The Often Painful Stereotypes of Colourism are Linked to Racism

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My mother showed me pictures of my great-grandmother. She was a smart, petite woman with skin the shade of a walnut. I saw admiration in the eyes of everyone who talked about her. They spoke of her sass, her affluence, and how she raised her middle finger when the world tried to draw her back. I was told that my younger sister shared her traits; the petite body, high cheekbones, and walnut skin. My mother would work thick pastes of Vaseline jelly into my sister’s skin until it came out shiny like raw black gold. I, on the other hand…


Her Desire to be Picked May Cause You Great Harm

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Trigger Warning: Sexual Abuse

It’s 10 pm. I’m doing my usual bedtime reading just before my eyes get heavy and my hands get light enough to drop the book without me even noticing that I did. I’m drawn into the story of Carole, the fourth character in Bernadine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other. A few pages in and an involuntary “Oh my God!” glides off my lips, causing my heart to stop for a split second. It’s the second time I’m reading this chapter. Yet, I can’t seem to get over the horror of what happened to her. A chill breeze…


It’s Hard to Let Myself Have a Chance at Friendships.

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I can’t remember when those nightmares began to haunt me. For as long as I can remember, drifting into the arms of sleep meant drifting into the land of terror. The most recurrent dream was me finding myself in the kitchen of my childhood home, riding a walker as a baby and having scalding-hot water from a stainless-steel kettle emptied unto my body. After that, I would have bouts of insomnia, until the daylight tickles my eyes into full wakefulness. I kept this dream to myself for so many years. …


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“If there is anything behind a face, that face improves with age.”
~ Karen de Crow

I am climbing up the stairs that lead to our apartment, tiptoeing into my mother’s colossal dressing room to hide from the other kids. Rather than hide, I stand by the door and stare at my mother. She is wrapped in a cream cotton towel, water dripping from her face and body. I watch her rub blue seal Vaseline on her wet skin, comb out her shea butter infused hair and slip into a big pair of trousers under large boubou blouse.

My mother…


This Is Us

A soul is a soul, be it a cat’s or a human’s

Kitten pop art, vibrant colors.
Kitten pop art, vibrant colors.

One late September evening, my husband and I were chatting at the dining table in my father’s home. Our conversation was interrupted by a high-pitched meow from the window. It was the tomcat that had fathered Coco’s kittens.

I heard pain in his voice. He had shrunk in size from the last time I saw him, months before my mother moved out and took Coco and the kittens with her. He appeared to have not recovered from the agony of the sudden separation, a tortured soul wandering the neighborhood in grief. The sight of him changed the mood.

That night…


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It’s July. 32 degrees celsius outside as I begin to write this review inside our small well-ventilated house in the suburbs of the city. I’m indoors, trembling lightly, with the windows closed, blinds drawn, listening to wails of the whirlwind. I flip through Yewande Adebowale’s second poetry collection and I find my mind connecting my body to the weather and the environment, evoking strong emotions that sweep through my mind as I contemplate the transience of the world.

“Knowing as beings in time

we do not merely become,

we are.

terrestrial-celestial

unveiling intense trajectory of deep

in one, in all


The Muslim Tradition of Mind-Body Therapy

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I am sitting under the shelter of bright fluorescent light, my legs folded in a meditative position, my hands twirling the beads of my tasbih rosary as my lips work the words soundlessly. I let my mind travel far away. It wanders into the spiritual realm, then it reunites with my body once again, going and coming in a never-ending cycle. I feel so much peace, calm and serenity. I experience a spiritual high that transcends the physical. Finally, I’m done. And there’s so much clarity; so much headspace. I feel a bright light envelope me; a renewed sense of…


Past Is Prologue

Agency is not men’s to give, it’s women’s to have

A woman wearing a red head wrap looks at the camera.
A woman wearing a red head wrap looks at the camera.

I was distracted by the beep from my phone as I settled down to nap. I stretched forward to turn off the ringer but ended up sneaking a peek: two direct messages and four mentions. A sister on Twitter called my attention to an article written in response to one of my essays on the mutual inclusivity of feminism and Islam. I read it and wasn’t surprised.

The writer tactfully excommunicated me from my faith, arguing that Muslim women need to be extricated from the religion entirely before anything close to equality can be achieved. …


This Is Us

I believe God designed us to experience pleasure

A photo of a woman’s calves lying on a bed.
A photo of a woman’s calves lying on a bed.

I furrowed my brows and turned around as I ladled the last batter of bean cake into the deep fryer, taking a few seconds to process what my husband had just said.

“So many women have never had the big O,” he said as he poured boiling water over the black Lipton tea bags in our teacups. “Many even believe that they’re not supposed to.”

“How do you know this?” I asked curiously, leaping up to sit beside him on the cabinet. This was the beginning of a very long conversation that started in our kitchen and rolled into bedtime.


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On the eve of her daughter’s wedding in Kwara State, Nigeria, 60-year-old Rinu Yusuf is up at 5:00 am arranging the gifts presented by each member of the family to the soon-to-be bride. I can hear the crackling sound of expensive silver-ware, aluminium pots and pans and all of today’s latest kitchen appliances. I can also perceive the tickling aroma of fresh, tropical garden spices and the sensational fragrance of North-African Bukhoor. But that’s not all; neatly put together were an ordered set of ancient cooking tools, making me wonder if they would ever be of need to the bride.

Wardah Abbas

Founding Editor, The Muslim Women Times. I write about Gender, Culture, Equality and Islam | Visit our Website at https://www.themuslimwomentimes.com

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