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So I wanted to share with you guys some of the photos from the "Philly Welcomes Nadira" Meetup that was held 3/23/2014 at The Shops at Liberty Place! I apologize for the late post but I was waiting on the photographer's who besides being busy snapping more photos,  have to take the time to edit the ones taken previously and watermark them. That's a long process in and of itself. 

I'm sooo pleased with how these came out as they really capture our meetup. It was very inspirational and full of positive vibes. I can't wait to share more with you! 

I've also shared a few from my personal stash. I didn't get a chance to take many but those marked with a PHKI watermark are from inferior camera. I'll be posting the information for the photographer's momentarily!


 
 
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Whew! 

This pregnancy has been so very different than my other three! I've been introduced to symptoms that I'd never thought possible!

In addition, working full time as a teacher has been so difficult as I struggle to remain my perky, engaged, and goofy self while feeling like crap all morning long! 

My students are my motivation as I never want to half step and give them less than what they've come to expect. I know that my high energy, jokes, voice impersonations, and rapping makes history, writing, and learning so much more engaging and easy to stomach (no pun intended). 

So I try to soldier through but it has been a challenge and I thoroughly look forward to my fast approaching maternity leave. It's time to focus on baby and I...sadly I haven't given much thought to nursery or aqiqah planning. Hopefully, I'll have more than enough time to figure it all out! In the meantime, take a peek at some of my OOTD's from the past couple of weeks!

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The Hubs photo-bombed me!!
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Post Cheesecake Factory Awfulness!
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Eighth Month Belly!
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Caffeine Fix!
In other news, I've been wanting to share the results of my DNA test with you guys as it was so enlightening in so many ways. Like most African Americans with deep roots in the South (my maternal grandmother hails from North Carolina and Virginia), I grew up listening to how our family was mixed with Native and White American. In addition, because I didn't know much about my African heritage, my interest has always been piqued in my genetic makeup. Thanks to my Aunt Marie (hubby's aunty) I was gifted the opportunity to be able to find out what my DNA was through ancestry.com.

My results were very surprising and elicited a VERY funny reaction from Matt (hubby) that I dare not share here. Due to the above stories that I recounted to him and my own kids, we were under the impression that my results would be much more...should I say diverse, well that couldn't be further from the truth!

It's amazing as I recall a time when an African woman stopped me and asked where I was from. Slightly bewildered, I finally replied, "America". Finding that answer unsatisfactory, she then clarified by asking where in Africa I was from. I told her I had no idea as my family were slaves. She then told me that I reminded her of the people in Cameroon and that I should try to find out one day. Fast forward almost 12 years later and her words would ring oh so true!

So without further ado here are my results:
The above I found shocking...in the words of someone who shall not be named, "Dang you're Black as hell!" Yes, yes I am. Despite not expecting these results, I'm nonetheless elated! I get giddy just thinking about the possibility that I'm related to Mansa Musa, hey my Mali peoples! Lol!
Totally surprised that the Native American DNA is almost non-existent and that the European DNA that does exist is from Eastern Europe and Ireland (seriously, how the HECK did that happen?). Also Central Asia? Mind blown.

I guess it's official, my kids are truly global citizens of the earth as my husband's recent DNA is just as diverse, perhaps more so than mine (India? Seriously). I guess that's why no one can guess what the heck he is, ha!

Anyways, have you had your DNA done or will you be doing it in the near future? Let me know in the comments below!
 
 
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After the widely successful 48 + 1 Amazing Black Muslim Women posted here, author Nadirah Angail is at it again!

That's right, it's time for the awesome Black Muslim Men who have been stalwarts in the community while achieving professional success to be nominated!

Watch Nadira's video asking for your nominations:

Now fill out the form below!

Republished here with the permission of author. Click here to be taken directly to this form.

 
 
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Last week we shared our insightful interview with the beautiful songbird Noorah Islam! This week we finally get to the nitty gritty of her CD review!

