Margari Aziza

February 9, 2009

Letter From a Brother

For a long time, I’ve wanted to post a link to Charles Catching’s post titled, A Letter From a Brother.

It should be easy for me to close my eyes and ears, to ignore all the problems BAM women and men are having with one another but I have daughters. One sister responded to me being concerned about my daughters by saying other brothers are simply disconnected, that they do not relate their objectification and mistreatment of BAM women to their daughters, and if she is right then woe to us.
….

In the past year I’ve read numerous blogs and articles about the suffering hearts of Black women. I have heard countless conversations depicting the atrocious acts of Black men against women. Keep in mind here, I’m talking about Black Muslim women, women who came to the religion for God and a good man! If you haven’t read, and you probably haven’t because you’re a guy, you should read a book called Engaged Surrender: African-American Women and Islam along with some critiques, questions, and concerns from other Muslim women about the book. Women have absolutely no problem reading the latest from a male scholar/author/activist/blogger about issues in the community. But hey, if women are championing mens’ causes don’t you think you need to take a second look at theirs?

Just the other day egg was thrown on my face by a co-worker. The African-American woman praised Black Muslim men stating that the reason she loved us so much was because of our respect and love for “the Black Woman”. I wanted to receive her praise as a truth but no longer had I started puffing out my chest when I got an horrible email, a story I will share in a moment. Seeing as though this woman is 50+ years old, I gathered that she was speaking more about the men in the Nation of Islam and not of Muslim men in America at large and that was sad. At that very moment, I felt my obligation went beyond informing her of any differences between the Nation of Islam and others to factually stating that many African-American Muslim women are well beyond fed-up, sick-and-tired, and too-through with brothers because of our shady ways. These women came to Islam hoping to find protection and security in addition to monotheism and have been struggling to accept the prophetic message against the backdrop of criminals, deadbeats, cheaters, liars, bigots, and bootleggers posing as lovers of Allah.

Lastly, as you read this there are others doing the same, wondering if I have any solutions or if I am even qualified to talk to African-American Muslim men about marriage. I have two answers; first, it’s time for those of us who have decent marriages to help others cultivate the same for it is so easy to read about horror stories all day. I know single sisters who have never been married swearing off men because of these stories. They need happily married Muslim women to look up to and brothers need solid examples, not charlatans. Secondly, I have daughters, and there is just no way on this earth I’m going to subject them to the kind of nonsense present today so over time, as it permits itself, I will continue this letter of sorts to my brothers, hoping that someone out there heeds the call to be more and do more without wanting more.

I frankly, was shocked by the treatment of women in the sunni Muslim community. A number of womanizers use their Muslim celebrity status and their close relationship with leaders in the community to prey on women and misuse their position to garner free services. I’ve written before about pathological narcissists and as I stated they are often charismatic. I am not saying that we should start gossiping to uncover everybody’s dirt or create the religious police with some gestapo like investigation capacities, but our leadership should take active steps to ensure that the brothers in their circle are upstanding members of the community. If they have some dirt in the past, they should repent and be currently living upstanding lives. I believe we should forgive our brothers and sisters who make honest efforts to clean up their acts. At the same time, anybody with some nefarious dealings, should be checked. The sad thing is, the women who have been preyed upon and subject to multiple sham marriages is seen as damaged goods. Women who have even been in legitimate marriages, but are divorced are often seen as damaged goods. However, a man who leaves a trail of broke-up women is never seen as damaged. Rather he is a pimp, and a lot of young brothers celebrate him.

I had a conversation with a man from the Nation of Islam who commented that sunni Muslims often show very little respect for their women. He said, “Sunni brothers are just HARSH with their women.” He believed that some of it was the misogyny that is now prevalent in our culture, but also due to the adoption of some foreign attitudes towards women. In some ways I agree, its like a number of convert men adopted the misogyny from the BAM movement and Hip Hop culture and combined it with the structures of gender relations from the Middle East and South Asia. It is as if they gained the worst of both cultures when it comes to dealing with women–misogyny and patriarchy. The same man recounted a story about how a brother who was going to jumu’ah made his wife drop him off at the door and she had to go part the car and walk a long distance in the rain to get into the crummy women’s section. He also commented that there was nothing in place in the sunni Muslim community to protect convert women from predators.

Not all of us are wallowing in misery. And there are a number of men, like Charles, who are appalled by the current state of affairs. Simply put Charles is calling all the ethical brothers, especially the married brothers, to provide examples. There are countless examples of good men who are striving to be good to their wives, daughters, sisters, mothers, cousins, associates, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. Please check out the site and respond to the brother’s call.

