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I am so very thankful. I am so very blessed.  We are healthy, we are happy, we like each other and we love each other. 

As I stand here in our kitchen with Khaled,  our family prepares to welcome our friends and family into our home to break bread.

I am so thankful. 

Today, I pray that no one person is touched by violence. 

Thank you to the Indigenous people of America, my European ancestors, my country of origin, my colorful array of family and friends, my supportive network of women all over the globe, and you. 

Thank You for being here, for cheering me on, for talking about hard stuff, for supporting each other and working towards peace.

Reader Response: Is Becoming Muslim the Right Choice?


Monday, I came across this question posted on the About page.  Instead of responding there, I thought to share it here in case any of you have more input.

Hi, I have a question. Well you see I’ve been dating this Muslim guy from Pakistan, but I’m not Muslim. I have been learning more about the culture and all. I’m afraid I of what my family will say if they know I may become Muslim.
I love him with all my heart and I would love to be called his wife. I’ve already met his family and some of his friends. They are amazing people. I’m still unsure if me becoming Muslim is the right choice.
Any advice that could be given would be greatly appreciated.

First, I’m glad you have reached out and started looking for a support network.

Now let’s move on to the details of your question. You don’t say where you or your boyfriend are living, so I usually default to assuming United States. You also don’t mention if your boyfriend is a citizen. Yes, this is an important detail.

It is wonderful that you have found a relationship with a man whose family is willing to meet you and possibly accept you. It is also wonderful that you have met some of his friends and seem to be integrating into his life. By this, I mean he isn’t hiding you. Since I don’t know how long you have been together, it is more difficult to address his family situation. Often times, families will be accepting of non-Muslim girlfriends but when the relationship turns serious, they will not approve. This is something to consider.

The most important part of your question is that you are learning about the culture and you are unsure about becoming Muslim. These are two separate issues but are often lumped together and are difficult to tease apart. You can learn about the culture of Pakistan and Pakistani natives, appreciate the clothing, food, customs and even learn to speak Urdu all without converting to Islam.

It is important to know this.   You can love your Pakistani Muslim man and his family without having to convert. Conversion is not mandatory or compulsory. You should not ever feel pressured or coerced into converting.

If you are learning about Islam, the true Islam away from Pakistani Culture and are called to convert, then by all means go ahead. But think about this. Would you still feel the call as strongly if you were not in love with your Muslim Man?

Happy Halloween!


You don’t celebrate Halloween?  That’s okay.  I know people who go all out with the decorations and costumes, I know people who won’t participate by dressing up but enjoy passing out candy and seeing all the children and I know people who turn off the lights and go to the movies so they don’t have to acknowledge that trick or treating happened.

It’s all okay.  In my house, we visit the pumpkin patch, we carve pumpkins and we dress up.  We have decorations for the outside of the house and we have decorations for the inside.  We take the kids trick or treating and we negotiate for the snickers bars.  Then on the day after Halloween, we go and buy 1/2 priced candy.  Because, well, Snickers.

Today was supposed to be the day I decorated the inside of the house.  But I’m sick.  I’m at that part of the sickness where you do only what is absolutely necessary, because the cold meds are just barely taking the edge off.  So, I’m sitting here drinking tea, listening to the whirr of the oven fan and thinking about all sorts of things to share with you.


Its been over a month since I wrote about that man’s t-shirt at the football game.  I’ve discussed it over Facebook, Twitter and with my local friends.  My article was shared on AltMuslimah.  I’ve met with the school’s Vice Principal and talked to him about my concerns.  This is what has happened.

I met with the Vice Principal and he talked to me about how multicultural our school is, how when he walks around, he sees kids from all walks of life intermingled.  They don’t segregate themselves by race, gender or religion.  He expressed shock at seeing the photo I shared with him and understanding.  Then, he promised to discuss this matter with the district security board.

When I heard back, it was as I expected.  The school has control over the student’s dress as it pertains to school and school functions because we have an established district dress code and code of conduct that states, “Apparel, emblems, insignias, badges, or symbols that promote or advertise the use of alcohol, drugs, tobacco, sex-related slogans, violence or any other illegal/inappropriate activity are prohibited.” But spectators who are not students, have freedoms under The First Amendment to wear whatever they like.

Again, the results are as I expected.  So, why bother?  Because nothing can be gained unless you ask and make people aware of your concerns.  You must speak up to be heard.  Silence is consent.

