Friday, March 13, 2009

Being religious without being plastic...

Can it be done? I always have the feeling that I am one of those converts who just sounds plastic when they start talking deen. Have you ever noticed how silly it is when a person who doesn't really mean it is all, alhamdulilah, masha'Allah, and so on? It is very rare that I meet a person who can tell a story about God in their life without sounding like someone bearing witness to a tel-evangelist.

Have you ever wondered if seeming a little fake is just the nature of being a convert? Or maybe the nature of being religious in general... Maybe it's because along with the religion we try to adopt the culture. Or maybe I'm just over-critical. I try hard to be myself... Sometimes that is strict, sometimes I am pretty relaxed... And I think that I probably make some converts pretty uncomfortable with it sometimes. But I try to be upfront with my views.

It's one of the things I think we all have to work on in our lives if we want to progress as a religious group beyond practicing the deen within the context of a culture. I mean, if we are all just putting on the good Muslim mask doing what we think other Muslims expect us to do, saying what is widely accepted... How will we ever progress?

So I propose that we should all do what we believe. You have a cultural background that you can keep if it doesn't conflict with the religion, and that's OK. And if you are uneducated and not sure... Find an answer. Don't just become a convert doll saying the things you have heard when someone pulls your string. Own your answers. Own your deen. And hopefully you won't feel plastic at all, ever.


Digital Nomad said...

Assalaamu'Alaykum :) At first, I was going to say that I don't find converts to be plastic at all. Then, I got to thinking, and I still don't think they are necessarily plastic. They tend to be more on the cautious side, discussing religion the way they know those around them want to hear it. And that is really unfair, because God knows, non-converts don't sit around discussing Islam every single second. Yet, it's almost expected that converts do so. I've found that just letting them be *human* Muslims, like the rest of us are!, rather than one-dimensional Muslims makes it way more interesting for everyone involved. And more fun too. We've learned so much about American culture from a convert woman, who others in the community didn't see the same side of. And that's really their loss.

Be yourselves. It's a beautiful thing for us all to learn from when you're true to your culture, personality, and your new deen! *hugs*

Rere said...

Yeah, I know what you're saying.

Faith Confusion said...

I know what you mean. I could never say Insha'allah or Masha'allah. I'd just say "yes" and smile if someone else said them. I felt really fake about it. I'd say "God forbid" or "God willing" but not anything in arabic. I felt silly in a way.

Anonymous said...

Everyone, doesn't matter who you are sounds crazy when they talk about God - but if you are sincere about it or feel called to do so should you care?

Also, I have to admit I'm not comfortable with throwing Mash'Allahs around. And I'm sure to many peoples standards I'm a bad muslim but we come in all kinds and your right if we want change we have to be ourselves (the person God intended us to be). There are many paths.

Solace In Islam said...

I do the same as Faith Confusion! I just feel I will say those things when I am ready to do it and not purely because it is expected me of me.

UmmLayla said...

It's a weird thing, but I guess my frustration stems from the fact that I sometimes feel like people have this idea of who I should be (as a convert). And lots of born Muslims mix religion and culture and I feel like I get called out on not following things that I view as cultural and they view as religious. So sometimes I find myself putting on a face that I know is fake... Maybe it's just me.

Digital Nomad, there is this expectation that we converts talk deen. We get dragged into telling our conversion story again and again... Telling people about all the aspects of the deen that drew us in. And you are right, it limits us and keeps people from getting to know us as people. You are so right.

Anon, of course you are right that your own feelings are what's important. I'm saying I feel plastic sometimes... In spite of myself!LOL

FC and SI... I think the language comfort level is something to be addressed. It's funny that even through all of it's different nations these phrases have stuck. In my mind there is only one thing that you have to get the Arabic right for... Reciting Quran. And on a deeper level if you learn Arabic it should be to better understand the Quran. The rest is just gravy.

Naseem said...

i know what you meannnnn...sometimes when i say inshallah or alhamdullilah i feel like i'm doing it to sounds good. so i just say it to myself. it makes me feel like i'm saying it only for dikr.

Random Muslima said...

Assalaamu alaykum,

I have thought a lot around this area ;)
And I totally agree on remaining YOU. I guarantee that the foam coming from my mouth when I get on how "Aisha radiaALlahu anhaa was a fierce, real woman and was herself and had opinions and and and" is real :)