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The Word The Muslim Magazine at UC Irvine


alkalima The Word


Winter 2013 Volume III. Issue 1



5 Volume III. Issue 1 EDITOR IN CHIEF Naaila Mohammed MANAGING EDITOR Samah Malik

Volume III . Issue 1



11 3 Islam Through the Lens SOcial issues

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Where the Mosque Meets the Gurdwara Gender on my Mind


10 11 13


Don’t NUMBer your Senses An Individual with an Idea The Global Warming of Campus Climate


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Stigma with Disabilities Top 10 Useful Muslim Apps & Gadgets What’s inside your water bottle?

20 Motion to Divest

Feature What’s the Word at UCI? Creative Submissions

29 the last word


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LAYOUT & DESIGN Nabeel Ahmed Atika Ali Nashra Anwer Manal Rasheed Maria Khan Elhaam Mesghali Zaheer Mohiuddin Hamid Yaqubi

Writers Safa Ahmed Ali Aijaz Eiman Farooqui Yusra Khafagi Maria Khan Zahra Mirza Zaheer Mohiuddin Hassan Mukhlis Parvin Shakib Sabreen Shalabi Rahim Siddiq Khadija Syed

Student issues

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SECTION EDITORS Najit Alam Yuseph Ander Maryam Farooqui Meena Malik Elhaam Mesghali (Design) Nabila Mohammed Zaheer Mohiuddin (Online)

ADVERTISING Atika Ali Mohsin Farooqui Sabeen Khalid Rabiya Shakil Safeer Mohiuddin Hassan Mukhlis

student health & TECHNOLOGY

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SPECIAL THANKS Professor Amy Depaul Sahar Jahani Ehsaan Mesghali CONTACT ALKALIMA alkalima.magazine Alkalima is published by the Muslim Student Union at the University of California, Irvine with support from Campus Progress, a division of the Center for American Progress. Online at


Oppression manifests itself in many hues across a broad spectrum of discrimination. Socially constructed distinctions of gender, race, religion, ability and class are all different shades of oppression that intersect one another to form the foundation upon which the edifice of society rests. In this edition of Alkalima, we wanted to touch on intersecting aspects of the Muslim, student identity. Whether that concerns the topic of transgenderism within the realm of Islam, or disabilities on the UCI campus, this edition aims to shed light upon the different subcultures that interact with the Muslim identity. The Prophet (pbuh) reminded us in his last sermon that “All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood.” In a society that is rampant with religious bigotry and racist undertones, this reminder serves to convey the message of Islam even centuries after the last sermon was delivered. The tradition of oppression of minorities is not purely “racist” or “classist” anymore, but rather it is now riddled with intricacies that intertwine with able-bodied, class-supremacist, and gender-nor-

mative biases. As the Prophet (pbuh) reminds us, we are all brothers and sisters and we mustn’t belittle that fact; instead, when one member of our Ummah is being discriminated against, whether they are thousands of miles away in Syria, or right next door as a transgender Muslim, we must internalize their struggle and push for change. As a college student, it is important to remember the position of privilege that we are all in by being able to attain a college degree, and advance in our lives to advocate for justice. College students are in a powerful stance where their only requirement is to learn and grow. How we use this privilege is in our hands, but we must understand that injustice is much too intersectional for us to limit ourselves to one aspect alone. Occupation is happening in Palestine, the same way it’s affecting Mexican immigrants within our own country built on stolen land. 9/11 tarnished the beauty of the hijab, the same way it dismantled the pride of the Sikh turban. We hope this edition enables you to draw the parallels between these forms of oppression to understand their intersectionality, and ultimately, the unfair framework that we can dismantle together.

Naaila Mohammed

cover on the

On the cover, we have the image of a Muslim student, void of any visual representation of race, gender, ability status and class. This student has goals, is resisting oppression, and is intertwined with Islam, justice and their personal identity. This student can be any one of us, and their struggles can be reflective of the varied degrees of oppression that we must recognize as an ummah and a community.





“Indeed in the (Prophetic) Messenger of Allah you have an excellent example (to follow) for him whose hope is in Allah and the Last Day and remembers Allah much.” -Qur’an, Surah Al-Ahzab (33:21)


hat defines a Muslim? Living in a pluralistic society, the Muslim identity is on the minds of many. The answer to this seemingly intricate question is manifested when studying the life of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). Islam is not only a system of beliefs, it is a set of guidelines for life, it calls for its adherents to submit completely to the commandments of The Creator, and deems the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as the best embodiment of the ideals, principles, and teachings of the religion. His dynamic character, and all-encompassing personality distinguished this simple orphaned man from those he was surrounded by. It is for his outstanding character that he is still venerated by so many, even centuries after his passing. His legacy of integrity and compassion, along with his undying efforts to always help others, made him a role model for those to come after him. He was a living example of everything Muslims are commanded to be. Born in an era of rampant ignorance and darkness, Mu-

hammad (pbuh) carried the torch of enlightenment and knowledge for the liberation of all mankind. He not only preached equality, but exemplified it through the way he actively advocated for the equality of all races, genders, and backgrounds. In a time when baby girls were being buried alive for matters of pride, he went against society and established women’s rights to inheritance, property ownership, and education. In a race and class conscious environment, his closest companions spanned all ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds. In fact, the first man to give the Adhaan (call to prayer) in Islam was Bilal, a freed black slave, and a very close friend of Muhammad (pbuh). Islam requires honesty in all aspects of human life. In his work as a businessman, Muhammad (pbuh) was the most honest and trustworthy man in his trade. He was known across Arabia for his sincere and impeccable word, especially in business dealings. He was commonly referred to as “Al-Amin”, meaning one who keeps his trust; a title earned by the trustworthiness he displayed during transactions and trades. Even when it was not


in his favor, he made sure to make to be fair in every transaction, exposing even any minor defect in products to a potential customer. An acquaintance through business, Khadija, was so impressed by his honesty that she expressed interest in marriage to man of such character. Likewise, Muslims follow his example, trying to emulate his degree of commitment to fairness. Along with the commandment to advocate for justice, and act with integrity in all that we do, family values and relationships are the crux of the Muslim community. One’s duty to their family is given priority over other commandments, even those as important as Hajj. Exemplifying this in his own personal life, Muhammad (pbuh) married Khadija, a woman who was 15 years his senior, and was devoted to her for the entirety of her life. They had four daughters, all of whom he loved dearly. His compassion and love for his family was unparalleled, and he never shied away from expressing love and affection to his children. Even through his activism, work, and being the leader of the Muslim Ummah, he always made time to spend with his family, and always made them a priority. Oftentimes as students, the first thing that is sacrificed once we get involved in other activities tends to be our close connection with our families. In Islam, it is important to remember the value and rights of family as was exemplified by the Prophet (pbuh), because everything and everyone has a due right in a Muslim’s life.

