This is probably something that’s best left in my personal journal but whatever. I could care less at this point.
I write this article with a specific scholar in mind but am refraining from using their name because I want to be respectful. Despite this scholar showing disrespect and doing it under the guise of someone whose looking out for other Muslims. This particular individual does not speak for all Muslims. Nor do they seem fit to justify a coherent and objective argument, especially when they don’t even make an effort to conceal their biases. Dr. Michael Muhammad Knight summed up this description perfectly in, Why I Am a Salafi:
Conservatives can dismiss progressives as producing an Islam defined by “western” values, but they often play by the same rules. There’s a particular kind of male convert that I have in mind here, a man who fails to recognize misogyny as a deeply embedded American norm.Growing up in American patriarchy, he ingests old fashioned American heterosexism and male privilege, later becomes Muslim and then projects his culturally learned American antifeminism onto his newfound religious identity. Pretending that he has transcended American culture (a culture htat he strangely perceives as having been overrun with radical feminists and queers who impose their hegemony on everyone), he claims to defend the Timeless Tradition of the Brown world against those who wish to dilute it with secular Western theories and methods. He picks up enough of those theories and methods and critical vocabularies to deconstruct his opponents’ assumptions of universal truth and the flows of power that produce them but never turns that weapon upon his own prejudices and assumptions. As his principled heterosexism names the points at which Islam’s integrity is most threatened, he rewrites American patriarchy in Timeless Tradition’s vocabulary and presents it as counterculture, a resistance against Euro-American global domination. You can either care about fighting gender inequality and homophobia, he says, or you can value the preservation of Islam against Western knowledge regimes. He condemns the colonialization of Islam by Western neoliberals but has no fear of the same work by Western neotraditionalists, and he ironically uses anticolonial arguments to silence the voices of brown women. It’s not me, he swears, it’s just what the traditions says. For his big finishing move, he justifies an arrogant and authoritarian view of the Tradition by reminding you how meek and humble its great scholars were. Watch out for these boys. They were sexists and homophobes before they ever heard of the prophet.
Michael Muhammad Knight, Ph.D. Why I Am a Salafi., 30-31
I’ve seen these boys and they come in all types of shades. Fortunately, the people I know who fall into this category, aren’t people I consider close to me. Granted, I don’t let my personal beliefs get in the way of my friendships with people that don’t share similar beliefs as me. However, there are limits. For example, I can’t be friends with someone who straight up thinks women are subservient to men.
Recently, I interviewed this gentleman for a project I’m working on and he told me a story of a Saudi Muslim that came to pay him a visit at his home. The gentleman I interviewed is an African American and his wife is from Panama, but both professed Islam as their faith in the 70s. At some point, the host’s wife entered the living room (to bring tea or whatever) where both men were speaking. Important to note, the wife was dressed modestly, yet the Saudi gentleman took it upon himself, nonetheless, to tell his host that he should place a curtain in the home. It may seem obvious, but for my non-Muslim readers, the point in placing the curtain is to establish a gender barrier.
However, since the meeting took place in the host’s house (and has no time for weak ass bullshit) he reprimanded his guest. He boldly responded, “when my wife comes in the room, you stare at the wall. I don’t care what you do.” My blood boiled writing up the story, as it did hearing the story. I can only imagine going through something like that with my significant other.
The only problem we’ve had is someone telling my fiancé she should adopt a Muslim name and kindly persuade her into doing so. To that I say, “fuck you, and no she doesn’t.” My wife has a lovely name, and there isn’t anything wrong with it. I’m not going to tell her what to do because it’s not my place and I wouldn’t want her telling me what to do. Of course, if she wants to change her name, through her own volition, that’s completely fine, but don’t say she SHOULD do something. The funniest part of that whole experience was the individual said, “I can’t remember her name, so a nice Muslim name would help me remember her.”
…get the fuck outta here. You want my girl to cater to your shitty memory? You’d better say her name 3-5 times until you get it down then.
I’m blessed to have friends that, even though we disagree on some things, it doesn’t affect our friendship. Most of them can explain things to me in a way I never considered and I can do the same thing for them. Sometimes, it may not change our opinions but we can still walk away peacefully. And since we just listened to an opposing side, we can walk away more confident in our beliefs.
My problem with some of my Muslim brothers and sisters are those who will adamantly attempt to change who I am or the people I surround myself with because it’s unIslamic. The problem with that is even past Muslim scholars were not preoccupied with whether or not something was Islamic. These are scholars that would say things that if anyone said them today, people would consider them heretical And it’s not strictly just Muslims, it can be with people that are like hardcore dieters or something.
“you’d better not eat out if you want these sick abs, brah! That’s the only way. If you REALLY want to have it, you gotta commit yourself and sometimes, that means giving up some of your closest friends cause they’re not gonna help you achieve that weight goal.”
” well… all my friends are going out for pizza and these are my only friends, otherwise I’m stuck with you weirdos only, so… I’m going to have a cheat day.“
I guess in the end, there’s a thin line between telling someone what to do and looking out for them. And it’s case by case, obviously. But in the case of matters of faith, why tell someone something negative that is unwarranted. People are entitled to their opinions. The problem becomes when you’re risking someone’s well-being in jeopardy or threatening someone’s beliefs because it doesn’t fit your racist agenda. Some might call that being triggered or being a snowflake but really, it’s just being fucking considerate.
You can’t tell someone how to craft a relationship with G-d. I stay true to my faith because like any religion, I’ve constructed my own relationship with the divine. Maybe mine is a rocky one, but I don’t ignore the signs that bring me back to my faith. My personal struggle is ignoring the negative voices coming from ignorant Muslims that try to snatch me away from my faith, trying to bring me back into the dark abyss I was in for 3 years, during my apostacy.
Written on the 7th of February, 2019 at 1:42 A.M.