Practicing Islam in short shorts
February 23, 2015 7:02 PM   Subscribe

 
just a comment to represent.
*goes back to lurker mode*
posted by cendawanita at 7:09 PM on February 23, 2015 [15 favorites]


Just wanted to say that was a fantastic essay. This is why I come to Metafilter. Thank you for the link!
posted by longdaysjourney at 7:35 PM on February 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Great article. I know a lot of people who identify as Muslim but drink alcohol, gamble, or don't do the daily prayers. One of them doesn't fast during Ramadan but will abstain from alcohol during that time. But no matter how religious or non-religious they are, I haven't met a single Muslim who eats pork.
posted by pravit at 7:53 PM on February 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


While it's a short read, this gives a wonderfully rich window into the realities of being a modern person saddled with a very old, very conservative belief system. I wish more people would be like her parents and, at least tacitly, acknowledge that the religious men who set themselves up as authorities don't have the power to tell you what is or is not.
posted by cult_url_bias at 8:10 PM on February 23, 2015 [6 favorites]


This is kind of like how I feel as a Jewish person eating pork quite regularly in hog country, USA.
posted by oceanjesse at 8:18 PM on February 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Great article. More credence should be given to those willing to question the established doctrine.
posted by arcticseal at 8:48 PM on February 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


I continue to maintain that one of the myriad problems of the GWOT/ war on ISIS/ etc. is that we (US/UK government) are not investing in creating a coherent counter-narrative to Salafism/Wahhabism. Possibly because we don't want to anger the Saudis, possibly because it's ickier than propagandizing against communism (separation of church and state), and mostly because it's really just about defense contracts and oil markets, not actual change.

If we were serious about fighting ISIS and Al Qaida et al., we'd have Radio Free Umma. We'd have US Navy radio ships in the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, Eastern Mediterranean, broadcasting 24/7 a radio and TV networks specifically dedicated to presenting a sophisticated, cosmopolitan, non-violent Islam. We'd funnel monies to Islamic scholarship and mullahs declaring an interpretation for Islam that focused on non-violence and tolerance.

To a minor degree, we are doing those things, but not in an organized or strong manner.
posted by LeRoienJaune at 8:58 PM on February 23, 2015 [64 favorites]


If we were serious about fighting ISIS and Al Qaida et al., we'd have Radio Free Umma. We'd have US Navy radio ships in the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, Eastern Mediterranean, broadcasting 24/7 a radio and TV networks specifically dedicated to presenting a sophisticated, cosmopolitan, non-violent Islam. We'd funnel monies to Islamic scholarship and mullahs declaring an interpretation for Islam that focused on non-violence and tolerance.

I logged-in specifically to favourite this (the first time I've ever favourited something, actually). To be honest I've never even considered this, but having read it, it makes perfect sense. But it won't happen, because it would offend the Saudis (oh dear), and it would likely affect defense contractors' bottom line (can't have that, can we?)
posted by e-man at 9:14 PM on February 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


That is one of the most sensible things I have read all week, LeRoienJaune. Unfortunately it seems like we (meaning the United States) are unable to temper the problems being caused by our local Christian fundamentalism and hyper-conservatism.

Still, it gives me hope that things like this are being written and with luck some people will read and realize that the scary faceless Islamic bogey man actually does have a face and it actually looks pretty darn similar to our own.
posted by Literaryhero at 9:19 PM on February 23, 2015


This was lovely. The line that really struck me was this one: "That was all the permission I needed to allow myself to believe in a more compassionate God than the one spoken about in these textbooks."

Such a simple and maybe even nonchalant line for her mother to have said, but with such incredibly validating and powerful effects on a young mind.
posted by Phire at 9:58 PM on February 23, 2015 [5 favorites]


creating a coherent counter-narrative
Well maybe but see also
Interpreting islam to Muslims
posted by BinGregory at 10:00 PM on February 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


From the above:
Can’t we ever learn? Here goes the White House again, appointing a “new” task force designed to “blunt the ISIS message.” Washington seems to believe that a main source of ISIS success to date lies in American failure to get the right word out, to tell Muslims what the true story is about Islam, ISIS, and American goals.

