Yasmina Reality

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Good Bye, 2016

Good Bye, 2016

By on December 23, 2016 in current events, personal stories

I’m not one of those people that would lump an entire year into a negative label and dramatically welcome in the coming year. You know what I’m talking about– when people are all, “This year sucked! The new year can’t get here soon enough!”  No- I don’t talk like that. Every day that I wake up breathing — seeing my husband’s face and my kids’ faces … talking to my Mom on the phone … is a day to say ‘alhamdulillah.’ Thank you, God, for your blessings.  In each negative outcome, experience or test is a lesson and wiping away of sins. So I thank God for the negatives in life too.

2016 – a year in review for me looks something like this:

I have been managing my own freelance business for many years now. It has brought me in contact with some amazing companies doing some really cool work in business, marketing and technical writing. I don’t talk about my work much on my blog. I suppose I compartmentalize that part of my life. I think I do this out of respect for my clients and their businesses. I also do it out of respect for the income that God provides to me and my family through this work. Allah’s provisions are sacred because He is the one that provides them. He is the one who chooses them for me. He has always opened a new door for me when one has closed. I trust in Him and His plan for me- even during difficult times.

Last year, I downloaded a wallpaper to my Android phone. It was of Istanbul and turned photos of day to night. My husband asked me why I randomly had Istanbul on my phone. I told him it was because traveling there was on my bucket list. I really had an urge to go there.  A big urge. There were no plans for such a trip- just a longing. There are many reasons but to name a few: my religion came from Ottoman Turks through to Bulgaria which is next door; Turkey is uniquely Muslim, different than any other place on the planet. My great-great uncle was an Imam in Turkey. I’d never been to a country where the citizens were primarily Muslims or where the Adhan plays over the loud speakers outside.

I also used to silently pray to God to allow me to visit Syrian refugees where they live. My heart draws me to them. I wanted to physically be in their presence and learn from them and comfort wherever I can comfort. My mother was born in a refugee camp in Linz, Austria, already half-orphaned. And then became fully orphaned. So I silently asked God for this favor- never understanding at all how it could possibly happen nor expecting it to. I am a busy, working Mom with tons of expenses for my kids. These are crazy thoughts that come into my mind as I live each day, in and out.

So as I enjoyed the beginning of this year with my kids: watching my son play travel baseball and my daughter play volleyball for her school team; getting emotional about my daughter graduating from junior high and signing up for high school classes. Rejoicing in my son auditioning to be the drummer for the district-wide jazz band- and making the cut. This is a child that plays piano and sings every day. He picked up the drums on the side – for fun. My son is SO talented in music, alhamdullilah. You don’t even understand the joy this brings us- listening to this amazing kid crank out music each and every day inside the walls of our home. Listening to his beautiful voice singing from his gut. Just because. Because he is wired to do so- just like his grandfather who he never met. Such a blessing. I will be closing my eyes for the night, ready to fall asleep when suddenly you hear this boy as he says, “creating” chords on the piano and singing from the depths of his soul. And the sound lulls me to sleep.

Blue Mosque, Photo by Sadaf Syed

Topkapi Palace, Istanbul

So I am going about my Mom and freelance work life- never sitting still but running around with these kids constantly- constantly.  I call myself their Uber Driver. All I do is drive them all over Kingdom Come.  When an opportunity comes to me- by way of my dear photographer friend, Sadaf.  Long story short, we are the only 2 Americans chosen by DS Centre for Policy Studies spring journalism retreat in Turkey. Whaat? This literally fell out of the sky. Thank goodness my passport was in order. We traveled to 3 cities and visited Syrian refugees. If this is not the hand of Allah playing out in my life, then I don’t know what is. Did I deserve this magnificent gesture? No- I don’t deserve anything. But Allah gave it to me anyway. Wow. Wow- just wow.  I had the time of my life. And I wrote all about it on the HuffPost and I made amazing friends. And I stood thisclose with only glass between– to the staff of Moses.  I had to pick my jaw up off the floor. I stood next to the staff that parted the Red Sea.  I stood thisclose to relics of the Prophet Muhammad salalahu alayhi wasalam. MashaAllah!  I prayed in the Blue Mosque. I laughed with street vendor, Mehmet (my father’s name) as we “negotiated” cattle for the marriage proposals of family members while drinking apple tea and listening to live Turkish music in the streets.

Wow- these Turks are so fun. I called them the “Xanax Culture.” (I’m so bad.) Here I am- this LOUD, rambunctious, passionate, jokester ENFP American woman coming over there. And I’m like a bull in a china shop in this culture. And they are all low-key, traditional, conservative, sweet as hell, soft-spoken. All I could do is constantly say, “I am SO sorry for being so loud. And crazy. I am SO sorry.” I cannot help my personality. And all they could do is smile, laugh, hug me and love me for who I am.  I love these people. I could easily live in Turkey. EASILY. Would be the easiest thing I ever did. Maybe someday.

Nizip Refugee Camp, Photo by Sadaf Syed

selfie with Syrian refugee kids- Love Them!    Allah bless them please.


I spent my time back home on camping trips with my family and being very present in my kids’ lives which is the hallmark of my existence.  I also spent the election cycle grieving our candidate choices and protesting the fascist hate speech that the right wing element of American society spent a year hurling at us like dirty, stinky garbage. I attend protests– but I protest by never turning on my television to any sort of “news.” I utilize television to watch sporting events and an occasional episode of Forensic Files while cuddled with my husband in bed. I did watch some of the presidential debates- but TV is largely a toxic tool of Shaytan that I really do not want in my life where I can avoid it. I am floored at the thought of so many of my fellow citizens actually turning on television in their homes — and tuning into corporate media as a way to understand the country, the election and the world around them. And then using this to formulate their opinions and decisions in life.  Scary as hell.

This election brought the reality to the forefront though. And I am all about reality if you haven’t noticed by now. Racists and people that are okay with racism have shown their faces.  For that- let’s be grateful.

I joined the ACLU.  I got a copy of my pocket Constitution.  I have taken some other apocalypse-type measures (though I am not a prepper type girl by any stretch of the imagination.) But with Orange Hitler coming into the ranks, you have to hope for the best but try to prepare for the worst.  I am in full resistance mode, no doubt. I reject Trump as an illegitimate enigma of modern times, representative of mental illness; personality disorder; greed and hatred. Gaslighting is the order of the day.  He represents the worst of human kind- in the ranks of Assad, Netanyahu, Milosevic and the Saudi “Royal,” “Muslim” family.  I guess we will always need good and evil to play out in this dunya– in order to be tested.  I just thank God for giving me sound mind and faith to face all of the challenges in my life and in my nation, unafraid- fearing only Allah.

I am grateful for the blessings Allah has bestowed upon me and my family in 2016. And I am grateful for the challenges He is giving me right now too- for He knows best. Each challenge equates to His love for me. He wouldn’t test me if He didn’t love me- and that gets me through each moment that presents stress on my existence.  I am a slave and servant to Allah.  What a relief that is.

May 2017 bring you and your family love, peace, prosperity, good health and spiritual uplifting.  May God relieve the oppressed from their misery; heal the sick in mind and body and protect America in the years to come.  Ameen.

Happy New Year.


Become a Freedom Fighter! Join the ACLU

Do you want to help Syrian refugees? Donate to SAMS.




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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