Why I Hate Halloween….Sorry Ray Hanania

Hugo Chavez, Pat Robertson, Islamic scholars, Jewish authorities and
others from a wide-range of political and religious thought all have one thing
in common; they dislike Halloween. Sunni Sister in her blog highlighted this issue in a piece yesterday when she responded to Arab Christian writer Ray Hanania in which he stated that Muslims who do not let their children celebrate Halloween are anti-American, arrogant and hateful. He went on to call Halloween a Christian holiday.

Hanania sits on the board of Free Muslims Against Terrorism which is an organization founded by Kemal Nawash who is the Mr. Burns from The Simpsons look-a-like who struck out defending terrorism suspects so he tried to make his name to fame in monitoring Muslim extremists. Hanania incidentally is not even a Muslim which is interesting as he is supposedly sitting on the board and writing for a Muslim organization.

Let us examine a few things. First of all ones Americaness hopefully is not based on whether your kids trick or treat at night or you dress-up like a character from the Lord of the Rings or a Seventies Pimp and escort Wonder Woman to the club for a Halloween party. As an American we have the right to not celebrate any holiday we want and just like Orthodox Jews, Evangelical Christians and many others we may choose to not observe this holiday which has pagan roots. It is not, contrary to what Hanania said, not a Christian holiday.

On top of that Halloween ranks along with New Years Eve as one of my least favorite holidays; because of the foolishness that I see. Saturday night when I got back to St. Louis and I drove my cab until early in the morning. There were parties all over town and you could see young women in skimpy Halloween outfits and ridiculous looking guys all over the place. I saw plenty of drunk driving and almost was hit by a drunk Wash U student wielding a stick and wearing some kind of a crazy costume. On Washington Ave a friend told me it was so wild that people were having sex inside of the clubs.

On Halloween there are a lot of robberies, partially because police are busy with other things, but also because people are running the streets wearing masks. I do not let anyone wearing a mask enter my cab and I don’t care where I pick them up from and if they don’t like it they can walk or get another cab.

Like New Years Eve, people who are undercover fools find a way to act like idiots and blame it on the alcohol, and they do all kinds of stupid shit. Hugo Chavez stated that Halloween is a “symbol of the American culture of fear”. I don’t know about that but I do know it is a silly holiday but will never end because so many American parents, moms particularly, just cant get over how cute the kids look dressed up like cops and firefighters and they create another generation of those who will perpetuate the holiday.

The Execution of Marlin Gray and Thoughts on the Death Penalty

I have problems with the pro-death penalty and the anti-death penalty crowds. Those who support the death penalty as a deterrent to crime tend to not want to admit that the system can be wrong at times and has executed innocent people in the past. For the most part the death penalty crowd is made up of knee-jerk reactionaries who not only favor capital punishment but favor expatiated death for the convicted. They view greater safeguards against wrongful convictions as a weakness in fighting crime and are upset that it takes so long to kill the convicted. Often they dismiss the possibility of people being wrongfully convicted (and outright dismiss the very real factors of race and class); because they have such an undying love for law-enforcement and it is hard for the crowd that supports the death-penalty to admit that police can also make mistakes.

Those belonging to organizations opposing the death penalty have their own shortcomings. It is not enough for them to oppose the death penalty on moral and ethical grounds; they have to also make those sentenced to die out to be angels and believe any bullshit story of innocence invented by the defense. There are few who can make me as nauseous as self-righteous naïve liberals and capital punishment is one of their biggest issues. When they gather for these vigils on the night of executions one who didn’t know better would get the impression that the state is getting ready to snuff out Mother Teresa. Lost in their argument are the victims of the crime.

The State of Missouri executed Marlin Gray last week while I was in Virginia. Gray was convicted for being the leader of a group of young men who raped and killed Robin and Julie Kerry on the Chain of Rocks Bridge in North St. Louis is 1991.

Let us first state that this was a particularly brutal crime in which two young sisters were raped back to back by the accused and were then forced to jump off the bridge along with a male cousin.

Now, because of some procedural errors, police misconduct and racial overtones many called for the life of Gray to be speared; few actually believed his claims of innocence. Examining the facts it seems as if there was police misconduct, but this is St. Louis so what can you expect, and again in this racially-divided city a group of black men killing two young white girls is going to create some racial issues and tensions. Procedural errors: well as someone who puts the profession of prosecutors somewhere between that of child-molesters and mercenaries ( for the most part) I am not surprised to see those kinds of errors.

