Interview with A SheFighter: Podcast ep. 4



In this episode of the islamwich Podcast, Kaighla interviews Sarah Barakah, one of the head trainers at SheFighter, a women’s-only gym in Amman, Jordan.

It’s no surprise that Muslim women are more in danger in this country than at any other time. Since San Bernardino and Paris, violent attacks against Muslims has more than tripled, and most of those victims are women.

Also, let’s not blind ourselves to the reality that Muslim women suffer violent abuse at the hands of their husbands, fathers, brothers, uncles, and other relatives within and outside of this country, regardless of the fact that abuse is STRICTLY FORBIDDEN in Islam. Call any Muslim women’s shelter in America and the first thing they will tell you is that if you are not suffering from domestic abuse, they literally have no room for you.

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The Reality of Being Muslim in America

The Reality of Being Muslim in America

Written by Theresa Corbin Published on Washington Post

The name calling and racial slurs began when I started wearing hijab.

Twelve years after 9/11, the climate of hate has only gotten worse. Extremists who call themselves Muslims continue to terrorize people of all faiths across the globe. American extremists continue to stoke the flames of fear and hate, attacking Muslims in rhetoric, in our houses of worship and even on the street.

hate hurts
Grafitti defaces a mosque at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Mich. (Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

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Missing Muhammad

missing muhammadI have been walking around the past few days in a serious funk, wondering what was bringing me down. I had been attributing it to the news.

I woke up Wednesday to the news of 3 beautiful, intelligent, young Muslims murdered in their home by an Anti-theist who hypocritically claimed religion is the source of violence and hatred in the world.

On Thursday, I researched a case of a mosque burning in Ohio in 2012 where the criminal who set the blaze claimed he never met a Muslim and did not know what Islam was beyond what he heard on Fox News and talk radio.

Then I came upon a story where a women murdered a fellow human being by pushing him in front of an oncoming subway because, as she said, “I pushed a Muslim off the train tracks because I hate Hindus and Muslims ever since 2001 when they put down the twin towers I’ve been beating them up.” Her conflating of the two vastly different faiths shows her obvious ignorance.

does this look like religious freedom to you?
does this look like religious freedom to you?

Just this morning, I  read news of an Islamic community and education center in Houston, TX that has burned down (it is not known yet if this was an accident or a hate crime). And I read about the murder of a 15 year old Muslim in Kansas at the hands of a man who harassed and taunted him for his faith.

I read several posts in my Facebook news feed over the past few days of Muslim women being insulted and harassed.

These crimes against humanity lay at the feet of Muslim Extremists, White supremacists, Christian Extremists, Fox News Talking heads, Talk radio bigots, Islamophobes, Anti-theists, and anyone who spreads hate and cheers in the face of lost lives and violence. It is my hope that these crimes will make them lose sleep and in the process lose their insane ideologies.

It is a distinctly sinking and sickening feeling to know that people hate you, want to see you suffer, want to kill you … people who don’t even know you. It is horrifying knowing that the media and well-organized and well-funded groups are implicit in twisting my religion and spreading lies to create this hatred of me and my people. It is most terrifying knowing that some weak-minded and uneducated Muslims play into this twisting of Islam and perpetuate these lies!

But still, this was not entirely the source of my melancholy.

Media lies and dehumanization of Muslims is nothing new. Islamophobes and their dark hearts have campaigned to distort my faith and defame me, my brothers, and sisters since the 7th century. Muslim ignorance and intolerance has been rife since Muslim majority lands have been torn apart, colonized, and continually destabilized by Western powers. And I have lived knowing these facts for more than 13 years.

However, the funk I was in took a different shape when I watched a lecture on YouTube by Nouman Ali Khan, a bright scholar of Quran and the Arabic language. While watching his lecture, I realized that nothing that will happen to the Muslims will be worse than the death of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH-peace be upon him).

I realized I was mourning the loss of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), a man I knew so well, but had never met. Yes, I had been depressed because of the lost lives and fear my community is facing. But also because in this time of crisis we will never again have Muhammad (PBUH) to lead us with the ultimate wisdom and mercy he came with.

It was the guidance from God that I missed. It was the man God sent with a smile and a sense of humor that I missed. I missed urgently and deeply a man I had never met.

And now, as I write this, I realize that we have his legacy. We still have God’s guidance sent through Muhammad (PBUH). And we can pick up were he left off. We can do our best to do as Muhammad did.

(from an article I wrote for

We can be honest like him

He was known as Al-Sadiq (the Truthful) and Al-Amin (the Faithful) among all that knew him—even his enemies.

When the Qaiser of Rome received a letter from Muhammad (peace be upon him) inviting the Qaiser to Islam, he asked Abu Sufyan about Muhammad. Abu Sufyan, who at the time was a staunch opponent of Muhammad’s message, said:

“Muhammad is nobly born; is honest and truthful, and has never broken a pledge. He enjoins his followers to worship none but One God and to pray to Him alone. He preaches kindness, piety and, tolerance towards all. And his followers are on the increase.”

This man was so honest that even his enemies called him the honest and the truthful. We can be like this too.

We can be protective like him

Muhammad (peace be upon him) lost his father before he was born and his mother at an early age, an experience that left a lasting impression on him. Having been vulnerable at an early age, he advocated for the good treatment of those who are vulnerable in society. He would attend to the needs of the indigent and the widowed. He took care of the orphans, and recommend others to do the same.

The Prophet said:

“The one who looks after and works for a widow and for a poor person is like a warrior fighting for Allah’s cause.” (Al-Bukhari, 6006)

“The best house among the Muslims is one where an orphan is well treated, and the worst house among the Muslims is one where an orphan is badly treated.” (Ibn Majah, 3679)

We can be good to the widowed, orphaned, the homeless, and the helpless in society. Nothing is stopping us but our selves.

We can seek justice like he did

Muhammad was an advocate for blind justice. He said:

“Assist your Muslim brother, whether he be an oppressor or oppressed.”

And when a companion of the Prophet asked:

“But how shall we do it when he is an oppressor?”

Prophet Muhammad replied:

“Assisting an oppressor by forbidding and withholding him from oppression.” (Al-Bukhari, 2444)

Here is a man who told people to be loyal to justice first even if it means witnessing against your own self. We too can reignite this revolutionary thinking-  and end bigotry, racism, sectarianism and so much more.

We can be honorable like him

Muhammad (PBUH) treated women with dignity and told his followers to do the same.

He never lifted a hand against a woman. He never lost his temper with a woman. He sought advice from women and advocated for women’s rights and their good treatment.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) told his followers:

Only an honorable man treats women with honor and integrity. Only a mean, deceitful, and dishonest man humiliates and insults them.”

Muhammad (PBUH) left an example to men and women alike. He emphasized the need to respect each other as full and actualized human beings.

We can be patient like him

Muhammad (PBUH) told us “The strong person is not the good wrestler. Rather, the strong person is the one who controls himself when he is angry”. This is an inspiration. We can claim self-control for ourselves as the only true strength.

Through learning about the legacy of his behavior, teachings, compassion, strength, and mercy; I learned how amazing a human being could be.

I learned what it means to love and respect someone I would never meet in this life. And I missed Muhammad. I still miss him, but I seek comfort in knowing that I and my brothers and sisters can and do strive to live his legacy.

Quran 25:63 And the servants of the Most Merciful are those who walk upon the earth easily, and when the ignorant address them [harshly], they say [words of] peace.”

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