City of Brass

City of Brass

Vote now in the (delayed slightly) Brass Crescent Awards!

posted by Aziz Poonawalla


Voting in this year’s Brass Crescent Awards is now underway, after a few months’ delay. Here’s the explanation from the official site:

We would like to sincerely apologize for the delay in this year’s voting. The reason for the delay was that we did not have sufficient blogsphere nominations as we needed, which can be reflected in the fewer categories available for voting this year. Consolidating the categories required some careful thought in order to stay as fair as possible to our nominees.


In truth, the number of nominations has been dropping for several years, as the nature of online conversations has shifted away from the blogsphere and towards social media. The Brass Crescent Awards are over a decade old, and we are striving to ensure that they remain as relevant for the decade ahead.

To that end, we would like to solicit your thoughts, on what changes we can make to help improve these Awards and make sure we remain effective in our goal of promoting the voice of Muslims online, in whatever medium they choose to express themselves. Bear with us and please let us know what you think – there is an additional spot for you to write whatever comments and thoughts you may have on how the Awards should evolve, right below the voting for each category below.


Thank you for making the Awards every year such a success. With your help, we will make sure that the Brass Crescent Awards remain a success in the years to come.

As mentioned, the categories have been condensed – they are:


Vote now in each of the categories at! In addition, there is also a field for you to leave your own comments about the future of the Awards. Make your voice heard!


Midamar halal beef – charged with fraud

posted by Aziz Poonawalla


This is disturbing news – the company Midamar, well known for its halal meat products, has been charged with fraud for falsely advertising its beef as halal to Muslims:

The indictment said the companies told customers its cattle were slaughtered by hand by specially trained Muslim slaughtermen who always recited prayer. Midamar also advertised that it did not use penetrative captive bolt stunning, in which an animal is killed when a steel rod is shot into its brain. But Midamar’s primary beef supplier was a meatpacking plant in Windom, Minn., that used bolt stunning, the indictment said. After the orders arrived in Cedar Rapids, employees used acetone or nail polish remover to take off labels showing the beef came from that plant and put on fraudulent labels, it said.


Midamar denies the allegations and in a strange twist says it will challenge in the indictment on grounds of violation of the separation of Church and State. This fishy defense alone is sufficient to make me quite skeptical of Midamar, which is a shame because I have been buying Midamar products for years – especially their halal turkey and gyro meat frozen products.


men should accept blame; women should assert agency

posted by Aziz Poonawalla


The following rant was posted on Facebook by a friend of mine, and I have her permission to reproduce it in its entirety.

Systems of patriarchy are sometimes so entrenched, we just accept them as part of normal daily interactions. Popular discourse often maintains that it’s men who do such and such to women–thereby reinforcing the active/passive stereotype–but it’s easily forgotten that women are sometimes complicit agents within the system as well and can inflict just as much harm on fellow women. To “save face” within the system, any measures can be taken. This is all a rambling way of me screaming about a personal issue that I normally would not publicly share: the fourth false, unfounded, out-of-the-fing-blue accusation I’ve come across in my life about my being The Other Woman. I AM NOT. If you are unhappy in your marriage, get. the. hell. out. If you are too scared to leave your marriage due to social pressures, do. not. blame. other. women; blame the system. If your spouse is interested in other women, it is not those women’s fault. And if you have an issue with your spouse, talk. to. him; don’t try finding outside excuses. I have had it UP TO HERE.


The standard narrative – especially in a traditional culture or religious milieu – is that men have all the agency. But Women carry all the blame. Hence bizarre advertising campaigns ostensibly in favor of hijab that compare women to pieces of candy – obviously written by men, but also tacitly endorsed by women who buy into the narrative. And this mentality obscures inspiring and uplifting acts of feminist empowerment that should be seen as the norm rather than the exception.

The truth is that the person who performs the action should bear the blame. Seeking scapegoats – and the scapegoats are almost always women, whether the accuser is a man or a woman – is perpetuating the very systems of patriarchy. This is how these systems are entrenched – not by any religious validity or sanction, but by complicity among the very people that said systems routinely oppress.


The issue is of course more complex than the rant allows – the whole case of Ray and Janay Rice (and the #WhyIStayed / #WhyILeft hashtag campaigns that they inspired) shows that why women stay in bad relationships is more complicated than just fear or pressure. But the bottom line is that women do have agency. And men should carry blame. Any suggestion to the contrary is against the most basic recognition of women as equal human beings to men, and anyone trying to justify institutionalized misogyny of this type on religious grounds is part of the reason why cancers like ISIS metastasize.


If the image accompanying this post seemed irrelevant at the outset, I hope that my editorial choice is more defensible now :)

Related – a great post from a relatively new blog, MuslimGirl, “the hypocrisy of the male-centric narrative” – a must-read.


