Respecting this space

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?

  1. #1 by Candice AL Hijoj on July 10, 2012 - 4:55 am

    🙂

  2. #2 by amina wadud on August 4, 2012 - 1:36 am

    Just wanted to say your writing is awesome! and thanks for being real, especially like the one about Piety! Dr. Amina Wadud

  3. #3 by xcwn on August 5, 2012 - 4:05 pm

    Dr. Amina Wadud—Thank you very much for reading, and for commenting. I really appreciate your work.

  4. #4 by charmedshiva on December 8, 2012 - 6:42 am

    I don’t think it’s always asked in a rude way. Perhaps some people mean to be demeaning, but I know others who ask that question and aren’t trying to be rude. They’re just trying to be logical. I mean, I wonder the same thing about myself and sometimes I get asked that question too. Why am I a Muslim is I disagree with so many aspects of Islam? It’s a legitimate question that I’m still trying to answer.

    • #5 by desert maniac on June 9, 2013 - 1:38 am

      your blog is one that I enjoy reading, simply because it is very sincere and well written..

      I often identify with a lot of the things you say.. it sometimes amazes me that some of these experiences are similar to those of someone who was born Muslim and raised in a conservative Arabian Gulf country.. I gather its because you have been in the religion for so long..

      I just wanted to add that it is natural for readers who enjoy reading your posts to wonder if you are still Muslim or not.. in a curious way, not like in a judgmental way..

      for me personally, that question does occur while i read your posts (you may have talked about that in earlier posts that I missed), though it makes no difference to me whether you are still Muslim or not.

      Also, sometimes people ask because they themselves are asking themselves that same question.. like charmedshiva above.. it personally took me years to figure that one out, or maybe i’m still figuring it out..

      anyway, I wish you well in your healing journey.. and keep writing..

  5. #6 by Kate Grealy on November 5, 2013 - 1:08 pm

    I really admire your honesty, this blog is incredible

  6. #7 by SilenceMeNot on December 16, 2013 - 12:57 pm

    Thank you, whoever you are. Just came across your blog and cannot help but read more and more through it.

    I was born Muslim, turned Atheist, turned Muslim again, and am now again in the process of re-evaluating all the pretty lies. They work in silencing many, and vexing some. I am from amongst the some.

  7. #8 by Rosalinda on January 7, 2014 - 9:15 am

    Dear Writer,

    Thanks for sharing your interesting, insightful and most of all honest articles with us. I recognize many things you write and just as many things not.

    Furthermore I like the fact that you are nuanced and respect your courage to tell the truth, face your past and move on. God bless you and your children.

    Rosalinda.

  8. #9 by Julie on July 9, 2014 - 4:51 pm

    I no longer believe in the hadeeth and the Quran. The Quran talks about choosing 4 wives, and entering women as you please ? A holy book is going to hurt the creation it’s supposed to protect? As far as human rights is considered- Islam silently houses the worst case of human rights abuse. Right under our noses in the form of male superiority. The prophet Mohamed had enlightenment, NOT enslavement!
    Wake up people! We have to raise our thoughts to love, acceptance, peace and light. The final message has been corrupted.

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