Silent Dhikr

Key Ballah

1. My name is too long to fit into the tiny space of your mouth.2. My God is too big to be affected by the pebbles you throw with your tongue.3. I am too beautiful to care whether your sons are comfortable with the black fabric in place of my bare skin.4. My father’s beard is none of your business.5. My mother’s henna spotted hands can strangle the appropriation out of you.6. FGM is not Islam. (However I refuse to demonize women for what tradition has taught them, for what the … [Read more...]

My body is not an invitation

Key Ballah

He said my name like a ghost. A whisper from behind. A quiet wind hot and hollow. He said it lazily and slack mouthed, not parting his full lips wide enough to let every letter through. He said it without the sigh of relief at the end that it needed to sound familiar, like it was not so sweet it could make his eyes water.I should have known. I should have known what kind of man he was when he held his tongue between his teeth and let his eyes off their leash to roam un … [Read more...]



They ask me why I always wear black.And I answer “I am in mourning”.They ask me who am I mourning.I’m mourning my grandfather, I say.They found his bones 10 years after his head was cut off, Quran in hand.I’m mourning my uncle too; his remains still not found. I wonder how much he suffered.I’m mourning my grandmother, killed by the grenades that left her son handicapped.I’m mourning the thousands of Ahmeds, Aishas and Fatimas massacred for being Bosniaks, for being Mus … [Read more...]

If God gives me the privilege of giving birth to a daughter


Eds. Note: We are pleased to welcome our newest columnist, Key Ballah! Catch her column - Brown Girl Dreaming - the second Wednesday of every month. You are a woman every part of you reaches toward that identity, but you hesitate, cutting your tongue on the way that it sounds. Because your mother is a woman and the word rests against her so gently. Her hips are full, her mouth is wide, the word “woman” just seems to embrace her. But you feel it hanging off of you, like a  … [Read more...]

What’s Your Name

Order Irene's new collection, the galaxy of origins. Scroll down for audio. what’s your namethe heavy chimes clot the hours in the air andmy blood asks, do bones carry future memories in their marrows?waiting for a face that is a mirror, I turn the page ofa tome that lists only my name my name my name.tonight each cicada sings its name, the only one it knows,and when I stepped out the door this morning and a chipmunkslammed into my shoe, it couldn’t remember its name for a mome … [Read more...]

fr muslim girls who considered suicide when the ummah wasnt enuf

fr mariam , khadijah, fatima, hajar, alla , yall,fr our communities that hold us,recite algebraic formulas against evil eye2 × al fatiha plus 3 astaghfirallahs =your eyelashes wont fall outwritten with such love and concernfr when we struggle w themagainst islamophobia ,racism , the revolutiondo our dawah n makedua fr you, me, the deenthinkin abt the dirty linenwe spent all nightfolding with our teeth clenched… Read the rest of th … [Read more...]


Eds. Note: We're celebrating the stories and perspectives of Muslim youth between the ages of 18-25 this month! Tune in on Twitter to join the #MYRising conversations and check out our sister sites Muslimah Montage, Coming of Faith and Muslim ARC for more #MYRising features.In my culture, love is a fairytale.It exists in Bollywood movies and mothers' wombs; both places where magic occurs.So when he tells me we have to talkI already know the dust has settled and all that glitters is … [Read more...]


Eds. Note: Wishing our readers a blessed Eid filled with peace, beauty, & joy! Ramadan may have ended, but our hearts are filled with longing for the month again. holiest of datesthe last hunger before the breaking of the fastthe taste of you on my lipssustenance for thirty days and thirty nightsfrom sun up to sun downi watched for your arrivallikethe blessed coolness of the night air on my parched drynesslikethe holiest of dates to … [Read more...]

Love after death

I often wonder about love after death.After the bodies are buried, janazas are done, and people become memories - how do we love souls then? Is it in the past, like a faded memory? Does loving end when the grief ends? Can we continue to love, and have our lives shaped by that love, after the person is gone? What if.... they never actually really leave? How do we love through transitions into the hereafter?This past July, I went to South Asia to caretake ("babysit") my maternal … [Read more...]

Khaleesi – To the Men Who Mistreat Women

This powerful poem stopped us in our tracks. Note it is NSFW."Khaleesi"us women; merely second opinionbut first appetiteare taught early how to restrain the wolves,when the men convergeall gnawing teeth and salivating fangsthese insatiable men who snarl us out of our lineagesabertooth non-believers who cannot considerhow loud we can behow brass and trombone this world has played usthere is no place here tounravel yourself for thembow your headunlearn your name … [Read more...]