L E N S The multifaceted characteristics of the Prophet (pbuh) reflect Islam’s emphasis on moderation and equality in all aspects of life. His actions, and the intersectional aspects of his character and personality, exemplify how Muslims should live balanced and meaningful lives. The simultaneous importance he gave to society, business, family, and his duty from Allah, demonstrates the importance of blending different elements in life and not fixating on one aspect of identity alone. We strive to be the best to our family, and we struggle to establish justice and eliminate oppression, all in our attempt to submit to the will of our Creator and follow the footprints of the Prophet (pbuh). _______________________________________________ SAFA AHMED is a fourth year Psychology and Social Behavior major at the University of California, Irvine

Photo by Katrina Tasha Locke


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Where the Mosque Meets the Gurdwara: The Question oF Mistaken Identity By Zahra Mirza


he land of the free, and the home of the brave. In theory, the United States is an environment of overflowing diversity, and an arena of constant progress. Amidst this mosaic of socio-cultural intersectionality, rampant prejudice upsets the equality that this nation is premised upon. On August 5, Oak Creek, Wisconsin witnessed one of the most shocking acts of discrimination toward people of the Sikh faith. At a local Gurdwara, a Sikh temple, a middle aged gunman opened fire, killing five and injuring several innocent people. Prior to the attack, the temple volunteers were preparing langar, the meal made for worshippers and guests of the temple, as an act of seya, meaning selfless service. Fortunately, the women and children scheduled for classes that day had not arrived yet. Though the motive of the shooter is still unknown, it has not been the first time people of the Sikh faith have faced discrimination post 9/11. This isn’t to say that hate crimes prior to this date were uncommon, but evidence of the shooter’s tattoo in remembrance of 9/11 suggests a deeper motive rooted in Islamophobia. Many believe he ignorantly mistook the Gurdwara as a mosque, which is not unprecedented considering there have been over 700 similar attacks against Sikhs, which were intended for Muslims. In many ways, Sikhs and Muslims face similar struggles in dealing with vicious ste-


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reotypes, even though both religions advocate non-violence and community harmony. This cycle of hate perpetuates ignorance and, in reference to the Gurdwara shooting and mosque attacks, fatal violence. “People have been confused about my identity. [They] don’t know that Sikh women wear turbans to cover their head, so they just assume that I am a Muslim,” said Teerath Kaur, a second year at UCI pursuing Business Economics who also happens to be Sikh. Teerath says her turban is like a crown which displays courage, gender equality, and her identity. “As a female, my Sikh identity has given me so much courage and never made me feel as if I am inferior to a man, or anyone.” She believes that educating others is a proactive way to combat misconceptions. We can respond to a tragedy like this by shedding light on events targeted to specific ethnic or religious groups through educating ourselves and others about our beliefs and traditions. Regardless of whether the Gurdwara attacks were targeted at Muslims or Sikhs, there were innocent lives lost that day. This misconception of Sikhs as

Muslims is a pawn in the cycle of displaced ignorance that hinders social progress. This ignorance is not subject to Sikhs or Muslims, but rather a larger representation of the us versus them binary that accounts for centuries of racial discrimination. A host of identities have been distorted through the eurocentric lens, which leads to the parallels amongst the way Sikhs and Muslims have been perceived. Neither faith harbors terrorists or threats to society, but both have been formatted to that stereotype due to this lens. It is unsettling that Islamophobia has accelerated to the irrational extent of killing the innocentMuslim, Sikh, or any other faith- under the guise of protecting homeland security. The Sikh faith encourages respect and kindness to all living things because they have a firm belief that life is precious. The Sri Guru Granth Sahib scripture says “One God is the only treasure of peace... He looks alike upon the high and the low, the ant and the elephant.” (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 319).” Sikhism suggests that one should live his or her life refraining from five evils which include, ego, greed, lust, attachment and rage. Islam and Sikhism share similar fundamentals; to submit to and worship one God unconditionally. Sikhs have certain visible religious practices such as growing out a beard and wearing a

head covering that are comparable to Muslim traditions as well. The turban is worn by men and women, to symbolize gender equality. When baptized, a Sikh vows not to change his or her appearance which includes refraining from the cutting or removing of hair. Like many Muslim women, Sikh women who cover their hair or don’t cut it face discrimination because they reject societal beauty norms. One such Sikh woman, Balpreet Kaur, was publicly targeted for choosing to abide by traditional Sikh practices. With unclear intentions, a random onlooker posted a picture of Balpreet on Reddit and captioned it, “I don’t know what to make of this.” In response to the degrading comments, Balpreet chose not to defend herself, but rather provide an explanation of her faith with dignity, eloquence, and courage. “Just as a child doesn’t reject the gift of his/her parents, Sikhs do not reject the body that has been given... My impact and legacy will remain: and, by not focusing on the physical beauty, I have time to cultivate those inner virtues and hopefully, focus my life on creating change and progress for this world in any way I can.” Eventually, she received an apology from the blogger, along with support and respect by many, including Teerath. She felt empowered by the way Balpreet handled the situation, and viewed her as “the perfect example of the challenges Sikhs face.” Sikhs and Muslims are often at odds with the way Euro-American society perceives and demonizes their distinguishable identities, and in many ways can relate to the other’s struggles. Holding interfaith discussions and events that promote awareness about the intersection of various cultures, religions, races, and genders are steps towards reducing the use of derogatory stereotypes and misconceptions. ___________________________________ ZAHRA MIRZA is a third year Public Health Policy major at the University of California, Irvine