If we think back to 2001—George W. Bush’s “Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT)—we might recall that he appointed not one, but three successive PR experts and spinmeisters to bring the truth about America’s GWOT to the Muslim world.

posted by BinGregory at 10:05 PM on February 23, 2015


to be perfectly honest, having yet another external attempt to provide a 'counter-narrative' will only be counterproductive due to the ease to delegitimise its narrative by virtue of association. there are a lot of progressive voices fully homegrown and cultivated internally, but often they suffer from legal repercussions by the very authorities the 'US/UK governments' have fostered relationships with. why not try addressing something on that govt-to-govt level that the plebeians have no hope of any leverage over?
posted by cendawanita at 10:08 PM on February 23, 2015 [8 favorites]


if you want a robust and self-sustaining public sphere, then it needs to be one that has a chance in sprouting, developing and flourishing domestically, within the same context. right now those are being ruthlessly invalidated and their voices delegitimised. and even when it does rise within the democratic context, like the MB in Egypt, it's somehow the 'wrong' kind of reform. Maybe it is, maybe it's not, but it would be great to be able to figure this out by ourselves without another military coup.
posted by cendawanita at 10:12 PM on February 23, 2015 [9 favorites]


But no matter how religious or non-religious they are, I haven't met a single Muslim who eats pork.

This. I know 100% secular, borderline agnostic Muslims who still don't eat pork. They all see it as just the one line you don't cross, no matter what.

I guess the same is true in Judaism (my own frame of reference), though to a much lesser degree. I mean I know a ton of people who keep kosher but don't observe Shabbat, but I know literally nobody who's shomer Shabbat who doesn't also keep kosher.
posted by Itaxpica at 10:44 PM on February 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, as a non-observant Jew living in a neighborhood with a pretty strong Hasidic presence, the bit with the shopkeeper basically hit the nail on the head for how I feel around more obviously frum Jews.
posted by Itaxpica at 10:46 PM on February 23, 2015


the scary faceless Islamic bogey man actually does have a face and it actually looks pretty darn similar to our own.

I respect the spirit that was written in, but it makes me think of the fact that 80% of hate crimes against Muslims are against visibly identifiable women. In that context, holding up women who choose not to cover as examples of the good sorts of Muslims is problematic.
posted by BinGregory at 10:47 PM on February 23, 2015 [7 favorites]


I continue to maintain that one of the myriad problems of the GWOT/ war on ISIS/ etc. is that we (US/UK government) are not investing in creating a coherent counter-narrative to Salafism/Wahhabism.
...
If we were serious about fighting ISIS and Al Qaida et al., we'd have Radio Free Umma. We'd have US Navy radio ships in the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, Eastern Mediterranean, broadcasting 24/7 a radio and TV networks specifically dedicated to presenting a sophisticated, cosmopolitan, non-violent Islam. We'd funnel monies to Islamic scholarship and mullahs declaring an interpretation for Islam that focused on non-violence and tolerance.


There is a coherent counter-narrative to Salafism, in the form of the Islam practiced by the vast majority of the world's Muslims. There's this enduring notion that it is up to the West, as holders of the keys of modernism, to save Islam; that Muslims are simply unaware of a more "sophisticated" version of their religion, which, as it usually goes, dovetails neatly with Western values. The thing is, this scholarship, this focus on non-violence and tolerance, already exists, and it is very popular.

