50 Ways To Lose Her

This piece was inspired by actual events and actual men. Sample size = 3


1.     Burp. The smelly kind

2.     Fart. The smellier kind

3.     Touch yourself. Your fly should already be zipped.

4.     Make Freudian references to your mother

5.     Bigamy references of any kind

6.     Aversion to fruit and other virtuous food

7.     Argue that my version of Islam is unenlightened

8.     Look at me for approval before every bite, every step, every move

9.     Reference “retards,” “gays,” and other vastly inappropriate and unkind generalizations

10.   Make fun of your sister’s husband, or any other family member

11.    Passive aggressive behavior: “You’ve been screening my calls,” “I told you I wasn’t a total loser”

12.    Invade my personal life by taking over my family

13.    Not get the hint I’m annoyed at you and want you to leave immediately

14.    Think that fights and arguments are healthy relationship banter

15.    Buy presents belatedly, and from an online thrift store

16.    Refuse to wear gel in your frizzy, thinning hair

17.    Sing along to your car radio in an awkward, high-pitched, voice-cracking squeal, especially when the song is out of your narrow range

18.    Chapped lips

19.    Road rage

20.    Insist that you’re right even when you’re not and you and I know both know you’re not and I’ve shown you a Wikipedia entry confirming you’re wrong

21.    Say “good times” when you’re with me, as though it were a nostalgic memory. It was, maybe, five seconds ago.

22.    Be “over” everything perpetually. You’re “over” politics, “over” trends, “over” frozen yogurt.

23.    Leave your dirty laundry, including used underwear, in my car in 90-degree temperatures while I unsuspectingly drive my family around in it.

24.    Belabor your mental health problems and the litany of anti-psychotic medication you’re on. “This is my version of lithium.”

25.    Underemployment, unemployment.

26.    Communism (see #25)

27.    Point out girls who you think are hot who obviously don’t resemble me

28.    Point out guys who you think are hot who are actually hotter than you. This tells me: (1) you don’t think you’re hot (so I won’t); (2) you aren’t as hot as other guys (so maybe I should look elsewhere); and (3) I can do better than you (so maybe I will).

29.    Introduce yourself as a “writer,” “historian,” or “philosopher.” No, you’re not. See also #25.

30.   Ask me to introduce you to other girls (i.e.: my friends) after we’ve ended our relationship.

31.    Introduce yourself as an animated character from “Rocky and Bullwinkle” because your given name is too “ethnic.”

32.    If humanity has put its collective brain together to invent machines to cut the hair on your head then they’ve undoubtedly done the same for the hair that is sneaking out of your nose and ears. Please look into that.

33.    Long fingernails.

34.    Earwax.

35.    When discussing Kim Kardashian’s “curves,” showcase your knowledge of the English vocabulary by using “volumptuous” instead of “voluptuous.” See also #27 (above).

36.    Tell me that you went through a phase of “yellow fever.”

37.    Find my “innocence” endearing when I pretend not to get a dirty joke. My pretend ignorance is perhaps a hopeless attempt to salvage the dignity of our conversation.

38.    Ask me how many children I want to have with you before even knowing where I graduated from.

39.    Speak our mother tongue in an unintelligible accent that causes me to suffer second-hand embarrassment. Practice with someone else.

40.    Imply that every shared interest or experience is proof our souls knew each other before this life.

41.    Order my food for me.

42.    Inability to pay for a phone card while abroad. Insist that we must rely on email instead. My inbox just lost your email address.

43.    Take me to dinner but make no offer to pay. Then discover that your Metrocard is empty and borrow $2.25 to get home.

44.    Ignore established cultural practice of being polite when I offer to pay for your dress-shirt when you complain it’s too expensive. Instead, take up as generous offer.     This will earn you the title of eunuch.

45.    Stare at the bill on the table in front of us. Offer to pay when the restaurant asks us to leave.

46.    Call a mutual friend at midnight to discuss details of my relationship with you. Muse that I may be too impulsive.

47.    Act like a fob to endear yourself to others when your last trip to Pakistan consisted of a 2-week long stay in a major city. You spent most of that trip in the bathroom.

48.    Tell me about past relationships where girls have been too needy for you. Proceed to show me exactly what that means.

49.    Refuse self-improvement while telling me eagerly you’re excited to “see the results, inshaAllah” from my workout regimen.

50.    Push me to the limit of writing a ridiculous, unbelievable list of your deviation from societal norms, hygienic standards, and human decency. It was the easiest part of our relationship. Thank you.