My first day of wearing rida to school

posted by Aziz Poonawalla
Example of a designer rida worn by Dawoodi Bohra women

Example of a designer rida worn by Dawoodi Bohra women

Zainab Jamali is a teenaged Muslim American girl in Los Angeles. As a member of the Dawoodi Bohra community, she recently took her misaq (an oath marking the symbolic passage to adulthood) on the hand of the community’s spiritual leader, the 53rd Dai ul-Mutlaq, His Holiness Syedna (Mola) Mufaddal Saifuddin (TUS). After misaq, it is considered obligatory for women to dress in the traditional rida, an Islamic modesty garment akin to hijab. What follows is her first hand unedited account of her first day wearing her rida to middle school.


The perfect story is that as soon as Mola TUS said to wear a rida, I had no doubts. I didn’t even have to think twice. But that story is not mine. The choice of whether or not to wear a rida was very controversial in my mind. The fact that my parents said they would support me either way made it all the more difficult. I guess they thought it would make the decision easier, but it actually made it harder. I needed to know what the right thing to do was. Every time that I brought up the topic with my mom, her reply would be something along the lines of “Wait until you actually get your misaq, your view might change after.”

Sure enough, that is exactly what happened. Throughout the misaq, I listened and said “na’am” at the appropriate times, but when Mola TUS came to the verse where I made the promise to wear rida (among other things), I tensed up. But, when I walked out of that room, I myself was surprised that I had already made a decision. After making a promise that strong, that personal, and learning the consequences, my decision was made for me. How could I possibly break it the very next day?


I had made the decision but execution is always known to be the hard part. I woke up Wednesday morning (my first day of school after the ceremony) without the prompt of an alarm, totally aware of what was happening that day. My stomach actually hurt, I felt sick. As soon as I got out of the car, I saw my friend; she looked at me twice, then started up normal conversation. Internally, I breathed a sigh of relief. As people filed into the school, questions were asked. “What are you wearing?” “What’s up with your clothes?” “Why?” “You have to wear that for the rest of your life?!” As I answered them, a weight was lifted off my shoulders. My friends were basically behaving normally around me!


That is not to say it was all sparkles and rainbows, there were a few people who became awkward around me. Those people became kind of distant, but there was no bullying, name-calling, shunning, or total ignoring. I was prepared for the worst and overall, I think I got a pretty good deal. I was satisfied, even more than that, I was really happy. My friends were all the same, and I was all the same. In fact, I think that if you don’t be awkward about it, then they won’t be awkward about it. If you show them that underneath it all you are the same person, they won’t care as much. I realized, perhaps the best way to deal with those who felt awkward was not to take off my rida, but rather to wear my rida and be awesome.

There were some people who, I think, pretended to be positive, but were really thinking “What the heck?”, and that’s okay, because not everybody is going to accept you, whether or not you wear rida. As devout Muslims, we aren’t going to be normal anyway; we are not going to drink, date, or go to parties, and that’s obviously not a bad thing. I say, if you’re already different, why not embrace it? The next day, the amount of compliments I received was definitely more than I would have expected.


I was really scared on the first day—like, really scared. I am not going to tell you there is nothing to be afraid of; there might be after all. However, my positive experience surprised me. Not everybody will choose the same path, some may decide it’s not worth the risk. But if you’re inclined to take the leap, take it from me, it’s not as bad as your imagination tells you.

Guest post by Zainab Jamali, Los Angeles

Related post: does the hijab protect women from harassment?

Previous Posts

G. Willow Wilson's Ms. Marvel nominated for Hugo Award - and needs YOUR support
Few people outside the fandom of science fiction and fantasy probably are aware of the Hugo Awards, but in a nutshell, they are the single most prestigious award for SF/F, launched in 1953 during the Golden Age of sci-fi. These are the Academy ...

posted 9:34:01am Apr. 17, 2015 | read full post »

Bomb blast in Karachi targets Dawoodi Bohra community
This happens almost every day in Pakistan - fanatic hirabists commit arrogant blasphemy and murder ...

posted 8:22:26am Mar. 20, 2015 | read full post »

Proof denies faith
On Reddit, someone posted the following question: "What convinces you that the Quran is the literal Word of God?" I think this is precisely the ...

posted 9:33:46am Mar. 13, 2015 | read full post »

Proud to be American, proud to be Muslim
This is a guest post by Safiya Dahodwala. Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS graced the land of America for the first time as the 53rd Dai (spiritual leader) of the Dawoodi Bohra Muslim community. It has been nearly a decade since his predecessor, ...

posted 12:58:00pm Mar. 05, 2015 | read full post »

is ISIS Islamic? Wrong question.
There is an excellent longform essay on ISIS published in The Atlantic, "What does ISIS Really Want?" that lays out an excellent case fore ISIS being genuinely different in ideology, motivation and ethos than Al Qaeda. The real question boils ...

posted 11:34:08pm Feb. 17, 2015 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.