Connect with us

Uncategorized

Mr. Mom Returns to the Kitchen

Avatar

Published

on

Background

Last Saturday, Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala blessed our family with our latest addition to the family, our daughter Taymiyyah.  I’m home this week to help my wife with her chores while she adapts and recovers and among the duties I’ve shouldered is cooking.  Flipping through my healthy eating books, I found this amazing recipe for chili.  I made it yesterday, and it came out really well, so for anyone that wants to make 10 servings of chili and not cook again for 3 – 4 days, try the recipe below.

Required Tools

  1. Extremely huge pot, or two large pots.
  2. Knife for chopping veggies
  3. Blender
  4. Stirring spoons
  5. 3 or 4 medium sized tupperware containers to store chopped veggies
  6. 1 TableSpoon and 1 Teaspoon
  7. Your scrubbiest clothes, you will likely smell like an onion after this is done.

Ingredients

  1. 4 lbs Extra Lean Ground Beef
  2. 4 Cans of Kidney beans (15.5 oz per can) – make sure to drain and rinse thoroughly
  3. 2 large onions, chopped (prepare to cry)
  4. 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  5. 1 lb of carrots, peeled and sliced into smaller pieces
  6. 4 bell peppers, any combination of colors will do (green, red, yellow, orange)
  7. 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  8. Two 46 fl oz bottles V8 Vegetable Juice, Spicy Hot
  9. 1/2 lb Cashews
  10. Spices
    • 4 tbsp Chili Powder
    • 1 tsp Cumin
    • 2 tsp Paprika
    • 1 tsp Celery Seed
    • 1 tsp Fresh Ground Peppper

Directions

  1. Combine 1 lb ground beef, the onions, and the minced garlic and brown the beef on high heat.  When this is complete, continue adding 1 lb of beef, browning it, and keep doing so until all the beef is added and browned.
  2. Now add all the spices and continue frying the beef while stirring for 3 minutes
  3. Add the kidney beans, tomatoes, carrots, peppers, and V8 Juice.  Stir it all up, and keep the heat high until it’s boiling.  If it becomes too much, lower the temperature slightly, but let it keep going.
  4. While the meat cooks, blend the cashews in short bursts (not all at once, don’t want it to become butter, just grainy) – this is how you make the cashew meal.  Add this to your chili and stir.
  5. Keep the chili cooking until the carrots are soft (could be between 30 – 60 min).  Once the carrots are soft, your chili is good to go.

Lessons Learned

  1. Cutting onions makes you cry and your clothes stink.  Don’t wear nice clothes when cutting them.
  2. V8 is a weird ingredient, but it really works.  Trust the process.
  3. If the portion proposed is too big, cut all the ingredients needed in half and go from there.
  4. Anyone can make an amazing chili, even a kitchen dunce like myself.  I wish I had this recipe in college.

Let me know if you try it out, I’ll be happy to answer any questions if you do.  If you decide to use this recipe, tell me how it works out, insha’Allah.

Siraaj is the Operations Director of MuslimMatters as well as its new lead web developer. He's spent nearly two decades working in dawah organizations, starting with his chapter MSA in Purdue University, and leading efforts with AlMaghrib Institute, MuslimMatters, and AlJumuah magazine. Somewhere in there, he finds time for his full-time profession as a software engineer in Silicon Valley. He holds a bachelor's in Computer Science from Purdue University and a Master's certificate from UC Berkeley. He's very married and has 5 wonderful children

41 Comments

41 Comments

  1. Avatar

    UmmOsman

    November 3, 2009 at 7:12 AM

    Assalamo elikuim
    Jazak Allah khair Brother for the wonderful recipe – my kids will love it.

    “Cutting onions makes you cry and your clothes stink”

    So true. Being a Desi we use onions in everything , except desserts :).
    What I ussually do is cut the onions in half and leave them for 5-10 min before I need to slice them- this takes the edge off it and when you slice them , no tears Inshallah.

    Wasalam
    UmmOsman

    • Avatar

      abu abdAllah Tariq Ahmed

      November 3, 2009 at 1:48 PM

      Onions can be sweet, too, alhamdolillah: sweet/spicy onion jam. I tried it, and it is the most amazing jam you’ll ever try (at least in this world).

      May Allah subhanahu wata ala cause your daughter to be a great blessing for your family.

    • Avatar

      Amatullah

      November 5, 2009 at 8:28 PM

      JazakAllahu Khair for the tip

  2. Avatar

    Farhan

    November 3, 2009 at 9:11 AM

    I expect to cook a little less than ~50% of the time for my fiancee-to-be-wife, in sha Allah. I’ve been looking for recipes online.
    http://www.desicookbook.com !!!

