Yasmina Reality

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Look Whose Inspired Me This Spring

Look Whose Inspired Me This Spring

By on May 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

So is it just a Muslim cultural thing that all of the annual banquets and gatherings for our institutions take place in the spring? 🙂  I’ve been blessed to attend a number of different functions in the Chicagoland area recently- each one more inspiring than the last.  I can’t allow these feel-good and aha moments to fall by the wayside without acknowledging and documenting them in my blog.  So here goes!

Dr. Sherman Jackson I was blessed to listen to Dr. Jackson speak both at the CAIR-Chicago annual banquet in March and the Webb Foundation annual banquet in May. These are two organizations that have my heartfelt support. CAIR representing my passion for civil rights and justice; and Webb, representing an American community of Muslims I want to be around and who stand for the American values I share. Dr. Jackson left me with many thoughts and emotions, one of which was the comfort of knowing I am not crazy for sometimes feeling a sense of alienation for expressing a moral code of conduct which is rooted in my Islamic values.  Being born in and living in a secular society is a blessing; I am a part of this society. My values as a Muslim are part of the fabric of the society that I live in.  They are not supposed to alienate me but enhance the depth of culture that is representative of what America stands for.  Dr. Jackson convinced me that our society needs Muslims to be a part of it- and we already are a part of it.  This is our home.


Dr. Jackson stopping in at the Webb Coffee Hour.

In his own scholarly way, Dr. Jackson addressed the paradigm in Muslim culture particularly emanating from previous generations that compel us to view ourselves and others in a black and white way (halal / haram.)  Either you are a good Muslim or you are not.  This thinking jives with what I frequently say to my brothers and sisters in the community – that we judge each other far too much.  The only model for Islamic idealism is the Prophet Muhammad salallahu alaihi wasallam.  And did he walk around snubbing his nose at his companions and community members that didn’t step up their Muslim game and image to some sort of set standard?  Umm- no he did not.  Not even close.  We must help each other along and cheer each other on.  We must create environments that draw people in — not push them away.  Just today, I got the thrill of meeting Dr. Jackson when he stepped into the Webb Foundation coffee hour – and we talked about this topic briefly.  Allah bless him and keep him.  May his message of sound reasoning and love for the Ummah be spread, understood and activated far and wide.

Craig and Cindy Corrie   If you follow the apartheid situation in Palestine with any sense of depth or compassion, you’ve heard of Rachel Corrie.  If you haven’t, please read her story and follow the work of the Rachel Corrie Foundation. Rachel was a young hero.  An American activist brutally murdered in 2003- crushed beneath an Israeli bulldozer as she stood peacefully in front of the home of a Palestinian family- protesting the home’s demolition to make way for illegal settlements.  She was in her early 20’s and tragically lost her life to the Palestinian cause.  Her parents, Cindy and Craig, tirelessly keep their daughter’s work alive through the foundation and by travelling and speaking around the country.


My dear friend, Bentley, with the Corries at the PCRF Banquet in Chicago. I was too overcome with emotion to take a picture with them- thanks, B!

My dear friend, Bentley, invited me to the PCRF (Palestine Children’s Relief Fund) Banquet this spring here in Chicago – where the Corries were Keynotes Speakers.  I’m so grateful for the invitation!  I have followed the work of PCRF.  How can I not?  I am a mother with compassion for children.  I’m a muslim / human being with compassion for the oppressed.  To see and hear first hand the work that PCRF does struck a chord in me – and I will never be the same.  Bottom line- as much as we complain about our healthcare system and Obamacare and insurance companies and big pharma etc. – at least we have some semblance of a healthcare system and accessibility to speak of.  Imagine the least of your worries being to have your overnight bag prepared in case you go into labor and have to get to the local hospital – but rather- praying you can get past a checkpoint to even get to a hospital to give birth.  Or to have heart surgery.  Or to be treated for a stroke.  PCRF has volunteer doctors from around the world that train doctors on the ground to perform life-saving procedures in Palestine.  They sponsor children to fly to the states to have surgeries here- whether it is to fix congenital abnormalities or to fit a prosthesis for a child amputee. I will forever support the work of PCRF.