We're not hear to debate whether music is haram or not, we've formed our own opinions on the subject based off of research and talking to local Imams. We encourage all who want more information to seek out the proof on their own volition.


With that being said! Lets get to the heart of the matter (pun intended) and delve into the beautiful reminders through song compiled by Noorah!

The first song, Remember Allah, is the lead off track on the CD and implores us to do exactly what the title suggest, stay in remembrance of Allah. It sets the framework of the entire CD. Of Particular note are Noorah's arrangements.

Songs three through four are also must listens but it's Excuse Me, where Islam sings about letting Islam go before but coming back to Allah that immediately grabs your attention. In it she sings, "please don't mistake these lessons...I will ask Allah not to let me fall...". You can hear the sincerity of a life lesson that she wants to share with all. Hold on to your Islam, no matter the costs as letting go can lead to all kinds of pitfalls. Again, it's a reminder.

Continuing on with the theme of remembering, Noorah continues to speak of a time when Islam was not as central as it should have been and remembering that we were created to worship God and him alone. These lyrics, "Living life in so much misery, if I could rewind the times, then surely I would know those evil things were ruining my soul, I gotta remember…that Allah is my lord, I gotta remember what I was made for" captures the essence of the song.

The seventh track is very catchy and one in which my eldest daughter latched on to as we listened in the car. Indeed, Listen and Learn reminds us about the five pillars of Islam, Sawm (Fasting), Shahadah (Declaration that there’s only one God and the Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam) is his messenger) Al Hajj (Pilgrimage), Salat (Prayer), and Zakat (Giving of one’s wealth). Loved her arrangement on this song as well!

Track nine titled Slow Down is also beautifully arranged as Islam hums while her smooth, melodic voice asks us to slow down. This world is indeed fleeting but it's our deeds and intentions done here that determines our fate, we must not lose sight of this because of the fast pace of life.

Beloved, the final track, which is a bonus is also beautifully arranged and one of my favorites. In the song, Noorah sings, about being thankful to Allah for guiding her beloved to her. This song immediately puts me in minds of my husband and the love we share. As she sings, the last almost nine years of our marriage flashes before my eyes.

Heart of a Muslim Volume I is a solid first effort by Noorah Islam and leaves the listener wanting to hear what's next! I thoroughly enjoyed this CD and love that I can play it in full in the car with my kids. It certainly kept me in remembrance of Allah while driving, which I am sure was her ultimate goal when compiling the CD. If you haven't purchased this CD you're definitely missing out! If you'd like to purchase, Noorah's contact information can be found below as well as the full track listing! 


Facebook: noorah.islam
Twitter: Noorah_Islam
Instagram: noorah_islam


Full Track List
Track 1: Introduction
Track 2: Remember Allah
Track 3: Islam Is For All
Track 4: Beloved
Track 5: Excuse Me
Track 6: Remember
Track 7: Listen and Learn
Track 8: So Happy
Track 9: Slow Down
Track 10: Allah hu Akbar
Track 11: Alhamdullilah For Everything
*Bonus Track 12: Track 12: Beloved (Wahid)
 
 
PictureAuthor Nadirah nadirahangail.com
Lists featuring American Muslim Women who are Amazing, Inspirational and whatever other adjective you want to use have become all the rage over the past couple of years. 

However, a blaring oversight that has been pointed out time and again, is the absence of a more diverse body of women which would include Latino and Black women. 

This is especially important considering that African Americans are the second largest ethnicity of Muslims in the U.S.



Author Nadirah Angail sought to change that by creating her own list of46 amazing Black Muslim Women (plus one pint sized Muslimah).

Click Read More to see the results below and then click here to nominate Black Muslim Men making a difference in the world through family, faith, and occupation!


 
 
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To counteract prevalent stereotypes about Muslimahs around the world and in particular Philadelphia, PHKI wants to promote Muslim women doing positive things in their chosen career or business. Today we highlight the beautiful, Noorah Islam!

