About Wajahat Ali

Wajahat Ali is an American Muslim of Pakistani descent. His play, "The Domestic Crusaders”, the first major play about the American Muslim experience, originally premiered at the Thrust Stage of the Tony Award-winning Berkeley Repertory Theater to universal acclaim in 2005 and made its New York premiere on 9-11-09 at the world-famous Nuyorican Theater. He was honored as "An Influential Muslim American Artist" by the State Department and invited to their annual Ramadan dinner. He was also recently honored as a "Muslim Leader of Tomorrow" for his journalism work and invited to participate in the "Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow" conference in Doha, Qatar. He is the recipient of Muslim Public Affairs Council's prestigious "Emerging Muslim American Artist" recognition of 2009. He is a frequent contributor to the Washington Post, The Guardian, Huffington Post, Counterpunch and Chowk. His first short story, "Ramadan Blues," was published in January 2009 in the anthology "Pow Wow" published by Perseus/De Capo Press. His first movie, "Ms. Judgments," was a finalist for the prestigious LinkTV Muslim American Film Contest. His blog, "Goatmilk: An Intellectual Playground", is ranked in the top 7% of all political blogs and recently rated "Great" by blogged.com. He is an associate editor of Altmuslim.com, the leading American Muslim online magazine; and a contributing editor to the award-winning Illume Magazine. He practices law in the Bay Area.

Wade Michael Page: Islamophobia Unleashed

How much longer will we tolerate politicians who stoke bigotry like that which drove Wade Michael Page to kill?

(Crossposted from Salon.com)

Here are some of the things we know about Wade Michael Page: He led a “racist white power trio” called End Apathy; he had a tattoo commemorating 9/11; he shaved his head; and, on August 5, he killed six individuals and wounded a police officer at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin.

Wade Michael Page. Credit: Salon.com.

We have yet to determine if Page mistook Sikhs for Muslims, but such questions are irrelevant. In today’s Islamophobic atmosphere, there has been increased marginalization of all AMEMSA (Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, South Asian) communities. In particular, Sikh Americans have faced the brunt of post-9/11 hate crimes and backlash, with Sikh men often being mistaken for Muslims. The first post-9/11 hate crime murder was of Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh gas station owner in Arizona, whom the murderer chose because he was “dark-skinned, bearded and wore a turban.”

This extremist violence and fear-mongering does not exist in a vacuum. The Southern Poverty Law Center recently reported the highest number of hate groups ever recorded in U.S. history,with nearly 1,018 active groups. Furthermore, anti-Muslim hate groups have increased 300 percent in the last year, and the FBI reported a 50 percent increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes. The reasons for the record rise in hate groups are due to the faltering economy, changing racial dynamics in America leading to a minority-majority country, and the election of Barack Hussein Obama. Continue reading

The Reality of the ‘All-American Muslim’ Reality TV Show

The Jaafar family, one of the participating families in the Learning Channel's 'All-American Muslim' reality TV show. Photograph: TLC

For those constantly fretting about the inability of Muslims to integrate or assimilate into western culture, fret no more!

American Muslims finally have their own reality TV show – the Learning Channel’s “All-American Muslim” – focusing on the lives of five American Muslim families in Dearborn, Michigan, who are predominantly Lebanese and Shiite. The show’s premiere gave TLC huge ratings and made the show No 2 in its time period. Mainstream critics have embraced the show citing it as “intimate and informative” and a “deeply intriguing, uncharacteristically thoughtful reality series”.

Reality TV is the current zeitgeist of popular culture. Unlike the euro, it is the predominant cultural currency, whose value is skyrocketing. America is on a first-name basis with their cultural ambassadors: Snookie, Kate Plus 8, Paris, Ozzie and Kim. Could Shadia, the show’s tattooed, country music-loving Lebanese American Muslim, with an Irish Catholic boyfriend, belong in the pantheon? Continue reading

By Us, For Everyone: A Muslim American Declaration

We are Muslim Americans. We are American Muslims. We live as your neighbors, friends, doctors, lawyers, police officers, soldiers, cab drivers, newspaper vendors, teammates, co-workers, and family — seamlessly and without conflict. We are fully immersed in the American mosaic, and we are proud.

Our Muslims forefathers have been here since the founding of this country and we proudly continue upholding our legacy of investing in and contributing to America’s successes from culture to politics, medicine to business, law enforcement to philanthropy.

As Muslims, we believe there is only one God, the God of Adam, Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Noah, Moses, Joseph, Jesus and Muhammad (God’s peace be on them all).

There is no country on earth that can boast as wide a variety of Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Zoroastrians and Atheists as America can. As citizens of this country we feel truly blessed to be able to worship as we please, whatever our beliefs. The diversity of the American landscape is mirrored within each of its faith communities; our individual uniqueness, talent and energy make us stronger as one nation.

Continue reading

The Post-Osama Muslim American

One of the global architects of terror responsible for inspiring the 9-11 tragedy was finally killed this week. Osama bin Laden, who violently hijacked the faith of 1.5 billion to rationalize his perverse criminal actions, is permanently seared into our collective consciousness as the 21st century boogeyman.