Learning to Breathe


These days I’m unsettled.  I feel like we are on the cusp of a major change.  By ‘we’ I mean The World, The United States, Society as a Whole, Islam, My Family, Me.

My wise friend, Heather, tells us to breathe through the change but I’m scared of change.  I know it is inevitable, but the unknown is scary.  It is unsettling.  It is dumping everything in the cake pan and hoping it all turns out alright without following the recipe.

Breathing through the change is like trusting.  It is praying and it is letting go.

I’m not good with the letting go part.  When I get scared, I want more control.  Not less.

Last year, my family decided that we would attend the Friday night Varsity football games at Mr. Fox’s highschool.  We went to every home game last year, and we’ve gone once this year already.  We are not football fans.  I don’t know most of the rules.  I have only ever watched two football games each year my entire adult life.  I only watch them so that I can talk about it when everyone else who is a football fan is talking about them.  To me, its a cultural event.  Like Halloween, or Thanksgiving.

On September 4, we lined up to get our tickets at the season opening home game.  Directly in front of us was a man wearing this shirt.

My immediate reaction, was FEAR.  I looked at my people.  We all look like we blend in.  We are, for all intents and purposes, a suburban, white family.  Nothing we were wearing was overtly identifying.

I was SCARED.  Mr. Fox was annoyed.  Kate grabbed my hand a little tighter.  Pea gave the man’s back a dirty look.  I looked around and there were no less than 5 police officers on duty.  No one else looked scared.  I didn’t know what I should do.

On one hand, the man has his First Amendment rights.  But we are on school property.  This is an event for children.  We are at a school with a significant number of Muslim students who are actively involved in sports as well as other activities.

I took the man’s photo without his consent.  I wanted to document this event because I couldn’t sort out if my reaction was warranted.  Was I overreacting?  Is it just a shirt?

Then the man sat down the bleachers in front of us and I took another photo of his shirt from where we were sitting.  During the first quarter of the game I counted no less than 8 Muslim students in the stands from where I was sitting.  3 were wearing hijab.

So, I shared the photo.  I didn’t offer any explanation at first.  Just the photo and “as seen at tonight’s game.”

These were some of the first comments:

Unlike · Reply · 2 · September 4 at 7:13pm
Unlike · Reply · 1 · September 4 at 7:14pm
Oh, fantastic. Ugh.
Unlike · Reply · 1 · September 4 at 7:17pm

Wow. What school is this

Like · Reply · September 4 at 7:20pm

Kristina ElSayed It’s his right to wear it, but it’s just really unsettling.
Like · Reply · 1 · September 4 at 7:22pm

The discussion went on from there, most people understood my outrage and fear.  A few did not.  I don’t love these friends any less, but it is clear that they don’t understand the fear that comes from this type of racism.  They didn’t want me to presume what this man thought about Islam, Muslims and what the word ‘kafir’ and ‘infidel.’  They wanted me to give this man the benefit of the doubt.  But I know.  We had just been discussing these shirts and the meaning of them a few weeks before.  I was educating people about these shirts.  I KNOW.

I waited a week and then made contact with the school.  The response has been less than stellar.  I received a cursory email from the Assistant Principal, and I’ve not heard back despite my follow up.  What do I want from the school?  I want to know if spectators to events on school property are to abide by the district dress code.  I want to know if I have a right to complain about this when it shows up at a school event.  What are my choices?

Then the news of Ahmed Mohamed being arrested.  It is clear to everyone that his detainment has nothing to do with his invention and everything to do with the fact that he is Muslim and Black.  My network was talking about it all day long.  I waited and spoke with the children a little when they got home.  Did they hear about his arrest?  What were people saying at school?

Kate cried.  She is scared that she could get arrested just because of her religion.

Can you even remotely begin to hear that?

She is afraid of being arrested because of the way she prays.

Today is the Day of Arafat.  It is one of the holiest days of the Islamic year.  It is the day that marks the remembrance of The Prophet Muhammed’s final sermon.  When all of the pilgrims are praying at Arafat, Muslims all over the world are fasting.  My children are fasting today at school.

Will they be okay?

Tomorrow is the Eid ul Adha. The Feast of the Sacrifice.  All of the Muslims in my city and the surrounding area will gather in one place.  One Huge Celebration.  We will gather, we will hear a sermon and we will all pray together.  Then we will eat together and share in the celebration that 2 million Muslims have completed their Hajj.  There will be security at all the entrances, but will we be safe to pray and celebrate this day?

