Monday, March 12, 2012

Just unlock the door

People always talk about "where're the muslim women at?"

Really, often times, men within the muslim tradition (or men/women of other faith traditions) are those who ask "where are the muslim women?" Muslim women rarely ask this question, because we know where we are.... we're out doing things...

Whether you notice or not, whether we wear hijab or not, we are out there doing things. Personally, I work... a lot. I may not be on television, but I face a college classroom weekly. I face my co-workers weekly. I see neighbors and people from my town at the voting booth, at the local grocery stores, at the bank and so forth.

So, really... does it matter?

Are muslim women, suddenly the manifestation of Islam, and by thrusting her into the forefront, have we further burdened her with the chains of your expectations? So, if I happen to get interviewed for something.... am I suddenly or magically going to represent Islam? or represent myself? Are they mutually exclusive or not?

Essentially, do I have to represent a community, that may not necessarily align with my views? And when we never stated our position of "representation," of being the model muslim women, we are criticized for falling "short" of the expectations of society. Why does the "muslim world" (I use this loosely) expect us to "represent" them, when we never were given a choice in the matter?

Then... men will ask, "where are the muslim women at?" and just as they speak these words, they don't realize that doors have been locked and chains have been secured. This morning, I went to the mosque at fajr (dawn) prayer... and the women's entrance was locked.... ALL doors that allow me to pray in the women's area.... were locked... about 10 men passed, before I realized that they have not noticed that the door was locked... One man said, under his breath, "why is she just standing there?" with a tone of voice that exuded criticism... No, I am not trying to pick up men, by standing at the mens entrance, but I am waiting for someone to open the door. It wasn't until I asked someone to open the door for me that the door was opened...

I felt like, this experience, physical and real, was a manifestation of an abstract idea... We are heavily criticized by people, who are essentially leaving the doors closed in our faces.

Now, this rarely happens. I go to the mosque almost daily (or at least 4 times a week) at that time and the door has been locked only maybe 4 times in the last 5 years. But, it was frustrating to experience because the man who whispered under his breath, just criticized, without even considering my contextual reality.

So, this post is about unlocking doors... Maybe, physical... but even more so, unlocking mental doors... unhinging assumptions... and being genuinely considerate and empathetic, before you expect someone to live up to your standards... Maybe, just maybe, your standards are a load of BS to someone else... or just plain, outside of their scope of reality...

Muslim women don't want to represent Islam... don't want to be anyone's banner... UNLESS they choose to be. So, do not use them as your bargaining chip without even consulting them. I will never represent certain groups of people, because their ideology does not represent me... just because I may "look" like them... does not mean, I represent them.

That's all I have to say...