The problem isn't that there are no popular, peaceful scholars, the problem is that the violent extremists don't want to hear them - and the reasons for that have much more to do with post-colonialism and identity politics than anything that could be addressed very effectively by a US Navy ship.
posted by teponaztli at 12:12 AM on February 24, 2015 [12 favorites]


Well holy shit, totally relevant to my interests. I have recently taken a job in (Muslim country), and as my wife is from a Muslim country, that makes her Muslim, which means she cannot marry a kaffir, which means if I want my family to be there with me as dependants... To make a long story short I am driving to (big city) in a couple of hours to get "really married" to my "as yet not really" wife, and a few weeks back said shahada there and became a Muslim as a precondition to that happening.

The couple of Friday prayer and discussion sessions I have attended so far have been really interesting. As a teacher trainer I can't help looking at it from a lesson observation perspective, wanting to give the Imam notes on how to engage the learners.

Never managed to get my own cult off the ground, maybe I can work an end run / fifth columnist sort of thing from inside Sunni Islam.
posted by Meatbomb at 2:49 AM on February 24, 2015 [15 favorites]


I hope more Muslims like this woman speak up and out. It's great to hear a counter narrative and not the same old loudmouths who dominate media coverage.
posted by Thing at 2:58 AM on February 24, 2015


Great to have you on board, brother Meatbomb.
posted by BinGregory at 3:47 AM on February 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


I hope more Muslims like this woman speak up and out. It's great to hear a counter narrative and not the same old loudmouths who dominate media coverage.

this is why i generally feel uncomfortable having such necessary discussions out in more non-muslim-dominant spaces because i feel it just cannot survive intact and without being made more than it should. i am myself not a hijabi (in fact i have a lot of issues with the practice post-iranian revolution + saudi-sponsored salafism), and not particularly observant, but at the same time - men and women like us have been around a long time? far longer than realised, and have been living ourselves in public space, either as famous people or not. how much more speaking up do you want? could it be possible that it's the rest who've not been paying attention? (this is probably not very well thought out, and I don't want to make as though nothing would do and everything is problematic. but...!)
posted by cendawanita at 3:48 AM on February 24, 2015 [15 favorites]


(to use a pop cultural example, one of the first muslim mutants was monet st croix, and she looks like this)
posted by cendawanita at 3:52 AM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Those interested in more ideas about a 'counter-narrative' to certain strains of Islam may find the Dan Carlin podcast in response to the Charlie Hebdo attacks worth listening to
posted by DrRotcod at 4:01 AM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Such a good piece and such an interesting discussion. Thank you all.
posted by rtha at 6:05 AM on February 24, 2015



But no matter how religious or non-religious they are, I haven't met a single Muslim who eats pork.


I certainly have. It must just depend on who you know and where they are in their lives; it would not at all surprise me if friends in graduate school moved back towards being more observant as they got older, began raising families, etc, for example.

This was an interesting essay and I appreciated reading it. I've traveled in Islamic countries but have never lived in one, and my contact has been only short-term and through friends, so I have no particular insight but find the questions raised to be worth thinking about. She sounds thoughtful and happy, which is a good place to be working from.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:45 AM on February 24, 2015


I felt a lot of kinship with the author, even though I am Christian. I have chosen to interpret my faith and my religious practice in a way that is active and meaningful to me but is incorrect to more conservative people and just as ridiculous and nonsensical as any other religious expression to the non-religious. I want to get closer to God, but I want to have kinship and work together with the people around me to solve the problems of the world, no matter what faith or non-faith tradition.

I feel that tension in the comments - people who struggle with feeling they aren't "good enough" Muslims or Christians, people who keep trying to move them to a different column than the one they placed themselves in - like someone else can declare based on the sum total of the actions they have self-reported that they aren't what they've identified themselves as, they're doing something else. Like other commenters, I've had a long time to think about what my faith is and what it means to me. We aren't coming at this carelessly. No matter what our families say.
posted by koucha at 8:19 AM on February 24, 2015 [3 favorites]



I hope more Muslims like this woman speak up and out. It's great to hear a counter narrative and not the same old loudmouths who dominate media coverage.

this is why i generally feel uncomfortable having such necessary discussions out in more non-muslim-dominant spaces because i feel it just cannot survive intact and without being made more than it should. i am myself not a hijabi (in fact i have a lot of issues with the practice post-iranian revolution + saudi-sponsored salafism), and not particularly observant, but at the same time - men and women like us have been around a long time? far longer than realised, and have been living ourselves in public space, either as famous people or not. how much more speaking up do you want? could it be possible that it's the rest who've not been paying attention? (this is probably not very well thought out, and I don't want to make as though nothing would do and everything is problematic. but...!)