PHKI: Assalaamu Alaikum Noorah! I’m really excited to do this interview with you for many reasons, first I have known you for a few years now and never knew that you could sing! 

Secondly, your cd is nothing short of amazing, and I’m looking forward to doing a full review of it! With that being said, tell us when you knew you wanted to be a singer?



Noorah Islam: Walaiki salaam warahma tullahi wa barakatuhu! Jazakillah hu khair for all of the wonderful compliments, I truly appreciate your support! Not many people in the Muslim community were aware that I am a Singer/Songwriter or Performance Artist, until now. But I have been singing since the age of 5, and even younger than that. I was about 8 years old when I decided I wanted to be a singer, and I would write songs about my mother and remix songs from the radio.

PHKI: Wow, that's awesome that you recognized and cultivated your talent so early on. When did you convert and how did Islam play a role in your singing aspirations early on?

Noorah Islam: Actually, my family is Muslim and I was raised in a Muslim household. However, things were alot different back then. My mother was a convert and she was finding her way in a new city, new religion and over time our practices got tighter & tighter Alhamdulillah. I have some talented singers in my family and I always loved to sing. It was my first love.

PHKI: Oh wow, see, I should never assume. Since I know you through your birth name, I always thought you were a convert like me! MashaAllah! What made you decide to return to singing and use your voice as a vehicle to worship Allah?

Noorah Islam: This is a loaded question! I always loved music, singing and performing. I was always asked to sing lead in choir since grade school as well as perform at weddings, funerals and any other gathering you could think of. However, I always felt out of place, like I just didn’t fit in. Something was wrong but I couldn’t put my finger on it.  Super-long story short, I went through several different phases as a vocalist/songwriter. I sang backgrounds, arranged vocals, wrote songs, recorded reference tracks for musicians and played the background, in the name of being a Muslim singer. I did this until I could no longer justify it to myself...and then I quit. That was a decade ago.

PHKI: Interesting! So, what inspired your first CD Heart of a Muslim Volume I and how difficult was it to see the project through to completion?

Noorah Islam: Well, there was a hole, one that needed to be filled. I needed to sing! I began writing inspirational Islamic songs, without instrumentation. I used just vocals because music has always been a fitna for me. I wanted to provide to others a source of halal entertainment that calls to Islam, brings to mind remembrance of Allah Subhannahu wa ta’ala, and focuses on the the ups and downs that the striving Muslim encounters. The album, at times, gets very personal and it is very human. Heart of a Muslim Volume 1, the album was something very different for me. It is done entirely acapella and was tricky to record. By nature, I am a procrastinator so the entire project took a few years to complete, all while being a mother, wife & working full time then. Volume 2 will not take as long, in’sha Allah!

PHKI: InshaAllah, we'll be anxiously waiting! In general, how does your religion inspire you when writing and arranging your songs? Where else do you look for inspiration?

Noorah Islam: Islam is my life and I am a Muslim. Islam teaches tolerance, sensitivity, empathy and understanding and these are all major contributors to my writing process. For spiritual inspiration, my love for The Creator and Rasulullah Salullahu alayhi wasalaam outweigh my love for anything else, and so Alhamdulillah that part is easy. For musical inspiration, I gather sounds from the atmosphere, in general. Music, for me, starts with a feeling inside and I am never sure of what it will mean until it meets the air around me.

PHKI: MashaAllah, beautifully stated! Okay...so we both know that Music can be a touchy subject in Islam. What are your thoughts and how do you navigate that discussion?

Noorah Islam: Agreed! I do not believe music is haram. I believe that there are haram instruments which we are forbidden to play or listen to as well as haram lyrical content. I write & perform using halal lyrics only and never use haram instruments. I also only perform for women. There are Sahih hadiths narrating instances where Rasulullah SAAWS allowed his wives to partake in such, however I am not a qualified scholar of Islam, so everyone should do the research on their own.

PHKI:  MashaAllah, I my stance on Music tends to fall in line with your beliefs as well! I also understand that you actually went to school for the vocal arts? How did your professional training help you  to produce, write, and arrange an album on your own?

