Sometimes, being Muslim in this country means pretending to be something you’re not

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Illustration: Emmen Ahmed

Yesterday I tried to solicit an assassin to come to my house for a hit job. I called an 800 number I found on the internet. I called from inside my home as I stood by the window, trembling. I was put on hold for a long time, which was stressful. What if the masked bandit was on my property, plotting his next murder?

The masked bandit I am referring to here is the fat raccoon that lives in my gutter. The assassin is an employee at Animal Control. I don’t know too much about raccoons, but my scientific understanding is they are ruthless interspecies killers who have rabies. I live in perennial fear that this raccoon will pounce on me while I’m outside, bite me in the face, and then I too will have rabies. …

As a teenager in Riyadh, removing my veil was an act of rebellion and a reclamation of power

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The author wishes to thank Ayqa Khan for use of this illustration.

I’ve been a student at this Islamic high school for nearly three years, during which time I have faithfully worn my uniform — a gray, colonial lady-nightie with a drool-bib collar — every day. When I go out in public, off school grounds, I shroud: a black abaya overtop, a black headscarf, a face cover made of some kind of cheese cloth material. I cover without objection, wear what the Saudis tell me to wear. There are strict laws here about clothes and bodies, about love and worship. God’s laws, they say, and who am I to argue with God?

In Riyadh, inside this school, hidden behind a 12-foot iron gate, I have not found God. …

Not Another First Time Story

How one Muslim woman reconciles faith and coming of age

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Credit: Rhoda Rochelle Ocon/EyeEm/Getty

“Do you ever feel like life is just a movie?” Whiskey Sour, business pants. July, 10:15 p.m., Friday.”

This is a note I wrote to myself. It’s my handwriting, my spiral blue notepad, so I know it’s me. I can even picture the guy, but I don’t know why I wanted to remember what he said. As far as lines go, this one isn’t very original. It’s like something your college roommate might say, the one who owns a Himalayan salt lamp.

The man had a spray tan, capped teeth. He’d recently broken up with someone and was now in this restaurant bar, where my friend Arda and I served people like him weekend nights year-round, including all major holidays. …


Hilal Isler

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