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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Scarves and stones

Before anything, just to clear things out and avoid getting literally stoned, I am a Muslim. Which gives me every inalienable right to criticize or laugh – well mostly cry - about my co-faithful
Today's post is a special one: The first guest post on Survival First Life with Subtitles by TinyRage. Enjoy!
Before anything, just to clear things out and avoid getting literally stoned, I am a Muslim. Which gives me every inalienable right to criticize or laugh – well mostly cry - about my co-faithful; otherwise I would be some other prejudiced jerk.
Second of all, at the risk of getting stoned, I am a woman. I live in France, where you undoubtedly know there has been some other polemic about our universally known headscarf. Leftist French of course defend the right of Muslim to live their religion freely. It’s a French thing really. You can’t explain it, but you somehow end up with environmentalists defending someone like Hugo Chavez (hello energy exploitation) and human rights activists drooling over China.

Anyway, that’s not what makes me angry today. What makes me angry is the way a religion like Islam, so complex, so far from human reach, has become about counting and comparing. Centimeters. Minutes. Kneels. Prayers. Night-long arguments about whether it is okay to eat lobsters. Haram and halal and shirk and…you get the picture. You don’t? Here’s the picture.
Being a Muslim has become an outstandingly futile behavioral science. People now ask questions like: “how does it feel to be a Muslim”, or: “how do you live Islam in your daily life”, like it’s a disease that has no cure and you just have to “live with”. I don’t blame them.

There are about a million codes, daily updated, about various categories; food, prayer, music, even political preferences; just about everything is controlled by turban wearing-beard growing men that are paid to tell you what you can or can’t do on television and whose speeches are reproduced by preachers and frustrated adolescents. By then, anyone listening to that feels the irrepressible need to go tell their older sister, mother or aunt the knee-long skirt they wore their entire life, that red skirt that smelt like pepper and coffee on the hot summer days, that skirt that made her husband fall in love with her as she gracefully walked by on her way to the market, that skirt that was soaked with his first tears and the sweat of her nurturing, that skirt was now an inappropriate and shameful piece of cloth that should burn in hell. Because it was red and showed her knees. Her grandmother wore skirts like that? Of course she did, she was ignorant. Education wasn’t what it’s become today. She wasn’t a “real” Muslim.

Islam means respect, and respect means covering yourself up because some men are uncontrollable perverts. Right? And what is this about men falling in love with girls while they’re walking by? Girls that respect themselves don’t walk in front of men. They take longer ways so they don’t have to walk in front of the men, and they can hold their head up high because they haven’t been soiled. Except by the mud they had to walk in to avoid –heaven forbid wa a’uzu billah – some poor soul’s thirsty eye.

I mean, all of it makes sense. You have to show that you are a good, duty-fulfilling Muslim, how else could you get the respect of your family, your friends, and more importantly, God? You absolutely have to go pray at the mosque, because if you pray with the preacher, God will hear you better than if you pray at home. You should tell people to get veiled or to fast or not to drink because as a humble and modest Muslim, that’s the thing to do, and God is thankful for all the energy you put into doing HIS job. Right?
You should argue over whether it is haram or not to enter a home with the left foot, whether it is okay or not to work at a supermarket that sells alcohol, whether it is okay or not to touch a closed bottle that contains alcohol. You should give condescending looks to people buying alcohol, because what they are doing is dirty, and as a humble and modest Muslim, your job, your function in this life is to point it out. You should stare at girls in bikinis like they’re dripping evil instead of seawater, and look so proud in your …thing that sticks to you when you get wet and reveals your every shape and curve, because I mean come on, sexual appeal is only about skin and hair. Right. And this, all of this, is what Islam is really about.

My father once told me: “Islam is a religion of modesty and respect. Everything is between you and God. No one has the right to judge what you do. You read, you interpret, you agree or you don’t. God gives you the choice, and only He knows if it is good. Don’t let the dirtiness of mankind rationality soil the beauty of your faith”.

I don’t need a scarf to feel respectable. Men should wear scarves on their eyes if they don’t want to see me. I don’t need to share my faith with anyone, because faith is personal. I don’t need to explain myself to anyone, because only God is worthy of my explanation. I refuse to have these people represent me, in my country or abroad. If I’m leaving to another country, to another society so I can find a better job or lifestyle, clustering myself in a 2 meter long black cloth might not be the best way to show respect and modesty, and eagerness to learn about other worlds and people. It would actually be exactly the same as when half naked Italian tourists waltz by in the middle of your traditional village market. Remember how that feels?
So remove that scarf from your soul and put down those stones you’re so eager to throw.

Faith is not about scarves and stones. Only your well-hidden obscenity is.

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