Irony

“Don’t blindly follow everything that you are told”.

“Muslims will expect you to turn off your critical thinking skills. Don’t let them force you into doing this!

“Use your brain girl, and always think for yourself”.

The statements above came from an email exchange that took place the week that I took my shahadah. At that time, I reached out to a female convert that I’d become acquainted with many years ago. Like me, she was part of the African Diaspora and had been reared in a Christian household. She was also one of the sharpest women I’ve ever encountered and a brilliant writer.

I contacted her in order to seek her advice as a new convert to the faith. I wanted to know potential pitfalls and how to deal with the social issues that would come with my conversion. She replied with a detailed and insightul email, full of blunt advice. Her comments regarding critical thinking and skepticism, however, struck a chord in me. As I began to learn more about my new faith, her words echoed through my mind. Looking back at that email now trips me out. She gave me this advice in order to help me in my journey to Islam. It’s ironic that  following that very advice that led me to abandon it.

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A native Seattleite and recent East Coast transplant, I have been interested in politics, religion, and race from the day I saw “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” on the bookshelf belonging to my BFF’s mom back in 1991. While my zealotry has thankfully diminished with maturity, I remain the deep thinking, passionate, and humble woman I have always been. I reside in the suburbs of NYC with my husband, daughter, and our two feisty but deeply loved cats.

7 thoughts on “Irony

  1. I wonder if the Sister still considers herself a Muslim. I’m curious how she handles the challenges – especially if she is of the Sunni group, which almost “requires” that you take the opinion of other men (aka scholars) above your own reasoning. Interesting!

  2. Well, I don’t see how ‘critical thinking’ comes into it, in your case. A Muslim shouldn’t follow the opinion of all and sundry, certainly- he should do his best to follow the Qur’an and sunnah as they were understood by competent, pious folk (read: scholars) throughout the ages. That you might find that interpretation ‘morally’ problematic is something else entirely.

    And it’s sexist, to say the least, to believe that having a pe*** renders you completely unable to interpret the Qur’an, or the sunnah, or at the very least to convey how the sahaba understood these things (which is normally what our role is limited to). It certainly didn’t stop anbiya from receiving and explaining revelation, `alayhim ussalam, which is something far greater.

    1. “A Muslim shouldn’t follow the opinion of all and sundry, certainly- he should do his best to follow the Qur’an and sunnah as they were understood by competent, pious folk (read: scholars) throughout the ages. That you might find that interpretation ‘morally’ problematic is something else entirely.”

      WM, reading is truly fundamental. I did my best to read, study and follow the Quran and Sunnah as understood by the scholars. As stated before, as I read deeper it became problematic and I make no apologies for that. I do find it morally problematic that an old man can marry and sleep with a nine year old child. I find it problematic that a wife can be viewed as a sex object and cursed by angels if she refuses to spread her legs. I find it problematic that people chould be stoned to death for being gay. As you illustrate in your post, Islam expects absolute conformity and zero skpeticism. I cannot function that way. I make ano apologies for that. If something doesn’t make sense logically, I am not going to lie to myself and follow it in the name of religion.

      “And it’s sexist, to say the least, to believe that having a pe*** renders you completely unable to interpret the Qur’an, or the sunnah, or at the very least to convey how the sahaba understood these things (which is normally what our role is limited to). ”

      *facepalms again* I agree with you, WM, it would be sexist to make such a statement. Unfortunately for you, I said no such thing. Where you got this bizarre reasoning from is beyond me. I only mentioned the male genitalia in one post in my blog(“Submission”), and even there here is what I said:
      ‘ I refuse to acquiesce to the will and desires of a man simply because he was born a man. If a man expects me to listen to his views and respect them, he will need to bring more to the table than testicles alone.’

      Perhaps I should further break it down for you since you are having trouble comprehending,WM. What that means is that I will not submit to or follow a man simply because he is a man. It does NOT mean that a man is unable to think, read or interpret. Please read more carefully before responding WM.

  3. “I find it problematic that people chould be stoned to death for being gay.”

    Well, you could have done more work on this point, for example. ‘Being’ gay doesn’t mean anything, if you take Foucault seriously, before the 19th century ‘scientific’ discourse on ‘deviant sexualities’ constituted ‘inversion’ as a category. And I generally do. I mean, what is punished with death, according to most of the fuqaha, is a witnessed act of man-on-man sodomy. Others disagreed and said it only merited a discretionary punishment- decided on by the judge, with certain limits as to what might be imposed (making it much less severe than a full-on hadd).

    And even the Greeks, who gloried in pederasty and related depravities, had a much less egalitarian view of homo-ness than you think (is this volume two of History of Sexuality? Can’t remember). I guess that’s just too bad for the modern, democratic Sodomite.

  4. “If something doesn’t make sense logically”

    If you listen carefully I believe you can hear a high-pitched whir. That’s Hume spinning in his grave. You should learn to distinguish between a *normative* and a *descriptive* argument, in the modern parlance, and then we can talk.

  5. I think that’s the challenge for me.. If you say you are a scholar, fine. But how do I know that your intentions are pure if I don’t know you personally? The Quran clearly warns of people that do things for attention / the fame. And there are so many “scholars”, how do we know which are legit? Are there certain Universities? If advice in one madhab conflicts with the Quran/sunnah, then should the whole madhab be abandoned? I think no matter who we take our advice from, we need to be able to reason/judge/understand WHY the scholar came to that conclusion. They should be able to explain themselves and back it up with evidence. Cause my sins are my own.. not the scholars. Otherwise my mom could study, and call herself a scholar. And I should just do what she says/recommends. But no, I MUST reason with my own mind. Only Allah swt knows what is in a person’s heart and who is REALLY pious. Not me.

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