Tag Archive: ramadan


 

Picture 2 (2)

First, Kaepernick.  Don’t have much to add here.  My father, uncles, cousins, good friends are all veterans so I’ve always stood for the national anthem out of respect for them.  But if the man doesn’t want to do it, and he’s expressed why he doesn’t want to do it, I’ve been there too.  And I’m the last person to tell someone to do something they don’t want to do for the sake of appearances.

My original topic for this Sunday was going to be ‘black masculinity’, and how everyone from Nate Parker to Jaden Smith are making us think about what that’s meant, historically and what it means right now. As I sit here, my thoughts feel like a work in progress and not a fully formed idea.  Not yet anyway.

So today is as good of a Sunday as any to say ‘Thank You.’  The more personal impetus behind the masculinity idea I’ve been thinking about this week is I had to ask someone for help.  Out of all the demons I’ve beaten, my ego and my pride are the last two I haven’t yet fully conquered.  Everyone has that problem to a degree, but there’s a deeper complex black men are given at birth about not looking ‘weak’.  A lot of brothers with much more serious problems than I’ve ever had never ask or seek out the help they need because they don’t want to look like a ‘punk’.  I promise I’ll come back to this topic (on a large scale) before the year is out.

A lot of trial and error, but swallowing my pride is easier for me now because I’ve spent a significant part of my life surrounding myself with quality people and attracting like minds.  Ali passing at the beginning of Ramadan and the rise of Trumpism took me from year 4 of my 5 year plan to be a more vocal advocate for my community to year…11; but the pieces of my life had already fallen into place before things beyond my control happened.

So thank you to all of you who contribute to, support, and encourage me to be ‘MALIK AZIZ.’  The Wyandotte folks, the Jayhawks, the Trojans, the Ummah, the Frat; the music geeks, the film geeks, the nerds, the artists, the activists, the politicos; the Romantics who work for true love and friendship over notches on an imaginary belt or friend list, the old heads who worry for the kids coming up behind us and are determined to do what you can to make it easier for them than it was for us.

You all matter to me and I appreciate you.  I carry the public image of a loner, but I’m reminded daily how many people have my back.

cassius

Relieved.

Way back when, I was an intensely serious child.  Most everyone admired me for it, in different ways.  I was intelligent.  I was curious.  I was ‘angry’, in the sense I was fascinated by all the whys and hows of what brought all of us to where we are.  I was an avid student of Black history.  Hollywood history.  American history.

It’s always the little, ‘insignificant’ details you remember.  At some point, during senior year as we were saying our goodbyes, one of the guys said to me simply, ‘We all love you and definitely need to have brothers like you around.  But don’t forget to have some fun.’

That’s how it started, it was really that simple.  A lot more often, my choices became a reflection of someone who could take the weight of the world off his shoulders once in a while, and enjoy this life.  Spending a spring at the Playboy Mansion. The ‘Tony Montana Dream Weekend’ in South Beach. Dinner dates with WWE Divas.  And a million other episodes I’ve either genuinely forgot about, or deliberately refuse to talk about publicly.

So I’ve had fun. Too much fun? That’s debatable. Fun at the cost of other things? Sure, but even at my least responsible, I always accepted every decision I make comes with a price.

I have been doing this long enough to accept the question, not in my own mind, but in the minds of others, of whether I still had it in within myself to be the completely focused, passionate, articulate and intelligent, socially conscious and driven boy I was when so many friends, family, and mentors invested in me, and told everyone who would listen ‘Malik is the one who’s going to ‘do it’ and he’s not going to sell out what he stands for to get there.’

So I’m relieved.

I’m relieved I’ve lived long enough to grow from a pure ideologue into a three dimensional human being.

I’m relieved more often than not I’ve surrounded myself with people who gave me the latitude to grow, to make mistakes and learn from them.

I’m relieved that I’m able to live my life on my terms without doing major harm to anyone else (to my knowledge).

I’m relieved I’ve found avenues that allow me to honor those who came before me, and ideally allow me to do things that will benefit the next generation of people who look like me or have names like mine.