    • Avatar

      Ahmad AlFarsi

      November 3, 2009 at 9:20 AM

      weak :) … akhi, by such statements, ur giving our wives unhealthy ammunition. stop. :)

      • Avatar

        ummaasiyah

        November 3, 2009 at 9:38 AM

        Sometimes we like food that ISN’T cooked by us…it can get a little boring after a while…after all, variety is the spice of life! (pun intended) :D

      • Avatar

        Hassan

        November 3, 2009 at 10:55 AM

        I also take responsibility of cooking food, and always I outsource it to some restaurant.

        Same goes for cleaning home, sometimes I clean, by bringing cleaning services.

        I think both should be credited for me delivering what is needed.

        • Amad

          Amad

          November 3, 2009 at 11:56 AM

          Hey it doesn’t matter who does it, as long as it’s done. Especially the thought of eating food made by Hassan, esp. after you read a post from me on terrorism, is quite scary. Shalamar zindabad anytime.

          Mashallah Hassan, I am glad that you have progressed in your marriage. The last time I checked you counted your contribution thus: “My wife cooks, I eat. My wife washes, I dirty. My wife irons, I wear”.

  3. Avatar

    no more tears

    November 3, 2009 at 10:43 AM

    let the onions soak in a bowl of water before cutting, it will take the cry out of them
    u can also keep them in thge fridge, cold onions make u cry much less than regular ones

  4. Avatar

    Sista

    November 3, 2009 at 11:50 AM

    I clicked on the title expecting a mouth watering picture.! lol
    nice recipe, will try it soon InshAllah :)

  5. Amad

    Amad

    November 3, 2009 at 11:57 AM

    Btw, Siraaj, how many brownie points have you earned via MM? We should start charging all husbands per brownie point earned here.

  6. Avatar

    ilmsummittee

    November 3, 2009 at 12:33 PM

    Subhanallah, what a coincidence! Just coming across this, after our first time cooking chili yesterday and it turned out to be great! walhamdulilah

    Especially with the cold coming…..chili is a very warming bowl.

    For the recipe I used, it called for : ground beef, onions, green and hot peppers, packet of chili seasoning, cilantro [optional], freshly cut tomatoes, can of kidney beans, and can of tomato sauce (or V8); but again there are like a million different ways of cooking this.

    By the way, Barakah Allahu lakuma fee Taymiyaah, May she grow up to be a pious and obedient daughter and a coolness to both your eyes. Ameen :)

  7. Avatar

    Abd- Allah

    November 3, 2009 at 12:43 PM

    Akhi Sirraj, BaarakAllah for you and your family in your new daughter Taymiyyah, and may Allah make her grow up into a righteous Muslimah.

  8. Avatar

    Iesa Galloway

    November 3, 2009 at 1:20 PM

    Mabrook Bro!

    May Allah protect your family and make them a source of blessing for you in this world and the next, as well as you a source for them! – Nice start BTW!

    I am a HUGE chilli fan… a Texan can convert, but we still love TX-Mex! (Halal that is :))

    Iesa

  9. Avatar

    LILayla

    November 3, 2009 at 2:57 PM

    As Salaamu Alaykum…

    May ALLAH bless you brother. I didn’t notice if anyone suggested it but if you like the chili so much try making a double batch and freezing half. It will be great on those days that both of you are just floored and can’t imagine cutting up an onion. Just let it cool and place it in a freezer bag. It should keep for a couple months, inshaaLLAH.

  10. Avatar

    Siraaj

    November 3, 2009 at 4:08 PM

    Salaam alaykum everyone,

    Jazakallaah khayr for the du’aas on my new daughter Taymiyyah, ameen to all of them :D I will also take all suggestions about cry free onions and try them for the next time I make this recipe, insha’Allah.

    Amad, most men do not acquit themselves well when it comes to brownie points – what they do artificially, I do naturally, and not due to a subconscious whip ;)

    Siraaj

    PS – my daughter was born 10/10, this article written a little after that, so it really wasn’t “last week”.

  11. Avatar

    Masculinist

    November 3, 2009 at 4:17 PM

    You woman.

    • Avatar

      Holly Garza

      November 4, 2009 at 9:11 AM

      for wanting to eat? Man I certainly hope you never become woman-less! You’d surely starve

  12. Avatar

    Ibn Masood

    November 3, 2009 at 5:18 PM

    How sneaky… I imagine you want your grandson to be called ‘Ibn Taymiyyah’

    • Avatar

      Ahmad AlFarsi

      November 3, 2009 at 6:37 PM

      lol, i was thinking that too :)

    • Avatar

      Siraaj

      November 4, 2009 at 2:14 PM

      Can’t sneak anything past you, that’s for sure :D

      Siraaj

  13. Avatar

    UmA

    November 3, 2009 at 9:41 PM

    Mabrook on the birth of another girl ma sha Allah. Do you have a biography of the original Taimiyyah?

    • Avatar

      Siraaj

      November 4, 2009 at 2:14 PM

      Don’t have a biography, only know that she was named Taymiyyah because her father thought she looked like a woman from Taym.

