Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Racism and Ethnic Intimidation: Still Alive and Well at Denny's Restaurant?

(Above image at

This morning I went for routine fasting blood work at my doctor's office. It was 7:30 a.m. I also had an appointment scheduled for 9:00 a.m. at my doctor's travel clinic.

After I got the blood work done, I drove over to the local Denny's restaurant for breakfast and to wait for my 9:00 a.m. appointment.

When I arrived at Denny's, no one greeted me despite the fact that at least two female staff persons saw me. They walked right past me and gave me a look that suggested that they hate their jobs, or hate to get up early in the morning. Maybe both :)

So, I made my way to a table, took off my coat, and plopped down my purse, Blackberry, and notebook. I figured I'd get some work done while I was eating and waiting for the second doctor's appointment.

There was one other white lady sitting in the tables section. At the counter, there were about four or five elderly white men.

I saw at least 4 or 5 female staff. The restaurant was not full or busy at all.

After sitting a few moments, I decided to move to a more comfortable table. So, I moved to the section near the counters, still at a table.

I must have sat for at least 10 minutes and no one came to give me anything or even say hello. Ten minutes is not a long time, but it is when the restaurant is not full or busy. Trust me, there was no excuse.

The waitresses did see me because one or two walked past me and looked at me.

Then a white man came in and sat two tables in front of me. After a few moments, I looked up and saw that the waitress had brought him a glass of water with a lemon in it.

Waitresses were walking around doing things like wiping tables, re-filling coffee cups at the counter, and otherwise busying themselves in the back.

Still, no one came over to me. A waitress or two made eye contact with me, but still nothing. Not even a glass of water, or "I'll be back in a moment."

It was clear to me that these people intended not to serve me.

If I would have had more time, I would have said something because I am the type of person who highly values service. If someone gives me bad service, I will leave. And I will not give that business my money again.

And - more importantly, I know me: if I would have gotten pissed off enough, I would have made a scene. I do not believe in making scenes in public for a variety of reasons, but mainly, I try to never do anything in public that reflects poorly on Islam or Muslims. My blood pressure was sky high when I returned to the doctor's office.

I simply picked up my things (while they watched out of the sides of their eyes) and left the restaurant. I was too offended and upset to say anything to the manager. They didn't even care enough to say anything to me on my way out, "have a nice day," "oh, do you have to leave?" or anything like that.

What could possibly be the reason for them treating me like this?

Well, I am a Muslim women who wears hijab. Even though I am a white person like the other customers, some white people think that we lose our "white privilege" when we become Muslims and outwardly look Muslim (i.e., hijab, niqab, beards, sunnah clothing, etc.). I am ethnically Jewish and have a semitic look to me. Even Arabs on occasion have spoken to me in Arabic upon meeting me for the first time!

Did the staff at Denny's think I was "other" than the traditional white American?

I am not usually the type to complain about ethnic intimidation or religious discrimination based on purely being a Muslim. I have been a Muslim since 1998, Alhamdulillah, and can barely count on one hand the times I have been harassed for being Muslim, Masha Allah. I acknowledge that others have not had it so good though.

I came home ready to write about this. When I "googled" Denny's and racism, I was floored by what the search engine provided to me.

The University of Wisconsin School of Business
did a study about Denny's and their history with racism and ethnic intimidation that sums it up nicely.

I'm not sure how far I'm going to take this, but I'm going to definitely "take it" a few places.

Firstly, I made sure I grabbed a customer satisfaction survey on my way out. I will mail it to the restaurant AND to the corporate Denny's. I will also send them a link to this post. And I will link this post to my Face Book.

I will not be treated like this by a local business.

Anyone have any other ideas?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Haiti: Ya Allah ...

As a person with Jewish heritage, the media images of the treatment of the bodies of deceased Haitians just sickens me.

Bodies in piles - bulldozers scooping up dead bodies, loading them into dump trucks, just dropping them at a mass grave site on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, just leaving them there, not evening bothering to "bury" them by at least pushing dirt over their bodies ...

It reminds me of pictures from the Holocaust. At least the Nazis covered the shame of their mass graves.

And today - seeing the police TEAR GASING hungry starving people!

It's all just too much ... and I'm not even living it like the Haitians are ...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Squeeze of the Grave

Online and television images bombard the eyes with the horrific situation in Haiti after the earthquake.

Large slabs of cement can be seen everywhere in the capital city of Port-au-Prince. And many people are underneath them.

One image was particularly disturbing: it was some video that was shot moments after the earthquake hit. You could see people sticking their arms out, waving for help, from underneath collapsed buildings.

People entombed alive waiting for help. Squeezed ...

Seeing this brings thoughts to my mind of the squeeze of the grave.

The squeeze of the grave occurs after the deceased Muslim hears the thumping of his companions' shoes as they walk away from his grave.

No one is spared it. Neither Muslim or non-Muslim.