I’m relieved I’ve been able to build a personal and private life where the only agenda is ‘Do we enjoy each other’s company? Do we have a good time together? Do we support each other’s dreams?’

I’m relieved I’ve lived long enough and worked hard enough to get to the point where all the different elements that make up my life finally complement each other.

I’m relieved that while I know something will eventually go bad, on the whole I’ve grown into a man who enjoys life and loves life and is motivated to keep going.

All praise is due to Allah, only the mistakes have been mine.

Eid Mubarak.

Back after 4th of July weekend.

jrmafia

The countdown to Ramadan has begun.

I’ll go into it in more detail before my annual interwebs exile, but in short: everything is, or is very very swiftly where it’s supposed to be.  Including yours truly.

So I’m in the mood to give you 20 or so ‘fun’ songs before I leave you, but, you know how I am now.  Always in the moment. We’ll see how it goes.

But today I feel good, so…

Enjoy!

 

cruel

‘That’s how it starts.  The fever, the rage, the feeling of powerlessness that turns good men…cruel.’

I lost 20 pounds this Ramadan.  It’s the most weight I’ve ever dropped while fasting; I’m trying to finish ‘optimizing’ my diet so I can stay in ‘middleweight champion’ shape year round.  Cutting myself away from most of my non essential stuff also gave me time to reflect if it was time to let go of other things I don’t need any more.  Bad habits, negative influences. The things that go beyond ‘a bad day’ and turn into repeatedly asking myself ‘Why am I doing this?  How does this really end?’

While I was getting rid of my physical and emotional fat, something else happened. Something unexpected.  But something I’ve wanted for a long time and I feel is as necessary as everything else.

I found my anger.

Or to be very specific, I rediscovered how to ‘hold on’ to my anger.  To feel no guilt about it as a natural human emotion (and there’s a bigger conversation going on telling people of my tribe to ‘not be angry’ when it’s completely justified, we’ll save that conversation for another day).  My personal evolution from Rebel Without a Pause to Dark Knight to Zen Master to, however this would be labeled.  And every step was completely necessary.  You can implode like a dream deferred if you boil but try to smother it forever inside yourself; you can be ill prepared for war if you’ve lost your will to fight for what you want.

This is right.  I’ll never see myself as ‘brooding’ or ‘unfriendly’, but if that’s how I’m perceived by strangers when I’m not in the mood to crack jokes or I don’t go out of my way to be befriend everybody in the room, that’s on them now.

So now that I’ve rediscovered how to tap into and channel my anger, how do I best use it?

Hm…

HT_husain_abdullah_kansas_city_praying_sk_140930_16x9_992

I was as prepared as I’ve ever been, and this Ramadan was as physically and mentally smooth as any I’ve experienced.  In this life, I still have work to do it seems.  I’m excited to start working out again and putting meat on my bones.  I’m excited to finish the last script I was working on, and bringing my full energy during the daylight hours again to everything I’m committed to.  I’m excited and looking forward to interacting with many of you.

I appreciate everyone who gave me my personal space, but let me take a moment to thank everyone who hasn’t seen me in the past month and sent me a text, a DM, a call, and the like to make sure I was alright. This is usually my most serious time of the year obviously, but I’m human. It’s nice to be missed, it’s nice to be appreciated.

One regret I have (which will be corrected the rest of the way) is that in my absence I should have turned you on to others who post through Ramadan (and all throughout the year).  Many different colors and lifestyles and attitudes; beyond the obvious, the only connection you can probably make between these people is that often I’ll look at them, then look in the mirror and say to myself, “I need to do more, I’m not doing enough.”   Amanda Saab, Husain and Hamza Abdullah, dream hampton, Dawud Walid, Brother Ali, Lupe Fiasco, Murtaza Hussain, Keith Ellison, Khalil Muhammad.  For you young people, I’ll throw Zayn Malik in there.  Those are few ‘famous’ names; like most of you I get inspired the most by the people in my community you probably haven’t heard of. Yet.