      Siraaj

  14. Avatar

    i heart kraft

    November 4, 2009 at 3:47 AM

    The BEST website for a beginner or even an experienced cook is the kraft foods website. It not only has delicious recipes but plenty of times they have a demo video showing you exactly how its done step-by-step. The website has recipes for everything from desserts, main courses, appetizers, health conscious meals, budget friendly meals, to holiday meal planning guides & Money saving tips when grocery shopping. It literally has everything covered. Plus, if you sign up for their email list, they’ll occasionally send you coupons for their products as well.

    I can honestly say that it has saved me time and time again. When I have to make something and I need a little inspiration, I go on there and browse through all the options for numerous ideas. Dont know what you want to make or eat? thats fine too…just check it out. It’s such a great website. (I sound like I’ve been paid to endorse the product, hah!)

    check it out for yourself: http://www.kraftfoods.com/kf/Pages/home.aspx

  15. Avatar

    Holly Garza

    November 4, 2009 at 9:16 AM

    Asalaamu Alaikum Siraj I love this recipe post. I make my own chili as well but I never tried to add the cashews and V8 so I’m glad you added the bit about ‘trusting the process’ because I may not have been encouraged. JazakAllah Khayer for sharing

    Also JazakAllah to all the brothers and sisters who gave tips on the onion stentch and crying avoiding. It’s really Helpful as a woman, a picky one, I feel there is nothing worse than smelling. I have to not stink nor do I like teary eyes in the kitchen so Thanks for sharing everyone.

    • Avatar

      Siraaj

      November 4, 2009 at 2:13 PM

      As it so happened, the day I cooked was the night I totaled my car, and I didn’t realize how bad I smelled til I got out of the house, so I kept apologizing to the medics and nurses for smelling like an onion (otherwise, it’s just bad daw’ah).

      Siraaj

      • Avatar

        Holly Garza

        November 4, 2009 at 5:11 PM

        what?! You totaled the car! Are the kids, Liv, and you okay? well obviously….I wouldn’t worry about it, I’m sure rescue has seen worst

        • Avatar

          Siraaj

          November 5, 2009 at 11:45 AM

          Alhamdulillaah, wife and kids were NOT in the car when it happened, just me alone, and alhamdulillaah, no harm done. Here’s a souvenir:

          http://twitpic.com/ljzfx

          • Avatar

            Holly Garza

            November 5, 2009 at 11:59 AM

            SubhanaAllah, Thank God you came out fine and the wifey and babies were not in there.

  16. Avatar

    Omar

    November 4, 2009 at 4:55 PM

    So InshaAllah you want to have a grandson called Ibn Taymiyyah … nice

  17. Avatar

    Abu Rumaisa

    November 5, 2009 at 12:36 PM

    Keep water running or a large bowl of water nearby when cutting onions.

  18. Avatar

    Abu AbdurRahman

    November 6, 2009 at 7:56 PM

    With all this fitnah Siraaj is spreading, I’m gonna inshaAllah make sure my future wife hasn’t read MM….

    • Avatar

      Umme Ammaarah

      November 7, 2009 at 6:28 AM

      :) I’m sure if a girl read this, she wouldn’t wanna BE ur future wife….. what say?

  19. Avatar

    abu abdAllah Tariq Ahmed

    November 7, 2009 at 12:46 AM

    I reread the recipe — all the salt seems to come from the V8. Since most varieties of V8 are very high in salt, I was wondering if any of you have ever cooked with low-sodium V8? If it worked just as well, that would allow a cook to add as much salt to the recipe as taste required.

  20. Avatar

    Amatullah

    November 7, 2009 at 8:12 AM

    I’m a little late in sending out the congrats but mubarak Siraaj on the new addition to your family :) I hope your wife is doing well. May Allah bless you and your family and grant you all that is good in this life and the next. Ameen.

    I love the name you’ve picked mashaAllah, and your older daughter and I have something in common :D even though mine is kinda fake.

  21. Avatar

    Umm Uthmaan

    November 8, 2009 at 4:47 AM

    Mabrook on the latest addition. Keep these recipes coming. Do u have one for meatloaf?

  22. Pingback: Some Advice for Muslim Husbands on Giving Your Wife a Break | MuslimMatters.org

  23. Avatar

    Zeshan

    March 22, 2017 at 7:47 AM

    JazakAllahu Khair for the tip. I will must make food for my wife. Thats why iam following this Pakistani Food site https://www.sooperchef.pk/. They providing us recipes as well as quick cooking videos

  24. Avatar

    saba

    March 22, 2017 at 7:55 AM

    Nice recipe I will try this one for my husband. Thanks for effort for us.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

#Society

Eid Lameness Syndrome: Diagnosis, Treatment, Cure

Avatar

Published

on

How many of you have gone to work on Eid because you felt there was no point in taking off? No Eid fun. Have you ever found Eid boring, no different from any other day?

If so, you may suffer from ELS (Eid Lameness Syndrome). Growing up, I did too.