New resource: “What is the Truth About American Muslims”

Proud to finally announce the release of the important pamphlet I co-wrote with Dr. Hussein Rashid, Dr. Charles Haynes (The First Amendment Center), and the invaluable suggestions, input, edits and revisions of several scholars, experts and faith leaders. It is produced by The First Amendment Center and Interfaith Alliance.

It’s called “What is the Truth About American Muslims?

It’s only 13 pages, meant for a broad audience and explains religious freedoms in America, a brief snapshot of American Muslims, some misunderstood terms,  such as ‘Jihad’ and ‘Sharia,’ and explains how the “Sharia Threat” is bogus.

It’s sponsored by great groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center, Sojourners, Rabbis for Human Rights, Sikh Coalition, ISNA, MPAC, ING, New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good and more.Please give it a read, spread it around and ask for copies if it’ll be helpful for your communities.

The Q&A is attached and available to read and download for free here www.interfaithalliance.org/AmericanMuslimFAQ and we have hard copies we are happy to share if they would be useful for any events you have in the future. Contact: agingold@interfaithalliance.org

“From Chaiwallah to Playwright: The Rise of a Pakistani American Writer”

This is the full video of my recent Google Talk where I recount my unexpected, surreal, ridiculous, hopefully amusing journey from an overweight, shy, dorky Pakistani American kid who spoke 3 words of English to becoming a paid writer and storyteller. Hope you enjoy.

“The Balbir Singh Sodhis of America” by Hussein Rashid


Balbir Singh Sodhi. I don’t know if that name has the resonance that it should. Amongst Asian-Americans, names like Vincent Chin or Navroze Mody are part of our collective conscious. But Balbir Singh Sodhi is a name that is so important for the telling of the tale of minorities in America, but also a story that sits at the base of a crushing horror of what’s happened in this country after 9/11. Sodhi was the first victim of post-9/11 acceptable racism in this country. It’s when we started realizing that we needed to stand together.

Nearly 40 years ago, Edward Said was writing about the ways in which academia, politicians, and media had been crafting an Oriental other for centuries, and in the recent past had been focusing on Muslims. As laws were passed that eroded the privileges for citizenship for Muslims, it was only part of a larger pattern that worked to exclude people of color from belonging. Once you attack the idea that people of color are Americans, it becomes so easy to demonize them, and that rhetoric makes it acceptable to attack them. And it depends on minority communities not standing together.

In the meantime, so much hatred and aggression is ascribed to the darker races, who perceived to be foreign, that no one is looking at the hatred brewing beneath the surface “at home.” When we last went through a period of intense physical attacks by people in power, films like Falling Down made sure we understood the “angry white male.” When Peter King held his hearings on why Muslims were dangerous, even though there was only one incident of an American Muslim successfully attacking American interests, we had to understand his fear and angst, and ignore our rights. The incidence of random homicide was a greater in one year in America, than a decade of post-9/11 attacks in America, and hate crimes continue to increase. Then we started standing together.

Communities of color saw the coming storm. As mosques and gurdwaras were vandalized, and President Obama refused to visit Sikhs in India, for fear of being labeled a Muslim, we knew that something would explode. And it did. People want to criminalize prayer that isn’t part of their tradition. And they apologize for mass murderers like Ander Breivik, and after they apologize, they get to write about the people who were slaughtered as being the ones in the wrong. And then Oak Creek. We stand together.

What started 11 years ago was that ignorance was given a gun, and Sikhs started paying a price for misdirected hate against Muslims. And now, they still are. We need to mention Balbir Singh Sodhi and Salman Hamdani in the same breath. We are part of the same struggle. And finally, someone realizes that we need to investigate hate crimes against people of color. The Senate hearing on “Hate Crimes and the Threat of Domestic Extremism,” recognizes that we are all Americans, and we are due the same rights. It’s time for us to stand up, together.

Hussein Rashid is a native New Yorker and Proud Muslim. Currently an instructor at the Center for Spiritual Inquiry at Park Avenue Christian Church and based at Hofstra University, he is deeply committed to interfaith work and is passionate about teaching. He believes we need to start talking more intelligently about Islam specifically, and religion generally.

THE GOATMILK DEBATES: “Muslims Should be Allowed to Practice Halloween” by Shabana Jameel


Every October 31st, Muslims must decide whether to trick-or-treat or pretend they aren’t at home. These two Halloween camps usually diametrically oppose one another.  The haram (forbidden) camp has gone so far as to provide alternative Halloween activities, thus making Halloween à Halal-o-ween (that has absolutely no resemblance to jack-o-lanterns because I am certain that even that comparison would be considered offensive).