The bottom-line for me in my feelings on this case is that no one could show me any conclusive evidence that Gray was innocent and on the flip side there was overwhelming evidence of a terrible crime. So I am shedding no tears for Gray, or his accomplices who are serving life-sentences, and I am mourning for the Kerry family and the senseless loss of life that led to those killings.

1991 was a bloody year in St. Louis; crime was out of control, gang-wars raged all throughout the metro area and that summer was particularly brutal with a number of high profile gang-killings. St. Louis was out of control at that time and this murder happened in the context of that time. Some friends of mine knew Gray and a couple of the other convicted killers. Some of them embraced Islam after being incarcerated and received religious counseling from the Islamic Institute of Learning. Some Muslim brothers grew close to them and wanted them to be released and said, “look what they did was in their jahiliya (pre-Islamic days) and they are Muslims now so we should pray for their release and help them to that end.” When I disagreed with that opinion we went to a sheikh and asked him to give an Islamic opinion on the topic and he responded that “Masha’Allah he is Muslim now, but the crime has been committed and he must receive the punishment for that crime and if he has true faith at this time he should accept the punishment.” The new shahadah gets a clean-slate in Islam; but any pre-existing crimes must be adjudicated.

In America I am generally opposed to the death-penalty. Not because there is anything immoral about capitol-punishment; but because human error inevitably means that innocent people will die, and that given the way our system works those who will die will mostly be poor and people of color. Allah has ordained in the Quran that the death-penalty is a just punishment for the convicted killer; but the Sunnah encourages other ways of dealing with the crime and safeguards against wrongful convictions. A Muslim can never say that the death-penalty is un-Islamic, but we can say that society should protect against the wrongful use of it, and I don’t know if that can be done in our criminal justice system that revolves around money, race and class and not justice. However, the victims of these crimes need justice and I will not become one of the naïve who sits outside of the court house begging for mercy for grown men who raped and killed two young women. Maybe I do not favor the death-penalty in America, that does not mean that there are not instances were it was correctly implemented.

Iftar on Campus…Ushpizin

I fell ill with my asthma in VA and had a lot to do so I have had a delay in my postings. It was nice to see so many brothers I hadn’t seen in so long and I also enjoy being in the DC area. It is a pleasant place to live, like NYC, that can make one justify the outrageous cost of living.

This was a piece that I wrote after attending an iftar program the other night at Northern Virginia Community College….

Last night I attended a special Ramadan event and iftar at Northern Virginia Community College in Alexandria, VA. The event was attended by over 300 Muslim students and a number of interested non-Muslim onlookers.

The school itself is perhaps 40% Muslim and the MSA is by far the largest campus organization. One can find a mixture of skin-tight low-rider jeans and complete jilbabs and hijabs on campus and sometimes you can even find both on the same sister such as on young lady last night who appeared to have on a mixture of tight-jeans, a belly-dancer shirt decorated with what I can only describe as silver shingles, and a hijab.

Amongst the brothers you also had a mix of those who seemed more overly observant and those who looked like they were auditioning for the next Jadakiss video. Ethnically there were a lot of Somalis, all sorts of Arabs and a handful of South Asian Muslims along with several African-American Muslims. I was one of two white Muslims and I had a chance to meet a Bolivian woman who just became Muslim two-weeks ago masha’Allah.

The speaker was a brother named Kamal Makee whom I have known for years. He is a brother originally from Sudan but has lived in VA since he was a young teenager. For years he has been a student of the eminent Sudanese scholar Jaffar Sheikh Idris (May Allah reward him and his family) and Sheikh Ali al-Timimi and began teaching classes at Dar al-Arqam in Virginia which is now closed.

Kamal gave a wonderful lecture entitled “Why Islam” which I will try and get an audio of Insh’Allah. In this lecture he discussed the basic principals of belief in Islam and of the two extreme positions in Islam; one position is extremism in religious observance and the exaggeration of certain aspects of the deen and the other extreme position is to not observe Allah while still remaining in Islam or being sinful. Kamal stated that in America the only one that is considered an extremist is the one who is extreme in religious practice and the one who is extreme in the secular or sin is not an extremist. Islam is the middle-path, and what is the middle-path; is it the so-called modernist moderates today or does the Prophet (s) represent the middle-path?

The crowd was generally receptive, but more than a few were more concentrated on intermingling with the opposite sex, and in addressing this issue Kamal said “you know brothers think of the wisdom of brothers praying in the front at the Masjid. If the women prayed in front and bent over in front of the men the Masjid would be full all day and every day with brothers” which brought laughter from the crowd.

