After few months of pondering this, I decided that it was time to step back and look at what was happening around me. A number of things changed in the last few months and these led me to question the religious “realities” that many of us give for granted and preach about.
By being in touch with a number of more “progressive” Muslims I had come to believe that we were all up for choices and willing to advocate for them. Islam had become a force behind the strive for knowledge, faith, freedom and justice. However, the ideals that I had in my mind did not necessarily where what other Muslims were thinking.
I grew disappointed after seeing “progressive” Muslim girls walk into marriage and exchanging their beliefs for the safety of a relationship in which hijabs and house-wifery roles were the maximum expression of faith. I was further challenged by those Muslims who become so “progressive” that ‘dogma’ became their second name.
In either side I was confronted by what these Muslim girls conceived to be the “realities” of Islam. Some of them expressed the need to become “conservative” after marriage, because marriage, as a cornerstone of society, required them to change previous behaviours (whether good, bad or just insignificant). Some others mentioned that clothing and modesty (through clothing) were the main principles in which Islam rested. Few people characterized their struggle against everything and more as the sole purpose of Islam in their lives (whether struggle against the West, men or ‘barbaric’ non-Western practices).
I had to step back and wonder, what are the realities of Islam? further… what are my realities as a convert to Islam?
I came to realize that as a female convert my realities are quite different. Born-Muslims see me as an object of Dawa. Non-Muslims see me as a lost soul. Fellow converts, turn to me as either a point of reference or as a bad example. What I see in Islam is not necessarily compatible with the realities that surround me and at the end of the day we all, as human beings, have a big problem…. we like to impose things on others.
I am not free of this issue. I am one of those people with strong personalities and willingness to debate. However, as a convert and as a woman I am also quite susceptible to criticisms. Issues on clothing, core values, practices, habits, proselytism, etc… will always be something to impose on us.
The question then is, do we agree and can live with the realities that are imposed on us one way or another? What does this do with our actual relationship with Islam? Is it transformed or slowly diffused?
Perhaps we should stop assuming that realities are universal…And perhaps is time to question “realities” as defined by our particular Muslim communities.