Archive for June, 2010

Wives and Children of Abu Bakr radhi Allahu ‘anhu

June 22nd, 2010 4 comments

Wives and Children of Abu Bakr. Abu Bakr married four wives in all. He had six children, three sons and three daughters.

Qutaila. His first wife was Qutaila. She belonged to the Bani Aamir tribe. She was the mother of two children, Asma and Abdullah. She did not accept Islam, and Abu Bakr divorced her. Some time after ‘Hijrat’, Qutaila went to Madina to see her daughter Asma. Asma asked of the Holy Prophet whether she could see her mother, and whether she could stay with her. The Holy Prophet permitted Asma to play host to her mother.

Umm Ruman. Her second wife was Umm Ruman. She was the daughter of Aamir bin Umair. She was first married to Abdullah bin Harith. She had one son from Abdullah who was named Tufail. Abdullah was a friend of Abu Bakr, and on his death, Abu Bakr married Umm Ruman. She was the mother of two children of Abu Bakr, namely Abdur Rahman and Ayesha. When Abu Bakr became a Muslim; Umm Ruman also accepted Islam. She died at Madina in 628 C.E. The Holy Prophet himself led her funeral prayers. The Holy Prophet is reported to have said, “If any one wishes to see a houri of the paradise, let him see Umm Ruman”.

Habiba. The third wife of Abu Bakr was Habiba. She was the daughter of Zaid bin Kharijah Ansari, with whom Abu Bakr had the bond of brotherhood established by the Holy Prophet. While Umm Ruman lived at Madina, Abu Bakr resided with Habiba in Sukh, a suburb of Madina Habiba was the mother of Umm Kulsum who was born after the death of Abu Bakr.

Asma. The fourth wife of Abu Bakr was Asma She was first married to Jafar bin Abu Talib, a brother of Ali. She migrated with Jafar to Abyssinia in 615 C.E. She had three sons from Jafar, namely, Muhammad, Abdullah, and Aun. In 630 C.E., Jafar was martyred in the battle of Mauta. Six months later, Abu Bakr married her. She had one son from Abu Bakr who was also named Muhammad. She was a stepsister of Umm Salma, wife of the Holy Prophet. Asma was a talented lady. She was well versed in the interpretation of dreams. According to the will of Abu Bakr, Asma was authorized to prepare his dead body for the burial. After the death of Abu Bakr, Asma married Ali from whom she had a son Yahya.

Abdur Rahman. The eldest son of Abu Bakr was Abdur Rahman. His mother was Umm Ruman, and he was the real brother of Ayesha. When Abu Bakr became a Muslim, and his other children were converted to Islam, Abdur Rahman refused to be converted to Islam. Abu Bakr accordingly separated from him. In the battles of Badr and Uhud, Abdur Rahman fought on the side of the Quraish against the Muslims. He became a Muslim after the Pact of Hudaibiya. Thereafter he participated in the various battles fought by the Muslims. At the battle of Yamama, he killed Mahakkam al Yamama, the General Commanding the forces of Musailma. At the battle of Busra in Syria, he entered the city of Busra through a subterranean passage, and then dashing towards the city gates opened them for the main Muslim army to enter it. He died in 675 C.E,, and buried at Makkah.

Abdullah. The second son of Abu Bakr was Abdullah. He was born of Qutaila. He was married to Atika who was the daughter of Zaid bin Amr bin Naufal. She was a cousin of Umar. She was extraordinarily beautiful, and Abdullah was so much lost in her love that he failed to participate in the various expeditions undertaken by the Muslims. He even neglected his prayers. Abdullah was so much overwhelmed with the love of Atika that he could not attend to other duties. Abu Bakr gave vent to his anger, and told his son in plain words that his failings and shortcomings were too serious to be passed over. Abdullah placed himself at the mercy of his father Abu Bakr decreed that the penalty for such lapses was that Abdullah should divorce Atika within three days. Abdullah divorced Atika in pursuance of the command of his father. That, however, upset the mental equilibrium of Abdullah. He would neither eat nor drink. He would sob and sigh and sing heart-rending verses giving expression to his grief over the loss of his beloved. When the Holy Prophet came to know of the matter, he annulled the divorce, and the lovers were reunited. Thereafter, Abdullah was very particular to take care that his love for Atika did not stand in the way of his duty to God. In all the campaigns that were undertaken by the Holy Prophet thereafter, Abdullah took active part and fought valiantly. Abdullah was wounded in the battle of Taif, and later died of these wounds in 633 C.E. in the first year of the caliphate of Abu Bakr. After the death of Abdullah, Umar married Atika.

