Saturday, May 10, 2008

Is the middle way the road less traveled?

I struggle to find my way through the maze of choices in this life every day. I kinda feel like I am stuck with either going to the extremes of the issues to be accepted by one group or staying with the middle path and having both sides disapprove. Now I'm not saying that approval is the most important factor in my decision making process. To be honest it rarely even factors in, unless we are talking about my husband which is another post entirely.

So, I guess what I am asking is where has the middle path gone? Does it exist? I feel inspired to keep looking for it when I hear someone such as Haza Yousuf speak... But I feel I rarely see it in my actual life. Maybe I'm just not looking in the right places, who knows.

Something I struggle with is whose opinion to take when I am seeking an answer to a question that I feel is unclear in my knowledge of the deen. Let's take pigs. I have heard with my own ears learned men saying that the FLESH of the pig is what is forbidden so gelatin is OK because it is made from BONES. No, I'm not kidding you. Now on the other extreme I have had Muslims flip out when they saw Layla's Piglet toy. "Oh!!!!! A pig!!!! Is that a pig your daughter has?!?!?!? HARAM!!!!!" Where is the middle path people? No, I won't eat gelatin. But yes I will give our daughter a stuffed pig if it makes her happy. On second thought, let's not start on toys that look like living things... Oh I don't even want to try and unravel that one with you! So, I just want to ask have you noticed the following...

**If a new sister puts on hijab but has an American twist on it people will tell her it's not "proper hijab". If that same sister puts on jilbab and khimar people will tell her she's too extreme and she doesn't have to wear all that.

**If you get a loan and buy a big house the Muslims will come to visit you, ooggle over it and say masha'Allah about 70 times during thier visit. Then, behind your back they will criticise you for dealing in interest. However, if you buy a smaller house they will say masaha'Allah to your explanation of not dealing in interest and then behind you back go on about "How can he shove his whole family in that horrible little house??? His poor wife!"

**If you are a mother and you bring your kids to the mosque people will be irritated with thier behavior. If you stay home they will chastise you for never going to the mosque.

**If a brother marries an attractive woman (especially from a different nationality) he will be criticised for only choosing her based on looks. If he marries a sister who isn't so attractive everyone will be gossiping about what's the secret reason he would marry someone unattractive??? Money, a good job, dating her before marriage and her family forced him???

**If you support the Muslims in places like Palestine too much you will be accused of being an extremest. If you don't you will be abandoning the ummah.

**If you like to go to the movies, listen to music, read popular literature... You will be too Western. But if you unplug the TV and never spend another penny on popular movies or music... You are extreme.

You see where I am going with this... Right? I guess the Muslims are never happy. But also we can't seem to find a middle ground and leave people alone about it. Why is that? And what can we do about it? Just thoughts people, just thoughts...


Kris said...

Assalam alaikum

I have to say that UNFORTUNATELY what you are talking about is ALOT ofthe negative that I have experienced since becoming Muslim. I know exactly what you mean.
I think for me, I had to come to a point where I just stop thinking about the "community." I don't mean that in a bad way, but I just got so bogged down with some of the scenarios similar to what you described, that I finally came to the conclusion that I just can't worry about it anymore. I am not saying you are worrying about it, but it really can get a person down because its like you are Da#ned if you do and da#ned if you don't. I personally feel that these small issues that people gossip about and make a big deal really ultimately take us away from the truth and away from the deen and becoming more sincere in our practice.
Something I also learned from this type of thing is that I really don't care what other people are doing unless its a big Haram. And I had to realize that I cannot control what others do and what other people are going to say about me and my family. I just had to refocus on what I know to be important to live as a Muslim and try not to let the community get me down. It can be a really negative influence at times.
Just my you can see, I have had a lot of disappointing experiences within the ummah!

Anonymous said...

Speaking from a Christian perspective (hope you don't mind "smile") I can completely understand what you are saying. My family BTW is from the middle east so even though we are of different religion we can relate on a number of cultural things.

I see this at times on my own blog as well as other blogs when people will simply think that what they see as middle ground being middle ground. Most of all with family and friends exactly the same things that you say.

If you don't take your children to church they talk behind your back that you are not filling their spiritual needs but directly to you they act like they understand your reasoning behind it. If we dress modestly (long skirts and headcovering) they will say "ow how nice you look" and behind you back they will say that you are taking scripture to literally.

It's a no win situation and believe me it happens in all religions and cultures. I believe there is no true middle ground only the reality of ones own life and how they choose to live. You need to define your own middle ground and live it. At times it's hard but that's what I've been doing because I got real tired of trying to find that place where everyone is satisfied.

Peace be with you,

aischa said...

Asalaamau alaikum,
I think there is a phrase in psychology called "crazy making" which describes the situation. Yeah we need to step back and stop worrying about what others think. Always give the benefit of the doubt. I'm reaching that point too, forget what people think. Gosh how much more open we would be to Muslims in all states of Iman, and able to care and support each other instead of judging. Well, finding the middle ground was the topic---must be different depending where you are living. It is difficult to find the middle ground, especially if you are in the market to increase your ibadah, or iman. It is sooo easy to get too carried away or at least put yourself in a position that is unsustainable (extreme) for most people living in this country. On the other hand I have been experimenting with the middle ground on Hijab--my own personal problem... and I find it soooo easy to go the otherway as well.

MuslimMum said...