Sadly, in the eyes of many Americans, bin Laden has also become one of the most visible icons of “Islam” alongside Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X. Furthermore, 10 years after the 9-11 tragedy, nearly 60% of Americans say they don’t know a Muslim, and the favorability rating of Islam is at its lowest ebb.

Muslim Americans, like much of the world, still cannot escape the overbearing shadow of the fallen towers. There is a permanent fork in the timeline of the Muslim American narrative: Pre-911 and Post 9-11.

Pre 9-11, I was another awkward, well intentioned, multi-hyphenated Muslim American with exotic dietary habits who prayed 5 times a day and drank chai instead of alcohol during college.

Post 9-11, I received a special screening in front of my fellow passengers who boarded the plane to North Carolina while observing my Muslim security clearance zoo exhibit.

I felt like smoking a cigarette and spouting a witty barb after my intimate encounter with the TSA. Continue reading

Muslims react to news of Osama Bin Laden’s death

Crossposted from the GOATMILK Blog

“As an American, a Muslim and a Republican, of states right’s and original polity, I give this:

How is it that we as Muslims have come so far from the aristocracy of yore, yet find ourselves consummately subservient to the political aims and whims of Muslim elders who nod wisely and speak stupidly. The ferment of ire that is the baseline of the “Osamas” is a a sad state of affairs where modern Muslims will not question their leadership but will find their deen questioned by people of unscrupulous nature.

Every living thing that Al-Qaeda stood for is an affront and idolatry to both Allah (SWT) and Islam as a construct. OBL is hopefully the last bastion of folk who seek to pervert Islam in the name of militarism. May we now be at a turning point where conversation and humility can overshadow the sadness of yore that allowed OBL’s ilk to pervert religion and bend it to suit his wholly un-Islamic aims.” – Oz Sultan, Former Director of PR at Park 51

“Well, I was multitasking by being on Twitter and writing a final paper when I heard there would be a be an announcement from Obama. Everyone on twitter was trying to guess what it was, and then there were rumors about Osama. Everyone was going crazy on Twitter and FB. I finished my paper 5 hours later, which should have taken less than two hours. Definitely worth it though. I’m Egyptian American and when Mubarak fell, it was one of the happiest days of my life, and today is too.” – Aya A. Khalil

“Though I am not Muslim, I was happy to hear President Obama reiterate in his global statement that it WAS NOT a war against Islam. Very happy to hear the promotion of racial, religious, and ethnic tolerance in a critical moment.” – Art Balaoro Continue reading

Mubarak’s Valentine’s Day

In honor of Valentine’s Day and the removal of Hosni Mubarak, here is a link to an insane but hopefully amusing and perhaps even educational parody-satire about Mid East Dictators and their complicated relationship with the U.S.

Mubarak’s Valentine’s Day

It’s done in the spirit of The Godfather and Fatal Attraction. There is no boiling bunny but something equivalent, kind of.

It stars Mubarak, Obama, Clinton, President Zardari, Gaddafi, Tunisia’s Ben Ali, President Assad of Syria, Shimon Peres, King Abdallah of Saudi Arabia and Blackberry Messenger.

Hope you enjoy.

– hope all have a lovely and wonderful Valentine’s Day…unless you’re in Malaysia, in which case I simply offer you a “good luck.”

“Temporary Marriage in Islam is Sex for Hire”: Fatemeh Fakhraie


The motion:“Temporary Marriage is a valid option for Muslims in the modern age”

AGAINST THE MOTION: “Sigheh Marriage [Temporary Marriage or Muta’a] is Sex for Hire”

Fatemeh Fakhraie

I support any way that two consenting adults can safely get it on. And so I don’t think sigheh marriage (temporary marriage also referred to asmut’a, or pleasure, marriage) is a bad idea.

In a magical, lollipop-and-rainbows land.

But in the reality where we all live? No. It’s a terrible idea.

See, in magical Lollipop Rainbow Land, men and women are equal. Sexuality is something between autonomous people who are educated enough to make intelligent decisions about their sex lives. Gender roles aren’t rigidly ascribed or enforced, and no importance is placed on virginity. Everyone respects each other and each other’s choices in this fantastical place. Sigheh marriage would be a wonderful thing in Lollipop Rainbow Land.

But, as this grumpy feminist is constantly reminded, we do not live in Lollipop Rainbow Land. We live in a place and time where women are not seen as equals and are still exploited physically, economically, sexually, etc. In this context, sigheh marriage is a sanctioned path to female exploitation – and thus, in my book, a terrible idea.

To be upfront, I am an American Iranian Muslim who comes from the Shi’a tradition. Sigheh is a largely Shi’a practice, and the vast majority of my knowledge on it comes from the Iranian context. So that’s where I’m writing from today. Continue reading

Can a Muslim Woman Marry a Jew? Or Other Non-Muslim? from The Goatmilk Debates

“THE GOATMILK DEBATES” is an ongoing series featuring two debaters tackling an interesting or controversial question in a unique, irreverent manner. Each debater makes their opening argument. They can elect to post a rebuttal. The winner will be decided by the online audience and judged according to the strength of their argument.