Design by Elhaam Mesghali

SOCIAL ISSUES | alkalima


brought to the Prophet (PBUH). He asked: What is the matter with this man? He was told: Apostle of God! he affects women’s get-up. So he ordered regarding him and he was banished to an-Naqi’. The people said: Apostle of God! should we not kill him? The Prophet said: I have been prohibited from killing people who pray.” The concept that there are things that hold more weight for a Muslim, and hir (gender neutral pronoun)

By Eiman Farooqui


ender and sexual normativity in the Muslim community has been a point of debate for years; one that has become increasingly prominent in the move towards a more open discussion of the realities in the Muslim community. Queer Muslims are often left out of the conversation due to their cultural and assumed religious dichotomous existence. The idea that queerness is a perversion of the truth of the individual rather than a biological characteristic is something which is addressed, though perhaps not widely realized, in the Quran and Hadith. “Queer,” by definition, is an umbrella term used in reference to any individuals that identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender/sexual, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual and other gender deviations. Initially, the term was used as a slur against members of the LGBTQIA community, but was reclaimed by activists in the 1980s as a method of self-identification. Physical identifications, such as Cisgender, Transsexual, Transgender, and Intersex, are different than sexual identifications, like straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, questioning, and asexual.


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An individual could, for example, identify as transgender and asexual or transsexual and straight. However, societal gender binaries problematize these identities, particularly ones that fall outside of the physical heteronormative identity of “male or female.” For example, as of 2008, the second largest nation to perform sex reassignment surgeries is Iran. Up to half of the costs for these surgeries are funded by the government, who also take the liberty of updating the birth certificate to match the new physical identity. The issue is not whether people want the surgery. The problem is the Iranian government promoting the idea that all genders and sexualities outside of the heteronormative male or female and straight, are defective; and thus, these surgeries are presented as necessary in order for one to be authenticated in Islam. Queerness has been historically well understood in Islam. In the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him) the presence of Eunuchs, or Mukhannathun, was mentioned many times in hadiths (prophetic sayings). According to Sunan Abu-Dawud, Book 41, Number 4910, Narrated by Abu Hurayrah: “A mukhannath who had dyed his hands and feet with henna was

“The taboo of the Muslim sexual narrative leaves many in the dark of what is acceptable and what isn’t.”

it would call negative attention to himself in the community. Because fidelity to the context is necessary for understanding the truth of things, it would be dangerous for him to casually meander in society with this gender expression. That brings us to the topic of hayah (modesty), which is emphasized as a way of thought and expression that protects the individual and community from potential evils. Hayah has been stressed repeatedly, because God understands the complexities of people and the world. Therefore, this form of protection, often misinterpreted as methodical or a tool for measuring devoutness, has been instituted to hinder the destruction that may arise when misinterpretation, paired with hypervisibility, happens on a grander scale. Taboos, therefore, can be understood as versions of that protection. The taboo of the Muslim sexual narrative leaves

community, than hir sexuality is sadly not the case for the majority narrative. The question could be posed, if Islam and the Prophet (PBUH) are so accepting of queerness, why did he banish hir? Flamboyance or calling excessive attention to oneself has been discouraged throughout the Quran and Hadith. Henna is culturally associated with womyn, therefore a male wearing

SOCIAL ISSUES | alkalima


many in the dark of what is acceptable and what is not. Often times, Muslims are forced to educate themselves through other methods- methods which provoke negative sentiments of self-doubt, criticality and hate because the grey area is hard to maneuver. With little available Islamic resources that go beyond the typical, non-inclusive examples of sexuality- that are continually promoted as singular accepted methods of existence- many Muslims often feel as though they don’t have a place in Islam. According to multiple individuals that identify, Queer Muslims are continually problematized both intimately and socially; so much so, that when asked if hir sexuality had a place in Islam, one anonymous interviewee replied, “No.” When asked if that sentiment was felt because of Islam or Muslims, ze responded, “I suppose both. More so the people because one of the only narratives I know that talk about homosexuality (queerness) in the Quran is the story of Lut (AS).” Another anonymous individual, who identified as intersex and straight, voiced hir frustration with the community, “I feel like I can’t be open or even exist in Muslim spaces because of people’s confusion with my physicality. Any opinion I have is immediately traced back to my queerness and delegitimized.” Another individual who identified as queer, when asked the same questions responded, “I do believe my identity has a place in Islam because it is a doctrine that inherently embraces the complexity of each human being. I trust that Allah (SWT) as a creator did not create a world in only black and white, but with a range of human colors and identities so ‘that we may fully know one another.’”(49:13) However, ze echoed the sentiment that the Muslim community is not a safe space for zir identity and that it’s hard and isolating “when all the other Muslims in the room look at you like you’re a so-called progressive that’s lost the deen completely. I don’t think they understand the sense of desperation in defending ‘deviant’ peoples, especially when Islam is a religion that stresses equal justice for all as a core value.”


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Islam is a doctrine that embraces the complexities of human beings so inherently that the Prophet (pbuh) maneuvered through issues of sexuality, race and religion often.

“I trust that Allah (SWT) as a creator did not create a world in only black and white, but with a range of human colors and identities so ‘that we may fully know one another.’”(Qur’an 49:13) Taboos were broken and deconstructed because he exercised a deeper understanding of the versatility and beauty of being. Reaching that divine understanding however, requires a critically developed, compassionate and open comprehension of the depth of humans. This, this is Islam.

