On the seldom occasion that I do pray, I pray like everyone else. I know Al-Fatiha by heart, Bismillahi rahmanir raheem… etc. As a convert, I constantly feel like I’m on the edge of two worlds, neither being completely right. One world I often encounter is the supremely Islamophobic West which almost never portrays muslims in a good light except to fit their neoliberal agenda. Unless they can co-opt images of women in hijab/niqab/burqa as resisting their oppressive males, they have little-to-no interest on what we have to say about our own religion, our deen. For example, Malala Yousafzai is often portrayed as the symbol of girl power and seen condemning the Taliban, but people often forget she pleaded Obama to stop the drone strikes on Pakistan. The second world I am confronted with is the very culturally insular masjid, where a child has literally approached me and stated with no hesitation, “Islam is right”. What does that even mean? Islam is right? And everyone else is wrong and is going to Hell? Miss me with that attitude. People are so obsessed with the fact that I’m wearing nail polish, or my clothes are a little tight, or that I listen to hip hop, or that I fraternize with men that they miss the bigger picture. I reject both the orientalist depiction and the haram-police orthodox vision of Islam. Do you really think Allah (swt) is worried about how many times I wear nail polish on my fingertips? Or that I listen to pop music on three-hour drives? My Allah (swt) is not so petty, my Allah (swt) is much, much bigger than that. The love of my Allah (swt), the ever-evolving creation of His, cannot be contained in one holy book or some hadiths. How is it that we humans have evolved tremendously over a few hundred thousands of years, yet people believe the One who created us, the One who has been here since the beginning of time, is static and unchanging? I believe Allah (swt) is more likely preoccupied with how I react in situations of injustice than if I wear nail polish—Am I complicit with the actions of oppressors in society? Do I fight against police brutality? Against the existence of institutions like Guantanamo Bay? Against the privatization of prisons, which are essentially the continuation of slavery? These are the questions I must be prepared to answer, because this is what my Allah (swt) cares about. My God cries every time a Palestinian child is imprisoned by Israel. My God screams when a white man in a hood shoots an unarmed black boy in a hoodie. My God shouts every time a woman is abused, mistreated, or raped.
My belief in God allows me to see that my mission is correct,
“And why should ye not Fight in the cause of Allah and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated (and oppressed)?— Men, women, and children, Whose cry is: “Our Lord! Rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from Thee One who will protect; And raise for us from Thee One who will help!”
-Surah 4:75, The Holy Qur’an
It is wrong and disingenuous to only care about social issues when they target the ummah. If you believe God is just, you should act justly. When you see racism, call it out. When you see sexism and misogyny, call it out. When you see homophobia, call that shit out. You don’t have to be black to care when black people are murdered for no reason. You don’t have to be a woman to be enraged when women are treated as less than. You don’t have to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, etc. to understand that it is wrong to discriminate against people for their sexual orientation or gender identity. This is what solidarity is all about. This is what it means to fight injustice and oppression. I am severely disappointed in the members of the Muslim community who expect people to show up to their marches, yet show no support for other activist work. What kind of double standard is that? If you want people to care about Palestine, Syria, Iraq, and Rasmea Odeh you better damn well be out there marching for Ferguson, Eric Garner, indigenous rights, and against stop-and-frisk policy. Whether you realize it or not, there is a huge overlap between all our struggles. Black muslims do exist, and are a huge portion of the Muslim-American community. How can you call them your ‘brother’ or ‘sister’ if you can’t even cry when their children die? In this cruel world where lives of people of color mean nothing, where lives of poor people mean nothing, where Muslims can be tortured in secret CIA facilities all over the world—in this hateful world we must stick together. Only when we accept and embrace our individual differences (be they ethnicity, race, religion, etc.) can we become the collective society that ends injustice and oppressive systems .
No matter what my personal lifestyle and choices are, at the end of the day, I am so Muslim. I am Muslim because I acknowledge the fact that I am not in charge of this world, or my own destiny. I will do what I can to navigate through the waters, I will try my best to survive but tomorrow is never guaranteed to us. Sure I have times where I question my faith, we all struggle with our iman. This doesn’t mean you have the right to tell me (or anyone else) how to worship The Creator. I know My Creator loves me, even at my worst. And nobody can tell me any different. Before you judge me, or anyone else, please prioritize and reflect on your own life first. Salaam.