What do Skittles (the candy) and Ivory soap have in common?
If you answered that both of these items were included in photocopied lists of grocery items with haraam ingredients that were passed out by earnest bearded brothers after Friday prayers back in the ’80′s… you get ten points. Add another ten points if you read those lists carefully, and refused to buy or use any of those items forever after (add only five points if you tried, but weren’t always consistent). Add another ten points if you then used the “principles” underlying the list and further extended them to screening every single purchase you made. And, add another five points if you still find yourself automatically avoiding items on the list when you buy groceries today, or you buy them sometimes but feel guilty about it.
Interpreting your score:
Ten points = You were there. Maybe you lived in my community. Did I know you?
Fifteen points = Back in the day, I would have thought you didn’t take your deen seriously enough. Nowadays, I suspect that actually, you just have a more balanced and sane outlook on life than I did.
Twenty to thirty points = You probably have a lot of the same memories as I do—like busing to a health food store miles away to buy overpriced cheese that didn’t have any forbidden ingredients in it, back before the local halaal meat store had started selling cheese. Looking high and low for vanilla extract that didn’t have some kind of alcohol/propylene glycol/anything ending in -ol in it. Standing in the drugstore looking at all the soap and toothpaste and trying to find the one or two brands that weren’t on the avoid-list… and trying not to think about the fact that these were more expensive than the other brands, and they never seemed to go on sale.
Over thirty points = Hard core. Props. Can’t say anything more than that.
Another night, another nightmare.
I am with a friend of mine—a friend that I know my ex would have strongly disapproved of. All is well, it’s a sunny day and my heart is light… until a tall, male shadow approaches from the side.
It’s my ex. I am petrified. I can’t move.
And then I wake up. Whew. It was only a dream. And I woke up before he could… say or do anything.
“But I’m divorced now,” I told myself. “I’m divorced! He’s not my husband any more. He had no right to say or do anything to me or anyone else, regardless of what he thinks of anything I do or who I choose to spend time with! No right whatsoever!”
It was hard to get back to sleep.
Sitting in a meeting at work. There’s a chairperson, an agenda, and the promise that we should all be out of here within an hour. Most of the others there have a lot more experience dealing with the stuff that is being discussed than I do, so I basically keep quiet and listen.
Among the issues that comes up is gender balance in our clientele and how this is going to be recorded in a report. I quickly realize that by “gender balance” what they mean is the number of females as compared to the number of males. There is no room in either the discussion or the relevant section of the report for people who don’t identify as either “male” or “female.”
I sit there, feeling more and more uneasy. It’s not just this meeting and this report—most of the forms I have seen in use here ask for gender (even when there doesn’t seem to be any particular reason why the gender of the person filling the form would be relevant), and only allow for “male” and “female” options. As though there are no other gender identities out there.
As though people who aren’t either “male” or “female” don’t exist.
(continuing where we left off) But suppose a queer eye was brought to bear on this rather tired and sadly predictable conversation about how “good women” “should” dress and behave in order to avoid tempting “good men” to sin?
First of all, the scope of this conversation has been made unrealistically narrow. The world doesn’t only contain “men” and “women”, nor are all self-identified “men” and “women” heterosexual. In reality, there are a range of gender identities and sexual orientations. Unfortunately, this range is often not acknowledged by more conservative religious communities—or it is only acknowledged as a problem that requires managing. But as soon as the experiences of people who don’t identify as heterosexual “men” or “women” are seriously taken into account, then the absurd impracticality—and more importantly, the assumptions underlying the claims made by “John” and “Steve”–comes into focus.