Jummah Reflection: I’m a Muslim
Jummah Mubarak, Shabbat Shalom & TGIF.
This morning I’m thinking about what it means to be a Muslim.
I am coming up on 19 years in this tradition–almost half my life now, Alhamdolillah.
I’m eternally grateful to Allah (SWT) for finding me wandering around in the desert of my soul and bringing me to the cool, clear waters of Islam. Because it *was* Allah (SWT) who found me when I cried out for help, and it *was* Allah (SWT) who showed me the path. I wasn’t looking for Islam, and I sure wasn’t looking for Muslims when I arrived at the doorstep of this tradition. No, I was fumbling around, desperately looking for a Way, and praying my heart out regularly for direction.
Nineteen years and my life has exponentially improved on the path of Islam. I am a better person, with a stronger faith and clearer vision because of this truth. Masha’Allah.
When you see me, do you see a “Muslim”?
You probably don’t. Most Muslims don’t actually “see” me as a Muslim. Even when I self-identify and assert myself in Muslim spaces, I’m often written off as a convert with little knowledge or ‘progressive Muslim’ or something else that is not 100% authentic.
I’ve spent a lot of years trying to assimilate into the community of American Muslims. I tried wearing hijab a couple times and attempted to learn Arabic. I tried to culturally assimilate with my husband and his friends and family. I just ended up looking foolish, and creating an odd identity that was never at home anywhere.
This is what it means to convert to a faith tradition where adherents define faith through the trappings of cultures that are not mine. This is what it means to be part of a religious community that often sees itself as an antidote to Whiteness.
Identity politics can be useful as a tactic, but it’s also troubling because it immediately marginalizes and excludes anyone who doesn’t have the superficial qualities (appearance, language, etc.) which binds together the majority. In the case of American Muslims, it’s even more troubling for me because so many outspoken identity politicians often draw a sharp line between “Muslim” and “White People”. This is not implied. These are the words they use.
I’ll never truly belong here in the minds and hearts of most of my community. And that’s ok because:
1. There *are* a handful of people in my family and community that accept me and view me as authentic in my faith; and
2. My commitment to this path is first and foremost a commitment to Allah (SWT), not a community.
So I’m going to sit here in Austin, Texas and BE a Muslim. A real one. An authentic Muslim with my own relationship to The Wise. I’ll teach my children the truth of what I know. I’ll support my community here as much as I can. I’ll continue to speak and write from a perspective that not many people want to hear, and for one reason…
To hold space for everyone who follows this path and doesn’t ‘fit in’. For the GLBTQ Muslims. For the converts who don’t walk around in abaya and hijab. For the youth who are heartbroken because their families dictate their marriages and educations. For the women who marry non-Muslim men and are told that their relationship is not acceptable to God. For anyone who is Muslim and is berated for not being “Muslim Enough”.
For anyone who values their relationship to Allah (SWT) higher than the approval of a community.
Come sit by me.