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, February 20, 2016

Island Sustenance

This post is about sustenance, and by that I mostly mean food. Before I get into grind, though, I want to advance the notion that sustenance, that which sustains, is really so much more.

Love, big love for yourself, others, and ultimately God, is what sustains.

Tonight, I'm deep conditioning. I showered and then I separated my hair into four sections. Into each section I slathered a bunch of olive oil, then some stuff by DevaCurl called Heaven in Hair. Then I twisted off each section into a little knot and now I've got a shower cap over the whole mess.

I'm also sipping a nice herbal teasan as I type this and it all feels very indulgent. And a bit girly.

But it's not. I'm loving myself and keeping a sunna, wal-hamdu lillah.

In the Shama'il of Imam Tirmidhi, may God be pleased with him, we learn that when the Prophet entered the city of Medina for the first time, may God's peace and blessings be upon him, his hair was long and braided into four sections. He used to apply copious amounts of olive oil to his hair and he was seen around town with a cloth over his head that was stained dark with that oil. He loved perfume. He rimmed his eyes with kohl, and all who saw him marveled at his beauty, may God's peace and blessings forever descend upon him.

It's amazing what we have in him as an example of absolute and total balance, may God's peace and blessings be upon him. The masculine and feminine aspects, might and beauty, jalal and jamal, all perfectly arranged in this singular human being. He took care of himself. He took care of others. And his love for his Master is without compare, may God's peace and blessing forever be upon him.

What does any of this have to do with your island adventure?

Truly, neither man or woman lives by bread alone.

You are women that will be digging deep into your masculine aspect to find the strength and fortitude to make the cold, unyielding earth your bed for two nights. You will not abandon your femininity, but you will balance it with the grim determination necessary to haul your gear to and from your landing place at Scorpion Bay and your campsite. And there will arise problems that only impartial judgement will resolve. You will all need to man up.

And as you feel your way through that, know that you are in solidarity with every man who ever wakes up to work a job for no other reason than to make sure that the others in his care don't ever have to.

Some of you will be leaving small children behind to be looked after by the men in your lives. And in the time that you are away, they will have to find within themselves the softness to be all things. Through this, they will find solidarity with the women of the world who struggle to keep hold of their essential selves in the face of ever-shifting and conflicting expectations.

I'm one of those men, digging into my feminine aspect to connect with you where I can. I am not capable of the awesome responsibility and honor of mothering, so we're going to have to leave it at beauty tips. While I am here, though, I really can't recommend Thayer's Alcohol Free Rose Petal Witch Hazel skin toner highly enough.

But getting back to the idea of sustenance, bringing some empathy into our consideration of the experience of others is the beginning of the love that will feed you over your weekend together. But love lacks calories, so let's get practical.

Trader Joe's and Target are my go-to places for camping food. You can definitely spend more and get some really tasty, really filling, and super-light dehydrated camping stuff from specialty shops, but you don't need to.

Here's what I love.


I start everyday with two cups, and it couldn't be easier with these packets of full-blown awesomeness:

Each packet has your coffee, cream, and sugar. You add the boiling water. Done and done.


Now if you've taken my advice and purchased the single greatest piece of kitchen camping kit ever, the SnowPeak 700 titanium mug, you boiled your water in it, drank your coffee out of it, and you can now rinse that bad boy out and dump a couple of oatmeal packets in there. Top it off with freeze dried fruit from Target's Simply Balanced line:

Now you are caffeinated with a serious happy in your tummy.

The rest of your day is pretty easily managed with any of the number of widely available nutrition bars. Packing dates is another great idea. If you are the kind of person that likes a proper lunch (I do), consider packing tortillas. There is no flatter or more versatile bread. You can pick up a few packets of peanut butter and squeeze some on one of your tortillas with a handful of raisins and you've got a nice little lunch-wrap. So easy you can make another for your friend who's trying to figure out how to unwrap her granola bar.


I go for Indian Fare by Trader Joe's every time:

These things are absolute marvels. They cost a couple of bucks, have absolutely no artificial preservatives, and have a shelf life of better than a year without refrigeration. I've gone camping with people from India who swore that if you dressed these things up with a few chopped herbs nobody would know that you hadn't been slaving away in the kitchen for hours. Makes sense. These miracles are made in India!

I like the palak paneer, the Madras lentils, and the Jaipur vegetables best, but they're all pretty good. All you need to do is put a packet or two in boiling water for five minutes. Open up and taste the auntie-ness. I use my tortillas as a kind of backpacker's naan and it all works out beautifully.

And I rarely take to the bush without some of these:

Almond M&M's. These things chase away the blues like nothing else. They're a great dessert and all round pick-me-up.

A note on packaging. When you go out and buy stuff, take it all out of its original packaging. Transfer everything into little zip-lock bags and squeeze out all the air. You can save a good deal of space that way.

Of course, I've only approached this from the standpoint of each of you taking care of your own needs. That's one way to do it. I've also camped with others who took a more communal approach to things. They planned out menus that had everybody bringing a little something that they would all put together. I'll admit, I like camping with those folks better.

Say a prayer, firm up your intention to love yourselves and one another and you will find your sustenance, insha Allah.


  1. Hey gurl! Sounds like you had a wonderful spa session last night. For a finishing touch, try glossing your nails with a coat of red nail polish. I know where you can get some cheap!

    1. It was great, girlfriend. Fixin' to go rinse in a minute.

      You know how much I love the Urban Decay line, but I can't find any evidence from our tradition that would leave me feeling good about wearing polish these days.

      Although I have seen men from Afghanistan with their nails stained. They used henna, usually for a wedding or something. And not all the nails, just a finger or a toe.

      But I think that might be something out of regional culture and not derived from Islam specifically. I wonder what their local scholars think?

  2. Why don't you ask one and see what they say.

  3. Wow I didn't think our desi food would be good camping food hehe...I will definitely check out the trader Joes one. We should probably delegate utensils also along with the food huh? We don't need 12 pots and pans lol

    1. The peoples of the Indian subcontinent are like the pioneering vanguard of the Muslim world! Are you kidding me? No matter where you find yourself on this planet, you better believe there's already some uncle out there keeping the five dailys in between customers at the local mini-mart. Totally makes sense that they would know how to make packable food!

      Excellent point about delegating gear. I'm leaving that to you. I provide the map, you do the driving!