Page 1

Winter 2015


Q&A with Congressman Carson


Berkeley students reclaim their freedom of speech

Chicago Muslim

Fashion Bloggers


Photo Travelogue: IRAN

HAPPYwith Rayyan Najeeb

16 12

6 18

23 10 15




Editor’s Note


Living Dubai: a global village


Photo travelogue: Iran


Review: Homeland


Freedom of speech


Review: Chocolat Uzma Sharif


Racially profiled abroad


Things we love


Medill’s global reach


Q&A: Congressman André Carson


Happy Muslims Chicago creator


Poem: Teardrops on my Kuffiyeh


Fashion Bloggers


Campus Recap

Front cover photo by Zahra Haider | Back cover photo by Naib Mian Thank you to the Muslim-cultural Students Association for supporting Al Bayan.

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Editor-in-Chief Medha Imam Managing Editor Naib Mian Photographers Zahra Haider Adnaan Zaffer Writers Amal Ahmed Yousuf Kadir Zoya Khan Umber Waheed Dima Ansari


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EDITOR’S Reclaiming our Ummah From the schools in Peshawar to the streets of Paris to the 2015 State of the Union, references to Muslims in breaking news headlines, political debates and everyday conversations abroad and at home have facilitated in the resurging distortions of the religion of Islam. Through Al Bayan, our writers and photographers want to tackle the misconceptions that muddle the faith that is so dear to our hearts. Through this issue, we hope to display an Iran not of economic sanctions or a nuclear program, but an Iran in which the beauty of its streets, individuals and shrines brings solace to so many Muslims who continue to face persecution. Through these pages, we hope to further examine our place within the rights listed in our first amendment, where “congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” With Duke University renouncing its decision to allow recitation of the adhan from its cathedral’s bell tower to UC Berkeley announcing Bill Maher as their winter commencement speaker, our writers explore the line that may or may not exist between freedom of speech and the idea of religious tolerance.

We also explore the ideas of justice, human dignity and community through writers’ personal experiences from the courts of Detroit to the global village of Dubai. In this issue, we present an ever diversifying community of Muslims and the growing numbers who play a large part in American media. From a Northwestern alumnus producing a viral music video for Pharrell’s hit “Happy” to Muslim women blogging about fashion on the Internet, our community has grown beyond the halls of

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photo by Adnaan Zaffer

our mosques and into the clouds of the web. We hope to combat the stereotypical images the mass media has attached to our religion and show you the rising members of our community. We are a US Olympic fencer. We are American NFL players. We are founders of art. We are chocolate enthusiasts. We are American actors and comedians. We are politicians and political activists. We want to remind our readers that there are always multiple sides to each story and that

we hope the words and images displayed in this issue enable fruitful conversations down the line, allowing us to be more engaged and understanding of the diverse nature of our individual experiences.

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photo travelogue

IRAN By Zahra Haider

From the streets of Qom to the shrines of Mashhad, the beauty that emanates from the land with a painful history is surreal. Through impressive coordination and passion, the entire country emerges as one for the sake of religion. In this nation, I feel reconnected with my identity, reconnected with my roots. Within this Shia population, I feel free to worship and reconnect with myself. Bowing down onto the sacred ground, I feel immense pride in my faith and finally get a chance to explore an aspect of my identity that is used to being shut down. After experiencing Iran, I found a whole new dimension of who I want to be one day. The people of Persia are a people of ingenuity, dedicating their lives to this faith. I see a man who spends ten months making one vase covered with Arabic script, the final product resembling a mosque’s exterior. I see volunteers ranging from 20 to 100 years of age who spend their days and nights at the shrines in Iran. As I sit on the rose gold Persian rug in the shrine of Imam Reza, I glance over at the glass mosaic that covers every inch of the room. The entire room shimmers with a slightly pink tint from the chandeliers hanging above my head. As I pray and read ayahs from the Quran along with thousands of people seated in the hall, I hear a slight buzz of recited prayers and murmured conversations. Yet the room remains tranquil. In the name of Allah, welcome to Iran.

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2 4

3 1. In 10 months, Ali Abbasi engraves a chapter of the Qur’an into one human-sized ceramic vase. 2. A young boy carries a box of donuts on a street in Mashhad. 3. A handcrafted ceramic archway at a Holy Shrine. 4. A variety of herbs and spices in Qom. 5. An Iranian soldier awaits the call to prayer in Mashhad. 6. Handwoven rugs reflect the significant histories of The Last Supper and Battle of Karbala. 7. A young girl collects water from the community fountain at the Holy Shrine of Imam Reza. 8. Children walk through a friendly neighborhood in Qom.