Muhammad. The third son of Abu Bakr was Muhammad born of Asma bint Asma. He was hardly two or three years old at the time of the death of Abu Bakr. Asma had two sons who both bore the name ‘Muhammad’, One was the son of Jafar and the other was the son of Abu Bakr. After the death of Abu Bakr, Asma married Ali and Muhammad bin Abu Bakr was brought up under the care of Ali. He was a great partisan of Ali and he was very active in the coup that led to the martyrdom of Usman. During the caliphate of Ali, Muhammad became the Governor of Egypt. When Muawiyiah captured power, he had Muhammad killed.

Asma. The eldest daughter of Abu Bakr was Asma. Her mother was Qutaila who did not become a Muslim and was divorced by Abu Bakr. When the Holy Prophet and Abu Bakr sought refuge in a cave outside Makkah on the occasion of Migration to Madina, Asma used to carry food to them under the cover of darkness. When the Holy Prophet and Abu Bakr left the cave, Asma tore her apron and tied the goods with the two belts. For this ingenuity, she received from the Holy Prophet, the title “She of the two belts”. She was married to Zubair, a cousin of the Holy Prophet. At Madina, soon after migration, Asma gave birth to Abdullah, who was the first Muslim child to be born after migration. After the tragedy of Kerbala, Abdullah declared himself as the Caliph at Makkah. When the Umayyads stormed the city of Makkah, Abdullah consulted Asma who was then eighty years old, as to what he should do. She advised, “If you believe your cause to be right you should be ready to die for it, if on the other hand your object is merely worldly gain, then you may certainly compromise with your enemy”.

When Abdullah died, Hajjaj gave instructions that Abdullah’s lifeless body be crucified. To add insult to injury, he declared that it would only be taken down if Asma beseeched him to do so. Asma (RA) refused to do any such thing and her refusal was relayed to Hajjaj. The tyrant vowed that she would come to him, or he would send someone to drag her by her hair. In return, Asma vowed that she would not come to him, unless someone did drag her by her hair.

In the end, Hajjaj went to Asma’s residence. Keen to see her spirit broken, he insolently Inquired: “What do you say about this matter?”. She proudly replied, “As far as I am concerned, the result of the battle between you and my son is that you have destroyed his worldly life and he has destroyed your akhirah (hereafter)!” Asma then contemptuously asked: “Has not the time yet arrived for this knight to dismount?” Hajjaj replied, “You mean this munafiq (hypocrite?)” Asma boldly countered, “By Allah! He was not a munafiq. He was a man well-known for his prayers and fasting. I heard Allah’s Messenger (SAW) say that a great liar and a great fitnah-maker will arise from the tribe of Thaqeef. We have already seen the liar (Musaylimah al-Kathab) and I think that the fitnah-maker is none other than you!”

Asma bin Abu Bakr died a few days after the murder of her son Abdullah.

Ayesha. The second daughter of Abu Bakr was Ayesha, who had the unique honor of being the only virgin to be married to the Holy Prophet. She became a widow at a young age. During the caliphate of Abu Bakr and Umar she enjoyed great influence. When Ali became the Caliph, she was involved in the battle against him. Thereafter she retired from politics, and lived a quiet life at Madina. She was very talented and was an authority on theological and judicial matters.

