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Keedies Corner Presents…”The Beauty of the Islam Religion” Two Daytona Women Tell The Stories Behind the Hardship of Practicing Their Religion in America

The Beauty of the Islam Religion

Published By Keedies Corner

written by Bruce Walton Jr

                                                            [picture above Saodat Rustimy]

             One of the most controversial and debated subjects around the world is religion. Religious beliefs were set well before our modern times, though, archeologist  are still finding proofs to back theory that may surface through ancient sculptures, ruins and art. A lot of the passion is based on pure faith and belief. To non-believers, it may be far fetched to believe in life after death or being produced from a higher being. They often use scientific theory to debate religion such as Darwin’s Law of Evolotion or The Big Bang Theory. Some even go as far to say that religion may be used to control the people of society. And to add insult to injury, some believe that most of the wars between our countries are religiously driven.

            In America, it may be assumed that the Islamic religion may be the most misunderstood. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks and other conflicts of interest, people often coincide jilbabs, hijabs, abayas etc with terrorist. The ignorance almost drowns out the stunning realization that approximately 20,000 Americans convert to Islam annually.                               

                     Through all of this, we found some Americans who stayed true and found the beauty in embracing their religion, regardless of the scrutiny and downplay they could have faced. But what kept these people so faithful to this religion? What made these people turn to this religion? Lets look inside for further analysis so we can kill the noise once and for all.

                           Our first story is about Saodat Rustimy. A young lady originally from Tashkent, Uzbekistan, her father saw a flyer which allowed you to win a Green Card. Something like the lottery. Though, his entire family told him he would be wasting his time and money, he tried his luck anyway….AND WON! Soon after, Her father and the family sold all of their belongings and moved to America in search for a better life. Saodat was only 7 at the time and in her original country her uncle used to read her The Quran and keep her in tune with the religion. After moving to Florida, Saodat found it hard to keep up with the religion being so young and not having the focus towards religion for a reminder. She was going to an Islamic based school but that was when her and her family lived in the Northern part of the United States. In her public school in Florida (4th grade), Saodat attempted to practice her faith by wearing her scarfs. But the kids used to tease her and would even snatch her scarf from her head. This discouraged her and soon she was reluctant to show representation of her religion. As She got older, her core family sort of fell off on their practice. Even though they sent Saodat to Sunday school, she would soon forget what was taught to her by Monday morning. Going into her High School experience, She really started to lose track and fall into the wrong crowd. It seemed as though pleasing God was forgotten as being a priority in her life. It was more about survival and socialism. When trouble started to lerk, she started to get a glimpse of what she really wanted to represent. “Is this how I repay my parents? All the hard work they have done to get me in this country? The things they have sold?”. She knew she needed a break through. She felt like the Devil was taking control. This past summer, her mother took her on a trip back to her original country. This was the perfect opportunity to get back in touch with her origins. This is when she felt herself driving towards her rejuvenation.

                On her trip, She found herself kind of out of place and bored. Though she was with her family, she was frankly unfamiliar with them. She felt herself wanting to spice up her stay, in other words, the devil was still lingering. She was fortunate that her placement prevented her from getting critical steps backwards. With Ramadan approaching, Saodat decided to pick up her Quran and brush up on some things. It just felt right, besides she had nothing better to do with her spare time while she was away. Unfortunately, the last thing on her mind was that she could be saved. She often felt like her prayers wouldn’t be answered because she indulged in sinful activity on an excessive basis. After she submerged herself into the depth of the Quran she suddenly felt an awakening of her spirit. Once she saw the mercifulness of the Lord she realized it wasn’t about her sins, but more about her realization of what’s wrong and right and her humbling herself to the realization that he was the all-mighty. Soon after she became obsessed and built up a thirst for more knowledge. Her new found love was never missing, it was just awakened within herself. When Ramadan came around she participated in its practices. She realized that it wasn’t just about not eating, it was also about being able to control the resistance of evil while cleansing your mind, body, and soul. During her Ramadan stint, she would stay up all day and night reading. She seemed to be in a trans for more enlightenment. Yet, the most comforting knowledge that came to Saodat was the understanding that the Lord knows that we may get weak along the way.

 “From there my love for Islam kept increasing but spirituality isn’t something that will always be consistent. You will have “faith lows” where you will need a little push. Like when you wake up in the morning for Fajr (dawn prayer) and you feel like you just want to sleep. We will be tested some days. Our entire life is a test.  We just have to win the battles over the demons and keep going”.