Back to the Corries.  They spoke at the PCRF event.  I was moved beyond words.  When Rachel’s mother spoke, I can only feel empathy from mother to mother. I can only picture that Rachel died around the same time my son was born.  I can only look on in awe at Cindy Corrie- that she could speak in graphic detail of her daughter’s death 11 years later, wondering how many times she has told this story to other groups like this- and how many times she has watched the nightmare play out in her mind.  After the banquet, clutching my newly purchased book, Let Me Stand Alone, The Journal of Rachel Corrie, I approached them and expressed my condolences for their loss, thanked them for their sacrifice and told them what an inspiration their brave daughter was and is.  I hugged them both and the tears flowed.  I don’t cry too often- but when something gets me deep in the heart and the center of my soul- the tears emerge.  Allah bless the Corries for all they’ve endured in the name of peace and justice.  And Allah bless Rachel for her bravery and sense of humanitarianism in this big world we live in- which really is quite small.  May the highest levels of heaven be hers and her family’s for eternity.

Sweet Angel Hanan- Allah bless you with a long and healthy life! ameen

Sweet Angel Hanan- May Allah bless you with a long and healthy life! ameen

Hanan Al hroub Hanan is a 6 year old little girl from Syria.  I saw her at the PCRF banquet; the light of love envelopes her like it does most children.  In September of last year, a missile hit Hanan’s home and with this tragedy, she lost her leg.  Hanan is in Chicago – away from her family – to have surgery for a prosthesis.  Seeing her story on the local news and seeing her in person moved me deeply.   I am now hoping to become a host to a child in need through PCRF, if God wills.  Her story reminds us to keep the people of Syria in the forefronts of our thoughts.  They are enduring hell on a minute to minute basis.  May Syria find peace and be aided by nations only in humanitarian ways- not in self-serving ways that make way for further death, suffering and destruction.

Imam Suhaib Webb It was a thrill to hear Imam Suhaib speak at the CAIR-Chicago banquet this spring.  Currently an Imam in the Boston area, he has been named one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in 2010 and his website, www.SuhaibWebb.com, was voted the best “Blog of the Year” by the 2009 Brass Crescent awards.  It’s refreshing to be inspired by a man who can bridge Islamic doctrine to modern day living in America; someone so in tune with and in touch with our youth and community needs.  I encourage you to check out his web page or follow him on Facebook for daily doses of inspiration.

Wajahat Ali of Al Jazeera America and Dr. Sherman Jackson, King Faisal Chair of Islamic Thought and Culture, and Professor of Religion and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California (USC).  (At the Webb Foundation 10th Annual Banquet)

Wajahat Ali of Al Jazeera America and Dr. Sherman Jackson, King Faisal Chair of Islamic Thought and Culture, and Professor of Religion and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California (USC). (At the Webb Foundation 10th Annual Banquet, May 3, 2014 in Woodridge, IL.)

Wajahat Ali is a man who wears many hats.  He did a great interview-style lecture alongside Dr. Sherman Jackson at the Webb Foundation’s dinner gala; and, I love his style!  You can find him on Al Jazeera America’s The Stream as co-host to this energetic, interactive show.  He is an author and playwright.  I am inspired by Muslim journalists!  I strive to raise the bar of my own writing and journalistic efforts- and being amid the cheering section of great talents like Ali get’s me energized for my own work.

So you see – I’ve been keeping pretty busy this spring.  And these are not the only people that inspire me.  My interfaith companions inspire me .  My spiritual leader, Imam Senad inspires me, my faith communities (plural- I feel I’m part of many) and my family and friends inspire me.  The only way that my writing and activism dreams can come true- is by being energized by others.  The experiences and visions and words and emotions of others — inspire me to write and blog and advocate.  I thank you all- the nameless who remain in my heart and in my prayers.  Without you- I’m nothing but alone with thoughts.  With you- I’m energy – for together – we are changing the world.  Happy Spring!

Peace out!




About the Author

About the Author: I'm a Writer and Muslim Activist. I'm also a Board Member of the #MyJihad Public Education Campaign. Follow my blog at yasminareality.com or follow me on Twitter: @yasmina_reality. I'm also now on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/YasminaReality Peace! .

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