People respond to the materials posted in this blog in various ways, depending on their own beliefs, experiences, and stage of life. Some people express disbelief, pity, horror, anger, scorn… or they want to preach. I gather that in many cases, people respond in these ways because they think that they are being helpful in some way. But as my dad used to say, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
With such helpful intentions in mind, then, here’s how you can best respect this space:
(1) Know that it is not about you. This blog is about my process of recovery from negative and harmful aspects and effects of patriarchal religion. I am not talking about your experiences or beliefs, but about mine. There is no reason to take what I say as a personal attack on you, or as a challenge to your beliefs. And if you do take it in such a way, then maybe you should ask yourself why that is.
(2) Bear in mind that this world, and the people in it, are complex. Yes, even Muslims. Especially Muslims! What I have to say may very well not agree with what you were taught in Islamic Sunday School or in your Deen Intensive that Islam is, or how Muslims should behave. But labeling me, or asking me “whether I’m still Muslim” or “why I am Muslim when I am so critical” of abuses I experienced in conservative Muslim communities, is disrespectful and unhelpful. And, given that this blog is about recovery from abuse, it’s also rather silly—sort of like someone coming on an accident scene where the cars smashed up, police sirens blaring, crying kids and whatnot, and demanding to know if the survivors “are still Muslim or not.” Because that’s what everyone should be worried about at a moment like that. Riiight.
Recovery is a process. It tends to take a while. I don’t know where I will end up. Who does?
(3) Papa, don’t preach. Preaching is condescending. Yes, even if you do it in the nicest way possible, with quotes from Rumi and mentioning the word “love” or “mercy” in every other sentence. Believe me, I have been preached to quite a lot in my over two decades as a Muslim. I have also read a lot. And I have been condescended to plenty already. So, your preaching is at best annoying; at worst, it is triggering for me and others like me. We have heard more than enough of that sort of thing for decades now. It is not constructive. This blog is intended to be a constructive, healing space, not a space for religious bullies to run amok.
Passing judgment on other people’s lives and experiences is one of the many things that I am trying to get beyond. Dealing with the fall-out that has often occurred when people try to do things “by the book” is another thing that this blog often deals with.
So, preaching of any type is inappropriate and unwelcome. Therefore, comments telling me that I am going to Hell, or that I need to hear what Shaikh X or Imam Y has to say and then it’ll all be fine, or efforts to sell me on a new religion… will be deleted. I also delete all cut-and-paste rants about how the end of the world is coming because ZOMG feminism is taking over and the West is so evil and etc.
(4) Don’t hate. Neither am I interested in providing a place for people to rant about how much they hate Islam or Muslims. For the same reasons. I have already dealt with enough prejudice and hate for the last several decades. It has made my life harder rather than easier, partly because it isolated me and made reaching out to social services and programs designed to help women leave abusive marriages unthinkable for years. I am in the process of trying to move on, rather than being drawn backwards into the vortex of hate.
(5) Know that we don’t need your pity. What we need is justice. Pity says “Oh, poor you.” Pity is condescending and debilitating. Pity does no one any good. Pity makes the person dishing it out feel better, but doesn’t change the social structures or the religious attitudes that helped bring about the injustice in the first place. So, pity is not really an expression of mercy or compassion for those who have been abused.
If you feel emotionally moved by the stories of women abused by patriarchal religion, then you could ask yourself what practical things you could do to help make things better. Do you support programs meant to help women leaving abusive relationships with your donations? Are you speaking out publicly against patriarchal teachings in your religious community that encourage women to be obedient to their husbands, or remain financially dependent on them? What other concrete steps could you take, and encourage others to take?