               Salat(prayer) is the first pillar of Islam, it’s something we have to hold on to no matter what. Salat actually came to the prophet Muhammad (pbbuh) as a blessing at the lowest point of his life, when his wife and uncle, who was like his father, passed away and he was going through very bad situations. God gave the prophet (pbbuh) salat as a prescription for his soul to ease his pain. We pray five times a day so we grow closer to our Lord and ease our pain. Praying also gives us discipline in our lives, like it will be pretty difficult to sin and do evil things when you’re talking to your lord at least 5 times a day. Islam doesn’t have a big difference with Christianity actually. I’ve listened lectures given by former priest/pastors who have converted to Islam and all the prophets and some of the biblical stories are also in the Quran, the main difference is we believe Jesus Christ (pbbuh) is a prophet and not God. The main message in Islam is one…that there is only one God and nobody else compares to him, and he does not have any partners or associates and the prophet Muhammad (pbbuh) was the last of the prophets. Muhammad (pbbuh) is our role model, we believe he was the closest  human being to perfection sent to earth. Even before Islam was sent to him, everybody in mecca knew him for his perfect characteristics. We know all this because of the hadiths/sunnahh, which is like a biography of his life that those around his wrote. If you are around Muslims you will hear us using a lot of different terms, like alhamdullilah (praise to God), Allahuakbar (God is great) subhanallah (glorious is God) …and many more. The most influential Muslims to me were mostly scholars of Islam, like Ahmed deetat, Mufti Menk, Nouman Ali Khan…and a few more.  Out of the people close to me would have to be my Grandmother. Lastly for anybody who interested in learning about Islam, please, please, please do not search Google…look at primary sources, because Google will show you what a bunch of ignorant people who have no knowledge of Islam writes. There are only two primary sources of Islam which is the Quran and sunnah. If you don’t understand something in the Quran, look in the sunnah which is the hadiths. You can easily get access to these at your local Mosque. I just think its good to be open minded, and study from each other. May God bless all of you.” – Saodat Rustimy

                      Saodat’s journey to recovery and discovery was definitely enlightening and inspirational. Someone who was lost and then found. Even though she was slightly deterred when she went through scrutiny from this misunderstanding of her religious practices, she was drawn back by the inner spirit that stayed true within. The next individual, however, had a very different conflict of interest. First, being an African American in the religion and second having family conflictions between the religion. We look inside the life of Natioshia  Bright. Natioshia has been wanting to tell her story for some time now and now she has finally been given the opportunity to get it off her chest.

[picture to the left is Natioshia Bright]

                    Natioshia Bright is an African American Muslim born and raised in the US. Her family turned to Islam in great respects to their grandfather, Harrison Wilder. He was known to have ties with Malcolm X and his revolutionary uprising. Her family raised her and her two siblings in a Muslim community inside of Daytona Beach,Fl. Natioshia was always a believer since the day one and she has been completely indulged in the religion since she could remember. Not until she became a young teen did she start to explore other religions to decipher, herself, what she felt was right. After careful study,  Islam was chosn to be where she what religious path she wanted to take.


                    Soon after, Natioshia was presented with the pressures of being a female who follows this religion. It was more expected for them to be  pure, humble, knowledgeable and submissive to her family and/or husband. At the age of 12, she was  already blasted with pressure to be received as a wife. Men would ask her father for her hand in marriage. This continued until she was approximately 17 years old, but subsequently, she never actually married. Now, with her new found knowledge, she feels as if she should have done so, back then. In the Islam religion, being married is almost  an expected  ritual you have to  through in order to be fully accepted and/or to be without sin. Now, Natioshia is very proud to represent her religion. But it wasn’t always easy for her to be a full representative and also feel proud inside.

                    Growing up, Ms.Bright was naive of her differences within her peers. Her assumption was everyone lived the way she did inside their house hold. When it came to attire, children looked at her strangely but from her point of view, she wondered why they dressed “irregularly”. She only wore t-shirts and pants, so everything she saw the children wearing looked to be excessive or revealing. On the contrary, she wasn’t treated any differently, besides a couple awkward stares in which she also returned. The transition in her life occurred immediately after the “9/11” attacks. Natioshia’s father kept her out of school for a couple days. Looking back on it, she realized it was for her protection. Her return to school was a very unearthly experience. The alienation and detachment from society was thick in the air. One piece of cloth (her hijab), all of a sudden was more than just a representation for holiness. In her mind, it seemed that what she may have seen as regular fashion or “some thing” that her family represents, has become an resemblance of terror, outkast, and the new target for racial profiling. She spent many days in the school’s front office for protection from her relentless torment and confliction over her clothing. The school board wasn’t sure if they wanted to allow her to freely represent her religion because of the disruption it caused with other kids and also fear of what other parents would think knowing that their kids were around a religion, on a daily basis, that they didn’t want to brush off on their kids. Sad enough, some of the torment even came from inside the schools staff.

