June 4, 2011

Hey UCB, yeah you know me!


A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. I hope somebody understood the pop culture reference of my title: the beat of Yeah OPP, yeah you know me" popped into my head when I was thinking of a title.

Many of you may be confused as to what a "UCB" is, exactly. That's ok, apparently they are confused as well!!! ;-) UCB is the initials of a term I coined with my best friend. We've all met them before (although we might not have known it!) There is even a female counter-part to this elusive animal and they are called UCSs.

No clue? That's alright, I'll "out" them for you. UCB refers to UnderCover Brothas and obviously, UCA is for the sistahs. I'll write out a couple of scenarios to describe this phenomenon a little better.

1. You are at the mall and a man walks past. Your spidey-sense screams (silently) "There's a Muslim nearby!" (In the west, where any muslim sighting often remains rare, it is indeed a moment for spidey-sense tingles.) He could be any other man at the mall for all you know by looking at him. So what makes him a UCB?

Well the fact that every week you've seen said bro sportin' a thobe/kameez/(insert your cultural dress here) and kufi combo and salaaming left, right and center. Masha'Allah to the brother for his dedication to show up at the masjid and sticking to his roots.

However, when you in your happiness to see another muslim, throw a sisterly "A'salaamu alaikum" his way, he walks past as if it never happened. At quite a faster clip than before, btw.

Say whaaaaaaa? :-D OK onto scenario #2.

2. A very nice woman steps onto the elevator. She has the Muslim ethnic look but you can't tell by that. No hijab but most telling, no salaam. Hmm ok no problem. After riding 3 floors in silence, she looks at you (in khimar and abaya) and asks, "Are you Muslim?". Hmmmm no I just like to dress fancy. :-)) I nod my assent and smile.

So masha'Allah sister says, "Oh I'm Muslim too". No salaam, just that quick mention. You say, "Oh masha'Allah". The doors open and another person gets on. Sister quickly looks away and conversation ends.

You travel 3 more floors together.

Awkward. lol

BTW, the spelling of "awkward" is awkward. Nice when words showcase themselves.

 Alrighty... onto #3.

3. You've been seeing a particular physician for a year and a half. During this time, you always appear in front of him covered and several "insha'Allah" or "alhamdulillahs" have probably slid through your lips. He is from the sub-continent, you know that much from the one time you tried to talk to him about something other than white blood cell counts and allograft survival.

BTW, despite wearing clothing that is very identifiable as that which Muslims wear and speaking of your family (all of whom have Muslim names) never a word is breath about being a "muslim". :-) OK no problem, your physicians don't have to be Muslim.

Then...after a year and a half, you come down the stairs from Jumah and see him. Yes, your Dr. Standing there after salaat, chatting away with several other brothers, waiting for his wife to finish her sunnah prayers.

He turns around, sees you, and looks visibly surprised. It's like, "Hey buddy, I've never hid I'm a Muslim, don't look so surprised to see ME here". LOL

You give him salaams which he returns and you go on your way.

OK I guess by the time I got to that last scenario you probably had figured out all of those things happened to me. Those and many, many more. :-) I think one of my personal "say what"s is the very nice doctor who treated me in the ER.

She had a typical Arab name and was absolutely gorgeous. Long dark blond hair, flawless make-up, penciled in eyebrows... no hijab, a low-cut shirt. Hmmm OK so I think to myself, wellll her name is an Arab name but maybe her family is Christian or something. So I say nothing except hello.

After about 5 minutes she says, "Are you Muslim?" I swear I get this more from Muslims than non-Muslims!!! Which already confuses me but whatever. I answer in the affirmative and she says, "Oh I am too but I don't practice".

I never know WHAT to say. This has happened to me more than once. What do you say?

"Oh well, I do". lol


"I'm sorry".


"Why not?"


"Then what exactly makes you Muslim?"

Sorry if ya'll find that judgemental but that's just the truth about what runs through my head. It's awkward :-) and I just end up standing there and saying "Oh."

This obviously isn't based on scientific research;-). I'm just stating my observations, based on REAL LIFE events.

Like the cockroach said, "whatevs". LOL

It's a crazy world, ya'll.


Bonnie said...

Salaam :)
I hope you never stop blogging, you have such a talent for letting your personaility shine through your writing, that and you make me laugh out loud on many, many occasions. As for the title, I now I have 'that' song from Sister Act 2 embedded in my brain even though it's been years since I watched it. All I need now is the backwards cap, pants falling halfway down and VERY brightly ill fitting t-shirt.

Umm Aaminah said...