Umm Kulsum. The third daughter of Abu Bakr was Umm Kulsum. She was born of Habiba bint Zaid Ansari. Umm Kulsum was born after the death of Abu Bakr. On coming of age, Umm Kulsum was married to Talha bin Ubaidullah. On the death of Talha, she married his brother Abdur Rahman bin Ubaidullah.

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Sayyidah Fatimah Az-Zhara relates:

June 18th, 2010 1 comment

Fatimah Az-zahra’(daughter of the prophet s.a.w ) said:

“One night the prophet came to me and said,
“Oh Fatimah, do not sleep before you have completed the four tasks:

1. To finish reciting the whole Al-Quran
2. Have the prophets to intercede for you in the Hereafter
3. Have all the believers to be pleased with you
4. Perform your hajj and ‘umrah”

I (Fatimah Az-zahra’) then said to Rasulullah s.a.w, “Oh Rasulullah, you ask me to perform tasks, but which I would not be able to accomplish!”

Rasulullah s.a.w smiled and said:

1. If you recite Surah Al-Ikhlas(3 times), it’s as though you have completed the whole Qu’ran.
2. If you say salawat upon me and upon all the other prophets, we will intercede for you on the Day of Judgement.
3. If you ask for forgiveness for the believers, they will be pleased with you.
4. And if you read “subhaanAllah, walHamdulillah, walaa-ilaha- illallah,-wallaahu akbar”, it’s as if you have performed your hajj and umrah.”

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June 17th, 2010 2 comments
excerpt from
Book on theEtiquette of Marriage

Being the Second Book of the Section on Customs in the Book
The Revival of the Religious Sciences By ABU HAMID AL-GHAZALI


There are eight qualities which render a conjugal life happy and which must be sought in the woman in order to assure the perpetuity of the marriage: piety, good character, beauty, a small dowry, ability to bear children, virginity, [good] lineage, and she should not be a close relative.


That she should be virtuous and religious is the most fundamental requisite, and to that end [special] care must be taken. For, if her religious principles are too weak to give her the strength to be virtuous and constant, she will humiliate her husband, disgrace him among people, trouble his heart with jealousy, and thereby render his life miserable. Should he succumb to passion and jealousy, he would remain in trial and tribulation. Should he, on the other hand, follow the path of permissiveness, he would be apathetic toward his religion and honor and would be guilty of lacking zeal and pride. Also, if she is beautiful but corrupt, she will be the cause of greater tribulation; for then it becomes difficult for the husband to separate from her: Thus he is neither able to renounce her nor to endure her. His position is like that of one who came to the Prophet (s.a.w) and said, “0 Messenger of God, I have a wife who cannot turn back a touching hand.” The Prophet said, “Divorce her”; to which he replied, “I love her.” The Prophet responded, “Then, keep her.”“ The Prophet commanded him to hold onto her, for if he divorces her he would yearn for her and become corrupt like her. Seeing that the man’s heart was in anguish, he [the Prophet] considered it preferable for him to continue his mar riage and thus safeguard himself against corruption. If her faith be corrupted in squandering his possessions or in some other respect, he will remain in misery. [However,] if he remains silent and does not denounce [her deeds], he becomes a partaker of her transgression and a violator of the Almighty’s command: “Ward off from yourselves and your families a Fire.” If he, on the other hand, denies and disputes [her ways],, he will be miser able throughout his life.

For that reason, the Messenger* of God took pains in encouraging people to adhere to the faith saying, “A woman may be married either for her possessions, her beauty, her reputation, or her religion; for if you do marry other than a religious woman, may your hands be rubbed with dirt [taribat yadak].” Another hadith states: “He who marries a woman for her possessions and beauty loses both her beauty and her possessions; [but] he who marries her for the sake of her faith will be blessed by God with her possessions and her beauty.”

The Prophet (s.a.w) also said, “A woman should not be married [only] for her beauty, because her beauty may destroy her; neither for her wealth, as this may make her tyrannical; [rather] marry the woman for her religious faith.”