                   When her high school years came along, a more mature sense of the resentment was brought to light. Her first 2 weeks of high school were spent in the front office because the school’s council wanted her parents to provide proof that what she wore was part of a religious practice. In addition, her friends from middle school started to differentiate themselves to prevent alienation inside the new found peers. As the hatred and ignorance spread to the staff members, Ms. Bright started to feel out of place and scared at the one of the few places she thought she should have felt the utmost protection.  Also, high school students started to openly date, and of course, they started to build temptation inside of her. Yet, her religion practices that you can’t befriend or be intimate with a male unless you are married. The year Natioshia decided to wear her Hijab permanently, is the year that weighed the most pressure on her. From the social detachment, to the ridicule, to even lack of intimacy finally broke her. The pressure of being a Muslim in an immature and ignorant place left few options for her. She went on hiatus from her open representation for her religion.

                         All of this made her a very strong and knowledgeable person. She had to learn that  acceptance of society may not always come with freely representing something everyone may not believe in, on top of that belief of having such a negative connotation. Everyone has to face their own judgment. But Natioshia has become much more involved in her religion. She hasn’t yet broken back into the dress code, but through prayers to ALLAH (swat) she prays for the strength to gain that courage back.

[the video below is called “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover”. An African American man amazes a Muslim store owner who didn’t expect him to know a prayer from the Quran]

                         We all know that communication is the key source that runs the world. Just imagine a world where you couldn’t share your thoughts to teach others. There would probably be chaos. Yet, the second most crucial functioning tool is socialism. The only problem is, people now a days want so much control and are so strict that they don’t let you chose freely on what you should follow. They most likely would call you “weird” or tell you that your are learning or being taught wrong. As a believer of a certain religion you have to say this way is wrong in order to fully believe that your religion is right.  But who are we to tell you that you are wrong if it all is built off of faith? Besides small evidences, no one really knows what happened before they were born. It’s something you have to really feel in your spirit as if you have lived that life in the past. Think about when your parents or grandparents sat back and told you stories about their prior occurrences. You really have no proof of what they are saying, unless they were showing you photos, but you feel it in your spirit because your have faith in the provider of the information, on top of the way it moves you personally, if you are mature enough for it to make sense to you. A Christian probably couldn’t tell you that they wouldn’t be practicing a different religion if they were raised in Tokyo, Japan, yet, they can tell you that the feeling they get inside themselves makes them believe that it feels right. The belief in a higher power shouldn’t be judged on the way you get to him, as long as you believe that the higher power is there and you go about representing him correctly. Not to say that any religion represents the higher power incorrectly, but who are we, as regular human beings, to tell someone that they are wrong? As people who pray to a higher power and ask for forgiveness, mercy and guidance to the right path,  how can we judge someone who is following a belief that they feel is right? If you believe in a higher power, they know every one faces their own judgment. Though some believe we should be disciples and shepherds that lead others to the promise land, at the end of the day, we all have free will and free will is what America is all about. Free will can be as much harmful as it is helpful, but thats another topic of discussion…..

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5 Innovative Trends in Women’s Economic Equality


Investing in women creates amultiplier effect for society – including better health and education outcomes, more resilient societies, reinvestment in communities, and greater prosperity. While there has been overall progress globally, women in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) still face some of the greatest barriers in asserting their economic rights.To help break through these barriers, the Women Powering Work: Innovations for Economic Equality in MENA online competition, launched by Ashoka Changemakers and General Electric, was launched to support innovations that enable full economic participation by women. Nine competition finalists have emerged who are building quality livelihoods and securing economic rights for women across the region. The competition is also uncovering a series of trends that demonstrate how investing in women’s economic equality is smart.

The Women Powering Work competition received 107 applications from more than 23 countries, spanning very diverse economic, social, and political contexts. In the spirit of open learning and collaboration, below is a list of the finalists and the themes that are emerging from their solutions.

Who are the finalists?BADAWEYA Women’s Handicraft Initiative, EgyptBusanti, PakistandoctHERS-in-the-House, PakistanFarm to Market: Seeding Afghan Women Entrepreneurs,, JordanKhadija Program – Technology for Development, YemenNabbesh’s www Initiative: Work that Works for Women, UAEPoverty Female Prisoners & Their Children, EgyptWomen’s Digital League – Celebrating the Strength, Courage and Talent of Pakistani Women One Digital Task at a Time, PakistanEmerging Trends:

Trend #1: Reinvent Jobs for Maximum FlexibilityWhen Maria Umar was refused maternity leave as a teacher, she quit her job and worked to found an online company that would offer flexibility in work options for any woman who needs it. Umar’s organization,Women’s Digital League (Pakistan), and two other finalists — Nabbesh(United Arab Emirates) and engineering firm — are creating project-based jobs that women can easily access online. A key part of their success is customizing their services to meet the unique needs of their local context. They are securing partnerships with local companies to ensure quality jobs are available for posting, embedding ratings systems to help employees build their reputation, and partnering with NGOs to provide training and infrastructure to access IT jobs in hard to reach, rural communities.

