Enough with your “isms”!( Atheism, Feminism, etc)
The only “ism” I subscribe to is short for “Islam”
I do not bear the answers to your questions.
Ideologies and agendas being tossed around with firm passion and conviction.
I have not yet been taught to navigate.
Being surrounded by your 21st century Western lens, makes me feel as if I am on a constant battlefield.
But I am left without any arms of defence.
My weapons — not yet acquired.
Feminism, secularism, communism, atheism, socialism. All these isms that I have only heard about people feeling strongly for, but to witness it is an entirely different concept.
Your story is so different to mine, the concepts you have been exposed to, and which you have built your foundational understanding on are worlds apart from the sacred teachings of my religion. I am overwhelmed. There is so much that I do not know. There is all of this knowledge of the world that you are somehow aware of — it is admirable and it is truly a humbling experience on my end.
And although I may have not experienced your story, I can understand your emotion and sympathise.
But it seems so overly complicated, I simply cannot agree. To me, it all sounds like a delusion of empowerment. A false image of hope and progression.
Why do you pointlessly discuss and debate amongst yourselves ways to undo/replace/destroy the current social structure and induce new, radical change when they don’t even have the power to create growth and renewal?
Communism failed. Capitalism is failing. Feminism is trying.
But history has shown Islam has succeeded and created a new civilisation that has lasted more than 1000 years. With its fall only attributed to the perversion of Islamic principles with the different isms and ideologies that you brought to the table.
But the racing thoughts of my mind translate only to a deafening silence.
I cannot speak.
Because I am not just another Caucasian in this class.
I am the outlier. I am a symbol. I am the representation of an entire religion, another people. The tone of my skin marks me, the fabric of my hijab sets me apart.
How can I speak if I cannot do justice to the truth in my heart? What must I do if I do not have the words to articulate myself ?
How will I vocalise myself, steer myself, carry myself?
All I can think of is my need to hold onto my identity — my need to ensure that all the Muslim youth that enter these same classrooms are not swayed by your misleading beliefs.
I feel humiliated, confused, and undereducated.
I am intrigued, I am terrified and I am a sponge ready to soak.
I am afraid that I may falter, that I may not conquer.
But I must remember the beauty and perfection of Islam is not created only for born-Muslims — it is for all of humanity! Will I be brave enough, will I have the confidence, the strength, the knowledge, the passion — to speak and embody the truth to you?
For now, all I can do is simply sit and observe; learn your perspective deeper, and educate myself further. The regret of silence is better than the regret of saying the wrong thing — removing the permanent stains of a misinformed image of Islam is not an easy task.
In this time of my silence, in this wait — I will continue to journey and continue to observe, to try to understand what society is dictating today, so I will be equipped to communicate the beauty of my religion, my beliefs and my reality, tomorrow.
It is very interesting to think that only a few centuries ago, to sit in a classroom like this would be impossible — males and females learning together, such architecture, all sorts of once unimaginable rights and ideologies flourishing. Society is constantly evolving — always displeased with yesterday’s set of moral guidelines
As I look at you I can’t help but wonder about your future; I wonder where you will go. I wonder how you would have wielded your emotions a few centuries ago or in a few centuries from now. How different would these values you hold so dear be then? How are you so sure of what you deem as “correct” if it is so different to what was acceptable yesterday and what will be acceptable tomorrow? What if you were born in a time when the unthinkable of “today” was correct? What would you believe then?
My religion is timeless, universal.
I can’t help but ask — how can you possibly explain the utter perfection of a universe as a coincidence, or one that has no reason?
How can you suddenly wake up on a train and not question it’s destination?
How can you not question the fate of your soul after your body has turned into dust?
Thus, we turn to religion to answer these questions that must be sought. And then we submit to live this short life for the eternal abode that comes after. It’s that simple but you always overcomplicate.
The more I progress through my World Religions course, the more my conviction for Islam firms and my doubts, fizzle. Islam in comparison to all the other religions and ideologies, is so clear, logical and perfect — feels too right to ever be wrong. There is not a single question that cannot truly be answered, not a single flaw that cannot be made sense of after you truly delve into it.
However, not everyone feels the same — the truth is, apostasy plagues our Muslim community and it is on the rise. It is a terrifying reality but when Muslims who have not yet been able to develop their foundational beliefs, and be strong and firm in their faith — they are a single sheep vulnerable to a pack of wolves. When they come out from their sheltered bubbles into the real world — they fall prey to the shiny concepts and agendas of society (those pesky “isms”).
That is why we must build our Muslim youth in their homes, their schools, their communities to prepare them to have conviction and an educated love for the worldview Islam gives them when they venture out in the wide, whirlwind of a world.
I am only a first-year university student, virgin to the way these literature-society related subjects are taught. But what I do know is, the same concepts that reinforce my faith here are the exact same ideas that make others turn away from Islam. Isn’t that so interesting, so eye-opening? Isn’t that a sign that something must be changed in the Tarbiya (upbringing) and Islamic education of our youth? How many more lone sheep will we lose until we are able to unite together and protect our young?
I didn’t intend for this piece to sound inflated or conceited in any way, instead it was a way for me to instill hope and confidence upon our Muslim youth that are in dire need. This is a piece of my raw emotions and scattered thoughts, but I know that they are not at all unique to me. Having your beliefs challenged but not being able to provide an answer is an experience that many Muslims go through at one point in their lives and whether it may be in a school classroom, an encounter in public or online, it’s a dreadful feeling. I wrote most of this piece during my second in-person tutorial of my first literature subject; and it’s a very classic, straight out of an Islamic high school, sitting in a university classroom full of people guided by secular ideologies, type of read.
When shaken, you are either moved to learn more or to stray — and the distinction often largely depends on ones foundations. That is why I cannot stress the importance of solid Islamic teachings and foundations — what is Tawheed (oneness of God), why am I Muslim, what is the role of God in my life? These questions matter.
The reality is, to be challenged in such a manner forces you to grow. Do not put yourself out in fitnah (trials) but at the same time, don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and take on all these people that are questioning you about religion. Share experiences, learn the stories of others, have knowledge; know what Islam is (and isn’t), know the underpinnings of all these external ideologies because ultimately it’s knowledge that will ground you.
And with a sincere heart, surrounded by good company — keep moving forward with your chin up, proud to be a Muslim.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors’ and may not reflect the position and viewpoint of UNSWMSA. All information aims to be accurate, however Islamic rulings should always be taken from a trustworthy scholar.
By Amira Rahman