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photos by Zahra Haider


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Freedom of speech in the age of Islamophobia


n Jan. 7, twelve people died in the Paris office of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical French magazine known for ridiculing just about everyone and everything, including Islam. After the terrorist attacks arried out by militants acting in the name of Islam, the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie, or “I am Charlie,” emerged almost immediately on social media as a symbol of solidarity with the victims of a senseless act of violence. But in the coming days, the hashtag evolved into something else, and a new debate emerged. On one side, the journalists at Charlie Hebdo died in the noble pursuit of free speech, the very foundation of a democracy. On the other side, some condemned the attack even as they questioned whether the magazine should have published cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammed just because it could. But asking that question, particularly on social media which distorts any nuance or context, has led to a dichotomy in which an “us against them” mentality seems to prevail. This is the dichotomy which allowed CNN anchor Don Lemon to ask a Muslim-American human rights lawyer on national television, “Do you support ISIS?” This is the dichotomy that allowed Rupert Murdoch to tweet, “Maybe most Moslems [are] peaceful, but until they recognize and destroy their growing jihadist cancer they must be held responsible.” And in France, just three days after the terrorist attacks, there had been almost 15 hate-crimes committed against Muslims in that country. When an act of violence is committed in the name of Islam, ordinary Muslims are expected to apologize, to condemn, to overcompensate. For Muslim-Americans, whenever an attack like the one against Charlie Hebdo is perpetrated in the name of Islam, we are left to pick up the pieces: the shattered promises of both tolerance and free speech. When Muslims are the targets of hate speech protected by freedom of speech, where is the line drawn? Or does the line even exist? This is the question Marium Navid, a junior at the University of California, Berkeley, grappled with last fall alongside her fellow classmates. For Navid, it started with an episode of Real Time With Bill Maher. “If vast numbers of Muslims across the world believe-–and they do–that humans deserve to die for merely holding a different idea or drawing a cartoon or writing a book or eloping with the wrong person, not only does the Muslim world have something in common with ISIS, it has too much in common with ISIS,” the eponymous host of the show said in a Sept. 26 episode. Not content to leave it at that, the next week Maher invited Sam Harris, actor Ben Affleck, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele to continue debating the merits of Islam as a religion. “It’s the only religion that acts like the mafia, that will f—ing kill you if you say the wrong thing,” he said during the segment.

Maher’s comments perpetuate the ill-informed idea that Western civilization is at odds with the religion of Islam, but there was nothing particularly new about them. The comedian is known for his polarizing views on religion in general. For Navid and other students at Berkeley, it became an issue when Maher was invited to deliver the winter commencement at Berkeley shortly after his Islamophobic remarks went viral on Youtube, social media, and even the cable news cycle. “Bill Maher has made a lot of slanderous statements to certain groups of people and because of that, this perpetuates a negative campus climate at our University,” Navid said last November. Navid, who is also a Senator for Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC), was involved in the launch of a Change.Org petition asking the University to rescind its invitation to Maher. “This concern of campus culture was not even brought up [by administrators at Berkeley],” Navid said, when students first voiced their opposition to Maher’s appearance. “By ignoring that issue, they delegitimized all the students [who voiced those concerns].“ By starting the petition, Navid said the students involved “wanted to show [the administration] that the concern from students would be an even larger public relations issue than Bill Maher blasting Berkeley on national television” for not allowing him to speak at the event. The petition drew more than 6,000 signatures online, but the University ultimately declined to rescind the invitation. It also drew media attention, with many critics pointing out the irony of barring a controversial speaker at the very university where the Free Speech Movement was born in the 1960’s, as students fought for the right to speak about divisive issues such as the Civil Rights Movement, and later on the Vietnam War. But Navid said that those who use the argument of free speech to support Maher’s invitation to campus forget the context of the campus’ historic Free Speech Movement which celebrated it’s 50th anniversary this year. “It was a movement for students to elevate their voice, to fight for countering inequality in society,” she said. “Free speech in essence isn’t the ability to stand on a pedestal and speak, it’s about having the ability to have free and fair dialogue and transparency in process.” Although Maher ultimately delivered the commencement address, students at Berkeley engaged in a silent protest during the event, holding up signs and passing out flyers during the event. Navid said that the campaign to disinvite Maher received broad support across different faith groups and ethnic identities. “This isn’t a Muslim issue anymore,” she said. “There might be one group that is highlighted but we recognize that [Maher’s] statements affected other communities.” Navid recognized that the petition, as well as the movement it spurred, are representative of more than just one isolated event on a college campus, and stem from more than just taking offense at one person’s remarks. “We are fighting a system and a culture where we are discriminated against,” Navid said. “We’re speaking out because we recognize the fact that in this country, Islam has become racialized. Islamophobia doesn’t just affect people who identify as Muslims. It affects people who look ‘Muslim’people who fit that stereotype.” By Amal Ahmed