When radical men in sheep’s clothing enter churches to kill people because of the color of their skin, how are we to feel safe that the same won’t happen to us?

On the day that Abraham trusted his Lord to sacrifice his son, I will breathe, I will pray, and I will hand it over to God. I am not in control of the unknown.

Links on some of the research I did concerning this topic:

Reader Response: My Muslim Boyfriend Broke Up with Me


Happy Monday friends!  This morning when I settled in at my computer to get some work done, I found this letter from a reader.

Hey, I recently came across your website and was hoping I could get your opinion or view on some of the stuff that I have going on. My boyfriend of almost 2 years just broke up with me out of no where, he said something about we can never be anything more than we are right now because he is Muslim and I am not. He was born and raised in Canada and I’d consider him to be very westernized, he drinks parties, dates all that stuff. We have talked about the future before and have always worked things out but suddenly he doesn’t think it will work anymore. I believe that some of it has to do with pressures from his family because ideally they would like him to be with a Muslim however they didn’t dislike me at all and they have told him that they will love and accept him no matter what. I know that he still loves me and cares about me but is trying to shut me out and forget his feelings for me. Do you see him changing his mind and doing what makes him happy instead of what he feels is the right thing?

I sent M this response and asked permission to get your opinion.

I’m so glad you’ve reached out. I’m sorry you are hurting right now. After spending 2 years of your life with a man it is very hard when they decide they need to make a change.

In my experience, most Muslim men who come from pretty strict families are rebellious in their younger years and then as they age, they return to following the sunnah more closely. It sounds to me like your boyfriend has come to a crossroads. His family may have upped the ante on the pressure for him to marry a Muslim woman. Even though they like you, and it is perfectly permissible to marry a Christian woman, if he is dependent on them, that could be extremely difficult. While he still loves you, he may be in the position of choosing between you and his family.

My advise to you is to let him go. Grieve your loss. I know it can be messy but this will be the kindest way for YOU. If he is still calling you, tell him you would like to remain friends (if you do) but that you need some time away from him to grieve your ending relationship and the loss of the future you thought you had with him. Give him a time period in which he cannot contact you. This will help you mourn and it will help him come to terms with his decision. You, in turn, don’t contact him. Do what you need to do to mourn this ending relationship.

For me, grieving has always been about watching a lot of movies and reading a lot of books. Talking to a counselor and then connecting with some friends. Do something cathartic. Allow yourself to heal. Then, after the time has passed, you can reach out to him and see how he is doing. You will always love him in some way, but it may hurt a little less.tulip stamen

Re-Post: The Side Entrance of Religion


This piece was published on July15 as part of The Hopscotch Hijabi’s 2015 Interfaith Ramadan Series.

I am un-mosqued. Every mosque I’ve ever been in feels like a side entrance. It doesn’t matter if we walk through the same door as the men, or sit directly across the latticework barrier from them. To the non-Muslim parent of Muslim children, the mosque feels unwelcome.
To be fair, I am also un-churched. Every church I’ve been in since entering my interfaith marriage has left me feeling unwelcome. Even when the church is progressive and open and welcoming to people of all walks of life, they don’t recognize Islam as a credible religion. To the Christian mother of Muslim children, the church feels unwelcome.
What do we do when we enter interfaith relationships and build a life with someone who has a different belief system than your own? You could convert. Your spouse could convert. You could recognize both religions, educate and celebrate them equally with your children. You could ignore your religion in an effort to raise your children with once centralized religious practice.
In my life, I chose to have my children grow up with once central religion. I have learned about Islam formally for many years, and continue to learn on my own. But Islam has never called me. I am filled with a strong spiritual connection, but I have no place to worship that fits my life. I have no community with whom I can worship.
For the first 10 years of my life attending the Mosque, I would sit aside trying to decipher the Arabish that was coming through the speakers. Sometimes I would listen from the hallway, and other times I would listen from the balcony. Most of the words were in heavily accented English, with random Arabic words thrown in for clarity to the majority. If you are like me, once an Arabic word is thrown into the lecture, I’m stuck because my brain goes off trying to recall the meaning, or I’m lost because I don’t know the meaning. The lecture looses focus and I never regain the message.
During this time when I was actively searching for Islamic knowledge and guidance, trying to listen and understand if I was being called to become Muslim. I would listen to the Khutbah Kast from the Islamic Center at New York University. Imam Khalid Latif became my Imam. He spoke American English and he grew up in New Jersey. Imam Latif used Quranic scripture and connected it to everyday life in a way that I was used to hearing from attending church and listening to sermons. I learned how Islam could grow and adapt and help the American Muslim community. Then the podcasts ended in favor of YouTube videos I don’t have time to sit and watch.
These days, the mosque I attend has an English Jummah every Friday. When we attend this service, we are allowed to enter the same door that the men use, and we sit at the back of the main prayer hall. Most of the leaders are high school boys who are born American English speakers, Muslim scholars in the making. I am often the only woman there, sitting in the back with my daughters. I can see the speaker and I can sit in the same room as my family. It isn’t ideal but its fine. It’s progress.
In my struggle to discover a religious practice that fits my life, I have studied the major World Religions. I have read about Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam and Christianity. While Christianity does not have all of the answers, it does have characteristics that marry well with my Islamic life. There are denominations and churches that recognize that God’s message doesn’t end with Jesus.
Discovering that Unitarianism sees the logic and wisdom of every religious practice has been a revelation and a relief. Through my search, I found The Dublin Unitarian Church Podcast. After listening to the Reverend Bridget Spain talk so eloquently about a central topic and incorporate lessons from Christianity, Islam and Judaism in a single sermon made my heart full. Finally, I found a source of spiritual growth.
I am still un-churched. My approach to my religious practice often feels like I’m going around the side entrance of the restaurant to get the scraps and piece together a meal. Now at least my soul is being fed on a regular basis.
(I edited this post for spelling errors.)

