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Convert Truths

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Convert Truths

This is so fitting given all the wonderful, soul saving discussions going on on facebook right now. I was hanging by a thread with my faith. Ready to just move on, if not for the havoc it would wreak on my family. In the end though, Islam is for me. I have to wear blinders though, and remember to just look at the Quran, and the bare bones rituals of worship to remind me of what a beautiful religion it can be.

The other stuff, I am ready to let go of (inshallah): fatwas, not offending anyone by being (politely) myself, ignorance and racism, place of women and children in the masjid or community, piety focused on “proper” clothes, etc…  All that crap. Yes, crap. I’m sorry to say that this is the only fitting word for it. My three biggest issues left are: crappy husbands, the whole Sufism vs Non-Sufi Islam, and swimming. Not that I swim anymore.

Starting with swimming. I am utterly ashamed my kids don’t know how to swim. Nor have they been around enough natural bodies of water, for the sheer joy of the experience. Don’t tell me I can just swim in hijab, because you know what, it is thoroughly awful and a royal pain to have to change in or out, especially with kids. And it just feels awful having wet cloth everywhere. Having a pool in your own home, surrounded by tall trees blocking the neighbor’s view is another story, but not mine. I miss nature, I miss swimming. I grew up mucking around ponds and rivers. Later we were blessed to swim in the Merced river, a pristine flow direct from Yosemite Valley. It soothes the soul to be in such water, surrounded by such beauty. Now I can’t swim anymore, my muscles are gone, and moving with clothes in water, as you know is not fun. The cost of an Islamic Swimsuit is prohibitive, especially since you can’t try one on to make sure it fits.  As the Mom, the job of educating my daughters is on my shoulders right now, since my husband is busy with work and school.  Hearing the swimmers on the other side of the fence at our local playground, makes my soul yearn for water. I will never reconcile this injustice!

Bad Husbands. God. No wonder the Islamic World is in crisis. I can’t tell you how many stories I have heard, though I am sure you have heard your share. I am stunned by the ignorance and arrogance of these men, some of whom have done things that would justify instant divorce or castration. Sorry. I make sure to thank Allah for what I have and make dua for these women, and sometimes, I make dua for the men to get a clue.  How can we advance as an ummah if our men are not good husbands? Why are women so scared of divorce? Some of these women think they will get jannah for suffering with patience. Something is seriously wrong with marriage in Islam, whether is is abusive husbands, marriages for green cards, or overseas problems like crazy expensive barriers to marriage.  My heart aches. May Allah heal us. Make people humble and kind to one another, not make marriage hard, and guide us. Amin.

The last issue is me, wavering between the allure of austere Islam, which I enjoy for it’s straight up approach and Sufi Islam, for the color and joy I see in it. I’m not comfortable with some aspects of Sufism, but I appreciate the focus on improving one’s self and brotherhood. I am also a sucker for farms and any lecture that has rooster or cow in the back ground–this just appeals to the child in me who loved the hippie farms my parents took me to. The straight up, non-Sufi Islam appeals to me, for it’s lack of spiritual frills. When I converted I was a skeptic atheist, sort of drawn to, perhaps, pagan beliefs. So I spent time in a lot of new age books stores in the last year before conversion, and I worked in a bookstore down the street from a natural healing school. I loved our customers, but I could never take them seriously. And as much as I loved the new age shops, and wicca–it just didn’t do it for me, other than the incense and crystals. Sufism sort of fits into this because the new age shops all had the Idries Shah books, which interested me though they always felt tailored to not serious, not practicing psuedo Muslim hippies. God forgive me for all this bashing, but this is where my stigma comes from, and where my interest in straight up no nonsense islam comes in. However after awhile it is not fulfilling and certainly not helpful for a convert who is ready for something more. I mean, after you learn the basics, what next?  Perhaps this is a failure on the part of immigrant mosques to address the spiritual needs of converts in the long run, after the high is gone?

I don’t care anymore. I am not going to write off anyone. Every Muslim, is Muslim. There are people and places that may suit you better, alhamdulillah. Go where you need to go, go where there is love, and inspiration. I’m still stuck trying to sort out conflicting information, hadiths can be found for and against everything it seems. It is more than I can handle to sort out, I admit this, I’m still confused. I don’t want to read anymore hadiths. You are lucky if you whole-heartedly fall into a category of Islam that you and your spouse are comfortable with.