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photo by Naib Mian

I can’t say I wasn’t warned. As I stood with a group of Medill students and falculty waiting for the other students to arrive at Chicago O’Hare International Airport on the morning of Sept. 1, 2014, a fellow Muslim student and I were pulled over by our professor: Expect that you might be stopped and questioned once we reach Israel, he said. We have a letter of invitation from the Jerusalem Press Club in case, he said. That should ease things. But sure enough, profiling is exactly what happened once we arrived at Ben Gurion Airport. Out of our group of 12 visiting Israel on a reporting trip, we were the only Muslims. We are both Americans but our passports indicated we were from different ethnic origins. My classmate is of South Asian origin and I am of Arab origin. We were both questioned about our lineage. Questions like “what’s your grandfather’s name?” and “what’s your uncles’ names?” We had to provide our parents’ and siblings’ names, ages, birthdates, email addresses and telephone numbers. If my name wasn’t Arab-sounding, or if I didn’t choose to wear the hijab (Islamic head covering for Muslim women), I suspect that I might have been able to pass easily through Israeli “Passport Control” with the rest of my classmates. I am an American, but that didn’t matter, because to the guy questioning me, I sure didn’t look like one. To him, I wore my Muslim identity on my head and that’s all that mattered. As the trip progressed, it became obvious that my hijab was something problematic for my Israeli counterparts and that my first profiling experience wouldn’t be my last. So after over an hour and a half of some questioning and some waiting, I came out to face my classmates. I had applied for this Israel immersion trip months ago. I was sure that if I got selected, it would be a Medill experience I would never forget. I was right. I have never been to Israel before, but as a Palestinian-American, I wanted to go to the place of my roots, the place my mother was born, and the place my grandparents fled from in 1948 at the establishment of the Israeli state. But more so, I wanted to go because I am studying to become a journalist. On the trip, we encountered the religious and the secular. We spoke to government officials

EAST JERUSALEM The city struggles with its identity because of its large Arab population and its role as a keystone in the disputed territory between Israelis and Palestinians.

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While tourists are allowed to visit the Temple Mount, entrance to the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque is restricted to Muslims.

photo by Naib Mian

and journalists alike. Identity and religion are very important and so intertwined in Israel, to the extent that Israel frequently bills itself as a “Jewish state,” but at the same time, a democratic one. “As there is no clear segregation of religion and state, a central inter-community issue has been the extent to which Israel should manifest its Jewish religious identity,” states a government-issued fact book. The book goes on to say that there is tension with the secular Jewish community on how far religion should rule public life: “the non-observant sector regards this as religious coercion and infringement on the democratic nature of the state.” While this is a debate being had in the Jewish community, it is also a reality that the non-Jewish community, including Muslim and Christian Arabs, has to deal with. They are citizens of a state that defines itself as first and foremost Jewish. Don’t “Jewish” and “democratic” then become mutually exclusive? asked a classmate. And doesn’t this then mean that people like me, who identify as Muslim or merely look the part, become automatically excluded and singled out? According to Amir Fuchs, a researcher at The Israel Democracy Institute, there is a problem with the premise that Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people because it shifts the balance to a more Jewish

and less democratic state. “I find it hard to explain to the medium Israeli why this is wrong,” he said. Fuchs said this premise leads to legislation like “loyalty bills,” or bills that introduce a requirement of a declaration of loyalty to the Jewish state. If you don’t adhere, you’re automatically excluded both socially and politically. This “anti-democratic legislation,” among others, lead to discrimination against Arabs and non-Jewish populations, they affect freedom of speech and protest and they limit the power of the Supreme Court, Fuchs said. So as a Muslim-American woman or even just as a Muslim woman entering a place like the Israeli Foreign Ministry, should I have expected nothing less than to be stopped, yet again, when nearly all my classmates had already entered? Should I have expected my purse be swiped for gunpowder in front of my classmates, even after I had gone through a metal detector? Should I be comfortable with being asked about the type of Islamic creed I practice? To have an Israeli parliament member stop in the middle of his speech to our class, point to me and ask: “Are you Sunni or Shia?” It was uncomfortable and humiliating to be singled out. Because of my hijab I became suspect and was discriminated against. There was no rationale. I didn’t do anything wrong. It was just fear and suspicion, as always is the case with profiling. By Dima Ansari

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photo by Zahra Haider


Medill supports journalism initiative in Pakistan

Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism is expanding its global footprint through a journalism initiative in Pakistan, assisting with curriculum design and initial trainers for a Centre for Excellence in Journalism at the Institute of Business Administration in Karachi, the country’s largest city. Heading the collaboration on Medill’s front is Professor Craig Duff. “We are beginning to experiment in expanding our reach and becoming more of a global school,” Duff said. The idea for the Centre arose from a survey of Pakistani journalists and editors. “There was a sense from the news editors of a lack of professionalism. Standards and ethics weren’t widespread, and there was no training for reporters to learn basic reporting skills,” Duff said. The US embassy in Islamabad took proposals for the project, and Medill joined the International Centre for Journalists, the main grantee for the implementation of the Centre, which will include a physical space set to be completed in a couple of months. Duff, who worked with ICFJ in Cairo in 2006, led

the first workshop in Karachi in the fall, focusing on multimedia and mobile reporting. “It was the most rewarding experience training them,” said Duff of the 21 professionals he worked with. “People were genuinely interested in learning. Even top editors and producers were getting their hands dirty to bring it back to their newsrooms.” The Board of Directors decides what areas the training focuses on based on the needs of the Pakistani media. For example, last fall they hosted a multimedia reporting workshop, and the most recent workshop in January was on business reporting. Medill’s curricular support fuses reporting skills with ethics to provide technical and hands-on training as well as highlighting the importance of fact-checking and garnering trust among viewers and readers. While Medill is supporting the project, its role is not to open a new school or dictate the needs of the local community of journalists. “We’re in this only for a couple of years to help develop curriculum and ultimately let them take it on,” Duff said. “In the end it’s a project for Pakistan by Pakistan.” By Naib Mian

