Monday, January 7, 2008

5 Things I Think Everyone Should Know About Being a Muslimah; Being Me

1) I am not Arab, Pakistani, or East African. I’m African-American and Jamaican; a Jamerican. Yes, there are Muslims in the Caribbean and yes there are American Muslims. Do not assume when you see me in my hijab that I’m from another country. I speak English (and Jamaican patois). You don’t have to speak to me in a slow, measured tone. Then I’ll just get angry and the ghetto will come out of me- take your pick- Southside Chicago or Kingston, Jamaica.

2) I am not passive and I’m not oppressed. (Anyone who knows me knows that I’m far from being either). I’m a strong woman. I made the decision to convert to Islam when I was 17 years old. I’m the only Muslim in family. Therefore, the decision to practice Islam rests on me alone. I could essentially walk away from this way of life (May Allah forbid such a thing) with no consequence or pressure from my family. In fact, I’m sure some of them would be delighted...

3) The Muslim community is not monolithic. Muslims range in practice, belief, application and understanding of Islam. Despite what some Muslims and non-Muslims would like to believe, there is no “single Islam.” You’ll find Muslims who are very strict, very loose and everywhere in between. So, don’t come to me and ask me questions like, “well, my friend Muhammad said Muslim women have to wear the veil over their face, why don’t you have it on?”

4) If I choose to wear hijab it’s my business. Don’t take your stereotypes, assumptions and misperceptions and place them on me. Just as you made the decision to wear whatever you have on, I have done the same. I don’t need you to speak for me and certainly don’t need you to “free” me. Furthermore, I think it’s arrogant (and quite racist) to assume that because I don’t dress like you or behave like then something must be wrong with me. Been there, done that- hated it!

5) I love being a Muslimah. I am not ashamed of my way of life and I’m happy with my decision. All the self-imposed “restrictions” you see as oppressive and passé are quite comfortable to me. And you know what, they look damn good on me. Holla!


Anonymous said...

Bravo Bravo! well said sister, i am sick and tired of the two dichotomies that excist on hijab; whether its muslims and the precious pearl rhetoric and non-muslims and their never ending crusade against the hijab.

wannderrlust said...

I admire you.Yes,a lot of people will definitely comment when we start wearing hijab...some were genuinely happy,others had lots of question marks,like who forced you,etc.I had that.I'm much happier now taking that step.Anyway,I enjoy reading your blog!

La Zokari said...

Wow, reading you blog is crazy to me because I feel like I know you somehow. I'm 17 and Converted to Islam during this past Eid al Fitr. I am mixed and Jamaican also. I reading through some of your posts of your thoughts as an early convert are exactly what I am feeling right now. I must admit, I have been feeling depressed and almost paranoid when it comes to all the new things im learning about islam. And quite frankly I dont know any converts at all and the Sisters I do know are Oromo, and I have NOTHING in common with them... I'm feeling pretty lost right now but Insha'Allah I will get through it.

Jamerican Muslimah said...

la zokari,

I think the key is to take your time. You won't be able to do everything and understand it all over night. The mistake I made as a convert is to allow EVERYONE to tell me how to be a Muslim. I also made the mistake of trying to do everything at once. In hindsight I realize I needed to get the basics down; learning to pray, learning the basics of Tawhid, and learning the base teachings of Islam. Most importantly, learning about the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.)

I'd love to talk with you. Email me at