It is also amusing to note that almost all of the brothers, and many of the sisters, dressed in a hip-hop style and walked the hall as if they were walking towards mainline in a maximum security prison. These are immigrant brothers and sisters that come from middle-class (and even wealthy) suburban families who have never even seen the streets much less spent any time in the streets. However, one cannot be judgmental, because hip-hop has given these young people a message they can relate to and identify with as opposed to the voices they hear in mainstream American society. Islam is nothing strange in the world of hip-hop and Muslims can be found at all levels of the industry. Imagine a practicing Muslim like Mos Def being accepted in Country Music or modern rock.


I also had the chance to seen an outstanding Israeli film last night titled Ushpizin. It is about the holiday of Succoth, where Jews build ritual huts to live in outside of their homes to remind themselves that they are only guests in this world, and it is traditional to have guests for such an event. The story centers around an observant couple who come from a rebellious background and their prayerful desire to have a son while they are interrupted in Succoth by guests from the main characters past who have escaped from an Israeli prison. It is an excellent film and I highly recommend it. One reason I like this film so much is that it does not seek to demonize religion, rather creates an understanding of the lives of observant Jews, and it has powerful messages of forgiveness and transformation.

The Role of Islamic Activism in America

Islamic activism is nothing new in America. Since the 1950’s activists from the Muslim World began moving to the US. During the 1990’s a well-organized Muslim activist structure was formed and American-Muslims for the first time began to have a real voice in the political process and Muslims gained the ability to fight employment and religious discrimination.

The goals of most of the main Muslim organization such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Muslim American Society, the American Muslim Council , the Islamic Society of North America and the Islamic Circle of North America were twofold; first there was the desire to make Islam and Muslims mainstream in America and to gain a greater acceptability of Islam in American the American mind and secondly to use this position in America to alter the US foreign policy towards the Muslim World. Many Muslim leaders sought to emulate the successful strategies of the Israeli, Armenian and Greek lobbies in America.

When those planes hit the twin-towers on 9-11-01 they not only brought down those physical structures and Americas false sense of security they brought down what Muslim activists in America had been fighting for during the previous six-decades. The perpetrators of that act achieved what no anti-Muslim force in the US had ever been able to accomplish and stuck at the height of Muslim political prowess.

Islamic history in America can be divided now into three categories; the history of Muslim slaves in America, pre-9-11 Muslim America and post-9-11 Muslim America. In 2000 political candidates from around the nation had campaigned at masjids and sought the endorsement of Muslim leaders and victories were being won on the political front in the name of Islam. The likes of Steve Emerson were largely off the air and a positive vibe about the future existed in the community.

Of course we all know the history. Since 9-11 there has been a full-scale assault on the Muslim community. Many brothers are in jail on false or trumped up charges, Muslim charities have had their assets frozen or seized, Muslim leaders are being targeted and prosecuted and the media is full of anti-Muslim hate speech. We are living under siege in this country and any Muslims who feels they are safe in America at this time is delusional.

9-11 exposed two things in America. First is exposed the fact that white America hasn’t evolved all that much since the days of Jim Crow and lynchings. The mentality of group-indictment is still alive and well in America; one black man stole from me so all black men or bad and one Muslim committed an act of terror so all Americans are terrorists, that is the way of thinking. White America, with all of its pent up anger, lashed out towards Muslims in a way they wish they could lash out towards African-Americans but is no longer political correct to do so. Oh how they wish they could get on talk-radio and speak about blacks they way they speak about Muslims!

The darkness of hearts was revealed on 9-11. Notice how this hatred initially was geared towards Muslims but now Latinos have been caught-up in this nationalistic fury. Congressman Tom Tancredo of Colorado calls for all out war on Latino immigrants and the bombing of Mecca. The zeal that leads to the Minuteman being placed on the US-Mexico border leads to the profiling of Muslims. They go hand in hand. Norman Mailer, the eminent American writer, rightly stated that the “white mans nose was bloodied on 9-11” and that white America had to respond to assert their dominance in a changing world. This is similar to when the Rev. Billy Graham declared his support for the Vietnam War by saying “Christianity needs a show of force.”

The second thing that 9-11 exposed was the fact that Muslims activists in this country had failed to educate the Muslim community on their civic responsibilities in this country and that Muslims had failed top formulate a domestic agenda. Brothers had their minds on changing policy in Palestine or Chechnya but didn’t see the need to focus on what was happening in their own communities. Because of this ignorance of the American political process, and the social fabric of American society, the mainstream leaders supported President George W. Bush in 2000 (and no I will not forget that and will not forgive until those who did that publicly repent).

