There’s beauty within all the creation of Allah, within all Human beings. It’s just that ash-Shaytan/the Devil, along with his countless Shayatin/Minions-of-the-Devil (Noble Qur’an: Chpt.114, V.3-5), whispers into the hearts both of Jinn (Unseen-Creation made from Smokeless-Fire [Noble Qur'an: Chpt.55, V.15]), as well as Men, adding corruption to the pure-nature of the Human being, to hate one another, be at adds with one another, despise one another, based upon this which Allah had chosen for us, via His Qadha’/Divine-Providence, which we never were able to choose for our selves. And this was done exclusively, for His Divine-Purpose, to determine which from among us would be most obedient to Him, the most-grateful to Him, by learning about those whom are different, appreciating variety amongst our Human-Family, benefitting from different cultures, traditions, perspectives, walks-of-life, etc.(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.49, V.13) It was never done as a justification to oppress one another, to make ourselves higher than others, to make others lower than us, in the name of `Assabiyyah/Bias (unwarranted biased towards/against someone, exclusively based upon factors that are not in anyone’s control, like: ethnic-background, nationality, genetic-abnormalities, etc.).(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.10, V.44)
This year, I’ve decided to do something a lil’ different, referring to my many Fashion-Week exploits (…um, I mean adventures…HA HA HA…) via pictures that I’ve taken throughout the week of the Fashion-Week Fall/2013 extravaganza…And, there’s a lot of photos that I’ve taken…
Photo-Shoot in Brooklyn: Photography by Aaron Mark
…The main reason why I’ve taken a sudden, some would dare say, an unusual, non-conventional interest in Fashion, generally, is simply because, this is one of the main reasons why I was treated negatively, by so many other Muslims…
…Just to give you some background about myself: I’m Gareth Bryant, a 30-something, well-put-together, Muslim, of Afro-American descent, whom was at one point, in his life, a Salafi. In other words, I was a Saudi-Cheerleader (another post post for another time to explain what that means). Anyway, according to the Salafi-Movement, the Salafis deem anyone/everyone whom doesn’t share their particular fashion-sense, based upon sectarian/culturally influenced standards is religiously off-the-mark…
Photo-Shoot in Manhattan: Photography by Alan Mildor
…And, there was even one time, when I was attending a Masjid/Mosque, the Imam, at the time (by the name of Mustapha George), encouraged people to “boycott” me, as a result of not conforming with Arab-Dress, as the standard for Islamic-Dress, because I was wearing jeans, tees, dress-pants, shirt-and-ties, track-jackets, etc., I was considered & even called, by many, a “Deviant”, “Innovator”, “Heretic”, etc….
…So, instead of conforming, under-pressure, I fought back & enhanced my interest & love for fashion, despite the cruel antagonism of my peers, in this particular Muslim-Sect. And, this experiences encouraged me to look even deeper into the Islamic allowances of fashion elements. And, when I found all of the information that was necessary to fortify the validity of my fashion position, I was able to combat those whom deemed me a religious outcast, just because I wanted to be an individual…
Fader & The GAP Opening Fashion-Week event: Photography by StudioBooth
…I’m actually very grateful to Allah*, for testing me with these types of people. This trial of mine actually strengthened me in ways that I could’ve never perceived or imagined. It empowered me with the integrity to be different, and not just different -but that being different is okay. Allah didn’t create us to be the exact same people, or to eat the same foods, wear the same clothes, or to enjoy watching the same sports, etc. Rather, he simply created us to use our minds, to come to the conclusion that He created all which exists & that He is the only one whom is worshipworthy…
501 Union Brooklyn Magazine Launch-Party: Phtography by WeLovePhotobooths
…Now, with all of this being said…Fashion is awesome, and it i my hope to make an even greater presence of Muslims, particularly Muslim-Men, within the Fashion World, because there is a very derogatory stereotype, among Muslims that Muslims cannot thrive in the Fashion-World, unless they’re Homosexual. Yes, it’s a very lame stereotype. Unfortunately, one that is very dominant within the Muslim-World, especially within Muslim communities in the West.
My take on Fashion, and any other secular arts, is this: We, as Muslims, for the past 5-centuries, have been told to conform to the artistic, fashion, standards of others, without any say of our very own. Now, is our chance, to reclaim rightful ownership over how we express ourselves, as Muslims, via art, fashion, etc. And, as long as we stay true to our Islamic principles, with whatever we do in any industry (whether it be Fashion, Finance, etc.), we owe it to Allah, the Creator of the Universe, to define ourselves for ourselves.