Yeah I'm a little stunned that there's this thing now (always?) about it being surprising to people that there are some Muslims who are observant but not "saddled by ancient blahblahblah". I don't know if this is a post 9/11 thing? When I was in high school and college I knew plenty of Muslims who were just regular American kids except they were Muslim. Some ate pork. I guess you could compare them to reform Jews? It's not some weird other species.
posted by zutalors! at 8:27 AM on February 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


We are born in the same hospitals, go to the same daycares, preschools, elementary schools, high schools and colleges. We commute with you on the 405 and the 6. We work with you, and hate the same dickheads at work you do.

Why is everyone surprised that some of us Muslims do things that regular-ass Americans do?

I bet some of us are hipster douchebags and some of us even like pumpkin spiced lattes and shit like that. But where the line is crossed is when I see Muslim Republicans. That shit is nastier than pork tartare.

But then again, I basically see all Republicans as nastier than pork tartare.
posted by hal_c_on at 9:52 AM on February 24, 2015 [14 favorites]


hal_c_on: Why is everyone surprised that some of us Muslims do things that regular-ass Americans do?

Well, I will offer an answer: because I have known a bunch of Muslims over the years, but they have all been observant -- and as far as I can tell, short of making Hajj, all had a pretty high degree of observance.

That is to say, I also have never known a Muslim to eat pork, and very few without beards. (Though the beardless guys were also the ones drinking beer in college -- which, well, college.) But almost all of them were generous and charitable and willing to talk about their faith (but not mine). On the other hand, I have known a much greater fraction of people of other faiths to be more selective about their own religious observations -- from Jews all over the map, to "cafeteria Catholics," to Baptists who drink. *shrug*

Mind you, my eyes are open and I am still learning! A new friend of mine is married to an imam, but last week she laughed and admitted that when she grew up in New York she had purple hair and went to rock concerts. This is not in line with my preconceptions, and now I have a TON of questions to ask her. :7) But she is the same person who was amazed that a guy like me knows what halal is and what it means day-to-day, so maybe we both have somethgin to terach each other.
posted by wenestvedt at 11:59 AM on February 24, 2015


Well all, you now know of one semi practicing Muslim who eats pork. I don't do it often, but I do eat sausage.

It started as an act of rebellion. I was sick of getting looks from people that basically said, "I know you say you're a Muslim, but we both know you're not a good one." I've found the level of judgement in South Asian and Arab communities to be mind boggling. Growing up, I often felt like going to mosque was a piety contest for the men and a fashion show for the ladies. Mere moments after the prayer, people would be gossiping and talking badly about each other. It was disheartening to say the least.

It also happened because I was sick of seeing a lot of the alleged good Muslims following the letter of the law while ignoring its spirit entirely. For example, in college, I hung out with a lot of Indonesians. The richest group were guys whose parents were deeply involved with taking bribes, bid roofing and other forms of collusion. Once, one of their dad's came and insisted on everyone praying at the appointed times and following all other tenets of the faith. This while his sons drove around in luxury cars, bought drinks for everyone at the club, and lived in a posh part of our college town. I believe he was an official in charge of approving building permits. A few months later, I read about a building collapse in Jakarta and wondered if he was involved.

Eventually. I decided to become a "cafeteria Muslim". My rationale is that Allah have us brains so that we could make decisions. I don't pray, I eat pork from time to time, and I read the Quran to understand it, not just memorize it. But I also try to treat everyone around me with kindness and respect, I try to make the world a better place, and I try to be tolerant of differences.

