Why blog as a Muslim, when privacy is so important?

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.

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8 thoughts on “Why blog as a Muslim, when privacy is so important?

  1. Interesting, you have a God-Given talent for writing and defining yourself. There are a lot of women who would love to find people like yourself. Keep up the good work!

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  2. Salaams Margari,

    Ma sha Allah. I, for one, have always found your posts to be thoughtful and reflective, as well as passionate and searching. What else should good writing be?

    There are indeed those who feel it is wrong to discuss problems. There are those who feel it is essential. Personally, I favour discussion over silence, for the simple reason that for many, silence means isolation.

    In my own blogging I have certainly experienced the difficulties, the ‘what’s the point’ moments. However, for me, blogging is just another means to an end: conversation, dialogue, or on a deeper level sohbet (suhbah). That is, it is merely another means of connecting with others, and thus ultimately, with Allah.

    We live in strange times, it seems. There are many who are judgemental, there are many who are negative. Of course, sometimes judgement and criticism are necessary, for how else are we all to find a way through? But, in many internet ‘debates’ we are faced not so much with thoughtful and caring critique, but with the hateful violence of selfish tongues. This is why, for my part, I focus so strongly on topics which inspire me (and so, insha Allah, others too I hope), as well as on those which topics which remind us all of the high ethical standards that Islam demands of Muslims.

    In closing, I believe that blogs such as yours perform a useful function. They allow us to collect our thoughts in writing, and then to share those thoughts with the wider world. This then raises the possibility of dialogue. But, as with all forms of conversation, sometimes the other person wants to talk about something else!

    Allah strengthen you in all that you do.

    Abdur Rahman

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  3. Asalaamu alaikum Margari,

    Writing a blog is very personal and some people do not understand that. What you write is very real for you, and it touches many people who recognize their own thoughts and feelings in what you have expressed. On the other hand, as you know, some people recognize what they want to see because they have a diseased heart; they are not reading what you wrote and how you wrote it but what they want to see written as it serves their purpose.

    The best we can do to strike a balance is to start with bismillah and be thoughtful in what we write. We should remember that our writing is a function of our tongues – that what we write is the same as saying it. We should consider if we think it is in service of Allah to say/write something, and if it is then we must say it. Clearly, this means that sometimes what we have to say will not be popular or liked by everyone. It is important that we be able to have respectful and intellegent discourse and discussion. As you mention when some people bring up matters and others say they should not be discussed, sometimes it is exactly discussion that is needed. I have found my own opinion or ideas about something challenged and grown from it in having such discussions.

    It is easy to get caught up in the worry of how others view us, but that does not matter so much. How does Allah view us? If we are going to care about the opinions of other people, it should be the people we resepect and hope to emulate in their deen and iman inshaAllah. Not the people who clearly have their own issues! 🙂

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  4. As-salaamu-alaikum,
    thanks for this post. I also read the referred post. I think talking about our problems is necessary. But you are right, we need to also discuss and implement solutions or else we are simply spinning our wheels.

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  5. ‘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.”

    Please don’t think about stopping your blog Margari, Im one of those struggling seekers you speak of. Im a young woman who struggles with being understood as a Muslim as well as what it truly means to myself. The only downfall about reading any one of your posts that I can think of is that it makes me wish I had a mentor/professor like you that teaches at my university, which there is not. There will always be people who will try to exploit and distort the work of people who are trying to portray good deed and truth. Its a blessing to have a woman as yourself not let this stop you. Im a college student surrounded by smart, good and driven people who are (for the most part) anti religion, and I cant really blame them.Religion has become in many ways a construct and not a genuine way of life and this includes Islam. Also, the construct of religion is now being compared to and seen as similar to the construct of race. Im an African American Studies student and in one of my lectures today my instructor pressed the issue of identity and of how not only is racial identity but also how religious identity is all apart of creating divisions between people. She also said our truest form of identity is that we are all human beings. She speaks the truth on some level, but as a believer its always hard to hear this argument because I know that the essence of believing in and worshiping the Highest Power is our truest form of identity. I struggle to find a balance between my faith and my education. This is just one of many battles. I commend your courage as someone who is a believer, a Muslim and an academic scholar. Its something that I strive for Insha ‘Allah.
    jazakallah khairun.

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  6. Salaam Alaikum,

    Such beautiful words so please don’t let the fact that some might twist them upset you.

    Blogging and blogers helped me a lot. It can just be so lonely, alhamdulilah, things are better for me since marriage and finding some good Muslim friends. However, I still find blogging commenting on other blogs a much needed release.

    There are so many lovely people out there in blogland and I’m grateful to them all.

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  7. Assalam alaikum,

    i think you’re soo right, and as muslims we need to remember that just because we say “we believe” it doesn’t now mean our lives will be easy, wonderful and effortless. Muslims face tests and trials, if being a muslim was easy then everyone would want to be a muslim and where would be the test? In the Qur’an it mentions Allah may test us through the loss of weatlh or family etc. and when things get bad are we going to turn our backs and run away from the deen? Of course there are may beautiful moments, but sadly it’s always so easy to focus on the negative. i think non muslims should read about both sides (good and bad) in a muslim’s life as that would be a true reflection and i think you and the other muslim bloggers do a great job! 🙂

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  8. Blogging is writing – plain and simple. Imagine if writers wondered if they should be writing books or not… And I really feel like the existence/diversity of Muslim blogs out there (out here?) has opened up the other side of the conversation: now, we speak, ungatekept. And without eloquent voices like yours in the conversation, we’d be missing out big time!

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