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harrell’s song “Happy” has been hit with spinoffs and parodies all over YouTube. Now Chicago Muslims have their own version: Northwestern alumnus Rayyan Najeeb decided to film hundreds of Chicago-area Muslims smiling and dancing to the catchy song. The YouTube hit, which has been featured on several news media outlets including Chicago Sun-Times and Fox News, has almost two hundred thousand views on YouTube. Najeeb, who graduated in 2013 with a film major, was inspired by the British Muslims Happy video, which currently has about two million views

on YouTube. He knew Chicago was the next best city to continue the campaign. The campaign’s purpose was to deter negative views that the media often portrays of Muslims by creating a video that proves these stereotypes wrong. “The goal of the video was to combat negative stereotypes of Muslims. We wanted to show that the Muslim community can be happy while still maintaining good values,” Najeeb said. “In an ideal world, yes we should not have to prove to people we are happy and not miserable. But this is not an ideal world, a place where imperfect solutions exists. Imperfect solutions

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can still have positive outcomes regardless of their imperfectness.” Najeeb estimates that the video took a total of 36 to 48 hours of work, most of which was filming. Najeeb said one of the most difficult parts about creating the video was getting several people to show up to the filming locations. Najeeb sent out several emails to Chicago-area Muslims asking where and when would be a good place and time for people to meet. Then through Facebook messaging and email he let everyone know where he would be throughout the day. “Rayyan called me to get me out of bed that day. I went to the Lakefill

photo courtesy of Chicago Sun-TImes

and pretty much just did a jig for 15 seconds as he filmed me, and then I grabbed the camera from him so he could be in the video too” said Ali Falouji, Weinberg senior. Najeeb was nervous about the number of people who were going to show up at each of his locations, but there was a great turnout in general. “There was only one place where there was no shows, and that happened to be the University of Chicago: also known as the place where fun goes to die,” Najeeb said. After releasing the video in April 2014, Najeeb received a mix of positive and negative responses.

Some of Najeeb’s critics commented that pop culture may go against Muslim beliefs. Critics often commented on how many Muslim women are seen dancing publicly. However, Najeeb said about 90 percent of the comments were positive from both non-Muslims and Muslims. Several Muslims thanked Najeeb for making the video and changing the stereotypes of Muslims all across the world. He recalled a Muslim convert who personally thanked him. “She came up to me and thanked me for making this video,” said Najeeb. “She said, ‘Because of this video, the non Muslim part of my

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family will assume I am not always miserable.’” While at Northwestern, Najeeb was involved with several clubs including the Muslim-cultural Students Association and Northwestern’s Club Volleyball Team. Najeeb often comes back to Northwestern and mentors the current Muslim students. Some advice Najeeb has for undergraduates is to explore their passions. He says college is the time in life where you have this opportunity. “The most important thing an undergrad can do is diversify their identity,” said Najeeb. “You have to understand what you have an affinity for.”

Mariana Aguilera of The Demureist photographs model Jasmine Crawford to promote upcoming products of the scarf brand Kotton Love.

photo courtesy of Mariana Aguilera

Muslim style bloggers rise in Chicago By Medha Imam

With the Chicago blogging community growing through the launch of the Windy City Blogger Collective and the Chicago Blogger Network, Muslim style and fashion bloggers have emerged into that niche as well. Whether it is presenting modest brands or outfit collages to their readers, these blogging women have reignited looking through a Muslim lens when it comes to high fashion.

The Demureist For Mariana Aguilera, it all started in February 2011 when she began sharing images of modest clothing on a community page. Once she noticed there was a huge interest in her outfit

posts, she decided to fill the need and convert her page into a blog. “I wanted it to be open to everybody because I come from a multicultural photo courtesy of Anam Shahid [background],” Aguilera with her blog. said. She aspires to reclaim fashion Aguilera’s blog is targeted to a unique type of woman that doesn’t from the media through it’s original often cross the mind but represents a definition as a “way of” that helps us understand communities and multicultural society. “The Demureist is the empowered societies. The Demureist serves as a woman who is mature, mixes the reminder to Aguilera’s audience of brands and coexists with people in the journey of understanding Islam through dress. her community,” she said. “It’s a journey; it’s a transition. We Born and raised Catholic, Aguilera converted to Islam in 2006 after often forget it’s a journey that a lot of making a resolution to become other faiths share. But I think Islam closer to God. She has found that the has a very specific way,” Aguilera Muslim community identifies most said. “So within the fashion industry,

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Anam Shahid dresses a model for Chicago Fashion Week.

started because I had to keep myself busy, but a lot of the responses I got were amazing.”