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4 Comments »

  1. GREAT POST!!!! More post like these are needed. BUT we also need to back them up with some good examples of what a REALY man acts like. I did a post last yr Muslim but still a thug…..http://livinglifeandlovinit.wordpress.com/2008/05/30/muslims-but-still-a-thug/….In this piece I talked about the same issues….Men pimpin their women and not treatign them as they should be treated and Women fallin for the crap over and over.
    We really need help in the area , Until Women stop being doormats to these men and stop being the cheerleaders to these men we will be lost. We need to train our sons ….it all starts there. We as women need to show our sons how to treat women….deep dpwn we know what we want…..why not make sure the next generation really learns how to treat a woman ……if not they too will be muslim and thugs

    Comment by livinglifeandlovinit — February 10, 2009 @ 12:02 am

  2. I have seen more and more divorced, single mothers get remarried lately to really good brothers. The Internet has a great deal to do with a sister’s ability to reach beyond her immediate community and find someone, way out there in cyberspace, that shares part of her circumstance.

    In fact, most of my friends have found loving relationships after a failed marriage this way.

    I think there is hope, for those who truly seek it.

    Not every brother who also has children and was divorced wants a young woman with the opposite situation. If they’re active fathers, who really has time to start over like that? Maybe these brothers are more practical.

    Imam Faheem recently spoke on the assumed lack of single people suitable for marriage. In a roundabout way, he said it was a myth, because in his travels he comes across many, many single people wanting marriage.

    Comment by SheSoWriteous — February 10, 2009 @ 2:16 pm

  3. Salaam I’d thought I’d add this poem I wrote to the call! lol

    Aba Hold My Hand
    by Mary Ann Cole-Dia

    Aba will see you the world through my eyes
    Will you hold my hand?
    Will you hold on?
    Will you stay strong?
    As I go about this land
    Seeking what life has to offer
    Seeking to understand
    Aba will you hold my hand?

    Aba will you sincerely worship Allah
    So when I grow up
    I can tell my children that is all I saw
    Will you show me how good you feel when you pray?
    Will you show me the peace you feel reciting Qur’an?
    Will you show me the reverence you had?
    For The Prophet Muhammad sws a great man
    Will you dhikr and seek Allah’s pleasure
    Will you invite me to join you?
    So we can worship together
    Aba will you hold my hand?

    Aba will you show me that you love my mother
    That you truly honor and respect each other
    Will you show me how to talk to her?
    Will you show me how my adab should be?
    Will you explain her worth as a Muslim Woman?
    Will you explain how her work means something?
    Will you show me how you find comfort in her hug?
    Will you include me in that love?
    Aba will you hold my hand?

    Aba will you support my education
    Even if I am a girl
    So that I won’t be harmed and abused in the world
    Will you sacrifice and give up your money
    Will you challenge and test me
    Will you debate me?
    Will you help me to master a science a skill?
    Will you raise me to be a scholar if that is what Allah Wills?
    Aba will you hold my hand?

    Aba will you represent the best of a Muslim man
    Will you show me your honor?
    Will you prove your worth?
    Will you respect your own dignity?
    Will you be a vicegerent upon this earth?
    Will you have good adab?
    Will you be refined?
    Will you demonstrate the depth in your mind?
    Aba will you hold my hand?

    Aba will you be courageous
    Not afraid to die
    Not afraid to stand up for this deen
    Not afraid to fight
    Not afraid to practice Islam
    And practice it right
    Not afraid to suffer
    Or to sacrifice
    Not afraid to kill your ego
    Not afraid to cry
    Not afraid of how Allah will dictate time
    Aba will you hold my hand?

    Aba will you teach me about true wealth
    Will you show me that you aren’t miserly?
    That you don’t hoard your money
    Will you show me that it doesn’t define you?
    Control you
    Shape you
    Take hold of you
    Will show me that you cared about the ummah
    In distant lands
    Where the people are lifting up their hands
    To the sky
    With fear and tears in their eyes
    Aba will you hold my hand?

    Aba will you love me
    And help me grow
    Will you always be with me?
    So that I know
    You held my hand
    That you cared
    You were there
    When I needed you
    You obeyed Allah
    Did what he ask of you?
    Aba will you hold my hand?

    Aba will you let go of my hand
    It’s time to let me choose
    It’s time to let me fulfill my purpose
    It’s time to let me live what I came to do
    It’s time to pray for me
    Hold me in your heart
    It’s time exhale
    Because you did good from the start

    Aba I have let go of you
    I ask you to let go of me
    I am your white dove
    Symbolic and in peace
    It’s okay to move on
    Let me blossom
    Transform into a beautiful butterfly
    Let me spread my colorful wings
    Let me fly

    One day when you are an old man
    It will touch my heart
    It will make it glow
    And from my eyes the tears will flow
    I will understand
    This humble man
    And it will be a privilege and honor
    To ask aba may I hold your hand?

    Comment by Sister Seeking, Miriam, Mary Ann — February 10, 2009 @ 6:52 pm

  4. [...] Margari has some great thoughts on gender and authority to speak in the Black American Muslim [...]

    Pingback by Links - 2008-02-12 at Racialicious - the intersection of race and pop culture — February 12, 2009 @ 9:09 am


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