Immigrant Muslim leaders failed to understand the role of race and religion in America. Instead of recognizing that Muslims in this country are basically in the same boat as African-Americans and Latinos these Muslim leaders sought to curie favor with Wall Street, the GOP and Yale and were dissed by all and this came out of their cultural ignorance.

The fight of Islamic activists today in America is a fight for survival; because every vocal Muslim today is a target. To be an activist at this stage in the Muslim community takes courage because you will not only be targeted by the government but by the anti-Muslim lobby and by self-hating Muslims and advocates of an apostate Islam.

However, having said this, if you are well-intentioned, dedicated and lawful there is a place for Muslim activists in America. Indeed organizations like the Muslim Students Association are experiencing a massive growth as Muslim students, conscious of their Muslim identities, are becoming in large numbers passionate advocates for Muslims in their communities. Other organizations, such as MAS, have corrected a lot of their pre-9-11 faults and are now embarking on a path of serious domestic activism in America in conjunction with anti-war, African-American, Latino and progressive causes.

We do have our unique view as Muslims and becoming active does not mean that we have to completely embrace the positions of the left or the right. It does mean, however, that we have to stand up and be counted. We cannot sit by idly while America is at war in Iraq and not speak against it and we cannot see Muslims persecuted at home and remain silent; and we also cannot see the injustices of the lack of a prevailing wage, health care, education, and racial justice in America and remain silent.

Blog of the Week and Our Masjid in the News

Jihad of Umar has been selected by the Riverfront Times, the local St. Louis alternative weekly (equivalent to the Village Voice or City Paper in STL) as the blog of the week.

Below is the story of some of the issues that our masjid is going through in St. Louis in an article by the South Side Journal.

Mosque seeks permit to build addition Jim MerkelOf the Suburban Journals South City Journal Wednesday, Oct. 26 2005 Whether a mosque should put an addition onto its building sparked debate at a recent hearing of the St. Louis Board of Adjustment.The Qobaa Mosque operates in the bottom two apartments of a four-family flat at 1925 Allen Avenue, in the McKinley Heights neighborhood.The mosque seeks a permit to allow it to place an eight-foot-by-11-foot addition on the front of the building. The addition would be used for the shoes of worshippers, who customarily remove their shoes before entering the mosque.Tim Kaminski, a spokesman for the mosque, said a foyer now used to place the shoes is too small for that purpose. About 30-40 people attend the 1:30 p.m. Friday Jumma prayer service, sometimes more during Ramadan, Kaminski said.One suggestion by neighbors at the Oct. 12 hearing was that the addition be placed on the rear of the building. The board asked the mosque to work out a compromise with the McKinley Heights Neighborhood Association.The two sides discussed the issue at a meeting Friday.The permit is needed because the addition would be in front of the building line, said Frank Oswald, deputy city building commissioner.The mosque also sought a permit to erect a non-illuminated ground sign in front of the building, but withdrew the request so it could revise the plans, Oswald said. The mosque had put up a brick sign giving its name on the ground on the side of a hill in front of the building. The city ordered it taken down because there was no permit.The hearing was needed because the city rejected the request for a sign and to build the addition.Jack Knapp, president of the McKinley Heights Neighborhood Association, said he personally took the city’s side at the Oct. 12 hearing.”I wish that eventually they would strategically think about moving to a more suitable building,” Knapp said. “I would hope that they would find it in our neighborhood.”Of the addition, Knapp said, “It’s a pretty good-sized structure on that building.” Speaking for himself, he said he doesn’t see it anywhere else on the block, he said. It isn’t compatible with the neighborhood, he said.There are other extensions of front porches around the neighborhood, Kaminski said. The mosque is flexible and could make a smaller addition or one around the back, he said.Some are unhappy about the mosque’s effect on parking on a residential street in the McKinley Heights neighborhood.Umar Lee, who attends services at the mosque, said there have been complaints about parking, particularly the number of taxicabs. “Taxi drivers have the same freedom of assembly that everybody else does,” he said.A church that used to operate across the street attracted three or four times as many cars, Lee said. A business that operates in the former church building allows the mosque to use 12 parking spaces, he said. “The whole parking thing is really a non-issue,” he said.The mosque has made efforts to reach out to the community and to be a good neighbor, Lee said.Lee gave his view on the issue on a blog of the St. Louis Independent Media Center, http://www.stlimc.org/newswire/display/774/index.php.A number of Afghans, Somalis, Kurds and Albanians, along with some Bosnians, attend the mosque, Lee said.Muslims occupy the two upstairs apartments of the building, Lee said.

