Saturday, July 01, 2006

"Since everyone else seems to have all of the answers..."

I know that my recent conversion has caused many of my friends to question my intentions-- to stand in shock as they hear that I have converted to a faith that is so different from that which they know or used to know me in.
I know that friends and family are going to be worried about how this will change me... change my life-- How my faith will impact who I am in relation to who I was.
Everyday I have those that are close to me TELL me about what "my life in Islam" is going to be like... "what I can expect out of my choices." They repeat all of the same sentences that I am so familiar to every time I tell someone that I have converted...
"You mean you aren't going to drink anymore?"
"So you are going to cover your head?"
"What about food... you only can eat special meat?"
"You know you won't have any rights"
"You were so independent"
"So you are going to pray five times a day?"
"So you can't date/hug/touch guys?"
The list is endless. What really has got me riled-up as I sit here and write this, is that these are the areas that my friends and family seem to be grieving about my change. Granted changing elements like this, which used to be part of my personality do in a way change part of who I am/was, but are these really the characteristics that made me who I was? If I never drink again is it really going to alter the woman I used to be to all of these people? Why are these things issues for people? Quite honestly, the questions that are so often asked and seem to be such grave areas of concern really cause me to wonder who it was that I was presenting myself as when I was non-Muslim? Did what I ate and how I dressed make me who I was? Because honestly I thought that the friend that I was: the honest, loyal, optimistic, friendly, fun-loving person was what made me the person my friends cared about. Those qualities, have not changed, I can assure you that no faith, will change what my friends and family mean to me, and the manner in which I love them.
Naturally there will be differences, but change is inevitable to any person. As we grow as human beings there are numerous things that will impact how we perceive the world. What really has me upset is how the differences that everyone I know seem to be getting hung up on, are changes which are so incredibly trivial.
What I really struggle with is why I need to go to a bar, or drink or wear certain clothes to be the person that "I was."
There are days that I honestly feel as though it is more acceptable to be an alcoholic and not drink in the eyes of society, than it is to not drink because of faith.

What makes me equally angry is that people keep referring to this "change in my life" and claiming that they have nothing against Islam, they just "don't want me to lose who I was". But lets be honest here... If I had converted to any other faith; Buddhism or Catholicism I think it would be safe for me to speculate that we wouldn't be having these conversations. That many of the comments and concerns people have are due to their conceptions-- or rather misconceptions of Islam. What I love about this statement is how when people say it to me they proceed to tell me what my life is going to be like... what I can expect. Really? Do you know what it is like to be Muslim? Do you know the ins and outs of the faith? Because the thing is, I am living it out... I am experiencing what it is to me Muslim, I daily read, ask questions and spend time with the Muslim community. I KNOW what it has been like and continues to be like, but-- I mean if everyone else seems to have all of the answers then who am I to say anything.

If people want to know who I am I wish they would quit speculating and generalizing and either ask or come and see. I am ME. I am the same Canadian, red-head who loves people, her friends, good books, art and having fun. I still eat chocolate daily, I still like to lay around with close girl-friends and talk about everything and nothing. I still love to rollerblade, hike, camp, and eat in ethnic restaurants. I would still do anything for my friends, and I still believe in God. The minor changes in my actions and behaviour do not in anyway impact who I am as a person to my friends and family... I don't know how to show people that.

What I do know is how tired I am of people telling me why I converted. That I didn't know the right Christians, that I didn't 'know' God, that the trauma I have gone through with my family in the last year or two has caused me to convert... that I converted for a guy. Again-- let me say that none of these are the reasons that I converted. Yet, I am sure I am wasting my words by saying that. When I began reading about Islam it was never to convert. Only to try and educate myself. But questions came up and I couldn't ignore them. I converted because it was real to me, it is truth... The answers I needed were inside of me. The answers that I needed were not in Christianity.

I didn't convert for anyone but myself. Again, what is the point of saying this when everybody apparently already knows "the reason that I really converted"... just like they all know how I will lose my identity by being Muslim.
Why is it that people continue to tell me what I have lost instead of looking and seeing what it is that I know I have gained.


Trish said...

Hey Jenny,
I just wanted to say I think you are amazing. keep up what you are doing. To everyone who says its a bad idea, they have no idea what they are talking about.. I haven't known you long, but you seem so incredibly happy. Those who love you will eventually see that, and if they turly love you your hapiness should be the only thing that matters to them.
You are a strong beautiful smart woman,and I believe you know what you want in life. Good for you for going after it...not alot of people do. See you at the club
Take care

Anonymous said...

Salam aleikoum
I've been reading your blog since it started. Truly you have been inspiring, and I really hope you don't let the opinions of some set you back. You're always gonna get people who say things like this, its inevitable considering the way Muslims are portrayed in the media and the mystery surrounding us nowadays, but inshaAllah stay strong and patient and I really hope it gets easier sister. Hang in there!
( I read out your list of comments that people gave you to my brother just now, he found "You know you won't have any rights" very amusing)

Bev said...

Salaam. I have only been reading your blog since just before Canada Day, but I read them all in the order that you posted them. Oh the memories! I know what you mean about people's reactions about trivial things. You're not going to drink anymore???!!!! God forbid! Call the authorities!!! My family is your "typical canadian family" but I think they actually worship beer. I never felt that I "fit in" with my family as much as I did back when I was drinking too. When I, Alhamdulillah, found Islam and stopped drinking I once again became an "outcast". That's ok though I now have an even bigger family of brothers and sisters who are very accepting and excited about my chosen way of life. I too have been told why I have become a muslim. The most common one is that I did it for a man. Well that was 7 years ago and I am still single..... so there!!! Keep your chin up. Instead of allowing yourself to get frustrated and riled up, just try to see the humour in the situation.... You are being told by ignorant people why you made the choices that you made based on here say that they have received second or third hand. I liked one comment from a past blog where your mom talked to a preist about Islam and the person said don't ask a white person what it is like to be black.... They hit the nail on the head perfectly. I know that there are days when you will be really fighting to bite your tounge to keep from reaming someone out over their observations on your life, you will always be proud of yourself for being the bigger person. And who knows?.... perhaps your example might convince even one of those people to investigate Islam for themself, and what a wonderful gift it would be if that person also embraced this wonderfull life as well. That's all. Take care of yourself and cheer up. Salaam.

Bev (ps. sorry for rambling on so! :)

hoxzle said...

Hey, salaam! You should actually be happy that Allah's testing you in order to raise your rank in Jannah! Don't let Shaytaan get to you. Protection Surah's will work inshAllah. and about what people say, well, what I do is I always say to myself that, What Allah says is more important to me! =)

Anonymous said...

People believ ething that they see. They had seen and known you for a long time and suddenly you are different. I once heared from someone that as long as you are doing things with the standars of other people's life you are loved. The second you decide to do what you actually think is right to do, they will question you.
As human beings, are'nt we supposed to do what we think is right? what we have searched for in our brain and heart? So, what is wrong with the world today? Why things that are supposed to be done are strange?
Allah says, search for the truth and follow it. he says you are not a Muslim if you do not question anything. So keep on searching.

J. said...

now that is has been some years since you converted, what is your relationship like with your family and past friends - do you still have one? has it gotten easier or harder? can you compromise, not yourself or your religion but your words againt them for not understanding you. for it's not so much in being understood by others as understanding others and their actions words. another way of saying is i sense you feel so much hurt by people not understanding, i can see and understand it, but can you understand theirs...what are/were your expectations of others.