In the Muslim World

What does it mean being in the Muslim world? Does it mean that a society is more Islamic?  Does the percentage of Muslims make a difference? What about the percentage of women who cover and men who wear big beard and long thobes? What happened to all those traits we’d hear about in khutbas about the Ummah being an exemplary community, the best of peoples, etc…etc…

Well, the Muslim world isn’t this happy Muslim place where people are singing “Tala al badru wa’alayna” skipping down the streets giving salaams to their neighbors. No, the Muslim world is a place where a woman will get hit on and ripped off by an airport worker within 1/2 an hour of stepping on Muslim soil. The Muslim world is where a throng of people pass by an old lady struggling carrying her loaded bags and some random western woman offers to help. The Muslim world is where cars mow down pedestrians on the road and where everyone cusses each other out. The Muslim world is where men say disgusting things to hijab wearing women sweating profusely in the humid  air.

Being in the Muslim world means your landlord commands you to cover the toilet seat because there are jinn residing in the toilet and he accuses your roommate of practicing magic. It also means that he or his sons feel like they can come into your apartment at any time at night and take stuff out.

Being in the Muslim world means being thankful that you meet up with old college friends who will take care of you and make sure your stay is as comfortable as possible. It means you are thankful for the rare and random acts of generosity from those Muslims in the Muslim world who truly exemplify the beauty of Islam—Sadaqa and Karamah.

22 thoughts on “In the Muslim World

  1. Surely the Muslim world – taken as being those nations where Muslims are in the majority (about 50 or so) – is bigger than your experience of it? And how are these experiences specifically Muslim, in contrast to what might be experienced in any deprived urban neighbourhood in Europe or the US? Surely your own negative experiences don’t require you to make such sweeping generalisations of places ‘Muslim’, of the kind that only feed into the polemic of those who would denigrate ‘the Muslim world’ as primitive and in need of ‘Westernisation’?


  2. Margari,
    this is not a Muslim thing, this a thing of any place on the Earth, and it can be Muslim, Christian, Buddhist or Atheistic as a country where I am from. Believe me, that’s everywhere, especially when we think of towns and cities.
    Be strong,

    Um Abbas


  3. which part of the Muslim world did you go to, see there are many places where you will be ripped off wither its by a Muslim or not, but anyways the world is changing but still there are many places and many Muslims are still very generous and very hospitable, it just depends where you set your foot. thats all:)
    Peace Maliha


  4. I’m sure Margari realizes that the Muslim world is not the sum of her experience. I understand your frustrations.

    When I think about your experiences experiences (and those of other Muslims from the “west” that travel to the Mid-East) beg the question, what makes Muslims different? Unfortunately, traveling to the Muslim world/majority Muslim countries can be a one-way express ticket to disillusionment with what Islam is supposed to be. (this at least is what I read from this post, correct me if I am wrong).

    Stay strong Margari, it will all make sense in the end.


  5. Pingback: A sister in the Muslim World « Umar Lee

  6. I know it is difficult to understand and may seem naive, but many of us (converts) really would like to see the Muslim world be a beckon of light for the world and not “just like everyone else”. I can’t describe the disappointment one feels when we see that this is just not the case.

    Also, many of us were sold a semi-utopia of sorts when it came to the land of the Muslims.

    No matter how many times you visit the Muslim world, one is always hurt to see dysfunction not because they are looking down their noses, but because they want to see what is in the books.

    That said, I will also agree that Margari is NOT trying to imply that the entire Muslim world is evil. She is simply expressing her hurt that we are not what we read about in the books.


  7. It sounds like you were in New York City on the weekend. People are people everywhere, cursing and trying to make a living and being self-absorbed with their own short lives. Slowly, inshallah, it will change for the better. Each of us can also be the change we want to see. May Allah bless you on your journey.

    Ya Haqq!


  8. Marg,

    Don’t be too disappointed or else it’ll ruin your whole time there. For myself, I have also been disappointed by the way people carry themselves in the muslim world also. In actuality many of us American converts put these people to shame.

    Here’s to hoping that you have a productive journey.



