Monday, July 23, 2012

Ramadan and Returns

As salaam alaikum,

First of all, to all my readers and the Muslim blogosphere in general, I want to wish everyone Ramadan Mubarak! This is the first day of fasting in earnest for me, thanks to traveling (awesome camping trip with my co-residents) and one of the many pleasures of being a fertile woman, alhamdulillah. Heh, we'll leave it at that. It's kind of off-setting to begin Ramadan four days in, but insha'Allah this shall be a much needed month of spiritual revival.

Insha'Allah. Because I certainly need it!

And also, inna lillahi wa inna ilayi raji'un...

My uncle's wife, my aunt, died sometime last night after battling metastatic cervical cancer. She has a teenage boy and two young sons. My uncle and one of my aunts were there by her side. I will be praying for her and her family this Ramadan, insha'Allah. It's been a long and hard journey for the family, and this is the beginning of a new one.

Anyway, off to a doctor's appointment! My first appointment as a physician, heh.

One day, I'll stop laughing after every time I say I'm a doctor. One day...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Muslim Community vs. Muslim Isolation

As salaam alaikum,

As Ramadan approaches (it's essentially right on top of us, hehe), I usually like to get all reflective, center myself, mentally prepare myself for a month of prayer, devotion, repentance and mercy.

Insha'Allah, the month will still be those things for me, but I may not quite find the center before the beginning of my fasting. This year has been emotionally and spiritually tumultuous, in the best possible sense of the word. There have been ups and downs, goods and's been a pretty awesome year, in the range from positive to negative senses of the word. In one year, I've graduated from medical school, moved across the country, bought my first car...

...and may have given up on marriage.

Like, really, in the way that you give up and you don't think wistfully back and you don't shed a tear.

I haven't given up on marriage entirely, no. I'm not going to turn away what God provides me, if he so wills. But...

...I just recognized how much undue stress and worry came from me trying to find a suitable match in a niche market. It really was depressing and ate away at my self-esteem. I was looking in a very specific pool, which is so small, it's not even a pool at all.

No one can say there's a pool of practicing Muslim men who actually have good character (i.e. are not racist, sexist or misogynist, for starters, then the requisite positives), who are ambitious, either professionals or students, speak at least one language that I can also speak, and who would consider a black woman as a wife.

Of the ones who are not married, I can't say that any exist. I've never met one.

So I'm convinced that they don't exist. So what am I waiting for? Nothing. So I've stopped holding my breath, truthfully.

And aaaaaahhhh what a relief it is!

Because, look at how damaging that list is. One of the things that stressed me out the most is sweating about whether I would be acceptable to such a man. When there's a specific type of man that you're looking for in your niche market, that a few may exist isn't the problem...the problem is if they'll be attracted to you.

It's such a damaging way to view potential relationships. It led me to settling for a whole lot of other, whether I was attracted to the man.

And it set me up for a constant feeling of inferiority, because as I saw friends marry very compatible, God-fearing men, the only conclusion that I could come to was that it was me who was not enough.

Thus my chronic, though waxing and waning low self-esteem.

It's all but the grace of God, we all know, but we can't help but feeling that we actually are at the mercy of human beings. Though my eventually marriage is really contingent on God's plan for me, and if He brings someone compatible and suitable into my life...we can't really feel God as much as we'd like to, so I really feel like I'm at the mercy of human beings.

And I realized that the decision I'm making, year after year, as my reproductive organs age, was really about Muslim community vs. Muslim isolation. It's one branch of that decision, anyway. I've searched and faltered in my search for a compatible community, just as I've searched and faltered (and faltered some more!) in my search for a compatible Muslim partner. More times than not, I'm completely isolated as a Muslimah when it comes to community.

And in terms of my marriage prospects, I face two options of Muslim isolation. I either don't marry at all, or I don't marry Muslim.

As a woman dealing with my niche market, not an eligible and compatible Muslim bachelor in sight, I have consciously made the decision, over time, that I will sooner live a life alone with no partner than to end up with a non-Muslim partner. So, with no community and no partner, I am a Muslim in isolation.

Even if I were to choose to marry a non-Muslim, I am still a Muslim in isolation.

Neither is what God meant for me, meant for us.

And I feel like it's because a lot of us (myself not excluded) are living in ways that God didn't mean for us...

...making it hard for me to find a community and for a community to find me.

Making it hard for me to find a partner, and a partner to find me.

I can't fit into my local Muslim community, unless I were no longer myself. And I can't be but myself.