In the end, let’s see. 1o years, and not much has changed. Having a husband and kids sort of slows you down, unless your spouse is active and encourages you to be active. I struggled a lot with trying to maintain my deen while being overwhelmed as a mother. My kids are older now, not old enough to be patience during jummuah, and my home situation is not conducive to getting out for a much needed halaqa (of any sort).  I got over the post-partum depression, more or less, and was able to pray on time again. That period was really difficult, not being able to maintain prayers really does a number one’s self esteem.  Nowadays thing are better, though I have often felt like giving up on Islam.  My iman is still low, but I’m working on it. Trying to reconcile being me, who I am , who I was, and this secular dunya that I love—- with the spiritual side of myself. Not easy, but I am hopeful. I am tired of this facade of self-suppressing piety. I am ready for something authentic, yet halal.

Meeting like minded sisters via blogs and then facebook, has really helped fill in that empty, isolated feeling. I miss some of the blogs that I used to read, that are no more. It’s rather sad to see a blogger disappear, not that they owe anybody an explanation. Inshallah I do look forward to my situation changing, because I am ready to move on and do my part in the community regardless of any fitna.   All the lovely sisters that I know are spread across the globe, maybe by being brave and true to oneself, we can like minded people at home too. And meet up when we get to travel, inshallah. We are a network for each other. I love you all.

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22 thoughts on “Convert Truths

  1. masha’allah..I think you’ve been brave enough here to put into words what others feel and are sometimes too scared to say..I too battle with many of the issues you’ve raised…especially spiritually..
    this morning you have made me take a closer look…saha

    • Today, as I was driving, I thought about how any deviation, well forget deviation it’s such a negative word… any confusion, or issue a convert or born Muslim is going through is enough to deem them “contagious”. I think there is hadith for that, you know, keeping good company and all… but. I don’t think that it is very useful. Feeling contagious, doesn’t help you stay on the straight path. I don’t like feeling contagious. I think there is a lot of room in keeping community spirit to look past a person’s so called flaws, and actually enjoy what you might feel is the “safer” sides of that “contagious” person.

  2. I am kind of at a similar place to you with everything in terms of my daily life. I haven’t explored Sufism much, although it sounds appealing. But yes, just sticking to the bare bones rituals, not much involved. Online is a different story. Like you, I find solace here. I do long for a greater accepted pro-woman form of on-the-ground Islam, and that motivates me. Hmmm. I miss swimming, too. Honestly, those burkinis are just too freakish looking. It would be great to swim more again. Sigh.

  3. Assalamu alaikum, I miss swimming too and I’m not sure if the “hijab swim suits” would appeal to me lol. And sufism/tasawuf I feel is valid, though is not necessarily for everyone, though I feel it is an option and not necessarily a bad htough provided you join a tariqa that follows the precepts of Islam, there are some sufi orders that don’t.

  4. As a convert, I relate to so much of this. I admire your courage in writing (you’ll note I cannot even leave a real name), and writing it well.

    Keep writing, and hang on to the rope of Allah. You’re not alone 🙂

  5. BismillahirRahmanirRahim
    Selams, dear Aischa
    Very well said – all of it, every topic. May ALLAH swt bless you and make it easier. And may you find a place for private swimming. 🙂

    • Inshallah! : ) I am going to get my old girlfriends to take me to some secluded swimming holes during the week, if I can get back to my hometown this summer.

      • I forgot my manners—-
        Thank you all for dropping in! Thank you kind words and support! Bousas!
        ❤ ❤ ❤

  6. Masha Allah. So much here. Even that I just read Shah’s son’s book and have been trying to figure that all out–Sufism has that same disappeal for me–stinkin hippies–but then, I am a stickin hippie. /:|

    It was very hard not to sob whilst reading this. I think it’s only because my tear ducts are just as tired as the rest of my silly staying up until 2 self!

    Thanks and Ameen!

  7. Really lovely and honest, thank you.

  8. Asalaamu Alaikum

    Wow I think this is one of your most popular posts. I can’t relate really to your 3 items..crappy husbands(if yours is ok why are you worried? or do you have friends that have them and are in need of a lot of support or do you mean they are destroying the ummah?) sufism? I don’t know why there are so many sects…Prophet Muhammad was just a muslim straight up no hyphen for him, swimming..I never gave it up..just jumped in with my clothes and now my burquini..I do everything like I used to, I don’t let the clothing rules stop me, otherwise I’d go crazy with boredom. I notice that kids of the baby boomers have a lot more problems with Islam than my generation, generation X..our parents were already pretty straight-laced…they are the generation that came before the hippies..they didn’t do the whole sex,drugs and rock ‘n’ roll bit ..my mother won’t even dye her hair!

