iMuslim says:

    Goofiya… you can get coloured kuuuuufiyeh. :)

  29. John says:

    you guys should listen to ExEx Blogger – Never attempt to do in the name of Islam anything that involves mimicking the enemys of Islam.

    We have the best example to follow.
    You are right that All Success is with Allah, Rab ul Alameen. May Allah guide us all upon the Truth and unite us and keep us firm.

  30. […] Interestingly enough, one of the top stumbled articles on MuslimMatters is actually the post about Kaffiyeh Day.  It is a 5 month old issue, but we still get regular traffic on that posting because it is still […]

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