This is the story of someone whom I know personally, whom was a victim of malicious, immoral, unethical, and illegal, Islamophobia, just because they were Muslim, had an Arabic name, came from, ancestrally, from a part of the Muslim-World, and, because they were neither a U.S.-citizen, nor a citizen of their respective native-land.
This is what was told to me:
“I was traveling to visit one of my relatives; I really don’t like to take for granted the freedom and the respect I have been enjoying since I came to America. But this weekend, I have felt very humiliated and mistreated by authorities in both the nation in which I was in, as well as the US. When I arrived in the country my relative lives, the authorities denied entry in the country: they said that I did not have a passport. I’ve used American travel-documents, which is issued for refugees without citizenship, on more than one occasion, and had no previous issues, traveling to places outside of the U.S., prior to this incident; likewise, I had went to this particular country, last year, using these same travel-documents, without any problems.
They took seized my travel-documents, and also my green-card, after they denied me entry. I told them that if they are not going to allow me in, then at least just allow me to return to the U.S.. But, these guys weren’t trying to listen to me, at all-they really started treating me like I was nothing but piece of garbage, which disturbed me greatly. They thought I had no government that defends my rights, which is true-I do not have citizenship to any country yet. I am holding neither US passport nor any other national-passport. The authorities had told me that, if I had at least had a passport along with my U.S. travel-documents, then I could’ve been allowed to stay.
So, here I am, on a plane going directly back to where I had came from, heading back to America. However, there’s a lot more this-it does not just end, here. When I had boarded my flight back to the U.S., my green-card and travel-documents weren’t even returned to me, they were given, instead, to the airline & I was told that I’ll get everything back once I land in the U.S., and this is where frustration & anger started to really kick-in: I had told them that they had no right to keep my documents & property away from me and that I’m leaving this country. They said no, you can’t have it back. I felt so humiliated and realized how weak and unfortunate I am.
When I arrived back into the U.S., the airline gave me back my documents. When I checked in, a U.S. Customs & Border Protection officer took my fingerprints, and then, forwarded me to another officer who then further inspected me. He started to ask me why I went to the country I had just came from, where did I get travel-money from…he started an argument, with me, about my recent trip. He said, ‘You were re-admitted last January and now, again, you are traveling?’…’Who helps you?’. I told him I that I have jobs to support myself. He then asked how much I am paid an hour…he then took away my wallet and checked everything it, asking me about how I got my credit cards. He asked me to open my suitcase and to take everything I had out of it. He then took away my backpack and opened my iPad, a binder, and some letters in it, this was a blatant invasion of my privacy. When I asked why is this even necessary, he told me I am not a US citizen, so I am subjected inspection.
After that, then in the checking area, two guys took me away to a room, after I was fully checked with an x-ray machine. They did a full pat-down on me, touching every part of my body. Then, another guy took my backpacks and coat for further inspection, itt was so stressful. I just wish that I did not have to undergo all of these troubles simply that I have a name which starts ‘Abu’ or that I am an immigrant, or tourist from a country that’s viewed negatively, by the U.S., and her allies. This year, I had about 4 trips on my schedule, but I am going to call off all of them. I just don’t want to undergo what I have went through this weekend.”
So, upon learning of this, I had immediately, told the person who told me their story, to inform CAIR/Council on American Islamic Relations, and I specifically gave them the contact-info. of the CAIR-NY Director, Muneer Awad. Sadly, this person was just too afraid to come forward & share their story. I even assured this person that the details of their story would be honored as anonymous, that they wouldn’t be required to give their name, rather, just their statement. But, alas, they even refused that, because they were so shaken-up & fearful that if they were to say anything that they wouldn’t be able to stay/live here (in the U.S.), any longer, that they’d lose their financial-aid status & may even get kicked-out of school, get deported to their respective land of origin (even though they either never grew-up there, never been there & were only born there), detained, tortured, killed, etc.
All of this is so deeply disturbing, how our government, as well as governments like ours deems it okay to intimidate persons, just because they’re Muslims, immigrants, residents/illegals, as opposed to full-fledged citizens, etc. But, at the end of the day, these are still the lives of Human beings, and as such we all, regardless of subjective national, state, or local, religious or secular, laws, are entitled to basic Human-Rights of the following: life, dignity, property. And, unfortunately, at least two out of these three were severely violated, to the extent that this person was made to feel as though their status as a Human being had absolutely no value.
