What exactly is the Islamic world? Is it like Disney world? A place where Muslims go to pay too much for halal snacks and wait in line for hours to get afatwa? Is it the place that I have been told to go back to by bigots shouting on the street? Ooorr is it the place where some media “personalities” pretend all Muslims come from- The Middle East?
Well, I don’t hate to break the news to you, but there is no Islamic world. There is no place with over priced halal snacks (OK maybe there are those) and lines for the fatwa ride. Just because someone is a Muslim doesn’t mean they had to come from somewhere else. And only 5% of Muslims in the world live in the Middle East. 5%. only. Muslims live and practice Islam in every country on the planet in a variety of concentrations.
Muslims are diverse. Let that sink in. Diverse. We participate in every culture from every country. We are indigenous peoples in the West, in the East, and everywhere in between. We fit in no box.
We worship our creator, share in a sisterhood, wear jeans and eat red beans and rice down South. We pray 5 times a day, say “Salam”, wear embroidered caps, and eat dumplings in Xinjiang, China. The “Islamic World” is the actual world.
In this episode of the islamwich podcast, Kaighla interviews her friend Alta, an American convert living in Java, Indonesia.
We talk about:
Her journey to Islam (up until about minute 10:00)
Some of the ways culture and Islam are mixed in her world (around minute 15:00-24:00)
The differences between the experiences of converts among Arabs vs. that of converts among Asians (starting minute 26:00)
The astonishing fact that many Indonesian cultures are still matriarchal, giving women a leadership status in families and society, so the ole “Muslim women should silently obey their husbands” doesn’t really create any conflict in her marriage to a Sumatran Muslim
I recently got a very disturbing email from a 13 year old who just accepted Islam and has already been bombarded by the haram–loaders.
Haram Loader (n.)- a person who dumps a bunch of opinions of what is haram (unlawful in Islam) onto the new Muslim’s already full plate. The haram-loader is similar to the haram police, but they tend to only target the vulnerable new Muslims. They may have good intentions, but they have the wrong methodology.
I just can’t get over it. A 13-year-old had the bravery to question, the wherewithal to think about our existence, the depth to ponder the Creator. And those around him respond to his acceptance of Islam with: “This is haram! That is haram! You are haram. Breathing is haram.”
To commemorate nearly 4 years in the blogging game, I have compiled (…er… reposted) a list of types of islamwiches. Try them all, see which one best suits you, and let us know which islamwich you are by taking the poll at the end.
1 – The Turkey-Ham on Rye
The Turkey-Ham is a turkey roasted like a ham, meant to taste like a ham, but is totally turkey. This kind of islamwich likes to seem as though he or she is playing it fast and loose.
Pros:You tend to know your stuff concerning religious matters. At first glance others might think you are doing something questionable, but you have a million legit proofs to prove them wrong. You don’t follow anyone blindly, and want/expect others to do the same.
Cons: You have a hard time admitting you are wrong. You tend to be rebellious and head strong.
Why we love the Turkey-Ham on rye:
This islamwich knows his or her stuff, and we could learn a thing or three from him/her.
Why is a Muslim woman’s worth symbolized by a headscarf** or the lack thereof?
In Western societies, the lack of a headscarf makes a Muslim woman blend into secular society; whether or not she’s a practicing Muslim is less important. Usually, as long as she looks the part, she is accepted. A lack of a headscarf in the eyes of the West means that she is not oppressed, and that she has found freedom.
However, the West fails to see that their own society confines women also, and that women are treated simply as objects. If a woman wears a bikini on the beach, she’s fine. If a woman wears a bikini on the street, she’s deemed “loose”. If a woman of the right body-type wears a low-cut top, she is seen as sexy; If a heavy woman does the same, she is trashy. There are so many rules to follow, it’s hard to keep up.
“Do I look confident or self-absorbed?” “Do I look strong or do I look overbearing?” “Do I look sexy or do I look slutty?” The lines are drawn according to a woman’s race, body type, socio-economic status, etc. Then a woman might find that the lines are drawn differently in some Western countries, or in some areas of Western countries.
The worth of a woman is often narrowed down to fabric, but that worth was taken away long before anyone saw how she was dressed. Being “Jane” means less opportunity in life, less pay, more risk of being a victim of violence, etc.
Clothing is simply a symbol of how well a woman is fitting into the society that already oppresses her.
On islamwich’sabout page, we promise to never talk about politics … then we talk about politics.
Are we admitting to lying? No. What we mean by not talking about politics is that don’t talk about Middle Eastern politics because that is not Islam. Many Westerners cannot seem to unpack Islam from ME politics, le sigh. But we do reserve the right to discuss politics if politics specifically talks about us and/or our religion.
And that is exactly what Trump has been doing for some time now- talking about American Muslim and Muslims worldwide. And beyond that, Trump has said some hateful things about our non-Muslim brothers and sisters in humanity. We take serious issue with that. So game on, Trump. Game. On.
When we try to assess the risk we face with a Trump presidency, all we can go on is what he says he will do. But mostly he is very, very vague about how he will do what he promises.
One of his favorite things to do is promise Americans that things will be “great “… because he is “great” … and people say he is “great” … and we should believe him because he is “great” and we will see just how “great” it will be–circular logic much?
In today’s world, most common people are getting more and more obsessed about one thing, i.e the United States of America. Pakistan’s no different with our long term difficult marriage or you could call it a “thorny alliance” with the super power that has a big say in the affairs of my State.
At this point in time, most people I speak with are fixated with the turning tides in the American elections, much cause for dissent and concern.
Obviously, we note Republican’s presidential runner up Donald Trump’s sensational campaign to be a crude circus that flirts with xenophobia, Islamophobia and the need to make Americans once again protected.
According to Trump, America is under grave threats from many enemies. Hang on, every time, we heard such notions from the White House (the inappropriateness of this name, really) USA conducted illegal and disastrous invasions of several sovereign Muslim countries.
So we Pakistanis are more wary of this Trump fellow describing how his post win scenario where he shall seek India’s help in addressing the “problem” of what he describes as a “semi-unstable” nuclear armed Pakistan.
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