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Previously employed in sales, Zahra Sandberg entered the blogging business photo courtesy of Anam Shahid after wanting an outlet for her you have to be considerate of Muslim creative abilities. Since posting women and know that they’re working outfit collages online over two on their own journey.” years ago, Sandberg’s “Love Creativity plays a fundamental role Zahra” personal style blog has in Aguilera’s inspiration for her blog. grown to a readership of over “My mother was a poor 7,000 page views per month. seamstress, so I grew up in a really “The whole blog kind of creative environment,” she said. “It’s organically happened,” Sandberg just something that is embedded in said. me.” Usually updating her blog For Aguilera, creativity is a big part late at night, Sandberg also of Islamic heritage that the modern works with companies Muslim community should embrace. to style outfits that “People come to the Islamic highlight room décor. world to get inspired. And so when After “Love Zahra” children tell you they’re going to be began gaining a fashion designer or artist, painter traction, Simon Wells or photographer, writer or journalist, of Woodfield Mall whatever it is that requires them to be in Schaumburg, Ill. creative, don’t shut them down,” she contacted Sandberg said. “We are founders of creativity to start blogging for and that definitely should be reborn their style center. Soon and definitely a part of the American after, she began doing identity in our community.” fashion segments on WGN. After the television appearances The Style Menu and presence at events in Chicago, Sandberg Inspired by her move from was approached by Fox California to Chicago and the number News Chicago to become of questions she received about her the spokesperson for their outfits, Anam Shahid combined her “How to Get Red Carpet food and fashion interests in her Ready” segment. blog, The Style Menu. “Everything really A large part of her audience started growing once I includes young Muslim girls in their started taking my blog teens through 30s, which she owes to really seriously and began her more modest styles. consistently posting,” “Stay true to yourself,” Shahid Sandberg said. said. “It was something that I had just For style inspiration,

Sandberg said she follows top world bloggers like Garance Doré and Camille Over the Rainbow. In addition to French bloggers, Sandberg mentioned some Muslim blogs that are on the top of her reading list such as The Haute Muslimah and The Demureist. With the Chicago blogger network expanding, Sandberg advises those interested in blogging to avoid overthinking beforehand, but to “just start” and “be consistent” in writing. “Just post and be passionate and write with that passion, and your readers will see that or feel that from you,” Sandberg said.


C photo courtesy of the_dead_pixel / Wikimedia Commons


hen people hear that I grew up in Dubai, they often mistakenly and reflexively presume that I come from a background of exceptional wealth and prestige. They imagine that my upbringing was filled with luxuries and posh haute couture, and that I spent frivolous amounts of money. That belief is a fallacy. Although I admit that I do come from an advantaged background, my upbringing was comprised of solidifying my identity, understanding my culture, witnessing the changing tides of political trends and appreciating the amalgamated identities around me. These elements encompass my entire being and made me realize what my responsibilities are as a citizen in this changing global climate. When asked the question, “Where are you from?” I often freeze up or laugh away the uneasiness I feel around people I may not know. These feelings arise because I don’t know if I can properly respond without giving an explanation that either looks like I’m showing off or that I am confused about my identity. But Dubai was the place that really made me appreciate and learn about the various pieces of my identity. I am ethnically Pakistani, born in Houston, Texas, yet I grew up in Dubai.

In Dubai, I went to an American school where I attained a lot of my Pakistani and American identity. On the first day of school at American School of Dubai, a girl came up to me and asked me if I was Pakistani. Not knowing what to say because I had always assumed I was American, I said sure. She quickly responded with a high-five that followed with “PAKIPRIDE.” I was obviously confused by this encounter, yet that moment left a mark on me and made me grasp the idea that I was ‘Pakistani.’ Before, I was embarrassed by the fact that my mom and grandma wore traditional Pakistani clothing in public, and that I had a different name than everyone else. The experience of seeing so many other Pakistani kids and my own Pakistani family made me comfortable with these differences and strengthened my resolve to be proud of the beauty and richness of my ethnicity. Wearing traditional clothes became a matter of pride. Living in Dubai, where one’s attire varied from miniskirts to full body veiling for women and traditional African men’s wear to shorts and clogs, gave me a place to completely blend in and bask in my growing self-awareness. People watching in the malls became my favorite pastime activity. While others shopped in Gucci or Louis Vuitton, I

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HAMELEON living in a global village By Zoya Khan

sat outside of the grocery store (because grocery stores are in malls in Dubai) and watched people pass by me. I wasn’t interested in buying clothes or purses. I was simply interested in how all these people had come together under one roof and how they interacted with one another. I saw Filipinos working behind the counters of fast-food industries, trying to hand-gesture the English menu to a non-English speaking Kuwaiti. Sometimes I saw women wearing kangas from Tanzania standing next to women dressed in Western style clothing. Often times I saw women in abaya or thawbs and men in dishdashas as they socialized at the local Starbucks or Chili’s. As I sat on my bench, I would listen to the slew of languages that filled the air: Arabic, Russian, Nepalese, Austronesian and Tagalog. All these languages and cultures mixing in the air made me realize there were so many diverse types of people out there with such a unique sense of identity. I realized my identity became an amalgamation of these identities. I lived in a true Global Village. I do not have any hesitation or reservations in connecting with people from just about anywhere. I observed and learned a variety of culturally competent ways to communicate with people of different nationalities. For example, face-to-face