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (rahimullah) said that the torment, squeezing, and terror that happens in the grave are things by means of which sins are expiated (Majmoo' Fataawa ibn Taymiyah, vol. 7, p. 487-501). (

In his book, Life in Al-Barzakh, Muhammad al-Jibaly states:

"No human being will be spared the squeeze of the grave. However, the following hadith indicates that it is not at the same degree of severity for all people; some of the believers are released from its grip quicker than others. Ibn 'Abbas (ra) said that Allah's Messenger (saw) said:

'If anyone were to escape from the squeeze of the grave, it woud be Sa'd Bin Mu'ath; however, he was squeezed once and then released.' (At-Tabarani in al-Kabir; Sahih ul-Jami by al-Albani No. 5306)'"

Have the earthquaker victims of Haiti already had their squeeze?

May Allah (swt) spare the earthquaker victims of Haiti from excessive torment in the grave and grant them a quick squeeze/Ameen.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

7.0 Earthquake in Haiti

There is breaking news that Haiti has just experienced a 7.0 earthquake with a 5.9 aftershock. It was so severe that there is a tsunami warning.

According to Islamic Finder, there is a significant Islamic community in Haiti.

Please say dua for the Muslims in Haiti, as well as everyone else there who must be terrified tonight.

Monday, January 11, 2010

How to Stiffle the Creativity of Children

The other day we had to combine our pre-school and kindergarten classes because one of the teacher's couldn't come to Sunday School.

When we have to do this, we ask that the moms come into the kindergarten class with their pre-school children because I can't watch them all at once.

The children were coloring a picture of Allah's gifts. The picture had a sky, sun, house, yard, parents, children, etc. When the kids finished, each one was supposed to take a turn and tell the others which of Allah's gifts he/she was grateful for.

One of the little boys, about 4 years old, was having a marvelous time coloring. He was smiling and scribbling with joy!

When his mom saw what he was doing, she started to say things to him like, "No, Jamil, the sun isn't green," and "No, Jamil, grass isn't red," and "Jamil, color inside of the lines."

I saw little Jamil's face do a total turnabout. He wasn't smiling anymore, and it seems like he ceased having fun. Everytime he colored something, he would look up at her to ensure that he had "done good."

I felt so sad.

Why not let the kid have fun? I know it's important to teach a child that the sun is yellow and the grass is green, but jeez, why not let the kid have fun?

I'm not a professional teacher, but even I could see that the whole objective of the coloring exercise was spoiled a bit for this little boy.

Sigh ...

Dear Readers: here's hoping that your sun is green and your grass is red - for many days to come!

Monday, January 04, 2010

Intersexuality and Muslims

"What is intersex?

Intersex people are people who, as individuals, have genetic, hormonal, and physical features that may be thought to be typical of both male and female at once. That is, we may be thought of as being male with female features, female with male features, or indeed we may have no clearly defined sexual features at all." (
Organisation Internationale des Intersexues)

I saw a documentary last night about an intersex child. It was fascinating and made me re-think my position: that there are only two genders, male or female. Is there a third gender? What is Islam's position about intersex?

The child in the documentary was born a "boy." He had a penis, but upon closer examination, he also had a little "vagina" underneath it. Instead of urinating from an opening on the head of the penis, he urinated from an opening at the top of his "vagina." "His" parents refused to consent to the hospital's recommendation that they operate on the child and "fix" the genitalia. Although the parents gave the child a male name and socialized him as a boy, the child grew up showing interest in feminine things and activities. The child also insisted that he was a girl. The documentary permitted the viewer to accompany the family on a beautiful and sensitive journey. It ended before the child entered puberty, and it would be interesting to see a follow up documentary.

The program also said that intersexuality is common in nature.

For example, kangaroos have three vaginas. Male seahorses, not female seahorses, have the brood pouch. Intersexuality occurs frequently in the fish and plant world, too.

Imagine the emotional nightmare experienced by a Muslim couple who is told by physicians that their daughter has been born with a penis? A female in all respects, but also born with a penis, like someone born with an extra finger, or two hands on one wrist.

Is this considered a "deformity" in Islam? I wonder how this is handled.

Do Muslims parents permit the doctor to perform surgical gender reassignment?

Is this the right thing to do? After all, Allah (swt) tells us in the Qur'an,

"Truly, nothing is hidden from Allah, in the earth or in the heaven. He it is Who shapes you in the wombs as He wills." (Al-Imran, 6)

It would seem from this ayat, that nothing from Allah (swt) is a mistake, or a deformity.

Someone actually asked a question of Yahoo! Answers concerning intersexual Muslims.

And some people consider surgical gender reassignment of infants equivalent to female "circumcision." Surgical gender reassignment is known to cause serious psychological and physical problems for children when they grow up.

Here's another article about Islam and the interesexed individual. Note: there is no daleel for the author's claims, but interesting nonetheless.

And here's an article about transsexuals in Iran, where sex change operations in adults are sectioned by the country's clerics and fatwa.

And a film was made about Iran transsexuals.