Ultimately, I'm probably an agnostic with Muslim tendencies, but I'm OK with that.

On a side note, the opening story reminded me of something that happened to me in college. One Friday, I went for afternoon prayers. There was a group of Palestinian guys who were very holier than thou and would make sure everyone knew it. That night, a friend and I went to the local porn video rental store. Who did I see but the Holy bunch! They looked toward me and looked a little sheepish, not sure if I was the guy they saw at the mosque earlier. I looked the leader in the eye and said "As salamu alaikum". His face fell as he said "Wa alaikum as salaam". He gathered up his cohorts and quickly left. I went ahead and rented a film. That moment still brings a smile to my face.
posted by reenum at 12:00 PM on February 24, 2015 [15 favorites]


"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." --- Ian Maclaren.
posted by SPrintF at 12:16 PM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Grar, post I was replying to got deleted. Thanks, mods!

Salvaging what I can from my comment: religious faith can definitely be a pretty fluid thing. I don't know why "the institution" [which isn't really a single thing in Islam, as far as I understand] must be "everything". My impression of the world is that lots of people profess faith to religions which they do not follow in precisely the "canonical" fashion, but who nonetheless describe themselves as belonging to that religion. I don't see a bigger tension with this than people who identify with political or social movements whilst still having qualms with some of their practices.

Nonetheless, it seems like to appreciate that diversity within any particular bunch of religion, you have to know a whole lot of people who openly follow it, and given the awful way many Muslims are currently treated in the US, I don't think it's surprising that most don't have a good understanding of the shades of Muslim faith. (Hell, I don't, and I'm the one writing this). I think another major contribution is the lack of just-everyday-guy-or-gal-Muslim on television and other media.
posted by thegears at 12:40 PM on February 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think the point regarding political parties is good. The question then becomes under what circumstances can you not voice your dissent within the party / religion? and why?

Is the article an attempt to forge a new Islam? - The problem I found was that it failed to mention any real particular practices that determined the writers actual beliefs. It was all phrased in negations of particular practices. What is the writer presenting as the true Islam?
posted by mary8nne at 1:11 PM on February 24, 2015


Mod note: Complaining about a deletion in a followup comment is just gonna get that comment deleted too. If you're coming into a discussion in progress, starting from scratch with "personal religious beliefs are nonsense" is not a good way to go.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:16 PM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Maybe I'm misunderstanding, but

Is the article an attempt to forge a new Islam?

seems to be clearly answered in the headline with

"We don't believe in a monolithic practice of Islam."

I don't think the author thinks that a single Islam is necessary or desirable. She doesn't believe there is a "true Islam".

And as to your first paragraph, I don't know what you're getting at; the author isn't personally responsible for reforming Islam, even if she wanted to. I think she's just writing about her personal experience with the religion.
I feel like you're coming from a dramatically different definition/understanding of religion than I am, and so I think I have a tendency to read your questions as really dismissive, though I'm guessing you don't mean them that way. But we're on the same page that the author isn't under any obligation to meet your personal standards of what religious practice is/should be, right?
posted by thegears at 1:30 PM on February 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


I am an agnostic, secular and practicing Muslim. My practice fundamentally changed once someone reminded me as a teen that you never know what the person praying next to you really believes or whether they believe in anything at all.

I have always liked the idea of the entire global community coming together in prayer (time zones considered), moving as one. I didn't want to lose that. Or the beautiful calligraphy, recitation, and architecture.

I just wish there was a belief structure of Muslim humanism that people could meditate on as they stand and prostrate in line together. But I don't know how that would function along with the unyielding orthodoxy. Oh well.
posted by Don Don at 1:59 PM on February 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


I've found that once you get away from people who have the Wahhabi mindset, there are some very open minded people. That's the key though.

