On Islam, Feminism and Cultural Appropriation

You don’t have to be a mathematician to appreciate that life can be a never-ending lottery of odds and opportunity.

Just play a game of Monopoly and take a trip to Boardwalk. Envy the player who lands on the prestigious property early in the game. And pity the one who is tardy and makes a late visit.

Professionals of the old board game, like those familiar with the “building shortages” rule, will know that there is a roughly 2.5 percent chance of ending up on the square, much less than say New York Avenue or the Reading Railroad, which hover around 3.0 percent.

But if and when you land on it, do you blame luck or praise fate?

In many ways, fate is the “all of the above” answer to life and all its questions. Swipe left? Swipe right? Won’t matter, fate will determine who you love and who loves you back. Looking for a job? Rather, should you stay or should you go? Don’t bother, fate has set a course for you; you just don’t know it.

Sure, you could say the same could apply to Jessica Ripper. She’s white, has blonde hair, blue eyes and resides in Northern California. Yet, to many in Pakistan, she’s an Islamic-gospel music tabla player.

In the 700-year-old sufi-singing tradition of Qawwali, she’s a female trailblazer shattering century-old glass ceilings from sufi shrine to sufi shrine. And everywhere else, she’s a statistical anomaly, a bizarre outlier.

Did fate direct Ripper to her path as one of the world’s only white female western qawwali players? Or was it chance and opportunity?

You be the judge.