My family would wake up, go to salah, go out to breakfast, come home, take a 4+ hour nap and then go out to dinner. I didn’t have friends to celebrate with and even if I did, I wouldn’t see them because we stuck to our own immediate family just as they did.

On the occasion that we went to a park or convention center, we would sort of have fun. Being with other people was certainly better than breakfast-nap-dinner in isolation, but calling that a memorable, satisfying, or genuinely fun Eid would be a stretch.

I don’t blame my parents for the ELS though. They came from a country where Eid celebration was the norm; everyone was celebrating with everyone and you didn’t have to exert any effort. When they moved to the US, where Muslims were a minority, it was uncharted territory. They did the best they could with the limited resources they had.

When I grew up, I did about the same too. When I hear friends or acquaintances tell me that they’re working, doing laundry or whatever other mundane things on Eid, I understand.  Eid has been lame for so long that some people have given up trying to see it any other way. Why take personal time off to sit at home and do nothing?

I stuck to whatever my parents did for Eid because “Eid was a time for family.” In doing so, I was honoring their cultural ideas of honoring family, but not Eid. It wasn’t until I moved away that I decided to rebel and spend Eid with convert friends (versus family) who didn’t have Muslim families to celebrate with on Eid, rather than drive for hours to get home for another lame salah-breakfast-nap-dinner.

That was a game-changing Eid for me. It was the first non-lame Eid I ever had, not because we did anything extraordinary or amazing, but because we made the day special by doing things that we wouldn’t normally do on a weekday together. It was then that I made a determination to never have a lame Eid ever again InshaAllah.

I’m not the only one fighting ELS. Mosques and organizations are creating events for people to attend and enjoy together, and families are opting to spend Eid with other families. There is still much more than can be done, as converts, students, single people, couples without children and couples with very small children, are hard-hit by the isolation and sadness that ELS brings. Here are a few suggestions for helping treat ELS in your community:

Host an open house

Opening up your home to a large group of people is a monumental task that takes a lot of planning and strength. But it comes with a lot of baraka and reward. Imagine the smiling faces of people who would have had nowhere to go on Eid, but suddenly find themselves in your home being hosted. If you have a big home, hosting an open house is an opportunity to express your gratitude to Allah for blessing you with it.

Expand your circle

Eid is about commUNITY. Many people spend Eid alone when potential hosts stick to their own race/class/social status. Invite and welcome others to spend Eid with you in whatever capacity you can.

Delegate

You can enlist the help of close friends and family to help so it’s not all on you. Delegate food, setup, and clean-up across your family and social network so that no one person will be burdened by the effort InshaAllah.

Squeeze in

Don’t worry if you don’t have a big house, you’ll find out how much barakah your home has by how many people are able to fit in it. I’ve been to iftars in teeny tiny apartments where there’s little space but lots of love. If you manage to squeeze in even two or three extra guests, you’ve saved two or three people from ELS for that year.

Outsource Eid Fun

If you have the financial means or know enough friends who can pool together, rent a house. Some housing share sites have homes that can be rented specifically for events, giving you the space to consolidate many, smaller efforts into one larger, more streamlined party.

Flock together

It can be a challenge to find Eid buddies to spend the day with. Try looking for people in similar circumstances as you. I’m a single woman and have hosted a ladies game night for the last few Eids where both married and single women attend.  If you are a couple with young kids, find a few families with children of similar age groups. If you’re a student, start collecting classmates. Don’t wait for other people to invite you, make a list in advance and get working to fend off ELS together.

Give gifts

The Prophet ﷺ said: تَهَادُوا تَحَابُّوا‏ “Give gifts to increase love for each other”. One of my siblings started a tradition of getting a gift for each person in the family. If that’s too much, pick one friend or family member and give them a gift. If you can’t afford gifts, give something that doesn’t require much money like a card or just your time. You never know how much a card with kind, caring words can brighten a person’s Eid.

Get out of your comfort zone

If you have ELS, chances are there is someone else out there who has it too. The only way to find out if someone is sad and alone on Eid is by admitting that we are first, and asking if they are too.

Try, try, try again…

Maybe you’ve taken off work only to find that going would have been less of a waste of time. Maybe you tried giving gifts and it didn’t go well. Maybe you threw an open house and are still cleaning up/dealing with the aftermath until now. It’s understandable to want to quit and say never again, to relent and accept that you have ELS and always will but please, keep trying. The Ummah needs to believe that Eid can and should be fun and special for everyone.

While it is hard to be vulnerable and we may be afraid of rejection or judgment, the risk is worth it. As a survivor and recoverer of ELS, I know how hard it can be and also how rewarding it is to be free of it. May Allah bless us all with the best Eids and to make the most of the blessed days before and after, Ameen.

Continue Reading

#Current Affairs

Were Muslim Groups Duped Into Supporting an LGBTQ Rights Petition at the US Supreme Court?

Avatar

Published

on

Muslim organizations, Muslim groups

Recently several Muslim groups sent an amicus brief to the US Supreme Court to support LGBTQ rights in employment.  These groups argued“sex” as used in the Civil Rights Act should be defined broadly to include more types of discrimination than Congress wrote into the statue.