I’m not a haram-card-holding member. Halloween is a cultural tradition that should be as permissible and mainstream to American Muslims as sporting events or other cultural traditions here.  Furthermore, I believe Halloween actually serves very positive benefits to the Muslim community.

So where does Halloween come from?  The age-old premise to the Halloween-is-haram-argument has always been that it has Pagan origins (which is easily Google-able so I won’t dwell on it here.) However, I was surprised and fascinated to find sources indicating it was a Christian influenced holiday whose purpose was to pray for the saints in purgatory, so they could enter heaven the next day.

As Halloween evolved, so did Christian opinion of the celebration, just as I believe Muslim views should evolve on the cultural practice based on what it is now.  (Where are the Ibn Abidins of our age?) Let’s be honest – the kids just want to dress up in fun costumes, get a break from dull routines, and, most importantly, get candy – end of story.  Before our own opinions were thrown to the wayside in favor of the local/national/international -insert religious leader’s title here- opinion (i.e. when we were left to think for ourselves) most of our parents let us celebrate Halloween.  Did any of your childhood Muslim friends end up apostatizing because they wore a Halloween costume and went trick or treating?  Yeah, I can’t think of anyone either.  Halloween’s origins aside, there are other cultural traditions we’ve adapted as American Muslims that have similar (or worse) origins.

Football is men dressed in really, really tight pants, tackling each other – for a ball.  It looks pretty barbaric to me, yet I have never heard any Muslims criticize this national pastime (especially the ones in Michigan).  I’m also not privy to the Hadith allowing boys/men to clobber each other for “fun.”  Have I mentioned those pants?  There is nothing modest about them. Yet, I’ve never heard anyone say, “Boys, you can only play football as long as those pants aren’t tight fitting.” Football, with all its trappings, is an acceptable cultural tradition.  But, where is the humanity in allowing grown men to physically tackle each other for sport, while barring cute, innocent little kids from trick or treating? American Muslim athletes are revered and applauded for their commitment to faith and their physical prowess.  However, try dressing your kid up for Halloween or decorating your house with a ghost in the window, and see how Islamic and American other Muslims think you are. (Be rest assured – no Muslims will be packing the theaters to watch Halal-o-ween, the movie, and TLC will probably not air the Halal-o-ween special either.)

Through sports, kids learn leadership, teamwork, and discipline.  It’s a way to channel their energy to keep them out of mischief.  However, what I don’t understand is why only sports are acceptable despite aspects of it like the physical contact that could seriously injure someone (or those pants!)  I learned the same values through orchestra even though music is supposedly “haram.” What perturbs me is why only the positive aspects are acknowledged for one activity (thus rendering it halal) while the negatives aspects of other pastimes are highlighted (thus making it haram).  While I played my violin as a kid, should I have poked someone in the eye with my bow? Would that have made it a more acceptable and Islamic pastime?

The Olympics is a global, cultural practice that Muslims participate in despite its origins.  There is NO doubt whatsoever that it has entirely Pagan origins; however, I haven’t heard a whisper of the “H” word here.  As it evolved, so did our opinions. So why hasn’t Muslim opinion changed to accept an innocuous custom like Halloween, too?  Although the Olympics is a worldwide tradition, while Halloween is a local custom, the magnitude of the event shouldn’t dictate whether Muslims participate.  Let’s be consistent and not participate in either.  Seriously?

The Olympics is very similar to Halloween for children.  School is their “world” apart from their family lives. Allah “created us from different nations and tribes so we may know one another” (49:13).  Shouldn’t that apply to kids, too? Halloween is an opportunity for kids to interact beyond the playground.  I like to think of each grade level as its own ‘tribe’ with very specific behaviors and a culture all to themselves. Halloween allows kids to participate in a larger community outside their homes and classrooms.  Think about how Muslim kids appear/feel when they are barred from partaking in Halloween activities. How would Muslims appear to the world if we shunned the Olympics?

Other cultural practices lack an Islamic origin or a pure history, but have permeated into the fabric our lives, and have evolved to become part of mainstream Muslim culture, too, like engagement rings, white wedding dresses and even the Hajj.

Engagement rings have a purely capitalistic origin.  In the 1940s, they were deliberately marketed for the explicit purpose of profiting jewelers and diamond miners. Despite its predominantly materialistic origins, everyone gets an engagement ring, regardless of the spectrum of Islamic-ness you fall into.  I have nothing against having a nice diamond on my finger, but let’s face it, it’s not particularly Islamic… Seriously, though – who cares?  “Not I,” said the wise woman who likes her jewelry.  If we are allowed to imbibe parts of culture whose origins aren’t necessarily pure and Islamic, why can’t we incorporate Halloween into our lives?