He emphatically recommended religious faith, because such a woman would bolster up the [husband’s] faith. If she is not pious, she will be an element of distraction and of trouble in her husband’s religion.

[Good Character]

Good character is the second quality. It is an important requisite in the search for emptying the heart” and in the pur suit of favorable surroundings for religion. For if she is vicious, ill-tongued, ill-mannered, and ungrateful, more harm than good will come from her. Toleration of a woman’s tongue would try the saints. An Arab said, “Do not marry one of the following six types of women: an ‘annanah [hypochondriac], amannanah [upbraider], a hannanah [yearner], a hiddaqah [coveter], a barraqah (narcissist), or a shaddaqah [prattler].

The ‘annanah is one who excessively moans, complains, and [always] wraps her head.Marrying a constantly ill [woman] or one who feigns illness is of no avail.

The mannanah is one who is constantly needling her husband by saying, “I did such and such for you.”

The hannanah is one who yearns after a previous husband or after her offspring from some other husband. This, too, is among the things to be avoided.

The hiddaqah is one who looks at everything, covets it, and forces her husband to buy it.

The barraqah can be one of two:
(a) one who spends the whole day fixing her face or making it up and beautifying it in order to give it a lustre, or
(b) one who becomes angry at mealtime, thus eating only by herself and singling out her share from everything.
A Yemeni expression which is appropriately used for a woman, or a child, who is not satisfied with the food given to her [or him], is Baraqat al-mar ‘atu wa baraqa’l-sabiyyu al-ta’ama, that is, to become angry at meal time.

Al-shaddaqah is one who prattles a great deal; in this context the Prophet (s.a.w) said, “Almighty God detests the loudmouthed prattler. “25

It is related that the Azdi the traveler,” during his journey, met Elias* [the prophet] who ordered him to get married and discouraged him from celibacy.

He then said, “Don’t marry any of the following four types:amukhlali’ah [divorce-minded], a muba riyah [boaster], an ‘ahirah [harlot], or a nashiz [conceited].”

Al-mukhlali’ah is one who asks for the divorce (khul) every hour for no reason;
In Islamic law, a compensation (khutah) must be paid by the wife when a divorce is sought by her (Hughes, Dictionary of Islam, 274). This law is laid down in Qur’an 2:229: “And if ye fear that they may not be able to keep the limits of Allah, in that case it is no sin for either of them if the woman ransom herself.”

Al-mubariyah is one who boasts of the superiority of another and is proud of her worldly advantages,

Al ‘ahirah is a loose woman who is known to have lovers and intimate companions. To her the Almighty referred when He said, “nor of loose conduct” [Qur’an  4:25].

Al-nashiz is one who adopts a haughty attitude toward her husband in deed and word: the word nashaz designates that which is elevated above the ground.
Nashaz is the noun derived from the same root as ndshiz. In Islamic law, nushuz means “violation of marital duties on the part of either husband or wife, specifically, recalcitrance of the woman toward her husband, and brutal treatment of the wife by the husband” (Wehr, Dictionary, 966).

‘Ali (ra) used to say, “The worst characteristics of men constitute the best characteristics of women; namely, stinginess, pride, and cowardice. For if the woman is stingy, she will preserve her own and her husband’s possessions; if she is proud, she will refrain from addressing loose and improper words to everyone; and if she is cowardly, she will dread everything and will there fore not go out of her house and will avoid compromising situations for fear of her husband. These accounts indicate the sum total of the good qualities sought in marriage.


The third, beauty of face, is desired because through it fortification is attained. For [a man’s] natural disposition is generally not contented with an ugly woman, [even] when good character and physical beauty are often inseparable. What we have transmitted is encouragement to look for a pious woman and not marry one for her beauty, which does not discourage the cherishing of beauty, but rather discourages marrying a woman for her beauty alone [while she be] corrupt in religion. Beauty, per se, oftentimes makes marriage desirable and detracts from the importance of religion. Indicative of the regard given to beauty is the fact that closeness and love are often realized through it. For that reason the Shari’ah  enjoined the safeguarding of the means to intimacy, and seeing [the woman] before marriage was deemed desirable.

