As salaam alaikum,
So it's apparent that it's time for my bi-annual frequenting of Altmuslimah.com. And I don't frequent it so...infrequently...not because I don't like it. On the contrary, I like a lot of the articles! Sometimes for me, however, it's just a little bit of Muslim overload...like, so many topics, so many things to read into, but I'm trapped in my individual circumstance, granted one that I chose for myself, but I'm trapped nonetheless. I chose this path, and these are the challenges that I have to face type of thing.
I remember that now. But I'll be reading it for a few more days because this one scholar has a three-part piece on hijab, khimar and why Muslim women are choosing to remove the scarf. I find this very interesting, because it has been a decision that I haven't really been able to put in words since I removed my own scarf now three years ago, and it's a very interesting read because he summarizes some of my anxieties surrounding wearing and not wearing the scarf as I was never able to articulate. In other words, it's full out awesomeness.
So, while skimming the Altmuslimah front page, which, if you've seen it, it is a bit intimidating with the amount of articles you can read...I ran across one of the many articles about sexuality and Muslims (there's always at least one article on the front page about it!) by this brother, who earlier wrote an article entitled There Are Just No Good Muslim Women Out There." I linked to him on that one...I didn't read the other one yet, but I think it's equally as good.
But man, it was cathartic to read the first lines of what this brother said! I'll have to direct quote him:
"...I find myself simply put off by Muslim women. I need to be honest; it isn’t just Muslim women, but the whole relationship process in Muslim communities that utterly perplexes me. I can’t help but feel as though I am wandering aimlessly confused through two concurrent tempestuous storms – that of the normal bafflement that marks emotional relationships between people, and that of the Muslim relationship paradigm, the absurdities of both obscuring my ability to progress to something meaningful." - Adam Siite, Altmuslimah.com
For a second, after reading this, I felt a little bit silly in writing RMD, because really, that's what's at the base of it...an examination of the grand dysfunction of the system of courtship or, better yet, the lack of a system within the Muslim American paradigm. And here's a brother, even, reflecting the same anxieties that is the base of my anxiety these days. And why write a book about a concept that is not at all novel.
...because no one has written a fiction piece about black Muslims, immigrant American Muslims, the relationships between them and gender relations, all in one, so I'm going to do it! I don't care...
But why does this continue to be a source of anxiety for me? I mean, because sure, I worry about whether or not I'm going to be a good doctor when training is over, but anyone who knows me knows that my main anxiety is my worry that I'm slightly dysfunctional as a candidate, suitor, whatever, before a world where waiting until marriage is antiquated on one side and the grand mess that is the Muslim way of doing things on the other...which sometimes is, gosh, let's make this up as we go along, throw a wali into the mix or some halal dating, whatever, and hope that this will somehow all end in a nikkah.
Dude, I don't even know where to begin!
And as is also addressed in RMD...reading this article made me wonder, hmm, is this brother married or engaged now?
That knee jerk response reflects the height of dysfunction!
I feel like a lot of sisters have fallen into this category at one time in their lives, if they don't exist there now. Every upstanding, intelligent, educated and seemingly practicing brother is marriage material...let's call him marriage fodder. Maniac Muslim used to make jokes about this all the time, but sometimes, that mess is true. It honestly does not take a lot for someone to be marriage fodder...many men, many brothers, are upstanding, intelligent, educated, practicing...handsome, love kids, whatever else. But because the system, or the lack thereof, often relegates the opposite sex to a very distant social space than we exist, we don't often interact with each other, we don't know how to interact with each other, we don't get to know each other and form more realistic aspirations for what we would want in a spouse, such that anyone, really, is game.
A character in my story is like that, and the end for her is...well, I won't give it away...
But this is why I have to take breaks from Altmuslimah or any of the other Muslim American media sources...it is totally an over stimulation. I bet if I browsed the front page alone, there are tons more articles about the issues with courtship in the Muslim community, and people's personal frustrations, and prominent members of the community who have known names commenting often, many a single, educated, intelligent, upstanding marriage material Muslim and Muslimah.
But I'm sorry, talking hasn't done shit! That brother just may still be single and baffled by the dating process in the Muslim community, a lot of the editors, still single, still looking and hoping and praying that they get there before the magic 30 mark that many of us are avoiding.
And then you have sisters like that one that wrote this blog I once read about how she hoped that she could meet her future husband through blogging, through interchanging witty responses, getting to know each other, finding they were right for each other...
So I'm like, okay, one thing is avoiding dating [or publicly dating, as I know more than a few Muslims who actually, like, you know, kind of date other Muslims] because of the fear that dating in the U.S. is synonymous with sex, and it's another thing expecting Muslim marriage fodder to drop from the sky, spontaneously, and fit into your life...
Then we have people arranging marriages, which [not hating on arranged marriages at all, if I had good marriage fodder in mind and he were willing, I'd so arrange that shit in a heartbeat] may or may not be for the right reasons, precipitated, whatever...for example, if I were to arrange my marriage now, that would be precipitated to the nth power, and would most likely end in calamity of epic proportion...well, I'm being melodramatic right now, it wouldn't be epic, but it wouldn't end well, let's say...
All of this to say, yes! We can talk about this all day. Sixty-four sisters and seventeen brothers can guest post on Altmuslimah or wherever else talking about how dysfunctional any sort of courtship system is within the Muslim community, yes. But what are we going to do about it?
For ourselves, as individual single Muslims, what are we going to do? For our communities at large, for the little Muslims we'll be having once we're able to find ourselves that marriage fodder? What are we going to do?
I no longer care that others have gone through it, actually. Well, I'll say that differently. I am satisfied that this is a common experience. Meanwhile, there are so many eligible Muslims out there, all of us milling around like zombies, potentially marrying each other but not because, oh wait, this sister is of a different ethnic group, my head a splode!
Too much talk, already! I want to hear some solutions! No more commiserating! Reaja!
My personal solution? See, all I need is one brother...one brother who's willing to bend the rules with me a little bit, and we can form a meaningful though halal as we can relationship, and then all we have to do is get married at the end, and I won't have to worry about the system! Yeah? Awesome!
Now, all that brother has to do is drop out of the sky and...oh.
No, but seriously! I think the only way this is going to change is if folks are willing to bend the rules a little. People are so afraid of haram that there's an epidemic of aging unmarried Muslimahs. Muslim speed dating, anyone?
Something! Like, let's set up Muslim real world, except with the males and females in separate houses [with chaperons...let's make it as halal as possible], where we have to work together...like, half of the cast would be engaged by the end of the show, I guarantee...
Okay, I'm done.