Getting on the Slimdog, ACC, and Indie Book Stores

Man I have caught the Greyhound at least a hundred times. Everything that can possibly happen on the Greyhound has happened to me and I have seen it all. For those of you unfamiliar with the Greyhound, which I have rode in about thirty-states, the company features customer service on par with the middle-east and transportation about as fast as the pony express. If you are going a short distance, like NYC to DC or St. Louis to Chicago, then the Greyhound will actually work pretty good for most people. The problem comes when you have to catch it a long distance like I will be doing tonight when I ride from St. Louis to DC.

Every time I ride the Slimdog I say it will be my last; but then something happens and I end up back on the bus. For example this time around I was supposed to be riding with two brothers but when the one brother cancelled I basically ran out of options. I do not trust my 97’ Cavalier with 172,000 miles on it to make it back and forth, it is too late to get a good plane ticket, and I can’t find anyone’s credit card I can use to rent a car so it will be the Greyhound.

The Greyhound has unique demographics and if you go to a major terminal you will likely see the combination of the following; the Amish, young people heading to boot camp, soldiers on leave, parolees, people on the run, drug smugglers, undocumented workers, newly arrived immigrants, drifters, truckers, runaways, people scared of flying and those who are too poor or broke to travel any other way.

In recent months the Greyhound has cut out many of its smaller stops and is catering more to the urbanized areas of the country and this is cutting off the only out of area transport that many of these areas have. One place that the bus will still stop is at prisons. Sometimes one or two prisoners will get on and sometimes like twenty will get on. Usually the guys are nervous and well-behaved butI had the unfortunate experience of being on a bus when an eleven year old girl was assaulted in the back of the bus by a parolee. Another time I was on the bus in Chicago and two guys who had been in prison for years got off on the West Side stop and just stood on the corner for a few minutes looking both ways before they could figure out which way to go; that strengthened my belief that if you take someone out of society it should be your responsibility to appropriately put them back in

On other occasions I have seen drug raids on buses going to the west coast, sex scenes, all sorts of drugs being used, fist fights, melees, and nervous breakdowns. Once I was on a bus that was late leaving the New York Port Authority and then when we got to Philly the driver got sick and we had to wait an hour for the new driver. This driver was new and promptly got lost on the interstate and when it stated raining she told us that she couldn’t drive in the rain and pulled over to the side of the road. When she dropped us off in Columbus, OH we got a good driver; but in Indiana the air conditioning went out and he pulled over to a gas station in the middle of nowhere to try and fix it. The gas station was surrounded by wheat fields and looked like a scene out of Children of the Corn as a group of guys in jeans and overhauls just stared at us as they leaned on their trucks. After about an hour of fooling with the AC, in 1oo degree weather, we drove off again, and when we got about twenty minutes away we realized we had left an elderly Jamaican woman from Brooklyn at the station and when we drove back to retrieve her she was on he knees praying.

Another time on the Greyhound I was in an accident in Pennsylvania; it was minor but the accident happened while I was reading the Mossad expose “By Way of Deception” and it occurred to me for a second that we may be getting hijacked. The worst thing that happened to me however was when I was sleeping in the middle of the night on the bus and a 6’5 large-build Native American guys who was drunk passed out and landed on top of me and I had to fight to get him off of me. We ended up tussling for like an hour on and off and most people were asleep and the bus driver seemed to not care as long as it didn’t get out of hand. When we stopped to pick up in some small town most people went outside to smoke cigarettes or to go to the Subway and get a snack; this guy headed straight for the gas station to get some more liquor and when the driver saw that he decided to just leave him there and let him figure out another way to get to where he was going.

On another note for all of you in the St. Louis area please pick up a copy of the Arch City Chronicle particularly if you are interested in grassroots independent journalism. The ACC covers the people and politics of the St. Louis region. In the latest edition I have a commentary on the future of the Republican and Green parties in the City. Props to editor and publisher Dave Drebes for getting the circulation up to 20,000 and on his outstanding column in this editon.