Assalamu Alaikum,

I can totally relate to what you're saying. I think for me it helps me to be true to myself and do what i feel is right because the truth is people will criticise you either way. It is something that I have always struggled with to some extent, I guess its all part of the test.

aischa said...

actually if you are struggling, you probably are on the middle path. We are not perfect, we are humans worshipping allah.

Mint said...

Salem Alekom Sister,

As a convert of what .. 2 months old? I already have noticed this!

I love your blog and wanted to know if I could link it to mine? Thanks and may Allah bless you and your family.

Umm Yehiya said...

Well, this might help you on your middle road, pertaining to 1 thing you mentioned...check it out. I found it extremely helpful, and it makes perfect sense to me. :)

aischa said...

Asalaamu alaikum, AGAIN:
Sheesh, this topic keeps popping up in my head. It's a really good question. One finally personal peeve, shaitan maybe?? is that IF you want to improve yourself and be more practicing, why does this feel like you are not on the middle path? Must be shaitan and a bit of where you're at. I mean middle gound must be sooo subjective, depending on where you are, who you live, work, socialize, with....So what IS the middle ground of a person who is doing as much possible ibadah,and sunnah? Is the middle ground more of an attitude and kindness to others, despite what you are able to do as far as prayers and dhikr, etc...? Is the middle ground more about being good than doing (just) more sunnah? Or balancing our inner states with our outward worship. Or just finding a sustainable amount of ibadah, for your situation...
There must be a lecture out there on this topic.

Anonymous said...

As Salamualikum been there done that!

Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Leave that which makes you doubt for that which does not make you doubt.”

there is a middle ground in islam, but ppl tend to be confused, we are not talking about a middle ground between halal and haram but a middle ground in halal things.

from what i understand of it and i hope this is not incorrect,

the story of the three men who came to ask about the worship of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). When they were told about it, it was as if they thought it was not much. One of them said, “I will keep away from women and I will never get married.” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said to this man and to his companions that he (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) fasted and broke his fast, he stayed up praying and slept, and he married women. Then he said: “Whoever turns away from my Sunnah is not of me.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5063; Muslim, 1401.

in other words the prophet sws was in the middle ground, not going to the extreme of fasting all the time, praying all night and never getting married, rather he married, fasted extra optional fasts and didn't fast some days and prayed at night but also slept at night.

we are all different and at different levels and we forget this. why do we expect our brothers and sisters to be at the same level as us, after all we did not just becoming practising muslims over night or in one day. it takes ppl different times and learning to get to different levels.
if we really need to correct someone it should be done with kindness and gentleness. ( i include myself in this, this is a reminder for me too).

for example maybe we are at the level where we wear a khimar/ hijab but our sister might not be. you can't force someone to do somthing, of course we should advise but in a good manner.
the story of the bedouin who peed in the masjid comes to mind.

i was listening to a talk and the br. explained so many lessons from it alhumdulillah.
1- the prophet sws told the companions to leave the man to finesh. this was wise because it meant the pee was only in one place and not all over, if they had grabbed him it might have gone all over the masjid.

2- the prohet sws gently explained to the man himself what the masjid was for and how we don't do that in it.
the man was so moved by this and the way the prophet sws spoke to him that he asked the prophet sws to make dua for him and the prophet sws only and not the other companions! because they had been ready to pounce on him! could you imagine if that happened these days! ppl can't stand kids in the masjid!!
(in some countires its part of the culture to have children come to the masjid and in some places ppl just can't handle it.)

just makes me think about how the prophet sws handled kids in the masjid, never shouted at them never hit them and i doubt he ever said anything to the mothers about their kids crying rather it brings to mind the quote about how they would intend to pray for long but upon hearing a child cry they would shorten their recitation. such mercy and compassion.
he even stopped to pick up his grandchildren while giving a sermon he even let them play on his back while in sujood.

if children don't go to the masjid they won't be part of a 'community' much.if they have bad experiences there they won't be inclined to go there. obviously parents also need to keep an eye on them too.

seriously theres so much to learn from the prophet sws and his companions, all the problems we are facing now about manners, compassion, tolerance and how to treat each other, womens roles in the masjid etc etc

i have been reading the ideal muslimah (only up to chapter 2 so far!) i was reading about nusaybah ra and the women and how they were so strong masha'Allaah, and how the masjid was. men at the front little kids playing in the middle and women at the back. so they could hear and participate. and the men would wait and let the women leave instead of pushing each other out of the way etc etc!

anyway think thats way to long, i could go on!

peace to all

Naggar said...

Asalamu 'Alaikum,

First off, I'm glad to see other people agreeing with me on the paradoxical and confused nature of mankind :)

I don't think I can add much to what people here said except that I humbly recommend a book by Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah.

It is called "Kitab Al-Rooh" or Book of the Soul (or Spirit). The end of book contains explanations of similar actions (and their differences) where one is praiseworthy and the other is blameworthy. Here are some examples: generosity vs. wastefulness and confidence vs. arrogance and keenness vs. OCD :) amongst others.

I think he was the Islamic psychologist of his time. He has many books that you may find on Barnes and Noble(in English). You can find his books in Arabic readily and go over them with your husband if you can find the time.

If you find the advice helpful, please make du'aa for me sister.


fatima said...


i cannot supress my smile while reading your post, i guess everyone experience those things whatever your faith or cultural orientation because its also happening to me, i think as long as you are comfortable, happy and we dont step in others toes it is fine. we cannot please everybody though.