This is not how things are supposed to be: I should never have to walk the streets in fear (of being detained, deported, arrested, beaten-up/having to beat someone up, being killed/having to kill someone, etc.), just because I’m a Muslim, or an undocumented-immigrant, a resident, a Non-English speaker, Non-European/White person. This story really affected my heart, mainly because I know how it feels to be harassed by authorities; but, also because at least with me (someone who was born here/a U.S.-citizen), I know certain important elements of the law, which can protect me from most things, pretty much; but, with people like this person, by virtue of the fact that they are not at least citizens, they’re made to be “easy-pickin’s”, or “fair-game”, of predatorial Islamophobes & Xenophobes, whether they’re as micro as a Dunkin’ Donuts employee/Manager, refusing to serve you, or as macro as the President of the United States of America, who orders/co-signs drone-strikes, or religious/ethnic round-ups against its own citizenry.
The following is a personal-commentary, of an article, written by a fellow Muslim-Writer/Blogger, Jamerican Muslimah, about this concept, she dubbed as, “Muslim Male Privilege”-This concept is based (directly/exclusively) upon B. Deutsch’s “The Male Privilege List”, as well as Peggy McIntosh’s “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”-In this article, 16-points, detailing what “Muslim Male Privilege” actually is, which is available on her own blog, under the April 2008 Archive section of her blog.(http://www.jamericanmuslimah.wordpress.com) I’ve made my own personal-commentary, commented on (most, but not all) the 16-points, which I’ve actually emailed to her first, before even placing this into the public-sphere. I wanted to show her some respect, by emailing her concerning my discrepancies about her article, before making a contrary article to hers. So, here it is, exactly what I’ve sent to her via email. Let me make it very clear, as a Muslim-Man, that there is no such thing as Muslim-Male Privilege, especially at the expense of oppressing someone else. No Muslim-Man should feel that being a Muslim-Male gives him the “privilege” to be a tyrant. And any/all those who advocate for this type of sadistic “privilege”, are people whom are guilty, in front of Allah, the Creator/Lord of the Universe.
Here’s the direct-response to Jamerican Muslimah’s article, concerning “Muslim Male Privilege”:
With due respect, most of the points in this article are completely false & unfairly-biased.
1. There are Masajid/Mosques that even I, as a Muslim-Man, have been made unwelcome, just because I’m not Arab, Desi, African, etc. So, basically, Mosque-Discrimination is something that applies to both Muslim-Men & Muslim-Women.
3. This point is only partially-true: Just because someone is a Man, it doesn’t mean that they’re always free to speak their minds at Islamic events, religious-classes, religious-lectures, etc. A lot of times, even if a man has a view or opinion, that he wants to express, depending upon his communal-standing, which Mosque he’s in, which event he’s in, he’ll immediately get shut-down, himself, for challenging the religious-authority, or being perceived as challenging the religious-authority of others “more-knowledgeable” than himself.
4. True, Muslim-Men do try to justify misogyny via Islam. But, what is also true is that Feminism, Western influences, Secularism have most definitely made a very ugly mark upon the minds & hearts of both Muslim-Men & Muslim-Women, all across the Globe.(http://www.garethbryant.wordpress.com/2011/10/19/bothmisogynyfeminismareevilandhereswhy)
5. Muslim-Men get criticized all of the time for quote-on-quote “Imitating the Kuffar”, in terms of fashion. And, by the way, “Islamic-Dress” for men is almost always a religious euphemism for Arab-Clothing. And, there are definitely Mosques which ban Muslim-Men from wearing certain things, which they deem as “Non-Islamic Dress”, such as pants, shirt-ties, etc.
6. There are plenty of Islamic-Scholars, whom are well-known to the Muslim-World, most-notably, `Ai’shah (May Allah be pleased with her). In fact, most, if not all, of the Ahadith concerning the personal home-life of Muhammad (Peace be upon him), were personally narrated by her. And, if it were not for her, we probably wouldn’t have any surviving evidence of how detailed his personal home-life was. And, to note, further, none of the Ahadith, confirmed to have been narrated by any of the Wives of Muhammad (May Allah be pleased with them) were ever questioned, regarding their authenticity.