communication is vital and highly valued in Arab culture, but the manner in which you communicate is even more important. My friends often poke humor at my sudden and noticeable change in grammar and speech intonation when I am talking to my Indonesian housekeeper. Some have even commented that doing that is condescending to the other person. That is a reasonable consideration, however, my peers and I in Dubai unanimously agreed that the alteration of speech style and accent is the only way to be understood effectively. In fact, not altering my speech style would be considered condescending if I assumed that people could understand what I meant in my American accent. Words like “trolley” and “lift” seamlessly slipped into my vocabulary when speaking to an individual from the UK. Dubai’s foreign population taught me how to mold my form of communication to be able to interact with them. Dubai, a city that was only sand dunes and Bedouin tents 15 years earlier, is now a hub of nationalities and cultures existing side-by-side, simultaneously intermingling. Literally speaking, experiencing Dubai made me much more cognizant of the fact that the world is truly a very small place and people are not that different—motivated by the same hierarchy of needs.

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LITTLE RED MATHISON Entertainment review: Homeland


s a self-declared psychological thriller junkie, I like to difficult as one is left simultaneously rooting for Mathison to mark think that I can easily list off thought-provoking films him guilty but sympathizing with Brody as he cannot move on that have left me on the edge of my seat. Weirdly from his past. Despite all this, my awareness of Brody diminishes enough, I fail to follow any similar television shows. as the most memorable flashbacks involve ones with so-called When I began Showtime’s political thriller “Homeland,” it took a “brainwashing” by Al-Qaeda leaders that involve clearly mispromere 30 minutes of the post-9/11 American television series for nounced Arabic and Brody suddenly feeling angry at the entire me to question why I hadn’t heard of the series earlier. United States. Claire Danes (Romeo + Juliet, Temple Grandin) plays CIA OpNevertheless, after I viewed episodes of the Israeli drama erations Officer Carrie Mathison, a woman afflicted with bipolar “Hatufim,” also known as “Prisoners of War,” my appreciation of disorder who is on probation after erratically operating in Iraq the show is thrown into a full limbo. The show was the inspiraon her own. Due to the incident, Mathison is sent to work in the tion behind “Homeland,” which has “Hatufim”’s creator Gideon Counterterrorism Center in Langley, Virginia. However, during Raff serving as an executive producer. The differences are aplenher unauthorized operation, she remembers being warned by ty. Two Israeli prisoners of war are returned home after (wait for an Iraqi asset that an American prisoner had it) 17 years of being held captive from a sebeen “turned” by Al-Qaeda’s fictional leader cret mission in Lebanon. More screentime is Abu Nazir. Fast-forward to the present, and devoted to the men reintegrating themselves Mathison’s bit of intel is put to the test when into society, dealing with loved ones that stuck US Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody, played it out and others that moved on. We watch the by Damian Lewis, is rescued after being held prisoners of war comfort each other as they hostage since 2003. Certain cracks in his story emotionally struggle with their past. It’s sad. spark Mathison’s skepticism, as she relentlessThese men were captured in their 20s, with ly works to prove his new identity. young love and promising lives ahead, only to The troubling plot bodes well with its viewemerge as beaten adults. To be honest, the ers. “Homeland” has received critical acclaim, conspiracy of “turned” soldiers comes off as winning the 2012 Primetime Emmy Award for irrelevant, with few flourishes of political ele“Outstanding Drama Series.” Along with five ments and a minor role given to the MathiGolden Globe awards, eight Primetime Emson-like skeptic. mys, and other countless wins and nominaGoing from “Prisoners of War” to “Hometions, the series averages anywhere between land” reflects the obvious refocusing of the 1.2 and 1.9 million viewers. storyline. Raff’s changes in producing the However, some critics like Joseph Massad, American show weren’t just stylistic. A conprofessor and Al Jazeera writer, list countless troversial plot, sensitive audience and bigger racial and gender-related plot points that are photo courtesy of CINVOX DMR/ Wikimedia budget is the perfect recipe for a successful based in inaccurate assumptions of Islamic Commons show in the US. The result was a series that’s beliefs. From Mathison threatening to pull a Saudi diplomat’s bigger and better, with enough action scenes and suspenseful daughter from Yale University so she will “go back to Saudi Ara- reveals to blur the line between what is politically accurate and bia and get fat and wear a burka for the rest of her miserable life” what is not. But as I see it, the show also subtly ingrains the misto the blatant racial profiling of Brody’s Al-Qaeda contacts and conceptions about terrorism and Islam into viewers’ heads. the assertion that “most Al-Qaeda operatives are going to be Fortunately, some don’t buy into the sickening manipulation Middle Eastern or African,” the show proudly perpetuates the of Islam for television success. Along with Al Jazeera’s Joseph very stuff that fuels the rising tensions against Muslims in the US. Massad is Washington Post writer Laura Durkay, who isn’t duped At this point, I feel blatantly uncomfortable. by the glamorized battle between Mathison and Brody. The Even so, Brody is undeniably riveting. It’s difficult for one to compilation of factually-inaccurate politics and history inadverswallow the thought of an American being reborn by Al-Qaeda. tently led to “the entire structure of ‘Homeland’ [being] built on What’s worse is when said American is someone who previously mashing together every manifestation of political Islam, Arabs, joined the ranks of US Military Forces to serve his nation in war. Muslims and the whole Middle East into a Frankenstein-monster Brody is also a victim of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, revealed global terrorist threat that simply doesn’t exist,” she wrote in the through flashbacks involving his capture, torture, and seemingly Washington Post. She even predicts ISIS-related issues in season vague but stressful situations. Even though one wants to pinpoint 5 as the show boasts all possible fears in U.S. foreign policy. him as the desired banality of evil, I’m torn when Brody silently “Homeland” finished airing season 4 and the fifth season airs sits in a dark corner to calm himself down. Trying to label him is in the fall of 2015. By Umber Waheed