The Prophet said, “If God should incline the heart of one of you toward a woman, let him look at her, for it will bring them closer together.” That is to say, it will cause them to be closer to each other like the closeness of the epidermis to the endodermis, which is the inner skin [as opposed to] the epidermis [which] is the outer skin. He mentions that only to stress the degree of closeness. The
Prophet (s.a.w) said, “There is something in the eyes of the Ansar; therefore, if one of you wishes to marry one of their women, let him look at them.”  It was said [in effect] that those women were “blear-eyed.” It was also said, “small-eyed.”

Some God-fearing men would not marry off their daughters until they are seen as a precaution against delusion. Al A’mash33 said, “Every marriage occurring without looking ends in worry and sadness.” It is obvious that looking does not reveal character, religion, or wealth; rather, it distinguishes beauty from ugliness.

It was related that during the time of ‘Umar (ra) a man got married. The man had colored his hair and the dyestuff had faded. The woman’s family complained to ‘Umar saying, “We thought he was a young man.” ‘Umar beat him excessively and said, “You have deceived the people.”

It is related that Bilal and Suhayb came to a bedouin household and asked to marry their daughters. They were asked: “Who are you?” Bilal said, “I am Bilal and this is my brother, Suhayb. We were misguided, but God has directed us; we were enslaved, but God freed us; we were dependent [on others], but God has made us independent; if you should give us wives, then thanks be to God; and if you should turn us away, then praise be to God.” They [the household] answered, “Rather, you will marry, and thanks be to God.” Suhayb said to Bilal, “Would that you had mentioned our association and dealings with the Messenger(saw) of God.” He replied, “Be quiet. I spoke the truth and the truth will get you married.”

One may be deceived both in beauty and in character; therefore it is desirable to avoid deception in beauty by looking, and [deception] in character by description and inquiry. It is desir able that this precede marriage. A description of her character and beauty should not be sought from any but one who is keen, who is truthful, who is well versed in the apparent and the hidden [qualities], who is not predisposed toward her lest he should praise her too much, and who does not envy her lest he should not praise her enough. In stating the basis for marriage and in describing the would-be wives, the natural disposition leans toward exaggeration and excessiveness. Few are the ones who are truthful and are inclined to modesty; rather, deception and enticement often predominate. Caution, therefore, is im portant for one who would guard himself against longing for a woman other than his wife.

As for the man whose purpose in having a wife is mere observation of the sunna, bearing children, or caring for the house, should he renounce beauty, he would draw nearer to asceticism; because seeking beauty, in short, is a wordly interest even though in the case of some individuals [it] may be an aid to religion.

Abu Sulayman al-Darani said, “Indifference (zuhd) [to worldly interests may be] in anything, even in women.” Thus a man [might] marry an old woman because he has preferred to renounce worldly delights. Malik b. Dinar (ra) used to say, “Many a man among you would refrain from marrying an orphan, whose feeding and clothing would cost little and who would be easily satisfied, thus gaining merit [before God]. Rather, he would marry the daughter of so and so-meaning prominent people-who would make many demands of him saying, `Clothe me with such and such.’“ Ahmad b. Hanbal preferred a one- eyed [woman] over her sister who was beautiful. For he asked: “Who is the better behaved of the two?” He was told: “The one-eyed.” He replied: “Give her to me in marriage.” Such is the constant endeavor of one who does not seek [mere] sensual pleasures. If someone cannot secure his faith without a source of pleasure, then let him seek beauty because enjoyment of what is lawful strengthens faith.