A little background. Clayton County, Georgia fired Gerald Lynn Bostock. The County alleged Bostock embezzled money, so he was fired. Bostock argues the real reason is that he is gay. Clayton County denied they would fire someone for that reason. Clayton County successfully had the case dismissed saying that even if Bostock is right about everything, the law Bostock filed the lawsuit under does not vindicate his claim. The case is now at the Supreme Court with other similar cases.

The “Muslim” brief argued the word “sex” should mean lots of things, and under the law (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act), LGBTQ discrimination is already illegal.  American law has developed to provide some support for this argument, but there have been divisions in the appellate courts. So this is the exact sort of thing the US Supreme Court exists to decide.

The Involvement Of Muslim Groups

In Supreme Court litigation, parties on both sides marshal amicus briefs (written arguments) and coordinate their efforts to improve the effectiveness of their advocacy, there are over 40 such briefs in the Bostock case. Groups represent constituencies with no direct stake in the immediate dispute but care about the precedent the case would set.

The Muslim groups came in purportedly because they know what it’s like to be victims of discrimination (more on that below). The brief answered an objection to the consequences that could come with an expansive definition of the term “sex” to include gay, lesbian, and transgender persons (in lieu of its conventional use as synonymous with gender, i.e., male/female). In particular, the brief responded to the concern that “sex” being defined as any subjective experience may open up more litigation than was intended by making the argument that religion is a personal experience that courts have no trouble sorting out and that, like faith, courts can define “sex” the same way.

While this may be interesting to some, boring to others, it begs the question:  why are Muslim groups involved with this stuff? Muslims are a faith community. If we speak *as Muslims* is it not pertinent to consult with the traditions of the faith tradition known as Islam, like Quran, Hadith and the deep well of scholarly tradition?  Is our mere presence in a pluralistic society enough reason to ignore all this and focus on building allies in our mutual desire to create a world free of discrimination?

Spreading Ignorance

In July of 2017, the main party to the “Muslim” brief, Muslims for Progressive Values (MPV), was expelled from the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) Convention bazaar.  I was on the Executive Council of the organization at the time but had no role in the decision. The reason: MPV was dedicated to promoting ignorance of Islam among Muslims at the event. The booth had literature claiming haram was good and virtuous. Propaganda distributed at the table either implied haram was not haram or alternately celebrated haram.

For any Muslim organization dedicated to Islam, it is not a difficult decision to expel an organization explicitly dedicated to spreading haram. No Muslim organization, composed of Muslims who fear Allah and dedicate their time to Islam can give space to organizations opposed the faith community’s values and advocates against them in their conferences and events.  Allah, in the Quran, tells us:

immorality

Indeed, those who like that immorality should be spread [or publicized] among those who have believed will have a painful punishment in this world and the Hereafter. And Allah knows, and you do not know.

It would be charitable to the point of fraud to characterize MPV as a Muslim organization. That MPV has dedicated itself to promoting ignorance of the religion within the Muslim community is not in serious dispute.  The organization’s leader has been all over the anti-Sharia movement.

Discrimination against Muslims is bad, except when it’s good 

The brief framed the various organizations’ participation by claiming as Muslims, we know what it is like to be on the receiving end of discrimination. This implies the parties that signed on to the Amicus petition believe discrimination against Muslims is a bad thing. For at least two of the organizations, this is not entirely true.

MPV is an ally of another co-signer of the Amicus petition, the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC).  Both have records that show an eagerness to discriminate against Muslims in the national security space. They both applied for CVE grants. Both have supported the claim that Muslims are a national security threat they are somehow equipped to deal with. I have written more extensively about MPAC in the past; mainly, it’s work in Countering Violent Extremism and questionable Zakat practices.

MPAC’s CVE  program, called “Safe Spaces,” singled out Muslims as terrorist threats. It purported to address this Muslim threat. In June of 2019, MPAC’s academic partner released an evaluation Safe Spaces and judged it as “not successful” citing the singling out of Muslims, as well as a lack of trust within the Muslim community because of a lack of transparency as reasons why the program was a failure. Despite its legacy of embarrassment and failure, MPAC continues to promote Safe Spaces on its website.

MPV was a vigorous defender of MPAC’s CVE program, Safe Spaces.  MPV’s leader has claimed the problem of “radicalism” is because of CAIR, ISNA, and ICNA’s “brand of Islam.”

Law Enforcement Approved Islam

In 2011, former LAPD head of Counter-Terrorism, Michael P. Downing testified during a congressional hearing on “Islamist Radicalization” Downing testified in favor of MPV, stating:

I would just offer that, on the other side of the coin, we should create opportunities for the pure, good part of this, to be in the religion, such as the NGOs. There is an NGO by the name of Ani Zonneveld who does the Muslims for Progressive Values. This is what they say, “Values are guided by 10 principles of Islam, rooted in Islam, including social equality, separation of religion and state, freedom of speech, women’s rights, gay rights, and critical analysis and interpretation.” She and her organization have been trying to get into the prison system to give this literature as written by Islamic academic scholars. So I think there can be more efforts on this front as well.