Wahhabi Islam has become so prevalent that its absolute refusal to tolerate free thought and dissenting views has spread to a lot of people who would be thought of as moderate. This is partly because the Saudis give so much money to mosques around the world and spreads their view to the point that it has become the new normal. My parents have become less tolerant of different views as they grow older. They've also adopted the anti Semitic views that a lot of Muslims harbor these days. It's sad to see, but not uncommon.
posted by reenum at 2:50 PM on February 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


Ultimately, I'm probably an agnostic with Muslim tendencies, but I'm OK with that.

Same here. I can't in good conscience say the shahada and mean it, at least not without some internal rules lawyering about just how I'm defining "God," but I still identify as culturally Muslim, because it is part of my identity. There are things I love about Islam, even as there are things I have deep reservations about. I know there are a lot of Muslims and/or agnostics like me, but, y'know, there are reasons we're not open about it. For me, it's never been about any disapproval from other Muslims, it's been about not wanting to engage in any number of tedious "explain your religion and terrorism and 1000 years of history to me please" conversations.

Anyway, I really liked that article and definitely felt some recognition in her anecdote about interactions with visibly observant Muslims. A few months ago, I was making a late night booze purchase, and the cashier saw my (fairly obviously Middle Eastern) name on my ID and was all "oh hey, are you Muslim? Salam alaikum!" And it was just...awkward what with him literally ringing up my bottle of haram vodka at that very moment. I gave a rather sheepish look at the vodka and said, "Uh, yeah, wa'alaikum a'salam."

But, y'know, I don't eat pork! Still! So there's that. I feel like that's the one line mostly non-observant Muslims hold to because it's comparatively easy, and it's like the one in-group signifier that a huge range of varyingly observant/non-observant Muslims can share.
posted by yasaman at 2:56 PM on February 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


I feel like that's the one line mostly non-observant Muslims hold to because it's comparatively easy, and it's like the one in-group signifier that a huge range of varyingly observant/non-observant Muslims can share

I would add that a lifetime of convincing yourself not to eat Strange Meat really sticks with you. I'm willing to try most "gross" foods, but if you hand me pork you might as well have handed me human.
posted by Don Don at 3:01 PM on February 24, 2015


lol yeah, literally one of the first descriptions about myself on Facebook is that I'm culturally Muslim, and I'm native and still living in a Muslim-majority country, so that bit really trips up people i know here. But they're 'culturally Muslim' too, they just haven't been a minority elsewhere long enough to see the distinction. ;)
posted by cendawanita at 3:16 PM on February 24, 2015


and i can forget what that means when you are a minority, which means my little asides and jokes that would get a knowing smirk absolutely doesn't land well without the cultural reference. once a canadian friend asked why i won't mind a drink and i replied, I'm just following my arab relatives' example and that it's fine as long as i don't get drunk. (it's like the kind of comments my friends would make, modelling it after us sitcoms)

little did I realise he honestly took it as an interpretation of scripture, and would tell it to other people as such.

yeah, probably why 'non-visible' muslims in the western world don't make a big deal about their faith.

(though those living in muslim-majority countries tend to keep it quiet these days for actual fear of being persecuted by the religious authorities ha ha ha.)
posted by cendawanita at 3:32 PM on February 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


wenestvet - "...and very few without beards."

Pop over to Jakarta or Kuala Lumpur sometime.
posted by QuietDesperation at 3:41 PM on February 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


In the wake of the Sepoy Rebellion, the British were busy razing Delhi and slaughtering every muslim they could find in retaliation. They caught Ghalib, the poet laureate of the Mughal court, and brought him to a British officer who asked "Are you a Muslim?"
"I'm half Muslim."
"What do you mean you're half Muslim?"
"I drink wine but I don't eat pork."
The British officer laughed, and that's how Ghalib survived the fall of Delhi.
posted by BinGregory at 3:46 PM on February 24, 2015


Previously.
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:04 PM on February 24, 2015


But no matter how religious or non-religious they are, I haven't met a single Muslim who eats pork.