I’m thankful for those of you who tried to change me, so I could easily identify, in the short term and the long term, the compromises I’m comfortable making, and where I draw the lines.

I’m thankful for those of you who have always accepted me as I am, even when I didn’t always recognize it, and when I didn’t always fully accept myself.

All Praise is due to Allah, only the mistakes have been mine.

Eid Mubarak to the Muslim Community around the world!

Let’s finish this.

Obi-wan_kenobi_on_tatooine

Returned to the director’s chair. Made a quality short that will find a new audience every holiday season (like the film its based on, ironically). Wrote my first original pilot. Wrote my first spec based on a TV show I love. Producer on another ‘legacy’ project that’s one of those ‘once in a lifetime’ things I’m thrilled to be a part of. The period of time from the last Ramadan to this one has found me in another peak period. Stability and consistency have arrived.

I’m mastering how to be as efficient as I can, I’ve reverse engineered the remaining details.  It’s happening.  The endgame (which we’ve half jokingly, half seriously called, ‘Muslim Clooney’.) Not as one giant home run swing, but by stringing together all the daily and weekly victories.  Far from over, but constant forward motion.  With a lot of help and support from many of you, I’ve worked myself into a position where I can think but not ‘overthink’, I’ve created a sense of ‘home’ (stability) which makes me more confident in myself and my natural voice.  We still have more fun than we should at times, but I’m reverting back to being more selective about when and where and in front of whom I act like the ‘devil may care goofball who doesn’t take anything too seriously’ and re-establishing my go-to move as being the ‘socially conscious, politically aware artist who prides himself on being a world citizen.’ The consistency.

Part of it I guess was aging into it, but I’m completely comfortable in ‘my spot.’  When I was younger, I’m sure some people thought I’d be some version of DeRay McKessen.  I love and support what that brother is, but I don’t know want his life.  When you hear me hype up Ava DuVernay or Issa Rae, I’m not angling for a gig; their voices and what they represent are important as well.  Even the young brothers who at some point maybe I was ‘suppose to be’, like Justin Simien or Ryan Coogler, I feel no envy.  They’re not telling my specific story or doing what I specifically do. I now live in the moment more than I ever have, but my eyes on the Big Picture; something bigger than I will ever be and something that will be here long after I’m gone.  This may be an easier statement for someone as defiantly individual as I am to say, but I believe it’s true: you will be challenged at every turn, you will have to fight for what you believe in at every step, but, what’s meant for you? No one can take that from you.

So back to this moment. The past couple of weeks I’ve started to strip away the unnecessary things, and this is part of it.  As much as is practically possible in 2015, I’m taking a social media and blogging hiatus for Ramadan (which starts later this week.) As I’ve told the people close to me, for the first time in I don’t know how long, I don’t have to ‘fix’ anything in my life.  I can routinely place my hand on the brass ring, but haven’t quite put my fingers around it. So my goal is making sure I maintain and continue to build upon my (say it with me now) stability and consistency.

I’m off for deep meditation and to protect the Future here in the dry lands.  If it’s meant to be and the time is right (say mid July?), we’ll get back to it.

Take care.

 

malcolmpraying

As this Ramadan ends, I thought I would have a lot to say.  But maybe not as much as I first thought.

Fasting has an interesting effect on the body and the mind.  I can only truly speak for myself, but I know of what it does to me and others: violent mood swings, fatigue comes extremely quickly, your discipline and stamina are stretched to its limits.  And inevitably, the sun sets and you can replenish yourself, you spend time with loved ones.  Even with the Holy Month, this is a luxury that is sometimes taken for granted.

In particular, being born and raised in the richest country on the planet, in a middle class lifestyle on my worst days, I’ve never truly had to worry about food or shelter.  I’ve always had several options on the two most basic human needs.  In terms of community, and being a part of a group, in that regard too, I have never really known of a time where there wasn’t someone I could call ‘family’, whether that was by blood relation or friendship.  I certainly take pride in being the Dark Knight, and my big brother gene enjoys poking people with a stick from time to time just for fun, but anyone paying any kind of attention knows that I have a deep affection for the Jayhawks, and Kansas City, and black women and all things in between if at the same time my actions show you that I’m not really the man who’s interested in ‘carrying the flag’ and wearing the ‘number one fan’ cap (more often than not because I see others who WANT to carry that flag, and desire goes a long way in the roles we play in life).