Downing was central to the LAPD’s “Muslim Mapping” program, defending the “undertaking as a way to help Muslim communities avoid the influence of those who would radicalize Islamic residents and advocate ‘violent, ideologically-based extremism.” MPAC was a supporter of the mapping program, which was later rejected by the city because it was an explicit ethnic profiling program mainstream Muslim and secular civil rights groups opposed.  MPAC later claimed it did not support the program, though somehow saw fit to give Downing an award. Downing, since retired, currently serves on MPAC’s Advisory Council.

Ani Zonnevold, the President and Founder of MPV, currently sits on the International Board of Directors for the Raif Badawi Foundation alongside Maajid Nawaz and Zuhdi Jasser.

MPV has also been open about both working for CVE and funding from a non-Muslim source, the Human Rights Campaign, and other groups with agendas to reform the religion of Islam. It’s hard not to see it as an astroturf organization.

Muslim Groups Were Taken for a Ride

Unfortunately, Muslim nonprofit organizations are often unsophisticated when it comes to signing documents other groups write. Some are not even capable of piecing together the fact that an astroturf organization opposed to Islam, the religious tradition, was recruiting them to sign something.

There are many Muslims sympathetic to the LGBTQ community while understanding the limits of halal and haram. Not everyone who signed the brief came to this with the same bad faith as an MPV, which is hostile to the religion of Islam itself. Muslims generally don’t organize out of hostility to Islam. This only appears to be happening because of astroturfing in the Muslim community. Unfortunately, it was way too easy to bamboozle well-meaning Muslim groups.

Muslims are a faith community. MPV told the groups Islam did not matter in their argument when the precise reason they were recruited to weigh in on the case was that they are Muslim. Sadly, it was a successful con. Issues like the definition of sex are not divorced from Islamic concerns. We have Islamic inheritance and rules for family relations where definitions of words are relevant. Indeed, our religious freedoms in ample part rest on our ability to define the meaning of words, like Muslim, fahisha, zakat, daughter, and Sharia. Separate, open-ended definitions with the force of law may have implications for religious freedom for Muslims and others because it goes to defining a word across different statutes, bey0nd the civil rights act. There would be fewer concerns if LGBT rights were simply added as a distinct category under the Civil Rights Act while respecting religious freedom under the constitution.

Do Your Homework

Muslim organizations should do an analysis of religious freedom implications for Muslims and people of other faiths before signing on to statements and briefs. A board member of MPV drafted the “Muslim” Brief, and his law firm recruited Muslim nonprofit organizations to sign on. CAIR Oklahoma, which signed up for this brief, made a mistake (hey, it happens). CAIR Oklahoma’s inclusion is notable. This chapter successfully challenged the anti-Sharia “Save our State” law that would have banned Muslims from drafting Islamic Wills. Ironically, CAIR Oklahoma’s unwitting advocacy at the Supreme Court could work against that critical result. For an anti-Sharia group like MPV, this is fine. It is not fine for a group like CAIR.

CAIR Oklahoma is beefing up their process for signing on to Amicus Briefs in the future. No other CAIR chapter signed on to the brief, which was prudent. CAIR chapters are mostly independent organizations seemingly free to do whatever they want. CAIR, as a national organization needs to make sure all its affiliates are sailing in the same direction. They have been unsuccessful with this in the past several years. CAIR should make sure their local chapters know about astroturf outfits and charlatans trying to get them to sign things. They should protect their “America’s largest Islamic Civil Liberties Group” brand.

Muslim Leaders Should Stand Strong 

American Muslims all have friends, business associates and coworkers, and family members who do things that violate Islamic norms all the time. We live in an inclusive society where we respect each other’s differences. Everyone is entitled to dignity and fair treatment. No national Muslim groups are calling for employment discrimination against anyone, nor should they.

However, part of being Muslim is understanding limits that Allah placed on us. That means we cannot promote haram or help anyone do something haram. Muslim groups do not need to support causes that may be detrimental to our interests.  Our spaces do not need to be areas where we have our religion mocked and derided. Other people have the freedom to do this in their own spaces in their own time.

Some Muslim leaders are afraid of being called names unless they recite certain words or invite particular speakers.  You will never please people who hate Islam unless you believe as they do.  Muslims only matter if Islam matters.

If you are a leader of Muslims, you must know the limits Allah has placed on you. Understand the trust people have placed in you. Don’t allow anyone to bully or con you into violating those limits.

Note: Special thanks to Mobeen Vaid.

