Dear Parents

There is a normalization of a certain type of sexual culture in popular media that is seeping into our collective mindset. As humans, we have a voice and responsibility to confront perverted notions of our sexuality that are promoted as the norm. Islam is a belief system which not only encourages but requires us to confront these issues. Your sons and daughters are exposed to certain ideas of sex and sexuality that are harmful to their development and growth. The first step is to realize that your child is not especially immune. Someone or something WILL fill the gap in their education and development on this issue. What steps will you take to ensure that "Keeping up With the Kardashians" isn’t teaching your child about self esteem and body image? How are they going to grapple and come to terms with their sexuality and changing bodies? Their equally misinformed peers can only teach them so much. We need to present an alternative and go against the trend and establish our own and this does not mean pulling our children out of sexual education. We need to repackage, reform and rebuild the curriculum. It should be a curriculum that empowers the youth with decison-making skills, literacy in media, self-esteem and reaffirms their respective identities. This curriculum should be culturally appropriate and really speak to our youth in a language they can understand and relate to. We must confront issues and not sweep anything under the carpet for them to learn about later through other less educational and religiously-sensitive means. We should create a space wherein our youth can be comfortable to learn about themselves and be honest themselves… distinguishing from what magazines, tv shows and movies are telling them to think about themselves on a daily basis. This curriculum must reaffirm the psychological, emotional, spiritual, physical and social aspects of our youth and reassure them that they are not mere objects divorced from these aspects of themselves as popular media would like to have them think. These are just a few reasons why we need a truly comprehensive sex education for our youth. This post does not mention the numerous examples that demonstrate just how much popular culture normalizes an idea of sex and sexuality from within our schools to our own households. This post also does not include the various steps one can take to create a curriculum for educators to practically address these issues. These are something that, we as HEART peers, are researching and writing on at this very moment. We share our insights with you through this blog, please do stay tuned.

Sehar Sufi

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Khutba-Raising Muslim Women

Hey All,

Please watch this youtube khutba http://www.halaltube.com/khalid-latif-its-tough-being-a-girl. This well spoken and intelligent religious leader is advocating for gender equality in the Muslim community. His speech is powerful and inspiring. I am still in shock. He addresses sexual violence, abuse, domestic violence, gender inequality, and issues concerning hijab. He critiques the Muslim community regarding gender inequality and gives solutions on how to change this problem. Unfortunately he does not address how sexism affects men or how transgendered Muslims are treated. This is very forward for the Muslim community. I truly believe this is how you jumpstart change! If we can convince religious leaders there is a gender inequality problem within the Muslim community we can start to fix a problem that has ravaged and broken our community. We must speak loudly and with good reason in order to change minds and hearts.

A Muslim Woman’s Sexual Experience

Muslim women writing about their sexualities is absent from literature. I advocate for all Muslims to write about their sexuality and demand social change within the Muslim community. Yet I struggle with writing about my own. It’s a part of me that’s so deep, fluid, and unexplored. As a teenager I did everything I could to make it disappear. I was too busy being a good Muslim girl. I did not want to be that shameful and dirty woman that broke the most sacred rule of all. Also I wanted nothing to do with men. I saw what my mother and the women in family went through with men. They were all heartbroken and hardened by their experiences with men. Men often felt they had all the power, privilege and Allah given right to treat women like objects. So I decided at an early age any love, romance, or intimacy with men was for fools. My iron demanded that I would be free of any kind of sexual or romantic attachment or interaction with anyone. I challenged Allah (s) with my arrogance saying send me whoever you please because I will remain pure and unburdened by heartache. After all I had no time for such foolishness, I wanted to continue my education and become successfully independent. I was in expecting life would be so uncomplicated.

I was certainly unprepared for my first semester of college. I was unprepared for the experience that ignited my path of enlightenment and self discovery. I embarrassingly admit that it took a man to make me realize that my sexuality exists and is a part of me. The very moment I met him I felt this intense sexual and intimate connection. It was pure electricity. I pretended it did not exist because I did not know how to handle such powerful and inexplicable emotions. My Muslim upbringing only taught me to feel shame with such feelings. But it was really hard to resist how I felt about him. I was enamored by his intelligence, openness, kindness and compassion. I could tell he had respect for women unlike most of the men in my life at that time. His cynicism challenged me to think more critically about what I had accepted so willingly. He seemed to follow life according to his own rules. I was willing to compromise my good Muslim girl role because I wanted him. I wanted to touch his shoulders, chest and his cute and perfectly plump ass. After all there he was smiling at me. He was provoking me to go with him. I looked at him one last time and walked away. My womyn’s intuition and wisdom told me this was not my path. Anyways I ended up finding out he was a frog. For some reason during that short time that weird and wondrous man made me feel desire I thought never existed. If Allah (s) thought sexual desire was so shameful then people would find no physical, emotional, and spiritual pleasure in it.

This experience opened up a whole new chapter that changed my life. I thought about what it really meant to be “a good Muslim girl.” It’s socially constructed by male Islamic scholars and men in power to keep women’s sexualities submissive. Why do the Muslim community and scholars make Islam and sexualities so fucking hard to reconcile? I am determined to make this reconciliation! Islam and sexuality are intertwined. Muslim educators and parents should be telling their community that such sexual pleasure with consent is encouraged. My message to all Muslims is to embrace your sexuality. Do not be ashamed of it because narrow-minded people power and authority say that you are sinful. Please educate your community about sexuality. And for the love of Allah (s) please do not judge and punish other Muslims who have had sexual experiences before marriage, during marriage, with the same sex and/or multiple partners.

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