After reading Tariq Nelson’s latest entry and the subsequent critique, I was inspired to do a little search on resources out there for Muslims with problems. A few Muslims have issues with bloggers who talk about problems in our communities on the web. The argument is that non-Muslims who have a deep antipathy towards Muslims and Islam will use that information against us. Or somebody interested in Islam may be dissuaded after reading a horror story. Authors like Tariq Nelson and Umar Lee believe that by talking about taboo subjects we can begin to address issues that are swept under the rug only to fester. For example, both Tariq and Umar have warned new Muslims about the dangers of stranger marriage. Yet, there are trolls who visit sites looking for negative coverage about Islam. My blog has been used in such a way. At the end of August, I wrote In the Muslim World, a brief reflection on aspects of the “Muslim World” that fall short of Islamic ideals. An ex-Muslim site linked to my page. I received so many hits through this site. My entry confirmed the negative views that some people had about Islam, Muslims, and Arabs. For those people, my blog confirmed that Islam was a messed up religion. But they really missed the point.
I opened the blog by asking:
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…
After my little rant of complaints I closed by saying:
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.
On any of the ex-blogger sitesI didn’t find anyone exploring my final line, “those Muslims in the Muslim world who truly exemplify the beauty of Islam.” I found that really dissapointing. But then again, here were people who were once convinced that Islam was the Truth. Now they are convinced it is NOT the Truth. So, the clearly they would disregard anything that I have to say that shows that Islam is still True for me. Besides, I don’t think that blogs are the best forums for debating religious matters, let alone politics.
Over the past few years I have had to think about the positives and negatives of blogging. After brief foray into public blogging, a friend expressed negative views about blogging. She said it opened me up to all sorts of people making judgments about me. Yes, I get frustrated with some of the comments. There are lots of judgmental people. I suppose I am one myself, even though I’d like to say I am more critical than judgmental. I think about the value of writing in this medium frequently. Years ago, I thought I would use short stories as a medium to inspire or explore difficult issues. That’s when I had all the pretentions of an aspiring author. Graduate school really humbles you….
I’m not just trying to gain a platform to air my gripes. I’m not seeking any self-aggrandizement. I’m writing about the struggle of a seeker, the struggle to surrender, the struggle to hold on to the rope of Allah. I didn’t want to wait to write about it once I had arrived at some summit point. Instead, I wanted to write about it from the trenches, the troughs, the lows. Maybe I’m on some slow climb. Maybe I’m going around in circles. I wanted to write because so many people feel alone in their struggle in some isolated paths. I felt alone. But hearing voices out there, even when you are going it alone feels better than struggling, confused, through the silence. Tinding a network of Muslim thinkers made me feel less isolated. And through blogging I found friends. Literally, I found lost friends. They have carried me when I had no strength.
These individuals who have demonstrated the beauty of Islam, generosity and hospitality.