From dust to tribe . . .

Dust and Tribe (D&T) is the experience of growth through adventure.

Our fall and spring signature excursions are annual opportunities for Muslim men and women to push through the boundaries of supposed mental and physical limits into a new awareness of what we can be when we support one another.

It is where we discover what we are (dust) and what we become together (tribe).

Spring 2016: D&T Grrrl!

On April 22nd, fifteen women left for three days and two nights camped out on an island two-hours off the California coast. This blog is their story!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

You Want a Wetsuit

The Channel Islands are celebrated for their world class diving and snorkeling opportunities.

This is not something you should take lightly. I know next to nothing about diving, but God Most High recently gifted me with a paradigm shifting experience at the hands of Brother Youssef, husband to Sister Mariam with whom you will be travelling, insha Allah. I'd like to tell you about it.

He invited me and my girls to do a little diving in Laguna Beach, a spot called Shaw's Cove. This would be our first real attempt. There was another harrowing attempt some months prior that didn't go so well owing to some major surges from a big storm somewhere in the wide open Pacific.

Anyhow, he'd been coaching me for awhile, even going so far as to pick out a wetsuit for me that he placed on hold at the local Rip Curl. I went over and tried it on.

That was horrible. Getting into and out of a wetsuit is a serious chore. Or maybe I'm an idiot. Anyway, some combination of my idiocy and the particularities of thick neoprene made for a sweaty, exhausting battle in the dressing room. But once it was on, I looked at myself in the mirror and felt pretty damn Californian. And that was exciting for exactly 5 seconds because I was soon overcome with the dreaded prospect of figuring out how to peel the thing off. I am not joking when I say that I wanted so badly to call for help.

But I didn't and I fought the thing off and paid for it and went home and a few weeks later I put it back on with a plan to meet Brother Youssef at his home before we all drove, his girls and mine, to the beach. When I got to his place he let me know that my wetsuit was on backwards.

Thank God for Brother Youssef. We got that straightened out. And now I was standing at the water's edge with my oldest daughter.

She's fourteen. She's been through a lot in the last couple of years. Her mother and I divorced only a few months ago. I, too, am a child of divorce. It's a soul-shattering experience that only intensifies with time. That's been my trip, anyway.

And we were standing there and she has always worn her hijab. But she didn't want to anymore. Everything was changing and how could she be expected to remain constant when nothing else was? So we stood there looking at each other and I told her that I would never give her permission to give up on something God loved for her to do, but also that God and I would never stop loving her no matter what her choice.

And I imagined that she would absolutely swoon with the nobility of it all and proclaim her allegiance to the hijab as a choir of angels ahhhh-ed magnificently. But that didn't happen.

She ripped it off her head and dove into the water. And my heart broke, for at least the sixth or seventh time that year, but I forced a smile and went in after her, my mind spinning with confusion and fear.

We swam out to Brother Youssef who was with his daughters maybe 50 yards off shore near some rocks. Once there, he pointed down. We put on our goggles and kicked ourselves beneath the surface.

And that's where my life changed.

All the noise stopped. I'm not just talking about external silence, but all the internal chatter- everything shut off. Instantly. I was enveloped in silence and stillness. I looked at my daughter underwater, her hair floating like wild seagrass. She was beyond beautiful.

Swimming just below us were some garabaldi, the California state fish:

We watched the fish, pointing as the gentle tide rocked us to and fro. Leaving the surface for this watery place was a shockingly complete transition, as if nothing of my air-dwelling self remained. Nothing of the pain, confusion, expectations, wants, or fears came with me. There was only silence, tranquility, and wonder.

And there was a very seductive moment where the idea of returning to the surface seemed almost too ugly. I didn't want to breathe anymore. But I saw my daughter kick up and I knew it would always be my place to follow.

So buy a wetsuit. I don't know enough to make any recommendations, but we can learn about that together. Get some goggles and flippers, too. Legendary kelp beds teeming with fish and underwater visibility up to 50 feet. You can't let an opportunity like that pass you by.

We want to wrap this up by welcoming our newest warrior-princesses to the tribe: Sisters Safia and Anjum. God bless you and protect you all as we venture forth!

That leaves only two remaining spots before your tribe is locked.

On Wednesday, we'll get into the special needs of women in remote places.

Oh yes. We're going there.


  1. How deep is the water? I haven't swum in ages...

    1. It's really as deep as you want it to be. Start on shore, walk in, swim out, and if you hit a drop-off that spooks you, paddle back. Safety first, so if you don't feel good about getting out to where your feet can't touch the ground, then don't.

      But even from where you can stand, it's probably worth putting your head underwater and looking around. Visibility to 50 feet is widely reported, which means you can take a pretty good look around without too much trouble, insha Allah.

      Have fun!

  2. That story is grossly inaccurate in more than one way, good lord, so many embellishments and whatnot. Did you even ask her permission before posting about that? I think not.

    1. Suda! Trying to revoke my artistic license!

      Next time you call me out, please capitalize "Lord."



    2. I didn't know you had one.
      OK. Lord.