Trend #2: Partner for Entrepreneurial Success — Create Access to MarketsA number of changemakers are not only helping women to establish their own micro-enterprises but also providing them with the services and partnerships they need to grow into medium-to -large sized businesses. Projects such as Badaweya Handicraft Initiative (Egypt) and Afghan Women Entrepreneurs (Afghanistan) are delivering skills trainings, providing start-up materials, coupling skills-trainings with consulting advice about how to make enterprises successful, and also linking women to distributors and networks to ensure their products can reach enough customers to make a profit. Afghan Women Entrepreneurs, along with the Khadija Technology Program (Yemen), step further outside the box by focusing on industries such as farming and information technology, giving women the training, access to partner networks, and experience needed to establish their own enterprises in fields that aren’t limited to handicrafts.

Trend #3: Replace Intense Stigma with EmpowermentSometimes innovation can come from applying established solutions to previously unreached populations. A number of entries stood out for their focus on segments of women that were especially disenfranchised. Changemakers Finalist Children of Female Prisoners Association (CFPA) (Egypt) focuses on breaking the cycle of poverty and stigma faced by women who are imprisoned along with their children, many due to having small debts or due to the debts of relatives. CFPA provides vocational training and support and creates public campaigns to help ensure that women can break free of any stigma and become gainfully employed. Other entries focused on pioneering economic development opportunities for widows (Athar Foundation, Yemen), orphans (Woman to Woman, Jordan), and bedouins (Badaweya, Egypt).

Trend #4: Lift Environmental Barriers to EmploymentA few finalists stood out for proposing solutions that would ease access to jobs while also tackling environmental barriers that exacerbate the employment gender gap such as poor transportation and healthcare. In order to make it easier for women to get to jobs within cities, Busanti(Pakistan) not only seeks to provide safe, harassment-free transportation with women-only buses but also provides essential health-education during the transportation. DoctHERS in the house (Pakistan) is also finding innovative ways to deliver healthcare to the underserved but by utilizing technology to enable female doctors who cannot access the workplace to continue practicing medicine from home. They train local community nurses, provide diagnostic tools, and conduct examinations by remotely utilizing mobile and internet technology.

Trend #5: Engage Men as Part of the SolutionWhile a number of solutions are inspiring examples of social businesses for and by women, a key strategy for success cited by strong entries included deliberate efforts to ensure men in the community were engaged as full allies and participants in the economic development opportunities.  BADAWEYA Women’s Handicraft Initiative (Egypt), for example, ensures that activities also involve  husbands and brothers and that good relationships are maintained with tribal leaders.

With so many promising projects, inspiring changemakers, and social challenges needing solutions, it certainly wasn’t easy to narrow down the list to nine finalists or to recognize every strong applicant! With this in mind, our aim is to offer tools to help ensure that every applicant gains value from this experience. Resources we created as a result of this collaborative competition include: acustom feedback report highlighting strengths, areas for improvement. and suggested projects to learn from or partner with as well as aChangemaking Toolkit, where you can explore all projects related to the field of women’s economic development on a single map, navigate an interactive report about trends in social innovation for this field, access a guide to pitching and wooing funders, and more._This post was written by Reem Rahman (@reemrahman), who works at Ashoka@Changemakers as a Product and Knowledge Manager to help anyone with an idea for social change succeed in making a difference.Featured Image: ”A survey of the Afghan people” via Asian Development Bank and Compfight cc.

Sacramento County : Woman Shot and Killed by Police


SACRAMENTO COUNTY, Calif. (KCRA) -Citrus Heights officers shot and killed a woman driving a stolen car when she tried to ram into two police cruisers, sheriff’s officials said.A spokeswoman with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department said Citrus Heights police began to pursue a stolen vehicle in the 7000 block of Madison Avenue at 11:38 a.m. Sunday.On two different occasions during the pursuit — which reached speeds of 70 mph — the woman tried to ram two Citrus Heights police cruisers, according to deputies.Two officers fired multiple shots at the woman, officials said.The woman, who is in her 20s, died at the scene.Sheriff’s officials said no weapons were found on the woman.The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department is handling the investigation.