It has been said that if a woman is beautiful, of good charac ter, with black eyes and hair, large eyes, white complexion, loves her husband, and has an eye to no other man, she is in the image of the houris [hawar]. For Almighty God has ascribed to the women of paradise this description in the verse, “the good and beautiful” [Qur’an  60:70] (by “good” He meant “those enjoying good manners”); in the verse “of modest gaze” [37:48]; and in the verse “lovers (‘urub), friends” [56:37]. (By “lovers,” He means someone who is in love with her husband and desirous of seducing him so as to complete her pleasure. By al-hawar, He meant whiteness; al-hawra’ is a woman with intense whiteness of the sclera, profound blackness of the eyes matching the profound blackness of the hair, and big, wide[-set] eyes.)

The Prophet (s.a.w) said, “The best of your women is one who pleases her husband when he looks at her, who obeys him when he commands her, and guards his memory and his possessions when he is absent.” Her husband will be delighted to look at her if she loves him.

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The Islanders

June 5th, 2010 No comments

By Idries shah

Once upon a time there lived an ideal community in a far-off land. Its members had no fears as we now know them. Instead of uncertainty and vacillation, they had a purposefulness and a fuller means of expressing themselves.

Although there were none of its stresses and tensions which mankind now considers essential to its progress, their lives were richer, because other, better elements replaced these things.

Theirs, therefore, was a slightly different mode of existence. We could almost say that our present perceptions are a crude, makeshift version of the real ones that this community possessed.

They had real lives, not semi-lives.

They had a leader, who discovered that their country was to become uninhabitable for a period of, shall we say, 20,000 years. He planned their escape, realizing that their descendants would be able to return home successfully, only after many trials.

He found for them a place of refuge, an island whose features were only roughly similar to those of the original homeland.

Because of the difference in climate and situation, the immigrants had to undergo a transformation.

This made them more physically and mentally adapted to the new circumstances: coarse perceptions, for instance, were substituted for finer ones, as when the manual laborer becomes toughened in response to the needs of his calling.

In order to reduce the pain which a comparison between the old and new states would bring, they were made to forget the past almost entirely.

Only the most shadowy recollection of it remained, yet it was sufficient to be awakened when the time came.

The system was very complicated, but well arranged. The organs by means of which the people survived on the island were also made the organs of enjoyment, physical and mental. The organs which were really constructive in the old homeland were placed in a special form of abeyance, and linked with the shadowy memory, in preparation for its eventual activation.

Slowly and painfully the immigrants settled down, adjusting themselves to the local conditions. The resources of the island were such that, coupled with effort and a certain form of guidance, people would be able to escape to a further island on the way back to their original home. This was the first of a succession of islands upon which gradual acclimatization took place.

The responsibility of this “evolution” was vested in those individuals who could sustain it. These were necessarily only a few, because for the mass of the people the effort of keeping both sets of knowledge in their consciousness was virtually impossible. One of them seemed to conflict with the other. Certain specialists guarded the “special science.”

This “secret,” the method of effecting the transition, was nothing more or less than the knowledge of maritime skills and their application. The escape needed an instructor, raw materials, people, effort and understanding. Given these, people could learn to swim, and also to build ships.

The people who were originally in charge of the escape operation made it clear to everyone that a certain preparation was necessary before anyone could learn to swim or even take part in building a ship. For a time the process continued satisfactorily.

Then a man who had been found, for the time being, lacking in the necessary qualities rebelled against this order and managed to develop a masterly idea. He had observed that the effort to escape placed a heavy and often seemingly unwelcome burden upon the people. At the same time they were disposed to believe things which they were told about the escape operation. He realized that he could acquire power, and also revenge himself upon those who had undervalued him, as he though, by a simple exploitation of these two sets of facts.

He would merely offer to take away the burden, by affirming that there was no burden.

He made his announcement: “There is no need for man to integrate his mind and train it in the way which has been described to you. The human mind is already a stable and continuous, consistent thing. You have been told that you have to become a craftsman in order to build a ship. I say, not only do you not need to be a craftsman – you do not need a ship at all!

“An islander needs only to observe a few simple rules to survive and remain integrated into society. By the exercise of common sense, born into everyone, he can attain anything upon this island, our home, the common property and heritage of all.”