Al Bayan | 22 | Winter


ettled within Pilsen’s art community, the unassuming exterior of Chocolat Uzma Sharif belies the unique confections held within the small storefront on South Halsted Street. Utilizing what was originally a gallery space, the artisan chocolate shop’s exposed brick walls and rich wooden tabletops enhance the artistic appeal of the chocolate. Although small, the space is welcoming. Chocolates are front and center, and buzzing around the back, chocolatier Uzma Sharif is precisely preparing each by hand. Sharif attended the Colorado Mountain Culinary Institute in Keystone and later studied under French chefs in Chicago. But confections run in her blood, tracing back to her grandfather, a pastry-chef in Pakistan. Her chocolates resemble French and Spanish styles, while infusing aspects of her own South Asian culture. The ingredients and combinations create a harmonious blend of cultures where each flavor is intact and complements the others, indicative almost of an

artistic idealized worldview. But if you’re reading this, and you’re like me, you want to get to the good stuff. As the name indicates, Sharif’s store specializes in chocolate—both liquid and solid. When I visited, three sipping chocolates were available: “Original Sin Sipping Chocolate,” “Espresso Sipping Chocolate,” and “Indian Chili Sipping Chocolate.” I decided to be adventurous and tried the Indian Chili flavor. The first sip was startling, eliciting a mix of reactions. The chocolate was rich, almost too rich, but you could taste the quality of the ingredients used. The chili, however, was overwhelmingly spicy, making each sip more difficult despite the irresistible taste. Twisting together pain and pleasure in a PG way, the Indian Chili Sipping Chocolate unfortunately isn’t something I would purchase a second time around. The chocolates on the other hand were a completely different story, offering delightful bliss in every bite. Although relatively pricey with

each truffle-sized confection ranging from $1.25 to $2.25, the cost is understandable given that they are handmade and utilize a variety of quality ingredients. I purchased two such chocolates: Kashmiri Chai and Vanilla Rose. The Kashmiri Chai had subtle chai flavors infused in the not-toosweet, not-too-bitter dark chocolate, which produced a perfect stage on which the cardamom was able to shine. The Vanilla Rose didn’t fall short either, more complex than the Kashmiri Chair. Filled with caramel, upon first contact, the initial taste of vanilla and caramel takes a few seconds to pass before the palpable rose flavor finally comes forth. The chocolates provided an incredibly satisfying experience, and I can’t wait to go back and try more flavors like Mon amour, which brings together milk chocolate, raspberry and Spanish saffron, and Kala Namak, a Himalayan black salt caramel. Chocolat Uzma Sharif combines confection and art in an appreciation of gastronomical culture that is truly delectable. By Naib Mian

flavor fusion

chocolat uzma sharif

photo by Naib Mian

Al Bayan | 23 | Winter








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Islamophobia combatting tweeters J.K. Rowling and Aziz Ansari



André Carson

Previously a police officer, Congressman André Carson represents the seventh district of Indiana and is one of only two Muslim members of the US House of Representatives. Carson was raised as a Baptist but converted to Islam after seeing the impact Muslims had in lessening criminal activity in his community. Recently appointed to the House Intelligence Committee, his work on Capitol Hill will focus on counterterrorism efforts, the CIA and FBI.

By Medha Imam

Q. What are some of the hurdles you have encountered as a Muslim congressman? A. There’s a still great degree of xenophobia, homophobia and Islamophobia in our society. And I think these are ongoing challenges, but these challenges must and can be met with an effort to really dismantle many of the assumptions that are out there against Muslims and deep levels of bigotry and discrimination as it relates to our place in the larger society. Q. In prior interviews, you mentioned how Muslims are essential in the fight against terrorism. Can you expand upon that? A. There are and there have been Muslims involved in law enforcement for the past few decades. In order to move our society forward, the law enforcement community is going to have to develop a sincere appreciation and relationship with the American Muslim community in a away that is not transactional, but in a way that is reciprocal and in a way that doesn’t allow for them to spy on our community, but allows them to work with us cooperatively. And for us, once we do our own policing, we can better assist law enforcement. You know, I just had this conversation with the Sikh community, they too are trying to become a part of this narrative where minority groups are making larger investments into the society, but it isn’t done at the expense of their identity. It isn’t done at their expense of them maintaining their dignity. Q. What advice would you give young Muslims who are interested in entering politics? A. Identify a campaign that shares your values. You may not agree with them 100 percent. But become a part of the campaign either through phone banking, either through canvassing, developing talking points or helping to shape policy positions. And in the longer term, our organizations, our local government and state government and federal government should reflect the diversity of our community and so should our law enforcement agencies. We pay tax dollars, and those tax dollars should lead to support more police officers who happen to be Muslim. Q. Recently appointed as a member of the House Intelligence Committee, how are you going to help guide policies to combat the rise of terrorism at home and abroad? A. I hope that I can add an objective voice. I hope I can add a critical voice, a voice that wants to hold law enforcement