Noorah Islam: Yes, I auditioned and was accepted into several music programs. I settled on the Music Magnet Program at Overbrook H.S., as they had an outstanding concert choir, orchestra and band. I have an extensive background in vocal performance and music theory. I played a few instruments as a young adult, but we will not get into that. I did not attend a formal university, so the rest of my music knowledge and performance skills actually come from stage and studio work. Finding the time to complete projects is the most difficult of tasks!


 
 
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Water permeable nail polish has become all the rage over the past few years! 

Its popularity? 

Spurred by fashion loving Muslim women who love to paint their nails bright colors to match their outfits. These women, myself included, always felt restricted to only donning nail art while unable to make Wudu and Salat during the prescribed times. 



So what’s the big deal you ask?

Muslim women are required to make salat five times a day but are given reprieve from this commandment when menstruating. However, once menstruation is over, a ghusl (step by step purifying cleanse with water) must be performed, while a wudu has to be done for every salat if the first one should become invalidated. In order for a woman or man to make an acceptable ghusl or wudu, it has been generally accepted by most scholars (some differ) that no polish/paint can be on the skin, nails, hands, that must be washed. In performing a ghusl, this is the whole body, with performing wudu; feet, hands (thus nails), face, hair, ears.

For many Muslim women, wearing polish while being able to perform salat is tricky. As I stated during this interview with Philly City Paper, when going to events, I paint my nails after performing wudu and as soon as I returned home, I removed with nail polish remover and went on to offer the next salat. Clearly, this work around method was/is annoying so when I learned about water permeating nail polish in early 2013, I was ecstatic as were most Muslim women.

In addition, it’s not just about fashion but also health because regular nail polish often contains known carcinogens and these fumes can be harmful to the body. As someone who takes my health seriously (I’m a Whole Foods/Trader Joes Momma), it’s important that I pay attention to what goes in and on the body as well. Many of these water permeable polishes are odorless, contain none of the harmful fumes listed in the above linked NYT article, and have the added benefit of being worn during wudu.

I’ve shown you my results for the brand that started all the hoopla, Inglot (slightly different than other brands because it allows water vapors through) here. This brand is slightly different than full water permeability but they are also still doing research.

In the meantime, Tuesday In Love, a Canadian based company has an offering that I became acquainted with after reading this article arguing the religious permissibility of water permeable nail polish posted on Imam Shuhaib Webb’s website. After I received three samples in the mail along with directions for permeability testing, as well as their support of Because I Am A Girl initiative, I became super excited about reviewing this product! The two actual colors included were called Hot Rod and Starfish, there was also a Topcoat as well.


 
 
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Helwatu Qalbi means "Sweetheart" in Arabic and Sister Aidah can indeed be described as such! She was one of the vendors who traveled from Singapore to Hershey, PA for the now defunct IMFW. 

Sister Aidah has contracted a space with Hershey Lodge to showcase her wares and try to sell as much merchandise as she can before returning home! If you live near Hershey, PA and are able, please come out and purchase!

She specializes in Children's clothes and nothing will be over $30. There is no event entrance fee and she is also welcoming other vendors and such still staying at Hershey's Lodge to participate. Please spread the word and share!

Showcase is Today!

Where: Hershey's Lodge 
Room: Wild Rose A Located at the Convention Hall Lower Level
Time: 6-8pm
Date: March 23, 2014

If you can't make it out, considering purchasing from her website http://helwatuqalbi.com/.

 
 
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Let's make the best of a bad situation and welcome Nadira037 to Philly! 

We'll be meeting up at the Shops at Liberty Place to chat and host giveaways including an M'Squared Clothing Website Sweatshirt courtesy of M'Squared Fashunz and beautiful new hijab! Lets show Nadira a great time Philly Muslimahs!

For more details, see below!