In this month, we try to wipe our slates clean from the sins we’ve committed. If I have done wrong to you, or done wrong by you, I sincerely apologize.  As arrogant as I know I am, and as much of a perfectionist as I know I am, I recognize that I’ll never be perfect, and in some form or fashion, I will always be dependent on others.  That’s what makes me (and you) human.

Truth be told, I still have a lot on my mind. (smiling)  But whether it’s maturity, or peace of mind, or knowing I’m going to work out, and drink coffee, and eat lunch again tomorrow, for now I’m done talking and just want to ‘do’.

Free Palestine.

Detroit, give the people their water back.

Eid Mubarak to all my Muslim brothers and sisters spread all over the globe.

All praise is due to Allah. Only the mistakes have been mine.

 

obiwan

I don’t believe anything says more about where I’m at going into this Ramadan, than the fact that for the first time, I have no major vices to give up.

All three dimensions that I feel define ‘Malik Aziz’ are peaking, and they’re all very visible (for all of the definitions of me as ‘super mysterious/secretive’).

As far as my ‘GQ cover boy movie star’ side goes, I’m crazy excited for you to see the project I’ve been prepping.  I can’t say much about it without ruining the joke, but it’s another of those short, layered pieces that I feel are part of my ‘signature.’  If ‘Lady’ showed off my dramatic side, this one really establishes my comedic voice.  Strongly.  I had planned to have it shot already but life got in the way.  The music is done (thanks Jermaine!), I have the cast and crew I love, this is going to be nice.  I was aiming for the end of the summer, but the return of ‘Greenlight’ might have moved up when I want to shoot this…

As far as my ‘spiritually grounded citizen of the world’ side goes, the most joyful part of my life right now is doing as much as I’m able to affect others.  The higher profile work I do with the SAG Foundation and BookPALs, the off the radar work I do that’s more individual and directly affects people on an individual level.  Once I found my own peace and I started asking ‘what else?’, the advice that stuck with me (from Farrahkhan as some of you recall) was to recommit to serving others who don’t have/will never have the breaks I was given.  And I’ve only just begun.

As far as my ‘romantic clown’ side goes, that element is enjoying this extended peace.  Some of you pick up on it through our ‘social media’ relationship, some of you who know me in ‘real life’ sense it in my attitude and overall demeanor.  My very proud individuality surely played its part in how long it’s taken for me to find my ‘comfort zone’, so did starting my romantic life as an African-American Muslim artist living in Kansas (that’s really it’s own movie isn’t it?), but I think the combination of natural maturity and life experience (learning what works and what doesn’t), and let’s be honest, not a perfect love life but more importantly not having any “You took 5 to 10 years out of my life that I can’t get back” experience, I’ve remained optimistic. And it’s paid/paying off.  Another benefit of patience I guess: without spending a lot of time going in another direction, that ‘grass is greener’ mentality is gone.  Said another way: the women in my life that I choose to go all in with relationship wise are the women who very obviously want to be a part of my life.  That young mentality, chasing someone who’s toying with you or who lets you know pretty straight out ‘You’re not my type’; now my attitude toward women like that is still polite, but also very definitely, ‘I believe you.’

I took the longest way possible to say ‘I’ve found my type’ didn’t I?  (laughing) Well, you get it.

In the past I’ve used Ramadan as a reason to go into complete seclusion.  Those days have passed as well.  Being the three dimensional 21st century hippie that I am means there’s no longer an offseason to being a world citizen.  So my LA friends, I hope I’ll continue to see you over the next month even if my energy level may be low until the evening hours.  For my Muslim brothers and sisters around the world, I pray for a blessed Ramadan for you as I’m sure you do for me.

