The sunshine fills my hair and dreams hang in the air: Convert Truths Carnival

This is not a negative post. I am very happy that I am Muslim. Alhamdulilah.

I make no apologies for that because I do not have to justify my Islam to other people, whatever shade or disposition of Muslim or Non-Muslim they are. Oh, I’ve been called a bad Muslim by plenty, but then I realised that being a Muslim is about me and Allah, hence their opinion was of as much weight as candy floss on the sun.

Having been on the blogging scene for a while, I know that Muslim-related blogging can often seem monochromatic. Either Muslim life is wonderful, with prose interspersed with hadiths and tales of wonderful husbands from far away or it is very terrible and those husbands are nasty immigrants, as is the religion itself, with plenty of hadiths quoted again.

There is a lot of focus on the convert vs the community, but that means that the effects of conversion within the individual are often ignored. For it is not a normal thing to undergo such a major change and I wonder, we talk about the community not accepting us, but I think it takes us a long time to accept ourselves.

For me, it took me a long time to work out what exactly I should be as a Muslim. It doesn’t help that everyone and the internet will tell you everything else except the most important part: building a relationship with Allah/God. The whole clique/flag waving mentality is another barrier. I spent far too much time worrying about who was who.

But, it’s ok to change and evolve. We laugh at the stern early stages we all went through, but I think those attempts to emulate what we think is the ‘best’ behaviour instead teach us that perfection is not attainable or even desirable. We learn to give others ‘wiggle room’ we so sorely need.

I’m pondering the colour theme of this carnival. In some areas we need black and white. We need to accept what ever people think about men and women, both genders are entitled to equal respect and kindness, that domestic abuse is never justifiable, no ifs or inbetweens. That women have a right to pray in the mosque.

But we need to embrace the grey. Some of the kindest, most generous Could-Ring-At-3am-And-They’d-Help-Me Muslims have been the ones I disagree with most. Recently, I read an article by a scholar on a social issue. It was shallow, poorly argued and
I disagreed with every word. Today I read another article by the same person and my reaction was reversed, I was nodding my head at every sentence.  So do I reject this scholar because our opinions differ, or respect the individual while disagreeing with some of their words? Surely the latter position is the healthiest?

For all talk of Muslims’ lack of cohesion, I never see anyone saying that there’s more than one God, or that Mohammed (peace be upon him) wasn’t the final prophet, or that the Qur’an isn’t the word of God and all this is the big Muslim-Making stuff.

Instead of the black and white of total rejection or blind acceptance of each other, I prefer the grey of realisation, we align and we scatter due to situations outside Islam and our experiences and beliefs within it. I wish we would accept that. If we agree on such key issues, why should the moon and a birthday divide us?

I know why people fight, because Islam matters and we all want to get it right and want others to do so too. Yet, the more we get into group semantics, the further we seem to travel from the starting point, which is Allah.

That’s my biggest lesson. We talk of worship, but not always the relationship. Yet, the worship is the actions, it is the relationship that requires the most work. This is where problems arise, as while Islam is all about worshipping Allah with no intermediaries, everyone and their pot plant claims you need to buy your walking boots and map from them in order to reach Allah and not get lost. Then you get so caught up shopping, your legs are too tired to climb that mountain.

But is there really a mountain anyway? The 5 pillars may not always be easy to do, but they are do-able and rather being some distant figure, Allah states that He is closer than our jugular vein. Not only that, but only we can do them. You can’t pray/fast etc on anyone else’s behalf. Therefore if no one else can act for you, don’t be so eager to let someone else think for you.

I want to finish with this extract from a book I’m currently reading:

I was given the task of grooming a horse..the teacher came along and said ‘Very poor job, superficial and sloppy.’ He and I watched as my heart sank. But then something rebounded: I knew I had done my best; I knew I couldn’t be a slave of reward and blame. In that moment, I saw the twinkle in his eye as he turned and left (Emphasis mine).