_______________________________________________ EIMAN FAROOQUI is a fourth year English major at the University of California, Irvine Design by Nashra Anwer, Maria Khan, and Elhaam Mesghali

Don’t NUMBer Your Senses By Maria Khan


eadlines on December 17, 2010 read “The vegetable seller who sparked the protests.” Across the world Mohamed Bouazizi became known as the Tunisian man who lit himself on fire. Various emotions ran through people’s minds. Many found Bouazizi weak and selfish to leave his family to fend for themselves. Only a few wondered how and why. Let’s pull aside the curtains of the media to take a look into the background. He’d wake up early on a Monday morning to walk 12 miles from his small village, Sidi Salah, to school. School was a step towards his dream to attain a college degree. Bouazizi worked many jobs since he was 10, and in his late teen years, walked away from his one room, country school to never come back. At age 26, Bouazizi sold fruits and vegetables from a cart to provide for his family. He often gave the poor free fruits and vegetables when he could afford to. He may have left his dream years ago but this cart was his hope and pride. The day the government confiscated his cart, they also confiscated his way of life. From Tunisia, to Egypt, and Algeria,

Photo by Katrina Tasha Locke

Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Libya, the flame Bouazizi had lit spread like a wildfire in a forest of oppression. It was time to believe in new dreams, to no longer wait for a transformation in the government, but rather become the revolution. A revolution for the future of those like Bouazizi, who would no longer have to give up their college degree dreams. Every day, the news manages to turn turn lives into statistics. A human is no longer qualitative but quantitative—just another one of the thousands of innocents who died. Though millions of eyes around the world watch the news and read the articles, the ones who have been living without human rights for years are pushed to replace their eyes with blood, their ears with screams, their stomachs with hunger, and their hearts with sadness and the tiniest glimmer of hope. In September 2012, the movie “Innocence of Muslims” is streamed on Al-Nas TV, an Egyptian Islamist station, and then throughout the Arab world, further angering protesters. But was this anger greater than that of losing a family member or becoming homeless overnight? The outrage that came from this

movie was scapegoated, and projected as the sole reason for the “Muslim Rage” that erupted across the globe. Just like Bouazizi, Arab Muslims were instantly demonized when a protest killed a US ambassador in Libya. It was not acceptable for the Libyan protestors to kill a US ambassador; the same way it was not acceptable when the protests of March of 2011 were met with missiles, launched in by Western powers, devastatingly killing numerous innocent civilians. The movie added on to the anger lying in the hearts of the protestors, but was nothing compared to the two years of headlines streaming about the thousands of deaths in Libya, 60,000 deaths in Syria, 2,000 in Yemen, 900 in Egypt, and 300 in Tunisia. These numbers don’t reflect that every death belongs to an individual. An individual like Bouazizi who had simple aspirations; and whose actions aren’t contextualized but rather, labeled as just one of the three hundred who died in Tunisia. _______________________________ MARIA KHAN is a first year International Studies major at the University of California, Irvine OPINION | alkalima


By Yusra Khafagi

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” - Margaret Mead


he idea fills your head. You imagine how every minute detail will look. You create a perfect scenario and then, poof, you give up. Just like that, the possibilities are gone. Many times, fear of failure, a lack of funding, pessimistic paradigms, or unambitious attitudes hinder the chance of leaving behind your legacy. Furthermore, people often assume that those who are able to successfully make a difference were born or blessed with certain abilities and talents that allow them to easily achieve their goals.

On the contrary, people who make a difference, even on the smallest scale, are just ordinary people with extraordinary perseverance. They are simply individuals with an idea. The difference? They are determined, relentless, and have conviction in what they wish to accomplish. “There are few places with as vast an opportunity for engagement across lines of difference as the college campus,” says Armaan Rowther, recipient of the 2011 Dalai Lama Fellow Award. Realizing this, he took advantage of the college platform by congregating students of diverse beliefs to work in solidarity towards their common goal: fighting hunger. Armaan Rowther, along with a team of peers and staff members, created Leap of Faith-UCI, dedicated to three basic goals: raising awareness about hunger, working in direct service of the local community, and fostering interfaith engagement on campus. Together, the team implemented Rowther’s plan, which included packaging meals and hygiene kits at different religious and non-profit organizations, and delivering them to the local needy.

Rowther’s goal took shape as a huge, successful event which was funded and supported by The Dalai Lama Scholars Program at UCI, and the Center for Living Peace. Accomplishing the goals of your idea does not necessarily need to be done through various communities or different organizations. For instance, Samar Abdelfattah was able to direct her idea of an Eid Wish List by relying largely on the Muslim community through social networking. Samar set out to provide underprivileged children with presents for the Islamic celebration of Eid by compiling a wish list of their desired gifts. Haithem Abdelfattah, and Samar’s other sons, spread the word at local masaajids (mosques) in order to collect gift donations. As miraculous as it sounds, wishes for bikes, gaming systems, laptops, and an array of toys were fulfilled by the Abdelfattah family, in collaboration with the Muslim communities of Orange County and the Inland Empire. The success of Samar’s Eid Wish List is proof that a simple act of kindness can travel exponentially, with the support of a few friends and community members. A simple idea, coupled with a bit of creativity, can go a long way to change the world. When Nida Chowdry and Asmaa Hassanein, along with a group of girls from UCI, combined their interests of fashion and charity, they coordinated a charity fashion

show called Fashion Fighting Famine. Chowdry, co-founder of the non-profit organization, says her motivation stems from her “desire to see Muslim-Americans succeed as a minority group, to advance as a people, and be a source of good for the world.” Fashion Fighting Famine aims to end world hunger by ticketing their annual show, and donating the funds to an established charity or crisis in need. More so, it also strives to achieve a long-lasting goal of intertwining the Muslim identity with American society to establish a unique culture for this minority group to flourish. Take Chowdry’s advice, “Don’t be afraid to dream big. There should be no limitation to the things you’re inspired by and the ideas you have... Whatever you do, further yourself in it, become the best, and always give back to others in as many ways as you possibly can.” Whether the goal is to provide meals to the hungry, or gifts to the needy, the possibilities are endless and the methods are innumerable. So, what’s your idea? ____________________________________________ YUSRA KHAFAGI is a first year Undecided/ Undeclared major at the University of California, Irvine

Graphics by Elhaam Mesghali


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OPINION | alkalima



n 2010, after many racial incidents and uproar, Mark Yudof, President of the University of California system, and University of California Office of the President decided to create an Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture and Inclusion, which would work closely “with a UC Board of Regents committee to address challenges in enhancing and sustaining a tolerant, inclusive environment on each of the University’s 10 campuses.” This initiative was developed after extremely problematic events occurred across the UC campuses, such as UC San Diego’s infamous Compton Cookout; a racist themed party mocking Black history month. The Campus Climate Council was created in order to find solutions for such hostile campus incidents. A group consisting of professors, staff, faculty, and students were brought together to become official advisors to President Yudof on campus climate within the UC system. In 2012, the UC Campus Climate Council decided to conduct a campus wide evaluation of Muslim student life on campus; this was done simultaneously with the Jewish student report. Historically, the UC system has made numerous attempts to shape pro-Israel and anti-Israel discourse as a Muslim-Jewish conflict, in an effort to cover up