  9. Wa alaikum salaam,
    It is only popular because it is linked to a convert blog carnival, the link in the above post. : ) It is my last vent. It has been cathartic to do this post.
    Crappy husbands, well I hear a lot about them, and was married previously to one of them. I don’t have an axe to grind, really. I am just dismayed by the amount of manipulative and downright nasty husbands out there and I am tempted to think that it is more in the muslim community-immigrant husbands especially, than in the non-immigrant population (not to say nastiness doesn’t happen with non-muslims). I hurt to know of these situations.
    I’m not sure what gen I am (gen X?), except my parents were sort of hippies, and yes I had a lot of alternative experiences. I think once you go down that ultra liberal path it is hard to re-adjust to a very conservative state. It takes awhile. At first you are gung-ho and ready to be straight-laced, and conservative, years later you find your self missing aspects of your previous life, halal or haram, and it really conflicts. It’ an identity crisis. My generation, well no, speaking for myself, it has been hard to become a mature adult, given my lifestyle before and the way I was raised. Inshallah my kids will have more guidance and a moral framework to go on. : )
    I guess you didn’t swing ultra conservative after conversion? Has your faith been steady in it’s direction over the years?

  10. Well I’ve become more religious over the years but I never went ultra conservative because I think I never came in contact with those groups so I was kind of naive about that whole path (tabliqui, salafi etc). I guess its just been a gradual climb for me and I never bought into the I have to become someone from my husband’s country either so I guess I never had to readjust myself. Islam is something you have to take slowly because its huge. I started off with just a scarf and didn’t know how to pray (gasp I was one of those women!) but honestly no one wanted to teach me and this was before internet. I also took off my scarf to get a job (gasp again) but my husband was a student and wasn’t allowed to work by the canadian gov’t so I had to support myself and no one would give me a job with hijab and the community wouldn’t help me! So I never judge people..who knows what they are going through but I see a lot of posts with well she wears hijab but she doesn’t pray..they should dig deeper, they should help out. If we all just loved each other a bit more then maybe we could reach a higher level.

  11. Maybe you can do a Convert Truths post to balance us out? I think a lot of us are missing the input/wisdom/age of experience of the women before us–no moms, or no female Muslim elders…
    I agree. Love is essential.

  12. Asalaamu Alaikum

    I thought about posting but didn’t feel in the right mood. I will email you insha Allah.

  13. Pingback: muslim roundup: blogger link-up « wood turtle

  14. I think it’s important to live a life authentic to yourself and your own understandings, how that fits in with orthodoxy or less orthodox paths must like faith be negotiated. I’ve been on a journey for a number of years trying to undue the damage of pretending to be someone I was not but expected to be after my conversion and am joyfully and maybe sometimes painfully re-discovering me. All the best to you.

  15. Salaam Alaikum,

    I really enjoyed your post. I do think Islam is a journey in itself and it makes sense to me that we may want different things at different times. Would write more, but my little one is getting restless!

    • Wa alaikum Slaam,
      Funny, I just read your convert truths blog post last night and found good stuff in it!
      Much needed. I agree with the need for shades of grey, and with focusing on our relationship with Allah. God knows why we (I) let what other people think drive us to be who we are not, fearful and uptight.

  16. empty, isolated… feeling that these days

    • Oh yes! Well, no.
      I feel very removed from it all, even though one adult in this household is devout. Everything has sort of slipped away, and been replaced by everyday life. Which is good. Alhamdulillah. I still can’t see a way back right now, its like still having tummy rumbles after eating something bad. Being removed from it all is so nice. Honestly. Not empty, but maybe like a nice clean sheet of paper. Isolated, sort of, but that is OK. I am so not ready to even socialize with religious people in a religious context.
      Ramadan Mubarak!

      • Ramadan Mubarak to you too!.
        I would say in my household there is nobody more devout than the other, just differently. We hold very opposing views on a LOT of issues. Makes life, inside and outside the house, very isolating at times. Iftar at the masjid tonight was a keen reminder why I stopped frequenting that particular masjid. 😛

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