My Convert Truths / Am I Crazy?

Assalamu alaikum / greetings, wanted to participate in nicole’s convert blog carnival, however I’m still trying to figure out exactly what I want to say, as the words are kinda garbled up in my mind, and how I wanted to say them.

I suppose I could talk about how frustrated I am/have been sometimes, how I feel like I was sold what I thought was a good used car but it turned out to be a lemon, analogy I know, but as a Muslim that’s how I feel about Islam sometimes. I like to talk about “the ideal vs. the reality”. Meaning, Islam may be a perfect way of life, etc., and all of that, however, many Muslims are far from actualizing this idea, and I think this is what gives Islam a bad name. Because it’s not so much that we as Muslims and as human beings really, have trouble actualizing the ideals of our religion, it’s that some of us, though certainly not all, like to pretend that the ideal is or should be actualized, we act like we don’t have any problems or baggage or anything like that. Let me see if I can try to elucidate my points.

The ideal says that women should not be prevented from going to the masjid, the reality, as many of us Muslimahs can attest is quite different from the ideal, either because we get sub-par accommodations from that of the men, or because we get excluded from the masjid entirely.

the ideal says that abuse and ill treatment of spouses shouldn’t be tolerated, etc., Well, the reality is that for many segments of our community, it’s better to save a marriage then to amke sure that people in that marriage are safe. I can personally attest to this. Or we like to pretend that domestic violence and abuse doesn’t exist in our community, or we like to play the “the non Muslims do it too” game.

the ideal says that a blind Muslim can choose to use a dog guide, the reality says that well, we can’t say you can’t do it but we’d rather you not, b/c the dog is unclean, or you’ll lose so much of a reward every day that you keep a dog in your house.

For some of us, the ideal says that you can’t watch TV, can’t listen to music, even if it’s nasheeds, and should spend all or most of your time in religious pursuits, i.e., reading qur’an, hadith or studying fiqh, tafsir, etc., or reciting dhikr. And if you as a Muslim do watch TV, listen to music, or do anything that’s not “deeny” in nature, then you’re deficient in your Islam. And of course we all know the reality is much different lol.

The thing I keep coming back to as a convert is the “why can’t I?” question. Why can’t I listen to music? I mean, I’m not talking about Lil Wayne or something like that, but what about Youssou Ndour, who to my knowledge hasn’t said anything un-Islamic in nature, and if he did, I think my husband, er, my on-the-scene interpretor would tell me lol.

But I’m just saying, can’t I devote some of the day to reading Qur’an, some of the day to dhikr and some of the day to say, watching a football or basketball game? And still be considered a “good” Muslim?

Can’t I still continue to use a dog guide? And actually enjoy her company *gasp*. And perhaps at some point get a cat or two? And still be a good Muslim?

Can I occasionally happen to engage in a conversation, in public, with someone of the opposite gender, and I mean, not where we’re alone or anything can happen lol, without being considered “wrong” or a bad Muslimah or something?

Because sometimes the men are having more interesting conversations than the women are lol, or the men are actually speaking English. And the women, well are not, and I feel alone and isolated, even when I’m in a roomfull of people. I understand the idea behind the prohibition of “free mixing” between the genders, but a lot of times as a woman, I feel stifled by that. Especially if you’re around people who consider the voice to be awra or something.

I mean, isn’t part of the point of modest dress, etc., so that women in public spaces can interact with men in a respectable manner?

Anyway, these are just some of my thoughts. Perhaps I’ll have more later, and there’ll be a part two. I’d also like you guys’s comments lol, now that I’m back to blogging again on at least a semi-regular basis.

I just wanna know that I’m not crazy or something.

About Ginny

A blind Muslim woman currently living in Florida, just trying to make sense of the world around me! !
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4 Responses to My Convert Truths / Am I Crazy?

  1. Jamilah says:

    Assalaamu alaikum, Ginny,
    You are definitely not crazy. I was just talking about this same kind of thing with my 15-year old son. He studied “The Scarlet Letter” in his English class last semester and became very interested in the ideas of the Puritans, especially when compared with the more extreme elements in the Muslim ummah. He has drawn parallels between Puritanism and Wahhabism, or other similar movements, and we’ve discussed the need to follow the middle way. It was very, very hard. Once I worked in an Islamic school where more than half of the teachers, parents, etc. were “fundamentalists” (though I don’t really like that term) and most of the rest were progressives. It was so hard to get anything done because we constantly had to balance between these two sides.
    Islam is not all about “haram, haram, bid’ah, bid’ah” as I’ve heard some people say. At the same time, Islam does give us guidelines for life–firmer guidelines, I think, than any other religion. I find security in these, while remembering that they are flexible. Another son likes to point out that Islam fits with any culture, in any time period. We have guidelines, for instance, about covering our private parts, but does it really matter if we cover with an abaya, a sarong, or loose-fitting jeans? When we celebrate Eid, we can celebrate with baklava or fudge brownies–or both if we don’t mind the calories.
    The strict gender-separation really gets to me, especially because I’m the only woman in my family and I feel lonely when they all go to the men’s side. And you’re right, the men’s conversation is much more interesting. Alhamdulillah, I have a husband who has actually invited me to participate in the men’s conversations. He’s wonderful.
    Islam is large enough to accommodate all of us, and also accommodate your dog. When short-sighted or mean-spirited people can’t see that, we all lose.

  2. fpfj says:

    No, I don’t think you’re crazy. It is frustrating to deal with all of these separations. I’ve just discovered your blog from Nicole – I’m looking forward to reading more!

  3. luckyfatima says:

    That used car analogy rings very true.

    And it makes me boil inside that you are rejected for having a guide dog. That’s just plain awful. I hate Muslims so much sometimes.

    I don’t think anything you’ve said here is crazy at all. More like spot on!

  4. Pingback: More of My Convert Truths | Ginny's Ramblings

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