 
We'll be gathering at the Food Court of Shops at Liberty Place tomorrow Sunday March 23, 2014! We'll be around from 3 - 5pm so if you are in the area or can stop by, feel free to do so!

 
 
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Salaams and Hello Everyone,

*Update 3* Facebook event Help the Sisters from the Hershey Fashion Show That Was Affected has been arranging rides to the airport on Monday, as well as spending time with those still in Hershey and keeping them in good spirits. If you live close by, please visit this page and see how you can help for those who have been so willing!



I write this post with a heavy heart for several reasons so this will be lengthy. Right now there are a lot of things floating around and I wanted to make sure I meant and could back up everything I wrote. I arrived home around 10:30pm. I write this in the wee hours of the morning, hoping to be able to calm down and get some sleep.


Let me start from the beginning. We left Philly at around 2:30pm. Before leaving, I messaged Shea and told her we were leaving and asked her to call me just to correlate details. There was no response but she continued to post on FB. I figured she was busy.

We continued on our trip and arrived at around 4:30pm. I knew something was very wrong because of the response of the greeter. As we pulled up, she said "There has been changes to the event, please see registration for more information". Registration confirmed what by then I figured out...the event was canceled. I stood there shocked but can I say I was surprised? No.

Last year, I attended Show Me How To Cover (SMH2C). I decided not to blog about the event because it was not very well put together. Then mug shots began to be circulated and it came to light that this sister had been arrested pre conversion. There were also sister's who vended who were upset and said they had not been given all the services they were suppose to be provided.

Things died down. I decided to distance myself from anything she did in the future. Then Shea announced IMFW. I was not eager to join knowing what I knew about her last event. Here are the reasons why I came around in the end:

1) The arrest was made pre-Islam and I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt.

2) She produced receipts to a mutual acquaintance that seemed to support her claims that she hadn't made any money off the previous event.

3) She apologized profusely for that event and said she'd genuinely learned from her mistakes.

4) She claimed she'd taken out $150,000 worth of insurance to cover the show.

5) Since the show was being held at Hershey's Lodge I figured two things, the first being they would not enter into a contract with her without a sizable deposit and insurance contract proof. Two, that all of the issues with SMH2C that dealt with logistics of temperature control, venue etc which was some of the biggest complaints from guest would be a non-factor because the event would be occurring at a legitimate hotel used to producing these types of productions.

8) As a mother, the story of her sick son (who is a minor and will not be named) tugged at me. I felt pity for her when I found out he'd been diagnosed with cancer. While the manner in which she chose to share her story was not a route in which I would take, I felt that every mother can and should be allowed to handle such a life altering affliction of a child any way they so chose.

My instincts were right but I went with my heart because I honestly felt bad for her situation and felt that maybe she'd change. Hindsight is always 20/20.

There are sisters among us who can not admit their mistakes so here I am apologizing to those who trust me and my integrity for dropping the ball. There are sisters among us gloating, calling people for more juicy info, and relishing this moment right now because they had all of the above information and only chose not to participate because the price wasn't right. Yet they knew, and said nothing and continue to say and do nothing publicly. Behind the scenes they say I told you so!

Even still, there are bloggers who say that they didn't know about the mugshot but really did and want to hide that as well. Admitting that you knew but wanted to give her another chance is OKAY. It won't make what happened to us any less wrong, I promise.

To those who did not attend nor witness the heartbreak, shock, anger and disbelief in that hotel lobby yesterday, please stop and think about this. There were people in that lobby who came from Indonesia, the UK, South Carolina, Texas, Egypt, etc. Most of us bloggers had an all expense paid contract. Which means when Shea canceled this event, they were immediately evicted from their rooms! Some had less than an hour to repack!

In addition, plane tickets were non transferable or changeable. That means that if they were scheduled to leave on Monday they have to stay in America, in Hershey, in PA UNTIL MONDAY. They now have to find a way to pay for rooming and food. Some vendors just lost thousands of dollars! They will lose thousands more on bringing all of their merchandise back through customs!

This is a tragedy.