Continue Reading

Uncategorized

A New Eid Tradition: Secret Gift Exchange

Avatar

Published

on

Eid Al Adha, Eid Gift Exchange

Gift exchanges–they’re common traditions for many gift-giving holidays in America. I’ve participated in gift exchanges in religious and secular contexts and I’ve loved being a member and even a host of them in the past! This past Eid al Adha and Eid al Fitr, I organized a secret gift exchange (we called it “Secret Bakra” from the Urdu “bakra” which means goat) with my siblings, cousins, and their respective spouses who live all over the US and it was one of the most memorable and fun things I have ever done for Eid in my life! The best part of a gift exchange like this is that I don’t have to feel the pressure of gifting 13 people gifts every Eid, but I feel as if I have!

Here’s a quick guide and some tips to help you and your family or friends organize an Eid gift exchange!

Gift Exchange Basics

A gift exchange requires: 

  • a group of 3 to 40 people
  • a budget range for the gift
  • deadlines for sending/receiving gifts
  • an organizational system to assign members who they will be giving gifts to

Optional parts of a gift exchange can be:

  •  some sort of exchange party (in-person or virtual)
  • gift recommendations/interests for each person to help nudge the gift-giver in the right direction)
  • an anonymous/secret exchange system with a reveal during the party/after everyone has gotten their gifts

Why a (Secret) Eid Gift Exchange? 

Following the Sunnah and Bringing People Together

The most important motivation anyone can have to organize or participate in a gift exchange is taken from a hadith of the Prophet (S) in which he says, “Mutual gift-giving increases the love between people.” This hadith can be taken as advice for a way to bring people closer together and with the intention of following the teachings of the Prophet (S). 

Celebrating Eid and Creating Meaningful Traditions

Another important motivation is to celebrate Eid, as the Prophet (S) has mentioned is a main annual holiday for Muslims, and to also make Eid special for you, your family, a group of friends coworkers, masjid volunteers, etc. Not only is it important for individuals and families to establish Eid traditions that everyone can look forward to (Eid shouldn’t just be fun for kids!), but it is particularly important in communities in which Muslims are a minority. I’ve always been a firm advocate for making fun, memorable Eids with exciting, wholesome Eid traditions and festivities. 

Manageable Way to Give Gifts within a Large Group of People

A gift exchange is a great way to give gifts in a large group of people without breaking the bank and without exhausting yourself trying to think of gifts for a bunch of people and then buying or making them. My cousins and I have gotten closer more recently due to an upswing in family weddings, and I really felt like giving all of them gifts last Eid.  But realistically, I didn’t have $200 to get all 9 people in this group a decent gift, or the time to make 9 gifts that were meaningful and special for each person, or the energy to come up with different gifts for all 9 individuals. A couple of years ago, my husband and I sent ice cream gift cards and personalized Eid cards to each one of our cousins (allocating $5 per cousin per family). It felt great to extend an “Eid ice cream on us” gesture, but for $45, it didn’t seem like we really got much of a bang for our buck. By doing a Secret Bakra Gift Exchange, we both spent under $30 total for our gifts, but it felt like more of a meaningful gift.  It also felt like each one of my siblings/cousins gave a gift to everyone in the group–and that’s the magic of gift exchanges! Although we didn’t give and receive 9 gifts on Eid, we all came together to celebrate our family ties and Eid in a special way and everyone felt like they scored on Eid. Lastly, if there’s a dedicated group of people that you always do a gift exchange with, such as extended family in my case, theoretically everyone will end up giving everyone else a gift when you consider probabilities if you do a gift exchange every Eid for enough years, right?  

Bridging the Gap: Togetherness Despite Age, Distance, Financial Means, etc.

One thing that was super magical for my cousins and I this past Eid was having the feeling that we celebrated Eid together. We’re always lamenting the fact that we seldom get together and rarely with all of us or talking about how if we were closer to each other then we’d do xyz awesome, fun things together all the time. This gift exchange wasn’t just about giving each other gifts–it was also about making time for a video call in which we all made it despite being strung across three different time zones and having work/school the next day to unwrap our gifts and wish each other a blessed and joyous Eid. It was also about creating a more tight-knit group and welcoming the newcomers to our extended family (we’ve had two weddings in one year and we’re all still getting to know the new spouses and vice versa). We’re all different in many ways–age, gender, religiosity, personality, etc.–and we may interact with each other (and even be fond of each other) at varying levels. Doing an anonymous gift exchange is a great way to force a person’s hand into making a greater effort to connect with another person in a wholesome, beautiful manner. Lastly, we considered our budget range to accommodate our financially-dependent younger cousins in high school, our unemployed bunch, our students, etc. No one felt burdened by the price tag for the gifts and everyone felt like they made a meaningful contribution no matter what their lifestyle or financial means allow. 

eid gift exchange

Tips on Making Your Secret Gift Exchange Easy, Fun, and…Did I Mention Easy?

With the business of worshipping in Ramadan and Dhul Hijjah on top of daily life struggles, who has the time to monkey around with extra nonsense like a gift exchange for Eid? Following these tips will help YOU pull off a great gift exchange with minimal time, effort, stress, and hiccups! (These tips will be particularly useful for people conducting a long-distance gift exchange.) 