*raises hand*
posted by Ziggy500 at 3:12 AM on February 25, 2015


To kind of expand on that, I'm not like the sole outlier either. My family eats pork, and my dad is the only member who would describe himself as an atheist. My friends (South Asian born and bred, now settled in the West) eat pork. Those who don't eat it, don't because they're not used to the texture and the taste, because growing up they hadn't been exposed to it.
posted by Ziggy500 at 3:16 AM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


i have eaten pork, but never in my home country, and always because i always forget, just because i have grown up with halal versions of the dishes it doesn't mean it's 'authentically' halal.

speaking of, boy you people love bacon.
posted by cendawanita at 8:39 AM on February 25, 2015


Love is the religion, and the universe is the book. - living descendant of Rumi, Jelaluddin Chelabi, as quoted by Rumi translator Coleman Barks
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:54 AM on February 25, 2015


Just popping back into this thread.

I really empathised with this article, as it spoke so closely to my own experience, from the supportive parents to the worship of a more compassionate God.

I have had a long and difficult relationship with my faith, especially its more patriarchal and oppressive aspects, but I would NEVER call myself a non-practising or a lapsed Muslim. I am a Muslim. When people probe, I jokingly refer to myself as a crap Muslim.

I also find it striking when people say that they've never heard of Muslims like us existing, Muslims who subscribe to their faith but who aren't really that visible about it (I for example do not cover my hair, curse like a sailor, drink a fair bit, love me some bacon).

Growing up as a member of the privileged classes in South Asia, people like me were considered pretty normal. You wouldn't drink in public or in front of your grandparents, but no one was that shocked if you did drink at parties. Almost everyone served their drinking water in old whisky bottles. It was great if you did pray 5 times a day but a lot of people only managed a couple of times and I in my most pious phases have only managed one a day.

It wasn't unusual to run into the point of view that being super observant (hijab, not drinking, etc) was a bit embarrassing and countrified and something only the "lower middle classes" did! (I do NOT subscribe to this opinion, I just heard it expressed a fair bit growing up).

When I moved to the UK, I was really surprised to find myself in the minority. I met and made friends with girls wearing hijab for the first time. I met Muslims and non-Muslims who were SHOCKED when I ordered ham on my pizza.

It was also the first time I realised that non-Muslim people had this really different image of what it meant to be Muslim. It still surprises me sometimes, when I read about Islamic affairs in the news, how very very differently the West views the faith I grew up in from my own experience of it. But it's not just the West - other Muslims find me a funny one too - 'neither fish nor fowl'.
posted by Ziggy500 at 9:15 AM on February 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


I don't think the author thinks that a single Islam is necessary or desirable. She doesn't believe there is a "true Islam".

This just seems absurd.
How can you simultaneously maintain a particular religious belief and admit that it is not true. If you don't believe your idea of worship is correct why would you maintain it in the first place?

Religious beliefs by definition are claims about particular metaphysical and teleological truths of the world. To admit that yours is not true is oxymoronic.
And actually would make it perfectly reasonable for me to treat it like some fad / trend / fashion of the day.
posted by mary8nne at 7:55 AM on February 26, 2015


Some people believe a thing can be true for them - like the way they practice their faith - without requiring it to be true for everyone else ever and that everyone must do exactly what they do or they're doing it rong. It's really not that weird. Christians in the West do this all the fucking time but it's just background noise and therefore unremarkable.
posted by rtha at 7:59 AM on February 26, 2015 [5 favorites]


What rtha said above, but also

Religious beliefs by definition are claims about particular metaphysical and teleological truths of the world. To admit that yours is not true is oxymoronic.
And actually would make it perfectly reasonable for me to treat it like some fad / trend / fashion of the day.


Religion is more than a set of metaphysical and teleological truths; it also encompasses any number of practices, cultural touchstones, accepted wisdom, behavioral norms, etc. These things are intimately tied up into religious faith and practice.