By Sabreen Shalabi

Israel’s war crimes and the UC’s pro-Israel stance. After sending a delegation and collecting perspectives from students at each of the UC campuses, they invited four Muslim students from across the UC system to provide the rest of the council with a student perspective. Not coincidentally, during the same Campus Climate Council meeting, the Jewish student panel was also present. I was present at this meeting as one of the Muslim student panelists who was expected to supply a personal story in an effort to assist all those inspecting the situation. During the panel, each person provided their experiences as Muslim students, and focused on the lack of support from administration, and the lack of inclusive resources. Yudof, the one expected to take action upon these issues, was not even present for this portion of the meeting. After being a participant in this campus research study, I felt as though I had been used as a public relations tactic. The entire campus climate initiative was an affront, and a public relations tactic, to illustrate that the University of California Office of the President (UCOP) was working to resolve “Muslim and Jewish issues,” despite their non-existence. This became clear after a press release stated “Jewish, Muslim and Arab students find the University of Cali-

fornia a safe and welcoming place,” even though students had expressed their displeasure in the two previous meetings. Along with many other Muslim students, upon seeing this press release, I felt like a pawn in UCOP’s strategy to enhance their public image. There are many problems with the very existence of this Campus Climate Council. It has only added to the bureaucracy of addressing student concerns. If Yudof and UCOP were genuinely concerned for the students, and sincerely had a desire to improve campus climate, then the students would be addressed directly. There has been no history of such action, even with countless, deplorably racist incidents occurring across the UC campuses. The President of UCOP would rather have “qualified” individuals “advise” him, rather than hearing raw testimonies of the affected students themselves. This go-between, the Campus Climate Council, is only an added roadblock that is diluting the student voice. The council fails at being representative of the main constituency of the UCOP office: the students. Each member of the council was cherry-picked by the UCOP to “advise” Mark Yudof about the campus climate surrounding students; however, an overwhelming majority- two-thirds of the council to be exact- are not students and therefore, are incapable to speak of students concerns. The Campus Climate Council has been active for the last two years and has yet to achieve anything substantial. Based on my experience, the Campus Climate Council has only created more hostility on campus, by making a subpar effort, releasing reports, and not taking any action. Despite efforts to project the student voice, the press release used our concerns as a P.R. tactic, and nothing has been achieved since. The UC Campus Climate Council has not served the purpose it proposed, but rather has proven itself useless. The campus climate still remains hostile for minority students, and has only worsened with time. ____________________________________________________________ SABREEN SHALABI is a fourth year Political Science and Sociology double major at the University of California, Irvine

“Along with many other Muslim students, upon seeing this press release, I felt like a pawn in UCOP’s strategy to enhance their public image.” Graphics by Manal Rasheed

Photo by Zaheer Mohiuddin


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OPINION | alkalima










Layout by Nashra Anwer and photo by Zaheer Mohiuddin

By Parvin Saberi-Shakib


he stigma surrounding Muslims in today’s society is no secret – ask any Muslim that has gone through airport security. Unfortunately, Muslims are not immune to internal discrimination within their own communities. The topic of disabilities, both mental or physical, is conveniently eschewed among Muslims. Being Muslim, and disabled, is an intersection riddled with negative perceptions; and the difficulties that attach themselves to these identities are only enhanced on a college campus As a visually disabled Muslim, the unique challenges I face as a student are what most of my peers wouldn’t think to consider. For example, I can’t see more than a few feet in front of me, so my primary mode of learning is by listening, making studying twice as difficult and time


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consuming. Studying without certain equipment, or for long periods of time, is impossible and socially alienating because I can’t study in groups. Unlike most Muslims, I don’t have the privilege of being able to read the Qur’an whenever and wherever I want. Attending a religious lecture, or going to the mosque is very difficult because I cannot drive. As these challenges coincide with each other, the struggles mount in all aspects of being a student, a Muslimah, and a disabled person. For disabled students like me, the Disability Services Center on campus serves as a great resource to help cope with these challenges. It provides various resources to assist with disabilities ranging from visual and hearing, to learning and psychological. Students are given priority registration, and various testing accommodations; such as extra time and appropriate equipment, like text enlarging machines. If they are

unable to take notes or carry their textbooks, they may be assigned a note-taker, or convert their textbooks to PDF or audio format. Most buildings at UCI are equipped with ramps or elevators, and even specific seating arrangements. The center’s mission is to empower students and provide a safe space to have their concerns addressed and voices heard. Accessibility at UCI, however, does not eliminate the underlying, unspoken negative associations with disabilities. As a disabled Muslim female, I feel this prejudice on various levels that often leave me feeling frustrated. In addition to the stares I get for the scarf on my head, I get stares from Muslims and non-Muslims alike for the sunglasses I wear to shield my eyes. Since I lack an iris as part of my

disability, any amount of sunlight feels like a hot knife to my eye. In addition to the general assumption of disabled people being inferior or abnormal, there is an unfortunate misconception amongst Muslims that if you are disabled, you are weak in faith, or being punished. This distorted mentality goes against everything Islam teaches, making the practically nonexistent resources and accommodations in Islamic centers extremely disappointing. Islam teaches us that the highest of believers go through the toughest of trials, and having a disability is a trial like any other. As Allah (swt) says in the Holy Qur’an: “Or do you think that you will enter Paradise while such [trial] has not yet come to you as came to those who passed on before you? They were touched by poverty and hardship and were shaken until [even their] messenger and those who believed with him said, ‘When is the help of Allah?’ Unquestionably, the help of Allah(swt) is near” (Qur’an 2:214). The first step to eliminate this misconception surrounding disabilities is to recognize that there is one. We need to acknowledge the lack of accessibility and inclusion in Muslim communities in order to address the needs of disabled people. Through open dialogue, we can advance mosques and Muslim communities to accommodate for disabilities of all different types. As UCI students, this can be accomplished in many ways, such as becoming a note-taker for the Disability Services Center- a job that pays with money and good deeds!