The motion: “Muslim Women Should Be Able to Marry Non-Muslim Men”

For the motion: Nadia B. Mohammad

Against the motion: May Alhassen

For the Motion – Nadia S. Mohammad – “Muslim women should be able to marry non-Muslim men”

When Huma Abedin, aide to Hilary Clinton, married Anthony Weiner, New York Congressman, it sent tongues wagging in the Muslim community. She did the unthinkable, the ultimate taboo for a good Muslim girl from a good Muslim family – she married a Jew… and he did not convert. O-M-G. The question that makes even the most open-minded Imams squirm was revived – Can a Muslim woman marry a non-Muslim man? The answer in all the major schools of thought has traditionally been a resounding NO.

Absolutely, not. Not ever. Haraam, sister.

The response only begs the next question, but why? It is not prohibited in the Qur’an. Few modern scholars feel comfortable forbidding it for that reason. Yet, few are actually willing to articulate this in an official forum. Dr. Abou El Fadl is an example of a scholar who has openly and candidly addressed the issue of Muslim women marrying “men of the Book.” In his response he explains his dislike of the issue and his tendency to avoid answering the question. He describes the traditional thought and then goes on to mention that he, personally, finds the evidence regarding the prohibition to be weak and does not feel comfortable telling a woman she cannot marry a kitabiyya [People of the Book.]

I am not a scholar, but Dr. Fadl’s response echoes the sentiments I have heard from other scholars as well. As such, the bases for this opinion are two ayats [Qu’ran verses], the opinions of scholars I have questioned, and my own research. This opinion does not apply to marriages where one converts to another’s faith. Additionally, for the purposes of this discussion I recognize that we live in a patriarchal society and I am not contesting the traditional roles ascribed to men and women as per our cultural patriarchy. Continue reading

Barack Obama, Muslim President

Barack Obama in Kenya

Exhibit A: Barack Obama dressed as a Somali elder during his 2006 visit to Kenya. The photograph was circulated during the presidential election campaign in 2008, regarded by Democrats as a smear. Photograph: AP.

One wonders why only 20% of Americans believe President Obama is a Muslim, considering the overwhelming evidence conclusively proving his slavish allegiance to Islam and utter disregard for Christianity.

After Obama’s wishy-washy defence of Muslim Americans’ freedom to build a community centre, which includes a mosque, two blocks away from Ground Zero, a poll from the Pew Research Centre reveals that nearly 20% of Americans – up from 11% a year ago – consider him a Muslim, and nearly 43% are unsure of his religion.

As a Muslim American, I presciently spotted the tell-tale signs of Obama’s Muslimy-ness and raucously celebrated – along with the entire monolithic entity of 1.5bn Muslims – our successful Islamisation of America. With one of us finally implanted in the White House and the other wearing a Miss USA tiara, minarets on the Capitol and a burqa-clad Hillary Clinton were only a lunar cycle away.

The smoking gun proving Obama belonged to the “stars and crescent” occurred during his interview with influential pastor Rick Warren, when he publicly admitted, “I believe Jesus died for my sins and I’m redeemed through him – that is a source of strength and sustenance on a daily basis.” Further testimony came with his 2009 Notre Dame graduation speech, where Obama referenced his community organising days in Chicago, boldly declaring, “it was through this service I was brought to Christ.” Continue reading

The Power of Storytelling: Creating a New Future for American Muslims

Originally published in Patheos.com



In 7th-century Arabia, the storyteller was valued more than the swordsman. The audience sat on the floor surrounding the gifted orator as he captivated the eager listeners with beautiful poetry narrating their history. In the 21st century, the art form may have evolved to include motion pictures, TV shows, theater productions, novels, and standup comedy, but they all serve the same function: storytelling.

Ideas and principles are most effectively communicated and transmitted when they are couched in a narrative. Stories, whether they concern the etiquette and biography of prophets or the trials and tribulations of America’s founding fathers, inform and influence a cultural citizenry of its values and identity.

Stories of the Prophet Muhammad most effectively communicate the Quran’s eloquent exhortation to tolerate and embrace diversity: “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise [each other])” (49:13). The Prophet’s cordial diplomacy and communication with the Christian, Abyssinian King yielded one of the first alliances of the young Muslim community. Furthermore, the Prophet displayed unconditional love for his diverse companions, who comprised the gamut of Arab society including former slaves, orphans, widows, wealthy dignitaries, and non-Arabs.

Similarly, the story of a biracial man with an Arabic name and a Kenyan father elected to the highest office in the land reminds the world that indeed America can live up to its cherished principles of freedom and racial equality, and her citizens are capable of reflecting a magnanimous and egalitarian spirit bereft of prejudice. Continue reading