Also, before I leave tonight, I will be attending the five year anniversary party for Subterranean Books, the new and used book store located in the Delmar Loop that is consistently rated one of the top in the area, and in my opinion one of the best indie books stores in the nation. The store is located at 6275 Delmar and is co-owned by Javier Parada and Kelly Von Plonski. Wherever you live I encourage you to support your indie booksellers whenever you have a chance. For a list of indie booksellers in your area you can consult booksense

Different Kinds of Iftar at Different Masjids

I have made iftar at many different Masjids over the years in many different cities. The crowds that you see at the various Masjids differs depending on what kind of a Masjid you are at.

For sake of simplicity I will divide the Masjids that I have made iftar at over the years into these categories; the African-American Sunni Masjid, the WD Masjid, the bourgeois immigrant Masjid and the ghetto immigrant Masjid. Each Masjid has its own unique method, flavor and cuisine but some things are usually in common. For example; most will have a large number of single brothers who cant cook and don’t have anyone to cook for them, poor Muslims who cant have a good meal at home and those Muslims who will at a big meal at the Masjid and then go home and throw down at the dinner table. Of course at some Masjids you always have the homeless brothers who come in and are like “Assalamu alaikum akhee where is the food.”

The African-American Sunni Masjid can be anything from a hardcore Salafi Masjid like in East Orange, NJ or Germantown Philly to a Jamil al-Amin joint to a place like Masjid at-Taqwa in Brooklyn where Siraj Wahaj is imam. At these Masjids stuff is usually more regimented and you better not go for seconds before your turn or the brothers from security will be ready to put in work. You can find a lot of fried fish and chicken usually with some form of bread and some spaghetti. Some Masjids have more than others; one poor Masjid I was at brothers only had cinnamon rolls and Ramen noodles (what they call Crackhead Soup in prison). One other Masjid only had chicken McNuggets and Snapple. The brothers and sisters will be completely separate here.

WD Masjids (those that follow the leadership of Imam WD Mohammed) tend to have the same kind of cuisines just with more greens. You always have some old pioneer sisters cooking in the back and you listen to the brothers coming in and swapping stories about Saviors Day in 1972. But when it comes time to pass the drinks these brothers always have the all-natural fruit drinks on hand like Omar on the Nile and that ilk. Whereas in the black Sunni Masjid you will sit on the floor at the WD joint you will sit at a table and there is a good chance you will have to pay for the plate and that the proceeds will go to the building fund. There will be free mixing of brothers and sisters and you may even get a sister run up to you and give you a hug or slide you the digits on the low.

If you go to the bourgeois immigrant Masjid you will find that iftar is given out in a very organized fashion ( unless you are at Dar al Hijrah in VA where there is a buffalo stampede after the Maghrib Tasleem), but the South Asian Masjids tend to be the most organized. You got your iftar samossa, dates and whatever else they will give you in a nice little box with a plastic spoon or fork and some bottled water. It feels more like Starbucks than a Masjid. You pray Maghrib at this Masjid and the imam usually recites two of the last ten surahs (the shortest) and then it is time to grub. You get a nice plate of food, that will include some salad, and it will be quite tasty; the only thing on the cheap is the ghetto soda they get which depending where you live could say Vess, C-Town, Tropical Fantasy or Bubbas on the side. You will notice that most of the Masjid leaders, or wealthy Muslims who sit on the shura and probably run it is a social club, are nowhere to be found as they are retreating to their McMansions for a big meal. You can expect meat and rice every night and if it is a South Asian place expect food that could heat up Alaska. The sisters are normally close to the brothers and if you are here, like I have been in the past, you may have some single brother sitting next to you and tapping your shoulder every three minute and asking you to check out the sister walking by. “Is she married brother?” Hijabs will vary at these places but you will see a lot of the Benazir Bhutto convertible hijab. Now of this is an Arab run Masjid then there will probably be a greater separation of the sexes.

The ghetto immigrant Masjid has a lot of variance. One Masjid that is attended by refugees primarily used to have dates and crackers for iftar. BTW, I’m not talking about gourmet crackers from some yuppie store; I’m talking about those big boxes of crackers you can get for 50 cents. Some of these Masjids are the recipients of a lot of saddaqa during Ramadan so you always have a lot of meat as wealthy doctors drop off half a farm worth of meat as a Ramadan ritual. Here it is hardcore and you may not be able to find any eating utensils as brothers go straight Sunnah and eat with their hands. I have also noticed that there is a shortage of beverages at these places and that most of the brothers don’t drink anything with their food so I usually bring some soda or juice for everyone to drink. At these Masjids food will be good like twice a week, when the rice and vegetables are fresh, but then you will get like two or three days in a row of stale rice.