accountable while at the same time, providing necessary resources for them to be successful in their anti-terror efforts. And I think that’s the role that I want to play as a former police officer and as someone who represents the seventh congressional district and a diverse constituency, both locally and nationwide. I want to be able to ask questions that can unhouse uncomfortable truths and at the same time offer a police officer’s perspective. I’m the only member of congress to have ever worked at an intelligence fusion center. I bring a law enforcement perspective, and I think I bring a community perspective as well. Q. How would you prevent youth in American Muslim communities from being susceptible to propaganda of extremist organizations? A. Well, I think we have to do a better job of educating our community about the tenants of the deen, the tenants of the faith and also having that education complement Muslims and broaden our educational efforts in a way that da’wa is not used to proselytize or to force people to learn more about religion. But the religion is presented in a way that the Prophet intended, and that’s from a place of peace and mutual respect and really helping to develop the country and the nation and to be better contributors to a society. This can begin in our local masjids and our schools and just really making sure that there’s almost a self-policing taking place where we are not allowing extremists elements to capture that segment who have become disillusioned and disenchanted with what they’ve seen in the society.

Al Bayan | 25 | Winter Al Bayan | 15 | Winter

photos courtesy of IU School of Medicine


Teardrops on my


e slams the palm of his hand across my face I stumble backwards as he lunges forward And just when I think he’s had enough He proceeds to choke me with my own hijab

… Two thirty one West Lafayette Hard wood floors and hard wood doors We almost don’t notice the smell of racism Hanging in the air conditioned courtroom

The stabbing pain of injustice courses through us The wooden benches are stiff and merciless For all those who wait anxiously atop them And try to avoid glancing up at her As teardrops fall on my kuffiyeh We try to speak about better days And try not to think about her guilty verdict We try to laugh and tease each other And try not to think about how they harassed us today And how they harassed us our whole lives We have hope that maybe, just maybe, The justice system isn’t as bad as they say That maybe, just maybe, There will at least be a fair trial We didn’t think that would be too much to ask As teardrops fall on my kuffiyeh We have hope that she will come back home with us We have hope that a small woman of 67 years

Kuffiyeh Poem by Zahra Haider

Will get to come back home We didn’t think that would be too much to ask As teardrops fall on my kuffiyeh We have hope that the judge would at least understand What he was taking away from us But he doesn’t and the others don’t and They all together unanimously collectively committed an atrocity How can you sleep tonight? Knowing that you shut down the defense every time they spoke How can you sleep tonight? Knowing that you belittled her torture, rape and abuse How can you sleep tonight? Knowing that you locked away an old woman Who spent her years serving the community How can you sleep tonight? Knowing that she is the victim. Because we know, that you know, and we all know That she is the victim. And teardrops fall on my kuffiyeh She tells us “There is justice in this world. Maybe not today Maybe not in this courtroom But someday, somewhere We will find it.” And Rasmea Odeh will be free.

Rasmea’s guilty verdict was announced in the Detroit courthouse on Nov. 12. Since then she has been released on a $50,000 bail. photo courtesy of Greg Dunkel/Wikimedia Commons

Al Bayan | 26 | Winter

From planning a PB&J philanthropy event to bringing renowned speakers and performers to the Northwestern stage, the Muslim-cultural Students Association maintained their faith and identity in the Evanston community. Al Bayan presents a campus recap of McSA through photos taken by our very own community members.

Campus Recap photos by Adnaan Zaffer

In the fabled city of Jerusalem that has withstood time itself, faith is bound within every aspect of life. Throughout the city, individuals and institutions stand among some of the holiest sites of the three great monotheistic religionsChristianity, Islam and Judaism-each with fundamental roots in the city. These sites are intertwined, unable to be cleanly separated from one another. Yet the city is divided, with separate religious communities inhabiting separate areas and rarely coming into contact with each other. Photographed above, The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where it is believed Jesus was crucified and buried, is a site of pilgrimage for Christians from around the world as they trace Jesus’ journey into the city. In silent prayer, many visiting worshipers light candles within the church.

Al Bayan Winter 2015  

Al Bayan 2015 hopes to present an ever diversifying community of Muslims and seeks to combat the images mainstream media has attached to our...

Al Bayan Winter 2015  

Al Bayan 2015 hopes to present an ever diversifying community of Muslims and seeks to combat the images mainstream media has attached to our...