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.

Scribbles Not Outlines 7: Better out than in

Salaam Alaikum to anyone left reading this. It has indeed been far too long.

Oreo is now six months old. The title refers to her, as I’m enjoying being a mother about a million times more then I enjoyed being pregnant.

People say about mothers loving their babies, but I don’t love Oreo, I’m in love with her. It’s a real tangible joy, I get stomach flips and butterflies looking at her. Just looking with wonder at this little person, that by Allah’s will, I managed to bring into the world.

Our favourite game is ‘A Hundred Kisses’, where I cover her little cheeks in kisses while she does a big baby belly laugh.

Is that too much baby talk? I do wonder why women are still made to feel bad about talking about their babies. Men can have websites about fishing equipment, e.t.c but if women have a site discussing pushchairs (a piece of equipment you have to lug about on a daily basis) then it’s a mindless waste of time. We can dress it up anyway we want, but the underlying assumption is still:

Things that (mainly) Men do are more important then Things that (mainly) women do.

*****

Was thinking about Ramadan last night. I need it. Insha Allah, I just want to switch off and focus. I love Ramadan for that. Insha Allah may our hearts be nourished as we fast.

I probably wont be going to the masjid for tarawhir. Oreo’s bedtime is 7pm, and she is very, very strict about it. I do not want to be the person who brings the screaming baby to the masjid.

I know, I know, masjid’s should be child friendly and this is not a dig at women who do bring children there, but at the same time we should be realistic. Bringing very young, pre school age children to the masjid and expecting them to sit still, for hours on end, with no entertainment is cruel. The same goes for bringing babies to a bright noisy place, when they’d rather be tucked in their cot in a peaceful room.

The real culprit here is the narrow concept of what a Good Muslim should be.

Good Muslims go to the masjid and attend as many lectures as possible. So if you do not go to the masjid, for whatever reason, then you are not a Good Muslim.

Never mind that as repeatedly stated in the Qur’an, unlike humans, Allah sees all that you do and you can worship him in many ways, that don’t necessarily involve sitting on a prayer mat. /Rant over

*****

After that, I feel rather sheepish admitting this next part, but in the interests of honesty, I will say that I’ve been watching True Blood lately and it’s rather good. However, is it just me who thinks it’s a bit of a cop out when the romantic leads are a couple in real life? It’s a bit like they don’t really have to act. Hmm.

When I first started blogging, I would have never admitted to watching anything unsuitable such as that, for fear of looking like a Bad Muslim. Then I got tired of the dishonesty and tired of people who would commit all sort of sins of varying seriousness, but pretend that tv and music are the most sinful things going.

So tired.

Protected: Something to make you smile.

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I want to blow bubbles for ever

When Oreo was born, I wanted to put us both in a bubble. A warm, cosy bubble where we could eat, sleep and snuggle.

It wasn’t possible to build an actual bubble, but we’re still in a bubble like state. We have our little world of feed times, nap times bath time, afternoon walks, smiles and tickles.

And it’s wonderful, Alhamdulilah.

That might sound like Mr Outlines is on the sidelines, but far from it. Abu Oreo loves his baby girl. He’s in love. As I watch him cuddle her and whisper to her in Arabic I see a new side to him and I love him even more.

I’m wondering why I’m writing this. I’m not the most sharing type of blogger. I guess it’s because you read so much about the downside of parenting, I just wanted to talk about the positives.

Islamically, mothering is seen a an important role, but too often it’s made to sound like a grim duty, rather then the joy and form of worship that it is.

So I’ve decided to host a blog carnival. The theme is Muslim motherhood. Any submissions dealing with being a Muslim mother or having a Muslim mother are welcome. Leave me an email, comment or trackback and on 25th April 2009, insha Allah,  I’ll put up all the links.

Waiting for this moment to explain itself through

Firstly, I’d like to thank everyone who left such lovely comments on my last two posts.

Blogging, like most things, can be positive and enriching, or incredibly destructive.

