Swearing in, marketing modesty, Brooklyn Muslims

And a little expletive explosive from your favorite Palestinian congresswoman.

Salaam, everyone! Hope your 2019 is off to a good start, inshaAllah.

As I was collecting links for this newsletter over the past few weeks, I came across so! many!! articles!!! about Islam and Christmas. But for all of our sakes, I decided to take a leaf out of Marie Kondo’s book and just…delete them all. You’re welcome.

  • The secret history of Muslims in the U.S. Minutes after I sent the last edition of this newsletter, The New York Times published this lovely video by The Secret Life of Muslims, featuring a conversation between comedian Negin Farsad and scholar Hussein Rashid with a dizzying array of little-known factoids from Muslim American history. (Oh, and that reminds me: The Atlantic published this video on the plight of U.S. Uighurs immediately after I out sent an edition recently featuring a story on Uighur Americans.)

  • Marketing modesty. 💸 The Intercept’s Rashmee Kumar takes a fascinating deep dive into marketing around modest fashion and the hijab in a world dominated by capitalism and Trump. “That increased representation is meaningful to some Muslim women cannot be ignored,” Kumar notes. “However, who gets to be seen and how exposes the underlying logics of capitalism that flatten visibility into which Muslim women are the most marketable.”

  • Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar were sworn in as America’s first Muslim congresswomen on a day that reporter Hannah Allam noted “felt like a national holiday for Muslim America.” And while Tlaib decided not to use Thomas Jefferson’s personal copy of the Quran during the ceremony—as had been widely reported and as Keith Ellison, the first Muslim in Congress, did—it’s still worth taking a few minutes to read about the complicated history of his Quran. (Further reading: Denise A. Spellberg’s “Thomas Jefferson’s Qu'ran: Islam and the Founders” and this writeup on the Quran’s popularity in 18th century America.)

  • Speaking of swearing in. 🤬 MuslimGirl founder Amani Al-Khatahtbeh responds to the controversy over Tlaib’s f-bomb: “…using language to defy ‘political correctness’ is not an option for members of marginalized groups.”

  • Oh, and about the hijab ban. In the last edition, I mentioned a widely-reported ban on religious headwear in the Capitol’s House chamber. Liz Bucar, author of “Pious Fashion,” takes issue with that characterization of a rule that’s actually against hats. A hijab “has literally nothing in common with a hat other than it is on top of her head” and should be automatically protected by the First Amendment, she argues.

  • Meet America’s highest-ranking Muslim judge. 👨🏾‍⚖️ Halim Dhanidina, an Ismaili Muslim, became California’s first-ever Muslim judge in 2012. Now that he’s joined the state Court of Appeal, PBS reports that there is no other Muslim in the same or a more senior position in the country’s judiciary.

  • Ahmadi Muslim youth are cleaning up national parks as the federal government shutdown stretches on with no end in sight. They’re organizing cleanups around the country, including Philly’s Independence Hall as well as Everglades, Joshua Tree and Cuyahoga Valley national parks. Slate’s Aymann Ismail published a response to such behavior (actually, in response to Ahmadis’ efforts to clean the street post-New Years) that questioned the motives of such public-facing service.

  • Who is Fethullah Gulen? Claire Sadar, a fellow Boston-based journalist whom I had the pleasure of meeting up with a few weeks ago, explains the controversy over Gulen, a Turkish cleric in the mountains of Eastern Pennsylvania. Turkey wants him extradited back to his homeland for supposedly masterminding a deadly 2016 coup attempt, but America has refused because of a lack of evidence. That could change soon, Sadar reports.

  • A pilgrimage for Muslim brothers in the NFL. 🏈 The Undefeated profiles Hamza and Husain Abdullah, who in 2012 took a season off from playing in the NFL to perform hajj. That time off was a chance to focus on their mental health and on being better fathers, Muslims and community members. But the journey put their football careers at risk, too.

  • “All you have to do is look up into the sky.” 🔭 Looking for a sense of belonging in an era when Muslims often face suspicion and prejudice, young Muslims are finding meaning and inspiration in writing and reading sci-fi. My former colleague Kimberly Winston reports for USA Today.

  • Publishing queen to writers of color and founder of Jack Jones Literary Arts, Kima Jones just earned a glowing profile in the New York Times. What’s not mentioned: she’s Muslim.

  • A Muslim NYPD cop went viral for fighting off five guys on the subway—without even considering drawing his gun. Syed Ali is also a citizen and an Army veteran who was detained at JFK Airport in the early days of the Trump administration, and was the subject of a previous NYT profile for that reason.

  • Ferguson protesters are dying. The latest was a Palestinian Muslim man who aimed to “[unite] the fight for black liberation and Palestinian liberation,” according to his cousin. (Further reading: Angela Davis’ “Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement” and Moment Magazine on solidarity between the Black Lives Matter movement and the push for Palestinian rights.)

  • A new oral history project highlights Brooklyn Muslims’ history. I talked to the Brooklyn Historical Society’s Zaheer Ali about the launch of his new project and why it’s so important. Related: Zuha Siddiqui just published an in-depth look at North America’s oldest surviving mosque, founded in New York City by Tatars who emigrated from Lithuania in the early 20th century. And while we’re talking about NYC, Brooklyn Daily just reported on the city’s new shelter – its first ever – aimed at Muslim women and children fleeing abuse.

  • The first-ever Muslim superhero returns – just in time to take down some Nazis. I sat down with Boston-based Muslim writer A. David Lewis to discuss his comic book reboot of Kismet, an Algerian superhero who fought fascists in France.

  • "A lot of people think Muslim girls don't know how to play." The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel looks at the Salam Stars, which may be the state's only all-Muslim girls varsity basketball team.

  • Black Muslims are reinvigorating poetry in the U.S. On Al Jazeera’s The Stream, three young spoken word artists from Maryland discuss how they amplify the voices of the marginalized through verse.

  • Iconic posts from 2018 Muslim Twitter. Please enjoy these 65 tweets carefully curated by the folks at BuzzFeed.

Shout out to the Ashab Network 👌

After Husain Abdullah ended his NFL career, his friend Imam Omar Suleiman suggested he and his brothers start the non-profit organization Ashab Network, which provides a space for Muslim athletes and entertainers to support one another in their faith through annual retreats, workshops and more. Members include basketball player Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir and Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad.

Abdullah’s journey was highlighted in The Undefeated piece linked above; writer Amina Khan has also chronicled Ashab Network’s efforts in this D Magazine piece.

🗣 Talk to me

As always, send me your comments, questions and corrections!

- Aysha