Salaam sis and so glad you enjoy it! BTW I'd loooove to see you in the 90s rapper look. LOL

Muslim Convert said...

LOL #2 has happened A LOT too me, you'd think I'd be able to come up with something really good to say back, but I haven't yet. Sometimes I feel so embarrassed for people who can't tell the obvious....again I just don't know what to say lol :P

Gail said...

Assalaam waliekum.
I love this article. I CAN TOTALLY VOUCH for the UCS scenario. It's so awkward (for them) when they all of a sudden just come out and said, "I'm Muslim too."
And you are like sarcastically thinking: "Noooooo, I would not have you were."
Or my thoughts: "Okay, here we go AGAIN."
And don't you hate it when some of them ask you do you have ties to the Middle East because the way you dress.

Umm Aaminah said...

MC, if you are like me, you will think of something really great... 5 minutes after you've walked off. lol

Gail, a different Muslim doc in the hospital (yeah, I am sick a lot lol) who was middle-eastern said, Oh are you from Palestine?

I'm like, dude, my name is Jeanna Lawrence. I have a southern accent. Please. lol

Guess I've got Muslim street cred, for what's that worth. :-D

Rene´s Bare Essentials said...


This has happened to me more times than I can count! Ive had women approach me and say salaams who I never would have thought were muslim and women who were dressed in hijab ignore me. One time I was in a bookstore buying a book when an african american woman (not in hijab) was behind me in line leaned over, smiled and said salaams. I was of course shocked because I never would have known she was muslim. That of course put a smile on my face. As I was leaving the store I passed by two women in hijab who looked at me and I looked at them and ignored my salaams. As for the "im not practicing" comment, I never know what to say either. Its an awkward moment and I have no idea what to say except "Oh" or "I see" Maybe they feel they need to add "Im not practicing" to explain why they are not wearing hijab. Maybe it makes them feel better when they are around sisters who are wearing hijab, not sure. As for your doctor, that is very strange that after 1.5 years you see him at the masjid and only then does he greet you! Ive asked my husband why women ask me if Im muslim (other muslims) and he said that in some areas of morocco and algeria women have never been exposed to other races and arent familiar with muslims of other races. That may be for some muslims, but Ive been asked this question by western muslims who are familiar with other races. Perhaps they think that caucasian women in hijabs married into the religion and are dressing as a muslim to please their husbands, not sure. I think next time Im asked that question my reply will be "Yes, are you?" =)

Umm Aaminah said...

Rene, LOL @ asking "yes, are you?" :-)

I didn't mention that I have also met several non-traditional Muslims who were super-sweet but then I don't really consider them to be UCB/Ss. :-) I guess because they have such a sweet look to their face or see truly happy to be Muslim, other than like it's a bit of a secret.

Umm Mini said...

Salaam alaykum,

You've had some experiences. I wouldn'tknow what to say aswell

Halima said...

Salamz, Sis!

I've had too many similar experiences like that to recount here, but there are a couple that stand out.
My son was in hospital in Florida with a bad head injury and was under the care of a Muslim Egyptian surgeon- I was introduced to him when he popped into my son's room on his rounds, but he didn't say anything, despite my obvious Muslim appearance. He explained my son's condition and said that he seemed to be responding to treatment and improving- and purely out of habit I said "inchallah"- oh! you should have seen his face! I think it would have been less embarassing for him if I had farted! hehe
And in my experience, there are many young, French born North Africans who prefer to be greeted with "bonjour", etc rather than "Asalaamu aleikum"- the Islamic/Arabic greeting leaves them looking blank.
And then, how to explain the Emrati women shopping in a ritzy London depratment store- in their designer shades and handbags, crystal abayas and gold jewelry- who reacted to my salaams with blank stares or purely ignored me. And this despite the fact that I was dressed exactly like them- minus the crystal and gold!
The thing that really gets me are the Muslims living in the West who adopt more western sounding names- Tariq who calls himself "Terry", Mohamed who calls himself "Mike"- and who don't want their wives wearing hijab because then the game would be up- pathetic.

Umm Aaminah said...

Umm Mini, that's just a small portion of some of the crazy I've seen. lol

Halima, Hahahaha @ less embarassing if you had farted. Oh I had tears at that.

I also dislike when people change their name because they want to fit in. So maybe someone can't say "Ahmed" correctly "A-med" is fine, it doesn't need to be "Al".

Aaliyah said...

Assalaamu alaikum,

I can relate to so many of these scenarios. One thing I usually get when give salaams to people is usually nothing or a hello or hi. They looked so shocked as well! Boo :( I guess people don't expect me to give salaams? :S