Alhamdulilah, I’ve found my three years in the blogosphere to be in the former category. However, that doesn’t mean I have always behaved perfectly, so at this juncture, I remind myself and anyone else to be nice.

Nice. Nice is an underrated and frequently mokced quality. It does not mean being weak or artificial, like many think it does.

No, to be nice means to treat others with politeness, dignity and respect. So that even if you disagree with someone, you critique the idea or opinion instead of criticising and insulting the person.

Despite frequent reminders of the importance of correct speech within the Islamic faith, the Muslim blogosphere is not always a nice place to be.

It is sad that most Muslim blogs use comment moderation, not just to block abuse from Islamophobes but from their brothers and sisters in Islam.

Actually, sad doesn’t quite cover it. It is a devastating fact. We are meant to love each other, want the best for each other, yet we seem to relish insulting and mocking each other.

We could be so much more then that. The concept of “Online Friends” is an odd one, yet I feel like I have met so many wonderful and inspiring people through the internet. There are many wonderful blogs out there, that inspire me and push me, challenge my ideas and preconceptions.

Let’s encourage and nurture each other.

As a kind of third birthday thing, here are some posts from my old blog:

Blame it on the Burqa/This is why I mod

Prithee Fair Cliche

Barmy Stickers at Bus Stops

So Easy

Everybody is a V.I.P to Somebody

Not Right in The Head

What Rape Is

Is there a Special Fruit You Can Eat To Keep Gynaecologists At Bay?

For The Love Of…

*****

In case you’re wondering, Oreo is fine, Alhamdulilah. I’m resisting the temptation to write reams about her, because I don’t want to bore you all!

Oreo biscuits and bizzare baby dreams

One of the upsides of pregnancy is really detailed and very odd dreams. I’ve been insulting people in very poor French, working as a secret agent, a vampire, and last night consumed a massive buffet of sweets, all from the comfort of my own bed.

One of the most vivid dreams I had involved the baby being born, which was great and then we took the baby to meet Mr Outlines’ relatives. So far, so good, I’m there on my very best behaviour pulling my most convincing demure-good-girl-not-like-those-bad-western-girls-you-hear-about-honest face when someone turns to me and says “I hear you’ve decided to call the baby Oreo, after the biscuits”.

“What?! NOOO!” I scream and to the horror of the assembled relatives, I have a massive temper tantrum, the kind where you bring your fists up and kneel on the floor with rage.

I woke up and my first words to my husband were, “Don’t call the baby Oreo”. Since then, that’s been the baby’s nickname.

I am aware that Oreo has another meaning see here (warning: links to Urban Dictionary, so some of the  definitions may be highly offensive.), related to racial perceptions, which brings me to the fact that baby Oreo will be mixed race, insha Allah. Racialicious is one of my favourite blogs and lately, they’ve been doing a lot of features on mixed race identity, which has really got me pondering.

Genetics are highly unpredictable. I am super-duper only slightly darker than an albino pale with blue eyes, my family are all pretty similar. Mr Outlines is olive skinned. He looks Arab, but for many western people, looking Arab means dressing like a Saudi and being in the vincity of a camel, so they often think he’s Spanish or Greek. He’s in the midpoint as far as skin colour goes in his family. It makes me sad that what colour Oreo comes out as, will affect his/her life.

I don’t write this to sound colour struck, I honestly don’t care, I just want a healthy baby, insha Allah. I’m the sort who’s into forward planning and I want to be ready, insha Allah. I grew up white, in a majority white country, likewise Mr Outlines grew up within the racial (and religious) majority in his country. For us, childhood racism happened to other people, we don’t have those experiences. Oreo may have very different experiences and I don’t want to be one of those white parents who go “Oh don’t be silly, people aren’t racist, you’re just being too sensitive”. I guess a key staring point is to ensure that Oreo feels comfortable with both sides of their heritage and sees how Islam is a unifying factor and how it relates to the other areas of your life.

I know several people reading this are in interracial marriages and have mixed race children, so I’d love to hear your opinions on this.