Saturday, February 25, 2012

Nem é Direito / Not Even a Right

As salaam alaikum,

O que será...que nem é direito ninguém recusar. - Chico Buarque, "O Que Será (À Flor da Pele)

(What could it be...that's not even a right for anybody to deny).

I've decided that I'm not reading the comments for articles posted about the anthology anymore. Nope. The negative comments come in two types: Islamophobe or Concerned, Ashamed Muslim Individual. Islamophobe...we all know what those are. These women are brainwashed into wearing tents and being submissive. Of course they're all terrorists. They're un-American (for US sources) or shouldn't they be stoned for what they're doing according to their religion? These are people who, of course, are missing the point and as long as they let their ignorance sustain them, they always will. They will simply look towards media sources that confirm their beliefs. Their loss, and only God knows how much of a loss it is.

The comments that pain me more, that are fewer, are the Concerned, Ashamed Muslim Individual comments. And of course there would be these comments, whenever the stories that make the headlines about the anthology are the more controversial ones, the stories of the contributors who are lesbians and those who had premarital sex. And then, they think it's a book about Muslim women committing zina and other haram. Or, some actually try to read the book, and are disgusted by those stories and fear for the upbringing of their children, that they'll become nominal Muslims like a couple of the contributors who identify more with Islam culturally than religiously.

I think the criticism of those who read the anthology and cannot handle it is fair, for sure. I'd rather those who decry it now read it and see what they think afterwards. It's so interesting how strong the repulsion can be to stories of premarital sex in particular that a Muslim would not even want the anthology in their home! Everyone has different sensibilities, and I respect that.

Why does it bother me, though? Some of these people were the very types of people I looked to when I first came into practicing Islam. I looked to other Muslims with conservative religious values as the ideal. It was their voices of condemnation, yes, and their voices of celebration of God, that formed me into the Muslimah I was my junior and senior year of college, especially, when I first donned hijab. These are the types of Muslims that I hungered for approval from...and I found that I still do.

Every review that's written about the anthology, I read it, hoping someone mentions my piece. They usually don''s a little bit too complicated to be succinctly summarized, I supposed, and isn't quite a headliner. The one sister who did mention it in her review on tumblr came to a conclusion that I did not agree with...that my story came to the conclusion that converts must "flirt-to-convert" in order to marry.

She made an assumption I never suggested in the story...that I wanted to convert "James." I come from a household where my father is Christian and my mother is Muslim, I mention in the beginning. Am I a convert by lineage? I've never understood this. No offense to converts, but I just find it amazing how people consider me a convert despite being raised Muslim by my mother., there is no compulsion in religion, and if I started seeing a non-Muslim man, it would not to be to convert him. It would to be with him for who he is.

Astaghfirullah, I know, I know...

But anyway, I digress. I looked in the reviews, still, some validation of my Muslim identity, some mentioning of my story as a voice not often heard...but I'm wondering if my story didn't resonate with certain readers who just take my "not being Muslim enough" in my story with MQ at face value and assume it's true. It's a very interesting thing. I know from the reading that it resonated with a lot of the sisters (and brothers) who did not think that way, and that's what matters. I wish I could have gone on more of the book tour and reached out to more audiences...that was fun!

But yes, it stings to see negative reviews from Muslims who are ready to dismiss the entire project as haram because it feels like being rejected, yet again, from the Muslim community. Another reason that it stings is that they see all of the Islamophobic comments around, and they don't care.

I mean, no, I don't defend myself against Islamophobes. The few times someone came into my site with some hateful message about Muslims, I simply do not approve the comment, delete it for good, and perish the thought. But to me, if I were a self-righteous (or maybe just honest, practicing) Muslim  and I saw that most of the comments were coming from people disrespecting my faith, I would reach out in support of my sisters, though not agreeing with everything in the anthology (because, just because we contributed doesn't mean we ascribe to the beliefs of all other contributors, duh), see how I could help.

I mean, I would much rather see a comment of, "Subhan'Allah! There are so many issues in the Muslim community that we need to address, and so many women are lost, misguided and falling into haram in search for a love that is best within Islam. Let us set up an effort to help these sisters."

But then, Muslims wouldn't be human if you didn't have a preponderance of the other comments.

And that's the thing! Muslims are humans! We are humans entitled to our opinions as much as Islamophobes are entitled to theirs.

For that reason, because it's so painful for me to read, I will not read any more reviews of the anthology, and I will not read any more comments to articles. It's too much.

It's hard for me, but no more looking to other Muslims for validation of my Islam, not even a potential spouse. As the lyrics above say, it's not a right that anyone can deny. My Islam, no one can deny. It's not a right to be denied. One could kill me, and though they may believe it to be true, they have not killed my Islam, but were God's agent to bring me closer to Him, though you may believe I'm closer to Satan.

No one can take this from me, no matter how good of a Muslim or bad of a Muslim they judge me to be. God promised me His mercy as long as I believe and do righteous deeds, which far outweigh my bad deeds. Really, what more do I need? What more do I need as encouragement to keep living as I do, striving as I do?

Alhamdulillah, and I'm done.


  1. Good for you!

    you can't please everyone all the time my dear, it's an experience that will continue. Kudos to you for making it into the anthology, it may not feel like it, but there are those that will resonate with your story... it's just people need to criticize things...

    the other thing, like you wrote it the stories that they showcase in the promos/articles about the book, I remember reading a lengthy article about (in perhaps in the NYT) and the stories they chose make the anthology seem a little more scandalous than it actually is?...but that is how books are promoted anyway. I will withold judgement till I return to the States and get my hands on a copy (it will certainly not be available in Egypt any time

    on another note, funny how online relationships work, I think I totally referred to you as my friend when telling someone about the anthology... blog buddies:-)

    1. Blog buuuddddiiiesssss...

      Yes! When do you get back to the States? We should meet in person and make the friendship official at some point, hehe. :P

      You saw me at Michigan one day, is that right? You saw me on a commmuter bus and almost talked to me? Or was that someone else?

      But yes, it's funny what preconceptions everyone has before reading the book. My Catholic friend expected to read about a lot of Muslim customs that she just wouldn't understand, and ended up identifying with many of the stories, including mine. Another Christian friend is still reading it, though she feared that the story would be a lot of Muslim women condemning the customs and religiousness of their parents. I'm still waiting on my relatives to read the entire book, haha.

      Which makes me feel less bad that they're having such a hard time getting through RMD. Apparently, they are very busy people to read a 300-page anthology (RMD was 280 pages).

      Hehe, but anyway...