The tonguester, having gained a great deal of interest among the people, now “proved his message by saying: “If there is any reality in ships and swimming, show us ships which have made the journey, and swimmers who have come back!”

This was a challenge to the instructors which they could not meet. It was based upon an assumption of which the bemused herd could not now see the fallacy. You see, ships never returned from the other land. Swimmers, when they did come back, had undergone a fresh adaptation which made them invisible to the crowd.

The mob pressed for demonstrative proof.

“Shipbuilding,” said the escapers, in an attempt to reason with the revolt, “is an art and a craft. The learning and the exercise of this lore depends upon special techniques. These together make up a total activity, which cannot be examined piecemeal, as you demand. This activity has an impalpable element, called ‘baraka,’ from which the work ‘barque’ – a ship – is derived. This word means ‘the Subtlety,’ and cannot be shown to you.”

“Art, craft, total, baraka, nonsense!” shouted the revolutionaries.

And so they hanged as many shipbuilding craftsmen as they could find.

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Cover Girl

June 2nd, 2010 3 comments
taken from
Krista Bremer and her daughter

Nine years ago, I danced my newborn daughter around my North Carolina living room to the music of Free to Be…You and Me, the ’70s children’s classic whose every lyric about tolerance and gender equality I had memorized as a girl growing up in California. My Libyan-born husband, Ismail, sat with her for hours on our screened porch, swaying back and forth on a creaky metal rocker and singing old Arabic folk songs, and took her to a Muslim sheikh who chanted a prayer for long life into her tiny, velvety ear. She had espresso eyes and lush black lashes like her father’s, and her milky-brown skin darkened quickly in the summer sun. We named her Aliya, which means “exalted” in Arabic, and agreed we would raise her to choose what she identified with most from our dramatically different backgrounds.

I secretly felt smug about this agreement—confident that she would favor my comfortable American lifestyle over his modest Muslim upbringing. Ismail’s parents live in a squat stone house down a winding dirt alley outside Tripoli. Its walls are bare except for passages from the Qur’an engraved onto wood, its floors empty but for thin cushions that double as bedding at night. My parents live in a sprawling home in Santa Fe with a three-car garage, hundreds of channels on the flat-screen TV, organic food in the refrigerator, and a closetful of toys for the grandchildren. I imagined Aliya embracing shopping trips to Whole Foods and the stack of presents under the Christmas tree, while still fully appreciating the melodic sound of Arabic, the honey-soaked baklava Ismail makes from scratch, the intricate henna tattoos her aunt drew on her feet when we visited Libya. Not once did I imagine her falling for the head covering worn by Muslim girls as an expression of modesty.

Last summer we were celebrating the end of Ramadan with our Muslim community at a festival in the parking lot behind our local mosque. Children bounced in inflatable fun houses while their parents sat beneath a plastic tarp nearby, shooing flies from plates of curried chicken, golden rice, and baklava.

Aliya and I wandered past rows of vendors selling prayer mats, henna tattoos, and Muslim clothing. When we reached a table displaying head coverings, Aliya turned to me and pleaded, “Please, Mom—can I have one?”

She riffled through neatly folded stacks of headscarves while the vendor, an African-American woman shrouded in black, beamed at her. I had recently seen Aliya cast admiring glances at Muslim girls her age. I quietly pitied them, covered in floor-length skirts and long sleeves on even the hottest summer days, as my best childhood memories were of my skin laid bare to the sun: feeling the grass between my toes as I ran through the sprinkler on my front lawn; wading into an icy river in Idaho, my shorts hitched up my thighs, to catch my first rainbow trout; surfing a rolling emerald wave off the coast of Hawaii. But Aliya envied these girls and had asked me to buy her clothes like theirs. And now a headscarf.

In the past, my excuse was that they were hard to find at our local mall, but here she was, offering to spend ten dollars from her own allowance to buy the forest green rayon one she clutched in her hand. I started to shake my head emphatically “no,” but caught myself, remembering my commitment to Ismail. So I gritted my teeth and bought it, assuming it would soon be forgotten.

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