Rejecting the Pretending to be Amish in The Name of Piety stuff

I posted this comment over at Ify’s post on Religious Bullies:

 

Something further to add to your post, is that sometimes we get so caught up in the whole “Muslims are different and special” (in good and bad ways), that we forget that we are all human first and foremost.

Before becoming Muslim, I immersed myself in left-wing politics to various degrees (still do identify as left-wing), and there were judgements, holier-than-thou attitudes, splinter groups (and plenty of in-fighting), disavowing people, twisting of philosophies, using aforementioned philosophies to justify horrible behaviour, pretending not to be racist, sexist, because the philosophy says you can’t be (but you still are…

Sound familiar?

You’ll find all the above in the feminist movement, the green movement and many, many more.

In some ways, it is easier to cut away this as a Muslim, because first and foremost, we are Muslims for ourselves, not as a social movement.

I think what is forgotten, what people do not tell converts is that Islam and being Muslim should make you happier. No, it’s not a magic wand, no, it won’t solve all your problems, but you should be a happier and more content person for being Muslim.

If you are miserable, feel in a constant state of denial and paranoia, then you are doing it wrong. If what someone is telling you, is pushing you towards that state, then they are instructing you incorrectly.

Islam is meant to be Good News, not a lifetime of hardship.

 

Seriously folks, if you think Islam has been twisted, just look at what’s been done in the name of Marxism. I cannot see the connection between The Communist Manifesto and Pol Pot et al, but that’s what they claimed as an inspiration. Then there’s all the more mundane things I’ve listed above. Even if we are just talking about online shenanigans, do not be thinking that Muslims rule the roost when it comes to, quite frankly, vile disputation.

 

The title of this post is something that I’ve been meaning to write for a long, long time. The much missed blogger Tariq Nelson, used to refer to the Culture of Denial and Pretence and he was not wrong.

Let’s be clear, it is one thing to keep your dirty laundry in-house, quite another to 1) claim you don’t have any dirty laundry ever 2)scrutinise others and pick up on their every failing.

This unpleasantness leads to a crabs in the barrel mentality and worse than that, people cannot be honest and relaxed with each other for fear of some unwanted judgement and worse, the implication that God isn’t thinking too kindly of them either.

So people pretend, they hide, they live their lives for the approval other people and this is a recipe for a very unhappy existence indeed.

That all sounds obvious, but I cannot stress that these situations don’t happen overnight, this stuff is insidious, until people lose all sense of themselves and are just so very lonely.

Two thoughts

1) The concept of the perfect Muslim being someone who does nothing other than study/attend Islamic lectures while dressed like an Olde Worlde Arab while shunning the Western world + and doing the housework/childcare if female needs to DIE IN A FIRE. People who espouse such viewpoints should not be listened to, let alone put on a pedestal as any great voice of truth, because let’s be clear, the Pretending to be Amish in The Name of Piety path leads to misery

The Prophet (peace be upon him) was of his society, lived as his people lived and spoke to anyone. So there (can’t think of any deeper response). There is nothing in Islam about shutting yourself off from the world, quite the opposite)

2)  I hesitate to give spiritual advice, but it’s good to be honest with God and that starts with being honest with yourself. If God had wanted us to all be the same, and all be perfect, then God would have made us like that in the first place.

I have pretended. I have pulled “Astagfurallah” faces over things I actually do. I have pretended to admire things I thought were silly  and I have swallowed down “Excuse me?” when I should have said it. No more.

For me, two things brought about this. The first was meeting my husband. Now, I know it is a total convert lady cliché to claim that your husband is really knowledgeable in Islam, but it is true in the case of Mr O. He was born in blah blah and went to such and such and studied with so and so. This has not made him some uber being, in fact, he’s an ordinary person, but seeing how he did the Islamic study route and could still be a normal person, made me question the lifestyle that others were pushing and that knowing a lot about Islam makes you some perfect person.

Secondly, I had my daughter and I found that the whole experience of new motherhood such an affirmation of faith, such a real connection with God, that I couldn’t do the pretending any more. Then I saw what was behind a lot of the Great Pushers of the Pretence, I couldn’t be supporting them any more – I will not allow people who cheat, encourage abuse and are just plain power-hungry make me feel guilty for, for example, listening to music (and no, I don’t believe music is haraam any way).

No, I’m not perfect. I could be a nicer person. I do think that to get a spiritual connection (for want of a better phrase), you need to put time and mental de-cluttering into it. But that is work I want to do as myself. Not as who anyone else thinks I should be.

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One Response

  1. Safiya, I have a lot of issues with the image of the ideal Muslim man and woman that is pushed by conservative elements. Looking back, the only real position of honor is that of a man who has studied Islam or Arabic usually overseas. A throwaway nod is given here and there to women especially those who sacrifice themselves for their husbands and children and stay-at-home raising their children.

    The hyperreligious piety pretense is insidious and creeps up on you in certain communities. As a convert, I didn’t realize that nearly everyone was just keeping up appearances as I really tried to live my Islam to the nth degree, always trying to do the maximum. I was shocked when I began to realize how unrealistic or harmful that was and how many of the people pushing that utopian understanding weren’t living that reality.

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