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!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Santa Cruz Island: Part IV

The women woke, alive and well after their first night on the island. There were a few who woke early enough to offer the night vigil before taking in the sunrise. For these, the gift of quiet solitude was theirs to savor in the cool and breezy darkness.

With the sun came breakfast and the women took their meal and made their plans for the eight mile out-and-back hike to Smugglers Cove.

Not all were up for the trek, however. Some were not feeling well and the group's amira, Sister Lobna, took it upon herself to stay behind and see to them. While the other women were preparing to explore the world around them, this decision to remain at camp allowed for another kind of exploration altogether.

For the women who set out, a tailwind made the journey easy. The women enjoyed getting to know one another, and the conversation carried them along with the southerly breezes. "If we give each other time," Sister Khadeeja said, "we learn a lot."

Once at Smugglers Cove, the group was hungry. Emptying their packs, they attempted to assemble what food each had brought into a communal meal. The results were bizarre, and thoroughly enjoyable.

Sister Khadeeja tells us the story:

With a hodge-podge of food, we all had the most memorable of meals. Everyone pooled their goods and dug in. The most interesting concoctions were invented. Who thought tuna poured into an empty avocado shell with Cheeze-It crackers could taste so good?

I know that flavor. It's love and gratitude. And absolute joy. Hunger, it has been said, is the best condiment.

After their meal some of the women played in the water:

Others dozed on the beach. And some of the women would take turns placing sun-warmed stones on their backs, a hot-rock massage compliments of God and the delightful ingenuity of the group.

Sister Safia described the moment:

It was like God's natural massage room waiting for us to use. God has definitely made this world comfortable. He could have made everything black and white or one type of temperature always. But no. He gave us hot stones to lay upon after freezing water. With every difficulty there is ease, and at that moment ease came as warm stones upon our backs.

On the way back, as in the day before, some women opted for an alternate route back, but in the end everybody was reunited safely at their campsite.

Shadows grew long and it was soon obvious that this night would be colder and windier than the night before. From my home in Long Beach I had been tracking the weather. There were warnings in place that with the increased wind would come higher tides. There was the possibility that boats would not be able to reach the women. If that were the case, they would be forced to stretch their meager supplies another day or two. I worried for them.

Dinner was rushed and the women made the decision to cram into Sister Rayesa's six-person tent to stay warm. As the wind bowed trees and tore at the tent's walls, the women huddled together in what became mystical communion.

Sister Safia shared this:

Sacred is the word that I would use to describe what happened in the tent that night. I still have chills thinking about it. Stripped of our phones, our homes, our comfort, and even our makeup, the faces of my sisters shone brighter than ever. We cried tears that purified us and relieved us. We laughed out loud in that way you only do with those whom you've known forever. I know none of us will forget that night.

I loved my sisters that night with their tired eyes and hungry tummies. It was a sacred night that could only have happened with a group of women with whom you have struggled, whether on a windy hike or through the fatigue and illness that kept some of us down.

Sleep eventually came to the women. Their rising was bittersweet. The weather had calmed and word had come that the boats were coming early. Their time on the island was ending. They could all look forward to hot showers and the comforts of urban domesticity. But this wild place, these beautiful women- this was drawing to a close.

They reflected on their time together as breakfast was taken in the warmth of a full and bright sun. They broke down their tents, packed their gear, and set out for the anchorage to wait for the boat.

Thinking back to that final morning together, Sister Safia, in her gratitude, penned this in honor of her sisters, the pioneering women of Dust and Tribe's inaugural spring outing:

Thank you, Sister Tracie, for your acceptance of us.
Thank you, Sister Lobna, for keeping the momentum going on the trip.
Thank you, Sister Syma, for not wanting to leave anyone behind and for your photography.
Thank you, Umm Iman, for being inspiring with your words and your kindness.
Thank you, Sister Adina, for climbing trees and for your poems.
Thank you, Sister Zenith, for being a nurse and telling me to take off my beanie so I don’t get dehydrated.
Thank you, Sister Anjum, for your maturity and advice about not letting cultural baggage define you as a woman.
Thank you, Sister Wanda, for your strength and passion.
Thank you, Sister Sarah, for your supplications and conversation on our last hike.
Thank you, Sister Farah, for carpooling with me and for putting hot stones on my back.
Thank you, Sister Mariam, for being so funny and making a rough night easier.
Thank you, Sister Amira, for spoiling me with your cooking and setting up our tents.
Thank you, Sister Khadeeja for the spiritual guidance and your peaceful strength.
Sister Rayesa, no thanks to you for stealing a piece of my heart with your warmth and sincerity!

And thank you, Sister Safia, for helping us to recognize what sincerity and gratitude looks like.

Islands are precarious places. Should the water rise high enough, what was once a place of immeasurable beauty and sanctuary might disappear altogether. This Atlantean tragedy can unfold for anyone of us at any time. Storms ravage and winds squall and in such times there is ever the threat of being swallowed altogether.

But we are not islands. We are human beings interconnected through a Divine thread that can be held fast by others when we are too tired to continue fighting our way above the water. May each of you hold tightly to the Divinity within each other. May the recalling of these events freshen for you the sincerity with which you continue to pray for one another.

May you continue to come together in warmth and friendship, and may your final gathering be in that Highest of Promised places.



  1. Miss this day so much. Thank you for sharing these narratives, Safia and Khadeeja

  2. after reading this, brought back such beautiful memories. i miss everyone too !

  3. What a wonderful memory. I would love to do it again. Miss you all.