Repost: Uninvited


This post was first published on July 8th as a part of Hindtrospective’s 2015 My Mosque, My Story: A Side Entrance Ramadan

If there was ever a time I felt completely at a disadvantage while parenting Muslim children, it is during Ramadan. I am so often embarrassed when we go to the Mosque during Ramadan that I would rather just not go.

Kristina uninvited2I am the only non-Muslim that attends Jummah on a regular basis at our Mosque. We go every Friday because I take my children and I sit with the ladies and we listen. I cover my hair and wear a prayer skirt out of respect for my family and because it is what is appropriate. I’m not out-of-place there because people are used to me. They know I sit there where I can see the speaker. I listen to the khutba and my girls are dressed appropriately. We are attentive participants. We don’t talk when the speaker is talking. We Listen. Once the sermon is finished and the prayer begins, I move to the side and wait until everyone is finished praying. Everyone who is a regular knows this. They know me. We say ‘Hi’ to each other. People ask me to watch their babies while they pray.

But during Ramadan, people come out of the woodwork to attend Jummah Services. It’s the same at churches, during Christmas and Easter, there are members who only show up on holidays. The Arabic Jummah is packed with people trying to reestablish their place as a member of the mosque. The English Jummah is also filling up because people are just learning about it or they are holiday Muslims.

People who don’t know me are showing up, taking my spot on the carpet, and eyeballing me when I’m not praying, judging what they do not understand. Watching us like we are the strangers there, not them.

Because I am the regular, and because I’m so used to new people being welcomed at church, I introduce myself to anyone to appears not to know anyone. I approach them. I say hello. I welcome them to the mosque so they don’t feel out-of-place. I have mentioned before to my husband and friends that I would love for there to be a welcoming committee so that there is at least one person at every prayer to be on the lookout for new people. Or the regulars should have name tags. That way you would know at a glance if someone is just at a new service or is new to the mosque.

Kristina uninvitedI approach them, welcome them and ask if they have been to this mosque before. Or, sometimes I remember meeting them someplace before and I mention that and draw the connection for them. I want the new person to know that they are important and its good that they are there. I want them to feel welcome. After I do all of those things, the first thing they say to me that isn’t a response to my welcome is, “are you fasting? – Do you fast?”

That question shoots me back to that place where I am the odd one out all over again. Invariably I am stunned into silence. I can’t believe that they are so rude to ask. Everything that I plan in my head to respond to their rude behavior flies out of my mind because now I feel like everyone is looking. The spotlight is on me and then I tell them no. I confirm their suspicions that I don’t belong there. They belong and I do not. I’m not part of the club and I can’t masquerade as though I am. I don’t know why I’ve bothered.

I know that the girls are watching though. They see me do this thing, this welcoming. I’m hoping that when they grow older, they will do the same as what I’ve done. If they do, it will be worth all of my embarrassment because the difference will be, when they approach the new person; they will be ambassadors from inside the clubhouse. I will have made a difference here. The mosque will be more welcoming.


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