“Verily, with hardship there is ease” (Qur’an 94:6)

Simply educating ourselves, and understanding that every disability is unique, can lead to change. It’s an uncomfortable topic, but should be expressed at all mosques to make disabled Muslims feel accepted. Most importantly, real change can only occur once we recognize that a disability affects who a person is, but it does not define them. Having a disability does not make you any less of a Muslim and it does not disadvantage your intelligence as a college student. As the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said “Whoever Allah wishes good for, He inflicts him (with hardship)”. Though I have undergone many personal hardships, and challenges in school, my disability has enhanced my identity by making me a stronger Muslimah. My vision may be poor, but I thank Allah everyday He gave me vision. Indeed, “Verily, with hardship there is ease.” (Qur’an 94:6) ___________________________________________________ PARVIN SABERI-SHAKIB is a third year Psychology & Social Behavior major at the University of California, Irvine STUDENT HEALTH & SCIENCE | alkalima


*All apps free unless stated otherwise 1) iQuran: This wonderful on-the-go Qur’an app is beneficial for every Muslim. It has built-in features such as, color-coded tajweed, continuous verse-by-verse recitation, advanced audio repeat, and much more! While in the car, or walking down the street, let iQuran be your guide.

By Zaheer Mohiuddin and Rahim Siddiq

pricing, rate restaurants, find prayer accommodations, and more, making this the ultimate social tool. 5) Beautiful Sayings: This app provides the English translation of the complete twenty books of Riyad-us-Saliheen; a compilation of verses from the Qur’an and strong hadith from Al-Bukhari and Muslim. Beautiful Sayings is designed to work without an internet or 3G connection, so you can make a good use of your time even when you are in an airplane or at a place where 3G/WiFi is not available.

2) iPray: Ever wonder which direction the qibla is? Or what time Asr comes in? iPray is your ultimate tool to get accurate prayer timings along with precise qibla direction anywhere in the world. This app also includes a notification feature which can send you a reminder for each salah. This 6) Just Halal: Any Muslim wants to be sure is your ticket to make your salah that much whether the products they buy are strictly halal or not! Just Halal allows you to scan the barcode more timely. of a product, and instantly displays whether 3) *myDuaa: Fortress of a Muslim by the item is halal or not. This app depends on Ihsanfusion: Feeling sad? There’s a du’a a reliable database linked with 50,000 barcodes for that. Putting on clothes? There’s a of food products. du’a for that too! With over 285 authenticated du’as for every occasion, beautiful 7) One Legacy Radio: From Qur’anic recitarecitations for each du’a, and a “favorites” tion, scholarly lectures, talk radios, all the way toolbar to save all of your favorite suppli- to popular contemporary Islamic beats, One cations, myDuaa is nothing to neglect. Al- Legacy Radio will satisfy the listening needs of though the app is .99 cents, every penny is any Muslim! The station is a pioneering sucwell spent when you are one step closer to cess, with global popularity and broadcasts in Paradise! English for a diverse audience. 4) Zabihah: Zabihah brings the world’s 8) Ramadan Recipes: Enjoy flavorful and largest and most comprehensive halal festive recipes, the halal way! With over 100 restaurant database to your iPhone. You recipes, Ramadan Recipes features something to can immediately locate halal restaurants, mosques, and markets in their vicinity. In addition, you can review halal authenticity & certification, check work hours, view

energize and fulfill every day and every taste. Choose from Mediterranean, Latin, Italian, and many more cuisines! Ramadan Recipes also suggests a complete set of meals every day- suhoor, iftar, dinner, and dessert- so you’ll never be at a loss for what to cook. 9) QamarDeen: Track your Islam by installing this app. Yes, I did just say “track your Islam”! This ingenious app is used to keep track of all your daily spiritual efforts to help you measure your status and continue to improve. Use QamarDeen to track your prayer, Qur’an reading, sadaqah, and fasting. Visualize all your data points to analyze your behavior and get closer to Allah (swt). 10) Asma Al Husna: Benefit your lives, strengthen your faith, and recognize the essence of Allah by reciting the names of Allah (SWT) with Asma Ul Husna. Recitation of each unique name of Allah (SWT) is a form of remembrance and grants you inner tranquility and freedom from worries. _________________________________ ZAHEER MOHIUDDIN is a second year Computer Science major at the University of California Irvine RAHIM SIDDIQ is a first year Mechanical Engineering major at the University of California Irvine

Design by Elhaam Mesghali


the word | WINTER 2013



Design by Elhaam Mesghali

By Ali Aijaz

By Khadija Syed


eginning in the 1960s, anti-apartheid activists embarked on a campaign of academic and sports boycotts, as well as divestment from companies investing in the apartheid government of South Africa. These campaigns were credited with pressuring the South African government to break down the apartheid system that had been in place since 1948. In 2005, Palestinian Civil Society initiated a similar movement that calls for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against the state of Israel until it complies with international law and returns basic human rights to the Palestinian people. The movement is a response to Israel’s continuous history of denying Palestinians fundamental and basic rights through colonization and military occupation. Despite international calls to end this apartheid structure, including calls by the United Nations, Israel continues to systematically enforce policies of deliberate separation. A year after the International Court of Justice deemed “the construction by Israel of a wall in the Occupied Palestinian territory” to be “...contrary to international law,” the BDS campaign was implemented. People of conscience from around the world began to “launch broad boycotts, implement divestment initiatives, and...


