When I converted, I knew that I was giving up more than a religion. I knew once the news got out, I would alienate an entire group of people that had come to be my family over the years. I took comfort in the idea that I would soon replace my Christian family with a Muslim one who loved me just the same. However, my journey turned out to be a bit different.
I soon found that, in my community, I was at once a beloved novelty and someone to be avoided. After all, I still had to shed my American ideals before I could be fully accepted. I was routinely passed over at holidays as invitations to dinners were handed out. I would sit alone in the masjid during the khutbahs. I was alone. Simply alone.
Eventually I realized that I would have to be the one to venture out, just like any other time in life, if I wanted to really make friends. I joined MSA and a few other on-campus groups, and eventually did gather a group of friends.
Unfortunately, we live in a small community and our MSA was governed by the MSA brothers. This meant if the sisters wanted to do something, they had to pass it through the brothers first. And also unfortunately, the MSA brothers' president, was controlling almost to the point of being anti-Islamic. He was a dictator and made incredible standards for us.
For example, the dorms asked us to come and give exposure talks about Islam to better educate the residents who would be starting school at the university. The idea was the break the cultural barrier. The brothers' president granted our request (can you hear my eyes rolling?!), but told us that if we went, we had to wear no make up, no perfume, socks, flat shoes, black abayas and black hijabs to "better portray" the modesty of Islam.
Umm....I don't wear that sh*t on a daily basis. Why does dressing like I'm the fourth wife of an oil tycoon in Saudi Arabia help me be a great example of Islam? I understood the idea of putting on a hijab, but that doesn't exactly fully paint the portrait of a muslimah, does it? It's about demeanor and modesty. Yes, modesty is important. However, dressing ourselves in bags is not going to give a comforting idea of Islam to a bunch of Midwestern American chicks.
We decided after that to start a group of our own where we could be free, as women, to decide how we wanted to be portrayed. We started the group UMWA - United Muslim Women's Association. Even the Masjid Girls were all for it - until the brothers' president basically made a fatwa against UMWA accusing us of blatantly causing division. Since the Masjid Girls' leader of the pack had a crush on the president, she told her friends not to join UMWA - thus really creating division.
There were several girls who were in with the Masjid Girls as well as UMWA. We were basically told by the Masjid Girls to choose sides. The leader of UMWA became public enemy number one, and that brings us up to date.
UMWA has since become rather defunct, and the Masjid Girls have married off and/or moved away for the most part. All was going rather well, or so I thought, until a few weeks ago.
The former UMWA leader had her engagement party. It was a blast! We were all dressed up gorgeously and danced the night away in a privately rented club house. Some of the girls later went to a Middle Eastern cafe. Some girls smoked sheesha, some sat around and had some laughs, but an all-around good time was had by all.
However, when the pictures were posted on Facebook, the trouble began. The Masjid Girl, who has now moved to UCLA, found it her duty to message the girls in the photos about how "haram" their sheesha smoking was, and continued to pretty much tell them they weren't Muslim anylonger.
Note: How pathetic does your life really have to be that you spend your time stalking on people's pictures on Facebook looking for ways to call them out?!
Anyway, it really rocked me. I can't believe the blatant hatred between Muslims. Check out any Muslim forum and you'll see the hate-filled words slug across the pages. Why is it that we have lost the one thing that binds us so? Brother-, and in this case, sisterhood.
It makes me sick to know that not only does the media smear our reputations, but we do it to each other. Sure, we should definitely, gently, remind each other of what's right to do - but not come across in shear hatred. We should not sit and wait for someone to slip up so we can cut them off at the knees.
Ugh, I have no more words. Please stay tuned for my response to this bullsh*t.