Frequently-Asked Questions

Remember Who They Are

I fully accept that this will be too little, too late for some, and too much, too soon for others.

I will begin this with a doubled, modernized set of secular Serenity invocations: Noodly Lord grant me the serenity to accept that there are people I cannot change, the courage to change the people I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Noodly Lord grant me also the serenity to accept that bad-faith actors exist, the humility to recognize my good-faith critics, and the help I need to discern the difference.

Both of these, but especially the latter, directly reflect my Accountability Pledge, which I wrote a while back. I keep thinking about it as matter after matter arises within skepto-atheist circles. [Read more…]

Irvine No Longer Friendly to Religious Diversity

Sometimes, with all the intercommunity issues, I forget what we’re up against as secular Americans. I was reminded of it last night.

I attended the July 14th Irvine City Council meeting in which a proposed measure to add a display of In God We Trust to the council chambers was deliberated. Irvine is my hometown, the city in which I spent most of my life and where I was educated. Although it severely lacked in economic diversity and bred some of the classist views of which I’ve had to actively divest myself, as far as ethnic and worldview-based diversity and acceptance goes, it was a great place to grow up for a young hijab-wearing Muslim like the one I was. I wanted to speak against the addition of the motto.

No more is the Irvine I knew, it seems. Between Mayor Steven Choi’s heavy-handed Christianity, Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Lalloway’s absurd insistence that Christianity was in need of tolerance from non-Christians, Councilmember Christina Shea’s rather dismal insinuations that atheism leads to child abuse, and the majority of the Councilmembers’ disingenuous insistence that “God” is a secular term (the notable exception being Councilmember Beth Krom, who showed great courage last night in standing up for church-state separation and secular inclusivity), I can’t say that I give the city quite as much credit that way anymore. [Read more…]

Search Term Round-Up #4: Dating & Sex + Religion & Race, Oh My~

Content notice for racism and sex and racist sex and sexual violence.

Inspired in no small part by the grand tradition of Captain Awkward.

racial preference is racism / dating preferences racist / are preferences racist / race preference dating / is having a preference racist

TL;DR answer to all of these: Sometimes.
Slightly longer answer: Saying “I’m attracted to [members of a particular racial/ethnic group]” is a faux-complimentary way of saying “All [members of a particular racial/ethnic group] look alike to me.”
Much longer answer: What Is Racist About Race-Based Dating Preferences

i’ve been fantasizing a bout girls in hijabs


Between weirdos on campus and at atheist meetups, I have a lot of personal not-good feelings about men who profess veil fetishes. [Read more…]

Search Term Round-Up #3: Non-Binary Gender & Other LGBT Issues

two brides holding hands

For the next few round-ups, instead of a plain listing, like I’ve done in the past, I’m going to respond in the grand tradition of Captain Awkward. I mean, with incoming search terms like “top ten male authors” and “heina dadabhoy boob“, how could I not?

In honor of same-sex marriage being made legal by the Supreme Court of the United States, I’m going to focus on the LGBT-centric phrases and questions that have led to this blog.

[Read more…]

Haramadan 3: Fasting & Other Health Hazards

If you’re in Southern California and free tomorrow afternoon, I urge you to attend the Free Raif rally, presented by CFI-L.A. in conjunction with Amnesty InternationalMuslims for Progressive ValuesPEN Center USA, and the Los Angeles Press Club. More information can be found on the CFI website and on Facebook.

One of the health hazards associated with living under Saudi Wahhabi-style Islam is a significant risk to expressing any views that might be interpreted to be offensive or irreverent. Another health hazard, one that can be found in nearly every flavor of Islam, is the fasting observed by many during this time of the lunar year. [Read more…]

Haramadan 2: A Wedding Reception

Heina & Danny decked out at their reception

Photographers are good and all, but friends sometimes capture the best moments with their phones.

A question I am asked rather often as an ex-Muslim is whether or not I continue to participate in Islamic rituals, holidays, and celebrations as a cultural sort of thing, just as many former and never-Christians celebrate holidays like Easter and Christmas. The one “holiday” of which never-Muslims tend to be aware is Ramadan, which isn’t actually a holiday at all and has no appeal to me as a non-believer. Dehydration is bad, period, but especially in these long, dry, Southern Californian summer days.

There are other aspects of my cultural and religious background that I continue to honor or at least acknowledge for a variety of reasons: Filial duty, unchecked expectations, checked associations, the die-hard nature of old habits, and even, when it comes to a few specific things, a tinge of fond nostalgia.

All those play a role in how I feel about my two recent birthdays, just two months apart from each other, as well as my family wedding reception. [Read more…]

Haramadan Day 1: Religion & Tragedy

Ten years ago, I would have spent my early afternoon reciting al-Fatihah at least four times, chanting Allah hu akbar seemingly endless times to mark my transition from motion to motion. Today, instead, I say the names of people I don’t know, people whose lives were cut short: Sharonda Coleman-Singleton. Clementa Pinckney. Cynthia Hurd. Tywanza Sanders. Myra Thompson. Ethel Lee Lance. Daniel L. Simmons. Depayne Middleton. Susie Jackson.

It isn’t that I think religious believers are apathetic when it comes to justice (quite the contrary), or even that I didn’t care about tragedy when I was a believer. It’s more that, without feeling like I know that justice will eventually be served and that the victims are in a better place, my immediate reaction involves a lot more anger. There is no way to immediately soothe myself, just a rawness and a sense of loss and of being lost. [Read more…]

#Haramadan Begins Tonight

I’ve not been as active as I had in a while, so to get myself back on track, I’m going to start the Haramadan Chronicles in this Year of Migration 1436*. I’m going to be reflecting and writing, facetiously and seriously, here and on other outlets, on my history with the Islamic month of fasting and its accompanying traditions, rituals, and routines. Dedicated self-reflection and ritual are the only aspects of Ramadan I have truly missed; now that I’m fairly comfortable with my apostasy, there is no reason for me not to give that part of it a whirl again.

Making this especially fun is the fact that my Hijri birthday is the 5th of Ramadan, my partner Danny‘s is the first of Shawwal (aka the day of Eid ul-Fitr), and he is going to be experiencing Ramadan and Eid firsthand for the first time this year.

Some reading to get you started:

* That is the year right now according to the Hijra calendar, which is a lunar calendar based on the year Muhammad reportedly migrated from Makkah to Madinah.

Fostering Felines, Trigger Warnings, & Impossible Standards

person with dark curly hair, tan skin, and fading henna on their hands sleeping on a black and white patterned bedspread with three small tabby kittens nestled on and against them

Clockwise: Nightcrawler, Wolverine, and Jubilee. Southern Californians, please note that they are as sweet as can be and will be up for adoption in about a month.

A few nights ago, I gave the felines I am fostering (The X-Kittens) baths to relieve them of their smelliness and flea-related itching. They’re too big for their mom to force them into tongue-baths yet too little to clean themselves adequately, plus they’re too young for the safe administration of flea medicine. That one bath won’t stop the fleas or the stank forever, but it will stop the poor things from itching their neck fur ragged and from being embarrassingly stinky when we take them to the vet tomorrow. Plus, sweet-smelling, fluffy, soft kittens make for excellent napping buddies.

Would you argue that I ought not to have bathed them because that option isn’t quite nuclear? Unlikely. So why hold trigger warnings up to such an impossible standard? [Read more…]