the word | WINTER 2013

Image by Nabeel Ahmed



Design by Nabeel Ahmed

demand sanctions against Israel until Palestinian rights are recognized in full compliance with international law,” as stated on Historically, college campuses have played vital roles in the process of divestment since the South African antiapartheid movement. Institutions of higher education across the United States, including Harvard University, Michigan State University, and Columbia University pioneered the spread of South African divestment campaigns. The University of California system also participated in the movement and successfully divested from companies supporting apartheid in South Africa in 1986. These resolutions calling for boycotts and divestment sent a resounding message to the apartheid government that their policies were unwelcome in the international community. Additionally, in 2005, UC Irvine unanimously passed divestment legislation against the Sudanese government. Divestment at UCI is neither a foreign movement, nor an active political involvement in Palestine. UCI’s deep history of pro-Palestinian movements, including vibrant Palestine Liberation Weeks and, of course, the infamous Irvine 11 protest, has inspired and set the tone for the BDS move-


the word | WINTER 2013

ment on campus. Students at UCI have always taken, and continue to adopt, active and prolific stances for human rights around the world- including Palestine. The R48-15 bill entitled “Divestment from Companies that Profit from Apartheid” comes as no surprise in the timeline of UCI’s pro-Palestinian activism. On November 13th, 2012, the legislation entitled “Divestment from Companies that Profit from Apartheid” was passed unanimously in a 16-0 vote making UCI the first school in California to successfully pass divestment legislation. The legislation draws on the core values expressed by the University: “respect, intellectual curiosity, integrity, commitment, and empathy which includes the promotion of human rights, equality, and dignity for all people without distinction”. The statement of these values is then followed by an overview of Israel’s human rights violations, and international law legislation. The companies being divested from include Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard, General Electric, and Raytheon. Lastly, the bill calls on ASUCI to “further examine its

assets and UC assets for investment in companies” that support the military regime of Israel, contribute to the building of the apartheid wall or illegal settlements, and the demolishment of Palestinian homes. In writing this legislation, author Sabreen Shalabi sought to expand on “the duty of students to stand against all injustices” in “call[ing] for the end of human rights violations that are happening in the occupied Palestinian territory.” The legislation is a call to the University to break ties with with companies that “profit off of human suffering.” Dina Elkinawy, Co-President of Students for Justice in Palestine at UCI, believes that the passing of this legislation “has made it clear that...students will stand against injustice” and “will not allow their University to continue to be a contributor to human rights violations.” Race, creed, and religion played a minimal role in gathering support for R48-15, as students of various backgrounds convened to acknowledge the need for recognition of the atrocious human rights violations committed on a daily basis by the apartheid state of Israel. It was the desire to stand for what is right, to be a part of a larger movement, and initiate substantive change for the Palestinian people.

From these ideals came the creation of coalitions groups and individual students who are all driven by their moral conscious to stand for human rights. After the legislation passed, support from all over the world came pouring in. People sent letters from across the globe all voicing their strong commitment to the BDS campaign. Now that the legislation has made history, the Irvine Divest campaign has begun, working to achieve complete and total divestment from companies that profit from human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian regions. Elkinawy foresees divestment becoming a national movement amongst universities that will in turn influence national policies in Washington D.C. This single act on an individual campus may appear insignificant, but for Shalabi the passing of R48-15 is the beginning of a larger movement that “encourages other UC campuses and campuses across the nation” and reminds them that “calling for divestment is still possible. _____________________________________________ KHADIJA SYED is a second year International Studies and Political Science double major at the University of California, Irvine STUDENT ISSUES | alkalima


Art Lab is a bi-quarterly ASUCI-sponsored event that is slowly becoming a UCI tradition. The Art Lab serves as way of reaching out to young and emerging talent on campus. Each event is themed, and this quarter’s was “Identity.” Hosted on the Student Center Terrace, the Art Lab featured unique performances, tunes, spoken word and amazing artwork. Nadeem Albadawi, a fourth year, Biological sciences major, was featured as one of the highlights of the Art Lab. His painting, that took almost 3 months to complete, was of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. “The theme was relevant to my artwork because I have a historic connection to that area” said Albadawi. “I feel that my artwork is hope for the future of Palestine and that one day my identity will be free.”

On October 23rd, 2012, the College Democrats of UC Irvine invited former President Bill Clinton to speak at a rally in order to garner support for local democratic candidates. In the completely packed Brent Events Center, six politicians from Anaheim to San Diego got a chance to be in the spotlight. In pep rally format, the local politicians were able to campaign for themselves and their policies. The event was confirmed at the last second, but hundreds of students and community members were still in attendance. Clinton visited UCI right after his highly acclaimed endorsement speech of Obama, and the feeling in the audience was one of great honor and appreciation for such a big politician.

By Hassan Mukhlis

Image by Zaheer Mohiuddin and Hamid Yaqubi


the word | WINTER 2013

Rainbow Fest is an annual event that takes place on the UCI campus and is hosted by the Cross Cultural Center. This year’s theme was “Then and Now: A Mosaic of Resistance.” The events were split up into three main events: “Cultural Fair and Performance,” an event that took place on Ring Road with booths, murals and amazing performances: “Remembering the Past: The History of Activism,” geared towards hearing personal stories of activism on this campus by alumni, and “Student Activism: Then and Now,” with Helen Zia; an award winning journalist who has covered Asian American issues and socio-political movements for decades. The purpose of Rainbow Fest is to bring people together to discuss issues on race and ethnicity that challenge conventional understandings. “I feel that Rainbow Fest was a very successful event because it gave students another opportunity to voice themselves and be part of the collective UCI community and it was definitely an opportunity for clubs to form alliances,” said Oscar Montiel, a Cross Cultural Center Intern. The SOCC is an annual, three-day conference held by UCSA, University of California’s Student Association, surrounding topics affecting students of color, along with other minority communities within the UC system. The conference aims to provide a platform for students of color to network and collaborate, discuss identity related issues, and learn more about topics revolving the intersectionality of identities within the student body. Throughout the weekend, students have breakout sessions called “identity caucuses” that are separated by categories such as “queer”, “South Asian”, “womyn”, or “Black.” Within these caucuses, students discuss issues pertaining to that identity, and how it intersects with other aspects of their lives. Aside from various key-note speakers and even entertaining performances, the conference has a series of workshops with topics ranging from “Palestine 101” to “School-to-Prison Pipeline.” This year, the SOCC was held at UC Riverside, the UC’s most ethnically diverse campus. UC Irvine, has consistently been the largest delegation present at the UCSA conferences. FEATURE | alkalima