I can't marry into my niche Muslim market, unless I were no longer myself. And I've tried, several times, but I can't but be myself.

But it's true. Life for me is much less stressful and I can focus on important things once I'm no longer trying to make myself fit into my Muslim niche market, hoping for a Muslim man who will put up with the fact that I can't speak Arabic, I have kinky hair, I am black, I don't wear hijab right now but don't exclude it in the future...and everything else that I am that no Muslim man has ventured to know more about because I guess talking more to me would be haram.

Or he's already married.

No more worrying if I'm enough. Time for me to be enough for myself.

Because I guess we are born alone and die alone...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Why buy the cow?

As salaam alaikum,

Before I begin, to Anonymous, I read your question for me, and I will answer soon as I've had some experience on an inpatient rotation! I'm on a pretty light outpatient rotation now, and it wouldn't be a fair representation of the thick of residency. So, stay tuned in August, insha'Allah, for the answer.

And if anyone else has questions for me, as I indicated in my last entry, I'm happy to answer them!

For various reasons, I'm in the process of contemplating my own virginity and abstinence prior to marriage (I don't like the construct of virginity...makes me vomit a little bit in my mouth, but it was the more succinct way to express that sentiment), I thought about something my mother used to often say.
"Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?"

She only told me to wait until marriage once, I believe. When I was 10 years old in her make-up sex ed session after she chickened out of telling me about intercourse when I was 9 (though I already knew about it). But that sentiment permeated through everything else she said. From her decrying cohabitation to expressing frustration at women who were not "virgins" wearing white wedding dresses, to that phrase. Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?

And as a young girl who tried to listen to her elders, the saying made sense to me. If I had sex with a man, why would he want to marry me later? He can get what he would get from me through marriage by just being with me with relatively low commitment.

It made sense, and I embodied it and didn't much think about it...until, like, last week. Seriously.

I thought about it and then I was like, how effing offensive is that! I am not a cow!

I am not a cow!

And is that just my use? Milk? Sex? Is that all you're getting when you choose to spend the rest of your life with me? Sex?


And yet, she recited this like gospel before her young daughter, whose sense of self and ideas about relating to men were very much formed by these notions.

Parents never mean ill to their children. They're doing their best. So I don't fault my mother for this.

But what a horrible, misogynistic saying that encourages lack of commitment and foolishness! I'm not sure any part of it is good, even the intent and sentiment behind it.

Based on people that I know, that a man won't want you if your sex is "free" is not true. I know tons of people who started out with sexual relationships and are now married and thriving, and the man did not become disinterested in the woman because she was sexually available before marriage. And I know people who waited until they got married because both the husband and the wife believed in it, and none of them got married just to have sex, though, haha, admittedly, that was a major determinant.

Marriage is not to buying a cow. Maybe back in the day when marriage was a financial transaction, and you were bought in exchange for sometimes cattle as dowry. Because let's be real. Marriage wasn't always about a spiritual partnership under God as we apologists now paint it.

I'm not sure how many men know of the phrase, but I'm at least one woman who has taken it and embodied it.

I, for one, am letting that go...letting it flow away, out of my mind and out of my body, far far away. I am not a cow, and the man who marries me will not be making that decision simply based on my sex, its quality or its availability. And if I am to encounter such a man, Lord, protect me. But such thinking is what leads many of us as young girls to think that it is our sexual availability, before or within marriage, that is capable of keeping a man, which not only is false, but it's an unfortunate reduction of what either of us, male or female, have to offer to a partner as an entire human being.

So I'm releasing that...goodbye, cow.

I'd rather be a cow in the fat sense than a cow in the sexual sense.

Friday, July 6, 2012


As salaam alaikum, brothers and sisters,

Though, it seems from my commenters, my pink site only attracts sisters...oh well. I tried to be more equitable, haha. Maybe the length of my entries in the culprit...?

Anyway, I post about everything that comes to my mind these days, but either in this journal or my last journal, I had a day when I asked if anyone had questions for me. I feel like I talk about everything and I've probably talked about everything anyone could want to know at some point here, but just in case you have a burning question about me that I don't touch upon or want to see me write about something...I'm game!

While I still have this time prior to my inpatient rotation in a few short weeks aaaaahhhh! Viva Family Medicine!

So, any questions?

(If not, I do have some backed-up entries that I will get to writing iA this weekend).

For now, it's sleepy time. I have my first clinic patients tomorrow...insha'Allah they show up. Lord have mercy on them, though...they get one of the newest doctors around...