7. In regards to not finding persons of Islamic-Knowledge whom are Muslim-Women, or Islamic works written by them, then, as an individual Muslim-Woman, one would have to take the initiative to seek those out, herself, just like with anything else.
8. A Muslim-Man should/must be concerned with whether a person giving him marital-advice is a chauvinist/sexist. Typically (with the minority-exceptions aside), a Muslim-Man is not looking to get a ruling in his favor; but, rather, to resolve any issues with his respective spouse/spouses, which he cannot do himself, hence, the need for some type of marital-counseling.
9. Every marriage-counseling session is as different as the persons seeking out the marriage-counseling. So, to paint that scenario with just one coat of paint, is very unfair.
12. Muslim-Men, as well as Muslim-Women struggle in this regard, to standup, for what Allah has established within Islam, and, we both face stringent opposition in this regard, respectively, regardless of our genders.
13. One, it seems that you’re in fact mocking the Islamic-allowance of a Muslim-Man to have more than one wife, which would mean that you are mocking Allah, in the process, because the only reason how & why Muslim-men are ever allowed to have multiple-wives is because it has been thoroughly established via revelation (i.e. the Qur’an & Sunnah). Two, A Muslim-Woman has the right to marry & divorce whom she wills, it’s just that, based upon revelation, that the modality of divorce for Muslim-Women are a lot different than for Muslim-Men, courtesy of the Qur’an & Sunnah. So, if you have a problem with how/how not a Muslim-Woman is able to annul a marriage, than that means that you have some issue with the Qur’an & Sunnah.
14. No, a Muslim-Man cannot always have rational, real-life, discussions about his sex-life, Imams, Shaykhs, Scholars, etc. Often times (and I know this for a fact, because even I’ve had to deal with this), people automatically assume that if one is not married, that they’re must be either committing some type of Heterosexual or Homosexual offences. It really isn’t as one-sided as you’re purposely trying to make it.
15. This is actually one of the most inaccurate points in this entire post: both Muslim-Men & Muslim-Women have an obligation & duty to be representatives of Islam. Also, a lot of times, even if one is not a Muslim, if you’re living in a Non-Islamic society/Non-Muslim-Country, and you have an Arabic first or last name, you’ll automatically be red-flagged as being presumed as being a Muslim, anyhow.
Don’t assume that I’m a Rapper, just because I wear Jeans & a T-Shirt.
Don’t just look at the length of my beard and just think I’m out of work.
Please…do not assume that, because the country I am from sounds exotic, I can fly a magic-carpet.
Why do you judge people you do not know? Let me explain to you why I wear my native garment.
Even though I grew up in an urban environment, I’m not a drug-dealer.
You would never know that I could be your child’s mentor or teacher.
Even though I’ve got some tattoos, I don’t have to be a gang-member.
We all have skeletons in our closets; so, be kind to me, be a lil’ tender.
Me speaking a different language does not mean that I had hopped over a border.
We don’t all just work at fast-food joints & restaurants, ready to take your order.
Just because I don’t work on Wall Street doesn’t mean that I am on Welfare.
Just because my mother raised me does not mean that my father did not care.
Don’t presume that because I’ve got slanted-eyes that I can cook fried-rice.
Don’t just think that, because I grew up in the hood, I’m not able to be nice.
Think not that just because I’m from a different place that I’m into building-bombing.
Think not that, because my skin-color isn’t like yours, I’m into shooting and robbing.
We all must take the time to look beyond the physical, the superficial.
We need to realize that our variations are what make all of us special.
It is only the internal, and not the external, that defines the quality of any Human being.
When you look skin-deep, we are the same, created by Allah, the Lord of everything.
When are we as a people going to stop hurting & killing one another, for things that we’ve not done wrong?!!! When are we going to stop hurting one another, over things which we have no control over?!!! Why must a person be oppressed, just because of the color of their skin, the family they born into, what ethnic group they belong to, or the part of the world that they come from? Have we really become that savage & barbaric, that we have to treat one another like we’re predator & prey, in the animal-kingdom? Have we really devalued the preciousness of the Humanity of others, to this great extent, that they don’t even have the right to live, because of genetic features that Allah has chosen to create them with, without their consent?!!!
