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.