A Muslim woman shares what Americans ask about Islam. Her answers are eye-opening.

Of the 3.3 million Muslims in the United States, 21% are converts to Islam.

And of those approximately 693,000 converts, one of them hopes to be the U.S.’s first Muslim senator.

Deedra Abboud has faced Islamophobic attacks since she first announced her plan to run against Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake in 2017. Abboud says that while people throughout the state have been largely supportive, many questions she receives are about her faith rather than her proposed policies.


Abboud documents these interactions in the hopes of clearing up misconceptions about Muslim Americans.

All images courtesy of Deedra Abboud, used with permission.

Abboud says there are some questions regarding her beliefs that come up regularly.

In many cases, people are asking out of genuine confusion or an eagerness to learn more.

Here are answers to five common questions people ask Muslim Americans. Abboud hopes that speaking to these might help more people understand her faith — and the religion of many Americans — better.

1. “Why Islam?”

“The first thing I was told was that they [Muslims] were all going to hell because they didn’t believe in Jesus,” says Abboud, talking about what she was taught growing up in Arkansas. “Then when I went to university I saw a Middle Eastern exchange student so I was always trying to convert them to Christianity.”

Abboud remembers the Muslim students being patient with her. They explained their beliefs in a way she could understand. This led to her studying Islam extensively and her decision to ultimately convert when she moved to Arizona in 1998.

2. “How did people react to your conversion to Islam?”

“My mother was actually very supportive,” Abboud explains, adding that since she had studying Islam for years before converting, it wasn’t a surprise to most people close to her.

Her transition in the workplace, however, took time.

Abboud says that she would get ready for work in the mornings, remove her hijab (headscarf) in the parking lot when she got to work, then put it back on when she left for the day.

“The reason why I disclosed it was because I heard someone saying, ‘You know, Muslims want to kill all Americans,’” she says.

Islamaphobia is not new in America, and Abboud’s action is just one example of what Muslim Americans are doing every day to avoid persecution.

3. “Do you feel your decision to wear the hijab contradicts your stance as a feminist?”

“If a woman is forced to wear a piece of clothing, it’s oppression,” she explains, “and forcing a woman to wear something or forcing a woman to not wear something are equal on the oppression scale.”

Abboud continues:

“Saying that that this is a symbol of oppression is equivalent to people saying that a woman who wears a miniskirt is asking to be raped. Neither is truth. What I choose to wear in the morning is completely a personal choice.”

4. “But isn’t Islam oppressive to women?”

Abboud is quick to point out that oppression of women happens everywhere, regardless of religion. Her faith is not what mistreats or limits women — it’s other people who use faith as an excuse for their behavior.

“My dad beat my mom, and when she went to the church, they told her to be a better wife,” she says. “When she went to her dad, he told her to be a better wife. When she went to the police, they said be a better wife.”

Abboud explains that while there are some cultures in predominantly Muslim areas that are oppressive to women, many Muslim countries have elected women as their prime minister or president, including Indonesia, Pakistan, and Turkey. (Can you say the same about the U.S.?)

5. “You worked for CAIR — isn’t that a terrorist organization?”

CAIR, or the Council on American-Islam Relations, is a Muslim civil rights and advocacy group that formed in 1994 as a reaction to negative depictions of Muslims in the media. Despite its status as a nonprofit, critics have accused CAIR of being a terrorist organization affiliated with Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

“I just don’t understand,” Abboud says. “If it’s supposedly a terrorist organization, how it does it continue to have nonprofit status in several states and has survived every administration for the last almost 30 years?”

Abboud started the Arizona chapter of CAIR in 2001, shortly before 9/11.

Traveling for her campaign gives Abboud the chance to clear up misconceptions about Islam, but she’s happy when voters just want to talk about the issues.

“Most people actually do want to talk about things that matter,” she says, “you know, like not dying from poor health care, protecting the internet, basic freedom issues — things [that] actually affect their lives,” she says.

It’s a great shift and is evidence progress is being made, even if slowly.

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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

Cities

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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