Not Just Numbers A different day, identical struggle Houses pancaked flat, little girls scavenged from the rubble A fearlessness grows, an anger threshold surpassed Our silence will be shattered, like this regime made of glass Maximize artillery, minimize civility, dropping bombs they killin’ me, can this reality truly be? But carry on tweeting, continue with your posts Got an A on a midterm? Interesting, resume the boast Our scorched bodies sizzling, machine gun fired pot roast Maybe they’ll care when we’re ghosts, or maybe if we had oil-filled skin and gold-covered coats. Let my struggle stay mine, as your first world problems reign supreme But never forget the questioning by God, we are all just human beings. So I scream “God is the Greatest” as they target the heroes of the FSA People representing our cause for popularity, making our resistance just a game.

creative Photo by Zaheer Mohiuddin


But little boy in Sham, tortured as the world turned an eye Your eternity is fulfilled, chillin’ with prophets in heaven high Your plight is my heart, your resistance my soul Even though you’re dead now, your lessons forever teaching goals. Like the Palestinians before you, rallying for your rights is exhausting But I still shout “Free Syria,” as Russia approves this mass slaughtering The world is more interested in politics, and presidential races But remember it’s all the same game just darker or lighter-skinned faces. So to oppressors, asking our men to prostate to pictures of a clown No gun will be heavy enough to outweigh their sincerity, no pain enough to cause a frown They stand firm in their beliefs, surely truth is on their side Even headless by bombing, these little girls have more insight in their minds. Not just statistics, so let’s give you some names Fatima from Idlib, the street vandalized with her brains Followed by journalists, reporting for Syrian rights Though an American citizen, where the hell is Austin Tice? Boys like Hamza, littering the Cells (meant to be cap?) with adolescents, ask the heaven sent children if this is a curse or a blessing. Sing on little child, your sister’s deaf ears can no longer hear Shot by the monsters in the government, taking from you that which is dear So let’s make this simple, in fact let’s make it clear To support Assad is like betting, against a Lion for a deer. History repeats, and your actions will prove futile It’s just a matter of time until you burn, ask the pharaoh of the Nile Rise up my family, speak out against these tyrants They wanna keep you distracted with music, let em know we’re not buyin.’ Until my brothers and sisters across Sham, can cross the street in peace You’ll never have a stable or supportive opinion, especially in the Middle East, So for what it’s worth, this is me trying to raise awareness But from a smart phone in America, while you’re challenged with unfairness. __________________________________________________

Photo by Katrina Tasha Locke


the word | WINTER 2013

HAITHEM ABDELFATTAH is a senior Political Science major at the University of California, Irvine

FEATURE | alkalima


I’m an African woman A woman with a strong back bone.

I Am

I’ve been stigmatized I’ve been labeled In my mother’s womb Raised in a world blind to its own Enslavement. I’ve been marked you see Just a young child I’m my ancestors’ complexion.

Three labels the world seems to stigmatize and label.

Society thinks otherwise But, I’ll say it again— Yes, I’m Muslim, African, Woman. _____________________________________ ROUCAYA SOULE is a fourth year Sociology major at the University of California, Irvine


I’m Muslim, I’m African, I’m a woman.

I’m an African who’s kingdom was once ruled by Queens and Kings. I’m Muslim, a peace maker with a strong faith. I’m a woman capable of anything.


At the root of it all there is more to it than just my color, Society thinks otherwise.

I’m put into categories not belonging to any These definitions attached to me don’t make up who I am.

Photo by Salman Jafri

Dome of the Great Mosque of Cordoba

1000 + 56 WORDS



MEENA MALIK is a third year Comparative Literature major at the University of California, Irvine

Great Mosque of Cordoba 27

the word | WINTER 2013

Salman Jafri, UCI Alumnus

FEATURE | alkalima



word the

We’ve worked very hard to make this edition

gender-normative trap of American society that

of Alkalima one that will resonate with you in

hurtfully excludes so many- may Allah(swt) keep

your personal fight towards justice. Our aim was

us free from falling into this discrimination and

to expand the Muslim narrative to one that en-

allow us to fully understand the personal strug-

compasses the idea of intersectional identities,

gles of so many of our Ummah.

and recognizes the space for Muslims that devi-

With articles such as Individual with an Idea and

ate from socially constructed definitions of race,

Motion to Divest, we hope to make college stu-

ability, gender and so on. These identities inter-

dents aware of their privilege and, consequently,

sect as they form the face of oppression, and

their responsibility to educate themselves in or-

we hope that this edition delineates the different

der to liberate others.

types of oppression that create this face. As we see in From the Mosque to the Gurdwara,

cated artist, or a striving doctor, each person

religious bigotry has been at the core of oppres-

brings a unique perspective to the Ummah, ulti-

sion for centuries. Using the poor guise of 9/11

mately shaping the diverse identities of Muslims

and scapegoating ‘religious intolerance’ as the

across the world.

main reason for hate crimes, we are falling into

Just as we are told in the Qur’an, “And of

the trap that overshadows the crux of the prob-

His signs is the creation of the heavens and the

lem: the Euro-centric creation of the “Muslim

earth and the diversity of your languages and


your colors. Indeed in that are signs for those of

Such elusive problems are also highlighted in

knowledge.” (30:22). Allah(swt) encourages us

Disable the Stigma, where we see discrimination

to learn from our differences, to not simply ‘tol-

that scapegoats the “taboo” surrounding dis-

erate’ one another, but to love each other for the

abilities as the reason it’s not discussed openly-

sake of our Creator- despite language barriers

rather than clearly acknowledging the miscon-

and racial distinctions. While the diversity of our

ceptions and negative stereotypes we attach to

Ummah continues to grow, may Allah grant us

the identity directly.

the guidance to stay self-aware of our positions

As we hope would be achieved by Gender on my Mind, Muslims are encouraged to expand their definition of gender in order to not fall into the


Whether they’re a passionate activist, a dedi-

in society, rise above injustice, and help others to do the same.


Photo by Salman Jafri

the word | WINTER 2013

THE LAST WORD | alkalima


Alkalima - Winter Edition - Intersectionality  

Check out the latest issue of Alkalima Magazine, hot off the press! Alkalima is the MSU's completely student run publication that discusses...

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