  • Use a self-generating exchange system like “Elfster.” Have one person do it (it only takes 5 minutes to set it up) and send out the sign up link. You can even take turns every time you do a gift exchange. This way, nobody has to sit out the game because the website takes care of matching people in the group and can also let an administrator get in behind the scenes in case a problem arises (like someone doesn’t send their match a gift.) For the rest of the participants, signing up takes less than 5 minutes if you’re a first-time user and less than 2 minutes if you already have an account. The site draws names, notifies everyone of who they received, provides your match’s address, etc. It basically takes out all of the headache stuff that would discourage someone from wanting to organize one of these exchanges.  It can also allow for anonymous messaging, which can be handy for contacting your match to inquire about clothing sizes, color preferences, delivery options/issues, etc.
  • Set a budget range that’s friendly for the people of less financial means in mind. Think of the spread of your participating group members and make the exchange accessible to those who have the least means. Gifts don’t have to be expensive to be meaningful and you don’t want to set a $80 budget if someone in the group is struggling to make ends meet every month. My recommendation is to choose a budget range so that each person isn’t busting their brains to try to get a gift as close to $15.00 as possible, for example. Determine whether or not you’d like to include shipping costs inside this budget. If someone is making a gift, then estimate how much you’d buy whatever is made if you got it from the store (this is probably a bit harder than just buying something that has a price tag associated with it.) Give a $3-7 range around a price point everyone seems comfortable with. Our budget for the last exchange we did was $12-17. Most participants bought gifts at the $14-17 range (which I think is better.) Some good budget range recommendations I have are the following: $14-17, $15-18, $18-22, $20-24, $25-29. For a higher budget: $28-33, $38-42, $48-53. 
  • Set a strict deadline for receiving the gifts before Eid and keep in mind your gift exchange party date/time. Make sure everyone knows that they need to have the gift delivered on or by a certain a date. Don’t have a “send by” date, that doesn’t really make any sense, and don’t have a deadline that spreads across a couple of days because it’s too confusing. My personal recommendation for the deadline is to have the deadline at least one or two days before the earliest day anyone in your group might be celebrating Eid (#MoonWars). This way, everyone can take care of their gift before the Eid madness sets in which can make Eid more enjoyable because no one is stressed out about their gift being delivered on time, and it gives a little bit of a buffer if there are any complications with delivery or fulfilling an order/shipment. 
  • Virtual exchange party: set it before Eid prayer. Eid day is just too crazy because people have a lot of things going on. Now take into consideration the fact that people celebrate Eid on different days…exactly. If you set your virtual exchange party for the night before the earliest Eid’s prayer, you’re nearly guaranteed to be able to catch everyone because no one will have an Eid dinner invitation for that night. Additionally, it will feed into the excitement for Eid which will be on the next day or two. 
  • Alternative virtual exchange party. You can have everyone send a video recording of themselves opening their gift on whatever day the gift deadline is or whatever day you want to have your “party.” This way, everyone can participate despite schedule conflicts. If there are a handful of individuals who can’t make the actual party, you can also have them send videos beforehand instead of joining into the party on the video call. This might also be helpful if you’re doing an exchange party in-person if you can have the one or two people who can’t make it video-call in or send video recordings beforehand (if it’s before, then that person would need their gift before the party.)
  • Anonymous gift-sending and guessing who the gift-giver is. Make sure that the person giving the gift does not reveal their identity in any way, whether that’s putting gifts in a dark room before the party starts or making sure that their name is not on the package being sent at all. What we like to do is to have the person guess who they think gave them the gift after they’ve opened it. Our rule is that if the person guessed correctly, then the gift-giver should confirm it was indeed them that gave the gift. This is one of the most fun parts of the exchange party in my opinion.
  • Have a code word in your package to signify that it’s a gift from the Eid exchange.  Let’s face it–online shopping is convenient and becoming increasingly so. It’s more likely than not that you will order something from online during the gift exchange, so in order to prevent confusion, include a code word in the name of the person you’re sending the Eid gift to. We chose to write “Bakra” as the middle name, so it’d look like “Muhammad Bakra Ahmad” on whatever package was intended to be their gift for the Eid gift exchange.

I hope all of these tips were useful! If you end up doing this Eid gift exchange in your family, let us know what the best gifts were this time around! 

Here are the gifts that we had in our Eid al Fitr gift exchange this past June!

  • Juvia’s Masquerade Eyeshadow Palette
  • NASA Worm Logo Shirt + The Great Wave off Kanagawa Tapestry
  • Jade Roller for Face
  • Music Record
  • Nose Frida
  • Campfire Mug
  • DSLR Camera Remote
  • Llama String Art Kit
  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*** + Knife Sharpening Stone
  • Philadelphia Eagles Sun Hat
  • Golden State Warriors Mug

May Your Eid Be Blessed!

Continue Reading

Trending