  9. Ahh, Reality bites

    Listening to our immigrant brothers, one would conclude that Western Civilization has cornered the market in moral decay. Painting, back home, as some utopian society in direct conformity of Qur’an and Sunnah. However, Jahliyyah is a global phenomenon, which no geographical location or culture is free from. However, when it’s Muslims it magnified in our perceptions because we know it wrong. Lets not make excuses, or become defensive.


    May Allah (ta ala) grant you safety in your travels.


  10. Margari,

    I pray that you have a safe and fruitful journey Insha’Allah. As your post reveals, surely you will see both the beautiful and the ugly. Allah is truly merciful and the best protector for us all. I wish you the best, sis!


  11. Be safe in your travels,Poor manners, and the ignorance of rude people transcend all religions, creed, color, finding Kindred souls in this dark age of misunderstanding is not easy, but there is always light in darkness.

    David Paul aka skywze1

    Kindness is my religion


  12. Margari,
    Thanks for recording your observations here. What you have reported is equally true of all societies wherever they might be, rich or poor, muslim of christian, educated or not. Religion, of whatever persuasion, should guide and inspire people to treat all human beings with respect and dignity. The fact that people do not is a reflection of the weakness of the religion and of the weakness of the individual to adhere to basic principles. Religion will be judged by the fruit it produces and as we look around the world, the kind of fruit produced is not good. All religions should have a good hard look at the inter-faith movement that is growing up for this is an organisation which truly practises what it preaches.
    Cheers, Gratis07


  13. Pingback: American Muslim in Cairo « Tariq Nelson

  14. Thanks all for your encouragment. I’ve been to the Middle East a few times before. I’m over being disenchanted. Even before I went the first time I was aware that it was not a utopia. I was warned that I would experience both good and bad. My opening lines had a touch of sarcasm. That is because we get some Muslims who argue that Western society is corrupt and evil. They even try to blame the cultural distortions, such as the machismo culture that makes it annoying for women to walk down the street, on the West. My point is not to denigrate the many kind Muslims who are exemplary. There is so much irony in the statements made by the apologists for corruption in the Muslim world.

    Some of it is cultural. For example, I know several people who have travelled to Malaysia and Indonesia. They say the nicest Muslims reside there. I’ve also heard good things about Turkey, that even the masajid are kept clean.


  15. Margari,

    I hope things get better and that you meet many kind, beautiful and sincere people during your stay in the Middle East.


  16. //That is because we get some Muslims who argue that Western society is corrupt and evil. They even try to blame the cultural distortions, such as the machismo culture that makes it annoying for women to walk down the street, on the West.//

    :: shrug :: The same could be said, though, for The Greatest Country Ever to Exist, Amrika, or any of her Western friends. I think it might be some sort of human being thing. Of course, one can say “Yes, but da Mozlems ™ are supposed to know better,” a statement which, in itself, is an indicator that one believes in Mozlem moral superiority (which many Mozlems do).

    There is no good place on earth, except for my kitchen when I am making swank (limeade+lemonade = tasteeness) and spinach artichoke dip. Only this place lives up to the ideals. Only there will one be undisappointed.


  17. The “Muslim world”? Sorry – there’s only one world (Earth) with a bunch of different cultures on it. And it sounds like this culture is really screwed with just enough kind people to help someone survive.


  18. Sister, let me tell you something that happened to me in Egypt. It was Ramadan. My husband and I were on the way to his friend’s home for iftar. As it turns out, I was pregnant but I didn’t know it yet. We stepped out of a taxi onto an empty dirt road lined with workshops that had closed up for iftar. As soon as the taxi pulled away, I threw up right in the street. Instantly, maybe even before I stood upright, an old man appeared, running from across the street and down the block with a chair and a glass of water. Maybe he had been sitting there waiting to break his fast with it. I don’t know. All I know is that I was overwhelmed by his act of kindness, and when I imagine how different the reaction would have been had I thrown up on the street in Brooklyn, I am truly touched. May Allah reward him for his generous act of charity to a stranger in a strange place. I know that country is rife with corruption, I saw an old man nearly run down by a taxi, and there are tons of other problems, but alhamdulillah there are people like this old man there as well.


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