And you can treat it however you like, but the same argument would be true of nearly any organized social movement, really. Dismissing something as a "fad" just because it doesn't necessarily hold profound teleological truths as universally true seems unreasonably prejudicial to me.
posted by thegears at 9:54 AM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


there are only a given number of things that are incontrovertibly established by the canonical sources of Quran and Sunnah. Every other part of the religious edifice is built by fallible human hands. The four schools of law in Sunni Islam disagree on any number of points based on their treatment of the canonical sources. They operate under the principle "I am convinced my position is correct but it is possible I am wrong, I am convinced your position is wrong but it is possible you are correct" out of humility in the face of human imperfection. So even the strictly observant are capable of allowing for the existence of multiple valid truth claims within the religion as long as they're grounded in the sources.

Y'all dining on the swine though... *wags finger judgingly*
posted by BinGregory at 2:23 PM on February 26, 2015


TIL diversity in practice and beliefs is a fad.
posted by cendawanita at 3:56 PM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've generally found that when someone argues against against a particular way of practicing one's faith by drawing hard-and-fast lines around what religion is and isn't, all they're really doing is setting up a straw man.
posted by duffell at 7:41 AM on February 27, 2015 [1 favorite]




Organised social movements (like political parties) usually don't accept that the oppositions position is correct actually.

And Christians do not really, deep down, accept that other forms of worship are say "just as valid" as their own. They may admit that people have a right to worship in other ways - but they also have a right to "go to hell" because of it. They don't actually believe that other religious beliefs are "just as true" as their own. - well, unless they are idiots. But I suppose that is possible.
posted by mary8nne at 3:45 PM on March 4, 2015


ah, usually.

Usually it is contentious to expand the definition of the following to be beyond abrahamic faiths (fellow People of the Book), but usually classical mainstream Islam already admits that those of Jewish and Christian faith have just as much right and access to Paradise, based on textual support from the Quran. That's one usual example when people do want to cite exidence for toleration of beliefs in Islam. as for among Muslims themselves, usually, the idea has been that for the most part it will be sorted in the Hereafter and it is actually a heavy sin to accuse another of being an apostate or similar. Various schools of thought (not particularly esoteric) have expressed this. But feel free to discount the established exegesis of another religious tradition.

I suppose we live in unusual times.
posted by cendawanita at 5:19 PM on March 4, 2015


And do not say to anyone who says to you salam alaykum that "you are not a Believer." Quran 4:94

"Differences of opinion among my companions are a mercy for the believers." - Prophet Muhammad ﷺ

"Whosoever calls another a kafir, the word is proved true against one of them." - Prophet Muhammad ﷺ
posted by BinGregory at 11:08 PM on March 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


OK..so in the islamic tradition you won't "go to hell" for following another faith / order of religion. But there has to be a core sense that you are the following the correct / true faith otherwise your religion is just a kind of solipsism?

Do different sects within a religion present themselves as true believers?
- Tolerance doesn't mean that you accept the others beliefs as true - merely that you don't kill them for it.
posted by mary8nne at 12:01 AM on March 5, 2015


mary8nne : "Tolerance doesn't mean that you accept the others beliefs as true - merely that you don't kill them for it."

Counterpoint:
My faith tradition tells me that to have a "tolerant" society is to demean society. If I say that I will tolerate you, I am demeaning you. If I say that I will accept you, I am still demeaning you. Now, if I was to say "I will respect you," that would be slightly better. But what if I said, "I will lay down my life for you!"? You have to try and have that kind of spirit of sacrifice.

— Mohinder Singh, Chairman, Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha, Birmingham, UK, at the 2004 Parliament of the World's Religions
posted by Lexica at 9:22 AM on March 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


Mod note: A couple of comments deleted. Jeffburdges, please don't do the unrelated link dump thing.
posted by taz (staff) at 4:39 AM on March 10, 2015


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