Friday, November 23, 2012

[Uncensored]: Want At Odds

As salaam alaikum,

As I walked home from the hospital this afternoon, wishing that I could fly (like, literally, with my own wings) instead of walking home in the rain, though well-equipped with my Boston umbrella and my boots, I had two thoughts for entries.

One was about my feelings about my getting married one day, how those feelings have changed and current threads of ambivalence.

But before that, I think I need to talk about this.

I was born Muslim and raised Muslim by a Muslim mother, a fact that I still unfortunately feel like I have to defend. But never mind that. Separate from that upbringing, I embraced Islam as a teenager and young woman. I guess I still am a young woman. Young womanhood is a long road.

Anyway, I embraced Islam so tightly for a simple fact. It was in line with something that is really important to me: being a good mother.

Separate and prior to my understanding of the importance of motherhood in Islam, one of my greatest aspirations in life was to have children. Marriage itself usually waxes and wanes depending on various subjects of attraction, but the want to have children has remained pretty much a constant. In the time when I had no particular object of attraction, marriage was simply the (very necessary) means to the end.

And Islam was entirely compatible with three of my core desires: to have strong faith in God, to be a good mother, and to do things the most right.

One could say this about other of the monotheistic faiths. If my mother hadn't been Muslim, maybe I would have been Christian or whatever other religion. But, my mother was Muslim, and I came to understand Islam as the way to do things the most right, including motherhood. Within the Qur'an and in Sunnah, I came to understand, existed an irrefutable formula to live the most right, to be the best mother I could be on this earth, and to have the strongest faith in God as possible. The more I followed this formula to the letter, the more I could be assured that I could have my three core desires.

The problem is, in life, just as in Islam, there are no guarantees. It's all insha'Allah.

Secularly, you can't always get what you want. Sing along!

As a young woman, I wanted to do everything the most right. I am still a young woman, and I still do. I wanted to marry young, meet a good Muslim man and start a family. After all, everything I read and everyone I knew told me that this is what God wanted us to do...this was our nature. Marry, raise families, raise them to follow the Straight Way. why was it not happening for me? I was praying, I was striving, shouldn't it have happened? Maybe I wasn't making my prayers timely enough and maybe I hadn't reached a level of striving...

And then came the stark realization, after years of praying, Ramadans passed with that one prayer remaining unanswered, crying and begging and pleading and wondering if crying invalidated my prayers.

It's all insha'Allah. It's not a definite.

I came into a way of life because it was compatible with my desires. But, as part of this way of life, I have to recognize that I may not get what I want, even if it's ordained for us as human beings, because it may not be God's will. As a Muslimah, I needed to learn to be content with being alone with the prospect of never having children...when that's never what I signed up for.

But we much less sign up for life than religion, and the secular perspective is much crueler. Life's a bitch.

What becomes complicated is when you realize that your Islam, your way of life, is not as compatible with you as you would though. That in your efforts to try to do things right, that one of your greatest desires, you could actually be precluding something else that you want, which is something pure and good to be a mother, and a good one. I say this because I have lived so long in a way that totally precludes my ever marrying, or every marrying in time enough to have my own children.

Being a Muslimah means sacrificing what I want that may be the thing that drew me to Islam in the first place in favor of a greater good, greater purity, greater goal...

And I found myself in desolation and desperation because my wants were at odds with my faith.

Which they can be for any of us at any time.

Because if we are extremely fatalistic, anything we want that we don't get is clearly not God's will, because we didn't get it. This breeds struggle at best, disbelief at the other extreme. Especially when the things we want are reasonable things, things we feel entitled to as believers, as human beings...

Want at odds.

Would I rather be a mother or a Muslim? I'd rather be Muslim.

Would I rather be a good mother or a good Muslim? I'd rather be a good mother.

Would I rather be a good mother or a Muslim? I'd rather be a good mother.

Of course, I don't believe the latter two statements to be mutually exclusive. Yes, the latter two.

I just...months ago I found myself in a conundrum, where I believed that in order to have sufficiently strong faith, I should rather be single for the rest of my life with no children than to have a family and be a good mother, what I most want, which in itself is farther from guarantee than having children itself.

And I couldn't say that. I couldn't rather be single for the rest of my life with knowledge of my strong faith in God. So I'm not.

The fact remains, nothing is guaranteed. It's all insha'Allah. I'm less guaranteed to be a good mother than a mother at all. I chose a way of life that was compatible with my own personal desires and many of my values. My way of life may be compatible with those desires but does not guarantee those desires much more, if any more, than if I had existed in my native state, outside of my understanding of Islam, within the innocence of the religion my mother taught me.

But it's relatively illogical that I should desire so much to bring children into the world. For what? For them to suffer through some of the same emotional and spiritual struggles that their mom has and did, and those of their own? Why are some of us so intent on reproducing ourselves?

This led me to question what I saw in marriage, besides securing someone with whom to reproduce.

Next time, though...

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