And the rest of you…have a good weekend!

 

naughtybynature

Even though Ramadan has come and gone for this year, I would still like Sunday in particular be the day (not necessarily the only one) where this space is used to go a little deeper than the usual silliness.  At the same time though, I won’t be forcing the issue if it’s not there.  Right now, I’m watching the Dream Defenders in Florida, I’m of course keeping an eye on what’s going on Egypt, but in both cases I don’t feel remotely qualified to give a fully fleshed out point of view on either subject.

As I thought about if there was another way to go about it, the obvious answer is in what takes up more than a few days in this space: the music.  My music pedigree is established, and I don’t think anyone would be shocked when I say I know my fair of share of ‘socially conscious’ music, hip hop and other genres.  So on Sundays like today when I don’t have anything extra deep to talk about it, we’ll throw out a song that’s about…’something’.

The Michael sample is pretty heavy in this choice, but that aside this might be the ‘deepest’ song Treach ever flowed about.  Have a good week!

 

apostle

A few years back, I went to those closest to me and described my endgame in a few simple words (a pitch, basically).  In the relatively short amount of time since then, I’ve knocked out several smaller tasks that all feed back into that larger, singular purpose: Getting my passport. Kicking my Arabic studies up a notch.  Becoming an active, professional actor and joining SAG-AFTRA.  The list goes on.  Now I look back at that initial pitch, and see I’m no longer saying ‘How do I get there?’  I’m saying, ‘This is it.  Let’s see how big this can potentially be.’

When I was a kid especially, but even in my younger adult years, I carried a certain dread about making that ‘one mistake’ that would derail me from getting anywhere near my full potential.  Now, the roots are in the ground, and my life is blossoming into something beyond anything I could have imagined as a quiet but extremely ambitious black kid from KCK.  That’s one reason I’m so grateful.  Here are a few more:

  • Truthfully, I had no expectation of just…enjoying life, all the day to day moments as much as I clearly do.  And that didn’t just happen.  That was/is a constant work in progress.  The most amazing part of spiritual peace (and this is directed toward those of you who aren’t there…yet), is that for all the ‘pie in the sky’, I’ll never know what that’s like moments, when you find it, it’s truly something else.  There really aren’t words for it, but if you’ve experienced darkness, you’ll definitely recognize the feeling of that cloud not hanging over you constantly.
  • More than one friend has called me out on the ‘love’ issue over the past month.  All I can say is this: much like my professional life, when the pieces naturally click into place, you just know.  There is no such thing as ‘too much love’ I feel, but if (to the best of my ability) I treat every woman I have an active relationship with as a sister at worst, a wife at best, then that’s definitely not an accident.  And I’m not done yet for those of you asking THAT question, but again I’m speaking of the life process of going from ‘many acquaintances’ to ‘one way relationships’ to ‘two way relationships’.  Saying it out loud makes me consider if my perseverance/work ethic is my strongest suit (cue Dark Knight joke). But seriously, to be able to build upon what I have, with little regard for the past and without over-thinking why it’s doomed to fall apart in six months or however long; to just stay ‘here’ and just enjoy each other in the moment…it’s the right place to be.
  • Coming back full circle, I have lost track of how many ‘breaks’ I’ve been on the receiving end of over the years, but I’m very much the man who will look out for others, however big or small my influence actually is.  Now, that translates to being more active with certain groups of my past, present and future who concentrate on community service.  Some days that means if I have $10 burning in my pocket, I’ll throw a dollar back out into the Universe.  On most days though, it’s something a lot smaller than that (within context).  Listening to a friend who’s having a bad day or a bad string of luck.  Calling someone I haven’t talked to in awhile just so they know I still think about them.  Complimenting someone who needs to feel validated.  (Cue Hollywood joke.)  None of our lives are without meaning or purpose; I feel very blessed that I feel I know what my purpose is.  Because of that, I am committed to doing whatever is within me, to help others find and possibly achieve their individual purposes.

In the end, all praise is due to Allah.  Only the mistakes have been mine.