These are all questions that I’ve been thinking about, during the past two weeks, concerning the recent deaths, more accurately, the murders, of Trayvon Martin, of Orlando, Fl & Shaima Alawadi, of El Cajon, Ca. These people were the obvious victims of blatant xenophobic bias & discrimination. Yet, little to nothing is being substantially done about either case. I mean, take Trayvon Martin’s murderer, George Zimmerman, for example: His killer hasn’t even been arrested, or even brought in for questioning yet-He’s allowed to walk around, as free as a bird, while he’s directly responsible for the death of a Human being, without any valid cause. And, in the case of Shaima Alawadi, there was a note left near her body, which stated “Go back home”, indicating that not only was she brutally murdered by someone that she knew personally, or was familiar with, but, this person had targeted her, exclusively because she was not an American citizen at birth.
We have truly sunk so low as a society: Human-life, like all life, is priceless; however, we’ve wrongly placed a price-tag on it, and whoever we deem as not as Humanly valuable as others are labelled as expendable. But, who in the hell gave us the right, or justification, to decide whose life is more or most valuable? We must, as a Human family, as a global society, as a people, really reevaluate what our core-values are. And, honestly, values without morals, are like flames without heat. And, morals without divine-direction are like a volcanoes which are dormant.
Sometimes, I wonder what type of world am I going to leave behind for any children that I may have. More accurately, I don’t even want to raise children, in a world, where they can be hunted down like they’re in-season, like they’re a duck or whale, just because they are Muslim, or Black, or from a major-city, from an urbanized neighborhood. It’s truly depressing that we have our following generations, whom will succeed us in this Mundane-Life, have to inherit this. This world, that we’re leaving behind to them, is full of our innumerable fuck-ups & errors. We’ve destroyed whole civilizations of people, national-infrastructures, indigenous ways of life, the air-quality, the environment generally, the natural habitats of wild-life, etc.
What we have evolved into, spiritually, mentally, and socially, are monsters, and this is not what Allah, our Creator, has placed us into existence for. He didn’t make us to inhabit the Earth to destroy it, and consequently destroy ourselves in the process. He didn’t make us to wage war upon one another, just because of skin color, ethnicity, social, or political status. He didn’t make us to be of those whom are strong to prey upon the weak, just as the wolf preys upon the lamb. It’s like all of us have turned into the real-life versions of Anakin Skywalker, in Episode 3, when he officially turned to the Darkside, and began to manifest his insatiable thirst for bloodshed & destruction. But, instead of the title being “Revenge of the Sith”, it’s “Revenge of Savagery”. When is our real-life Episode 6 going to come out? Instead of “Return of the Jedi”, we need our episode to be named “Return of Humanity”.
Since I’ve already written a poem about Misogyny, it’s just as fair to write one about Feminism as well. Feminism, as we know it to be has been incepted to be an alternative for women to Misogyny, to combat Misogyny even. However, unfortunately, it has begun to cause the same ill-affects that Misogyny has. We as Muslims, fellow Human beings, need to find better alternatives to dealing with the opposite gender, as opposed to attempting to get one leg up over one another. I’ve exclusively targeted the modern Muslim woman, who has full-throtled accepted this pathological concept known as Feminism, which basically teaches women that we’re crap, as a result of what’s between our legs, which we didn’t even give ourselves and/or what the next man has done negatively. Bitterness, as a result of negative experiences with men generally, have promoted & propelled the women of our world to view men as untrustworthy & worthless at the same time. This poem is geared towards shedding some light on this issue, that we, as men & women (particularly Muslim men & women) can ween ourselves off of having enmity against one another, based upon biological factors that none of us are in control over.
Please, don’t hate me:
Why must you be against me?
What have I ever done to you, to make you not wanna be my ally?
I have been prosecuted, without an opportunity to produce an alibi.
What have I done as a man, to make you look at me with utter disgust?
I’m not your enemy; don’t view me as the one who’s scared you.
I care for you; whether you believe it or not, what I tell you is true.
Why am I always the one to blame for the next man’s folly?
Never have I beaten you, but you’d threaten me with the dreaded “9-11” call.
You would throw all my faults in my face, just to prevent me from standing tall.
You claim to be an independent woman, yet you expect me to maintain you, and to be used as a tool.
Then, you turn around & attempt to disgrace me; you go out of your way to make me look like a fool.
Your resentment for my gender doesn’t make you superior, it just makes you petty.
Don’t make biases against other creations of Allah, the Devil has done this already.
He hated our father Adam, just because he wasn’t a Jinn.
What makes you think that hating men will give you a win?