Another example of an acceptable Islamic tradition is the white wedding dress. I actually found a really interesting fatwah by some Shaykh I’ve never really heard of:

“It is permissible for a woman to wear white so long as it is not in the same form as men’s clothing. With regard to it being an imitation of the kuffaar, that is no longer the case, because now all Muslim women wear such clothes when they are getting married. The ruling depends on whether the reason for it is present or not. If it is no longer an imitation of the kuffaar and this has now become something that is common to both Muslims and kaafirs, then the ruling no longer applies, unless something is haraam in and of itself and not because it is an imitation of others. Such things are haraam in all cases.” –Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen from his Majmoo’at As’ilat tahumm al-Mar’ah

According to him, if we aren’t doing it to imitate non-Muslims and if it is not essentially haram then it is okay.  Yes! So let’s celebrate Halloween!

Most everything (using toothbrushes, watching T.V., technological innovations, etc) started off as “unislamic”, but we slowly accepted it. For instance, look at the thobes Muslim men wear.  From my cultural viewpoint, those are dresses. Last I remember, men aren’t supposed to dress like women, but nobody calls out the thobe-wearing community for it.  Saudi culture has influenced our cultural perceptions; relatively speaking, they are not considered effeminate. In fact – men are considered more “Islamic” when they wear it. Why must Arab culture often trump pretty much everybody else’s? Why can’t Muslim culture in America reflect American culture, too?

Furthermore, why is condemning Halloween on par or more important than condemning other adults who are seriously doing wrong – like stealing, murdering, abusing their wives, etc. In other words why don’t adult, Muslim authority figures pick on someone their own size instead of trying to impose convoluted views and negative intentions on innocent kids?  Which brings me to another point (and 1/3 of our knowledge)– ‘Actions are by their intentions.’

Finally, in Islamic history, the Kabah had pure origins.  In time, though, it became desecrated by idolatry, and later was restored to its original purpose.  It would be an egregious error to state that we shouldn’t perform hajj because at one time people performed pagan rituals there or to say it has “pagan origins”.  How do we really know what Halloween initially stemmed from?  The Halloween of today is very far removed from the supposed satanic rituals of yesteryear. Besides, there are some personal and societal benefits of celebrating Halloween.

Trick-or-Treating is an opportunity for everyday Muslims, young and old, to socialize and connect with their neighbors.  Most kids play indoors glued to their iPads, iPods, Wii, Xboxes, etc., often playing solitary, graphic and aggressive video games.  When do kids get to interact with the other kids on a larger scale – again, only through sports?  It is no wonder we appear as Greco-Romans from a bygone era… Trick or treating is an opportunity for kids to actually play outside, particularly for those kids who are not sporty.  Halloween benefits parents, too. I read a blog where one parent shared that it is his only opportunity to meet the other families in the neighborhood. Trick or treating gave him information about what houses to avoid, which kids have bad reputations in their neighborhoods, and which neighbors are friendly.  In the kind of suburban communities some of us live in, you hardly even see your neighbors, let alone interact beyond a greeting.

Furthermore, providing alternative Halloween activities at Islamic schools is snobbish and does nothing to build healthy bonds with the larger non-Muslim community. Islam is not a subculture. It is for mankind, not just for Muslim kids from affluent backgrounds who are privileged to attend private, Islamic schools.  The separate but equal approach didn’t work for African Americans here, and I don’t think it is healthy for us as Muslims, either.

Eventually, like all teenagers in America, kids grow out of trick or treating.  It is simply a fun, American rite of passage (that doesn’t haunt you (no pun intended) like the scars or trauma after playing a game like football).  For now, though, what is scarier – cute, little kids dressed up as barn yard animals, ringing the doorbell and with their innocent, smiling faces saying, “Trick or treat!” – or young, barbaric Muslim men who are storming foreign embassies and killing diplomats?  Yeah, that is what I thought, too.

Bonsor, K, Keener, C.  How Diamonds Work.  Retrieved from:  http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/earth/geology/diamond5.htm
Father Augustine Thompson, O.P. (2000) Surprise: Halloween’s Not a Pagan Festival

After All. The holiday and its customs are completely Christian, and some are uniquely American. Retrieved from


An-Nawawi, Imam (2010).  An-Nawawi’s Forty Hadith.  E. Ibrahim and D. Johnson-Davies, Trans.  Darya Ganj, New Delhi:  Islamic Book Service.  (Originally published sometime before 676 AH)