I love my religion. The same way I love my country. When you love something you acknowledge all of its greatness – and all of its faults. When you love something, you want it to be the best it can possibly be. When you love something, you don’t brush its faults to the side to make yourself look good. You acknowledge them, you confront them head on and you “fix” them. I love Islam. And I love America. And it’s why I confront their faults with the appropriate aggression needed to make the necessary changes for both to survive.
If I didn’t love my country, I wouldn’t bother to speak up against the corruption carried out against whole groups of people in “her” (America’s) name. I wouldn’t bother speaking up against the injustices brought on to my fellow citizens by the Trump administration. I wouldn’t have bothered to head to Washington D.C. at 4 in the morning to march with 500,000 other women in my nation’s capital to demand the change we deserve and NEED in order to progress as a country to a point where real equality can finally be seen at the end of the very long and dark tunnel. I wouldn’t bother protesting every travel ban this ass-hat of a president we have is attempting to put into place. I wouldn’t bother reminding people that this country – for all intents and purposes of this piece – was “founded” (stolen) on the idea of religious freedom and freedom of speech. I wouldn’t find solace in the amount of potential that I truly do believe the U.S. has to finally be great – not again – but for once. I acknowledge our twisted history― which has been so warped and white washed before being shoved down our throats as children in order to instill some bizarre patriotism in our youth― as a way to remember the true roads we have traveled to get to where we are today – and remind people that we do not want to regress to those times. We want to confront them and make them “right” so that we may move forward as a united nation that can finally serve as a safe home for all of its people.
I face the backlash every day. I mentally absorb all of the snide comments of, “you’re unpatriotic,” “self-hating Muslim,” “wanna be ISIS bride,” “terrorist sympathizer,” “president-hater”, because it comes with the territory of making an impact and demanding a change. I do it because I love my country.
That’s what you do when you love something. You challenge the norm in an effort to bring on greatness and openness.
The same way I love my country, I love my religion. Believe it or not (I’m sure it’s not that difficult to believe) the most common sender of hate mail to me and our team here at MissMuslim, is from other “Muslims.” I need not remind true Muslims that judgment in all forms is forbidden – especially when judging one’s level of commitment to their faith. Yet, it seems like a lot of our community members need that reminder. It is not up to you or me or him or her or them to decide how they believe someone will be judged by God one day on the Day of Judgment. That is for God and God alone to decide.
Have you been keeping track of the good deeds that the young Muslim girl who married a Christian man has carried out throughout her life?
Have you kept track of the charity donations that the man who is an alcoholic by default of his environment has been making throughout his lifetime?
Have you followed the woman who wears short shorts and a crop top into the bathroom where she makes wudu and comes out in an abaya and hijab as she prepares for prayer 5 times a day?
I highly doubt it.
Our main concern here at MissMuslim, is that we provide EVERYONE – be they religious, atheist, agnostic, foreign, domestic, gay, straight, bi, a-sexual, black, white, brown, green or a got-dam alien – with a safe space to share their life stories because sharing our personal experiences connects two people of opposite existence with each other through a common narrative that might have otherwise never been connected. And that’s how the world becomes a better place. That’s how real change is made. That’s how people stop believing that they are alone in this world and in their struggles and they no longer think of taking their own lives.
The issues we confront on a daily basis here at #MM are not issues produced by Islam. Though people will argue that Islam is perfect as is- the Quran yes, but interpretations not so much- and I have to disagree. As a human being I believe that progress of everything is necessary for survival. The majority of the issues Islam faces today are related to cultural expectations borne from outdated progressions that have placed limitations on people who follow the faith. No – it does not say that you cannot be gay and Muslim in the Divine words throughout the Quran. Hadith (narrations) – translations of things supposedly said by a man who knew a man who knew a man who knew the words of another man (PBUH) – says that among other questionable things. Although classically, Islam does not promote or endorse homosexuality – it does not shun those who are struggling with living life as their true selves. No – the Quran does not explicitly say that a Muslim woman cannot marry outside of Islam to a Person of the Book (any of the three Abrahamic faiths). It actually says nothing about women in relation to who they marry other than that they cannot be a polytheist (the belief in multiple Gods). But thanks to “scholars” who have translated the Quran with Hadith as the lens and their own cultural upbringing they’ve created interpretations that fit within their patriarchal agendas – women are disowned by their families, stoned to death, or simply have no relationship with their families at all because of who they happened to love and choose to spend their lives with. Islam does not promote or encourage interfaith marriage – but it definitely by no means demands the shunning of women who choose that path. Who’s to say that a Muslim woman who marries a Jew cannot raise her children as Muslim? Do we have that little faith in our women that we don’t believe they are worthy or capable of teaching their children about Islam on their own?
Every day we combat Islamophobia. It’s become a part of our daily lives whether it be a sister in hijab walking through the streets in the West going about her day confidentially and unafraid. Or a Muslim brother with dark skin and a thick beard who refuses to shave it before going through TSA. Or teaching our friends one simple thing about Islam that could change their perspective on us and our religion. Or even if it’s educationally shutting down trolls on the Internet when they spread hateful rhetoric about our community. We fight it every day. And we fight it by so desperately attempting to help others see the beauty that we see in Islam. The peaceful meditation of our prayers. The humbling hunger pains and thirst during our fasts. The caring of our less fortunate brothers and sisters through obligatory charity. The release of one’s ego in submission to a higher power. How do we, as a Muslim ummah, have the audacity to preach to non-Muslims that Islam means peace and love and acceptance and tolerance if we ourselves don’t actually follow those messages? How do we expect others to believe in our pleas if all they see online or in person or on their TVs is Muslims bashing Muslims who are still struggling to find their way, who may not be following the rituals expected of them but hold Islam dearly in their hearts? Who are we to judge – to call each other “kafirs” (non-believers) or claim that we degrade Islam more than we promote it’s beauty? No one. We are no one.
I love my religion. And I love my community – no matter how much at times it doesn’t love me back. We should not be brushing our issues under a non-existent rug and pointing fingers at other faiths in an effort to save face. That does more harm than good to Islam. Issues that are not confronted head on only grow bigger and create more division. We need to stop pretending that we are perfect. It’s why our youth (and our elderly) disassociate from Islam. We tell them it’s all or nothing – if you’re not the “perfect” Muslim then you do not belong. The beauty of it all is overshadowed by people’s misplaced anger and judgments – most of which are caused by some internal turmoil being projected onto others. If you don’t like or agree with the way that someone else is living their life – so long as it’s not harming you or your faith or their life – for God’s sake, let it be. Why must we insist that those who don’t follow our religion to the T hide in shame? If they are not ashamed of how they live their lives – who are you to be ashamed on their behalf?
If I listened to all the commentators and “wallah bros” and haram police officers that attack me and our team daily I myself would be hiding because I do not follow Islam perfectly but I am still a devout and practicing Muslim who loves Islam and will defend it to my death. My faith is still dear to me and I do my best to submit to God and be the best Muslim that I can be, every day. That’s more than I can say for those of you who hide behind a keyboard or hijab and pray five times a day then get on with backbiting and judging and shaming others into silence for being confident enough in themselves to publicly share their struggles and achievements. It takes a lot of courage (and balls) to put your story out there for the world to read. It takes less balls to criticize someone for doing that.
I am not confronting issues I feel are present in Islam itself as 1) I am not a “scholar” to be doing so and 2) It is not my mission to “change” Islam rather than to question and challenge parts that I don’t personally agree with, and don’t have enough backup for me to blindly get on board with. I am confronting the issues within the Muslim community that I feel are “ruining it for the rest of us.” Issues generated by people and their one-track-minded interpretations of our Holy Book and word of our Prophet (PBUH), not what the religion actually stands for. If our site – which stands as a platform to create discussion around touchy subjects that were once forbidden, and demands equal treatment and justice for everyone with no exceptions – makes you uncomfortable; good. It means that your mind has a long way to go in terms of openness and acceptance – and I am proud that our platform is taking the lead in doing that.
Those of us who see potential in our community to become progressive, especially in a time where progress equates to survival in the 21st century, will fight the good fight for as long as it is in need of an army. Your anger, and your attempts to keep others in the dark rather than allow them to be at the forefront of our struggles, together, only proves how necessary it is for you to hear these stories. So, we will keep spreading them.