Someone decided I was not. This appeared in my paper back home:

Spiritual revision

This refers to Amira's column about Muslims (GDN, March 5) lecturing us on our dress, actions etc. Don't you know by now Amira that you are not considered a true Muslim until and unless a morally superior Muslim says you are?

I've discovered this to be true through 20 years of living with Muslims and there's no getting around it.

Ironically, these very same 'morally superior" Muslims usually have a thing or two about themselves that could do with some spiritual or moral revision.

Just a thought.

Lee Ann

This was in response to a column I wrote, which I will cut and paste here because for some reason the links don't work after a couple of months .. or something like that. Anyway, here's why Ann Lee decided that I should know that by now I am not considered a true Muslim.. LOL!

Hate rhetoric that plagues Arab societies


I don't know whether we as Arabs and Muslims will ever grow up. The other day, I was on the bus on my way back home, when I saw an Arab-looking woman calling her daughter Ayat.

I smiled at the little girl, whose fair skin and golden curls reminded me of my own sister Ayat, who is back in Bahrain.

Unbeknown to me at the time that I was committing a huge mistake, a curious homesick me called the girl towards me and started speaking to her in Arabic.

Very soon, her mother joined in the conversation, greeting me and asking me where I was from.

The second mistake I made was to tell her that I was from Bahrain, which isn't because I am not proud of being a Bahraini, but because of what followed.

"So you must be a Shia," she said. I rolled my eyes in horror, thinking that this sectarian mess isn't following me all the way to Canada, or is it?

"Does it really matter what I am?" I asked.

"From your Iraqi accent, I think you are Shia," she said, as if she was looking into a crystal ball.

"I already told you that I am Bahraini and not Iraqi," I retorted, wondering from under which rock this creature crawled out!

Did she even realise that the Iraq she is talking about is in civil war because of the very sectarian division she is so keen to emphasise?

Does she really care? Besides, half way around the world, does it matter what my sect is?

"So where is your Abaya (black cloak which covers a woman's body)," she rebuked me.

"Excuse me!" I yelled back. Who on Earth did she think she was to give me a sermon? Besides, the temperature was -16C and I was dressed up more conservatively than ever in my life, with three layers of clothes, a long overcoat, boots, gloves, a scarf and a hat. For Allah's sake, how much more clothes did she want me to have on and who has appointed her the Keeper of the Faith on Earth?

The nerve of some people!

Thinking it was an isolated incident, I brushed it off, until other people I know here told me of similar annoyances they were subjected to.

Isn't it strange how those people, many of whom have left their countries claiming the need to live in a democratic environment, are themselves fighting the very principles they have fled their countries for?

I am not against Islam or respecting the Islamic attire, but I am against bullies who think they can catapult people to heaven or doom them to hell according to their whims.

To the Arabs and Muslims living abroad: Please spare us the sermons and the hate rhetoric which is plaguing our societies back home.

Sigh! Scary when everyone appoints himself God on Earth!


nzm said...

I never realised that the only way that you could become a Muslim was when the Morally Superior Muslim Society approved it!

SillyBahrainiGirl said...

This is precisely why I am seeking guidance right now!!!

Gardens of Sand said...

This is the reason I do not mix with a lot of arab muslims in the US. They are so judgemental. A friend of my volunteers, volunteers mind you, at a local mosque to teach the new converts and non-arabs how to read arabic so they can read the Quran, only to find out her students were talking about what a bad muslim she is for not wearing hijab!!!!

Where did no compulsion in religion go? Where did letting ppl be and minding your own business coz God will judge and he reads ppls hearts go?

When did our outer appearance become so much more important that what is inside of us and how we are as humans?

Being a shunni with one parent this another parent that, I get these questions all the time and man times ppl don't even blink when mouthing judgements. To that I look them straight in the eye and say: Yes Allah, so nice of you to manifest in the flesh and make this issue clear to me.

That usually horrifies them enough that they never bring it up again! lol

Cerebralwaste said...

Well SBG can you imagine how bad it would be if say.... YOU CONVERTED TO ANOTHER RELIGION and DUMPED ISLAM?

Delal said...

ohhh...I hate it when other Muslims decide that they are the judge and jury of your own spirituality.

Case in point, I am openly Sufi...and I definitely don't follow the conventional "rules"...I drink- in moderation, and I don't pray 5 times a day because I believe that every breath is a prayer. I believe in my own salvation and that it is important to be a good person whatever you believe. I don't see this as extreme.

A couple of years ago on a school sponsored trip/competition I went out and drank with some of the other schools after hours. I was responsible about it and didn't miss any of the competition. Two other girls...Muslim obviously...missed some of their competition sessions to go and protest (we were in Washington DC at the time). When asked about where they were by our faculty they lied and said that they were there the entire time....and yet the condemned me for drinking. So lying is alright, but drinking and not lying about it isn't? And of course, they didn't think that I was "serious" about my faith because I didn't wear the veil.

Needless to say...I have little to no contact with the Muslims in the University community.

Elagante said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

Your self righteous Muslim "friend" misses the point. The Abaya is only a piece of clothing: the principle is modest dress. In Canada, in Winter, all outdoor attire is modest. Perhaps, she should take lessons from the Christian Amish/Mennonites who dress modestly and maintain a conservative form of humble Christianity but do not presume to judge the rest of us. If she is a permanent resident of Canada she will have a struggle with her daughter in years to come as she adopts Canadian cultural values and behaviour.

SillyBahrainiGirl said...

Thank you all for your words of guidance and courage.

GoS: The nerve of some people! You are right in shocking them because such shameless people need someone to show them where they stand!

CW: I am afraid no matter what Lee thinks, I am a true believer!

Delal: We should never judge a religion by the actions of people but those 'Holier than Thou' characters need to be exposed and shown who they really are. I would have you and GoS exchange notes on how to deal with those rascals.

elagante: You are right. People are judgemental ... but I can't see why a woman who is obviously not so comfortable in her own skin is getting out of her way to make other women uncomfortable! What a cow!

Pebbles: Let's pray the Abaya policewoman sees light before her daughter hits puberty!! I agree with you 100% - keep your fingers crossed that the tunnel she's dig for herself has an exit!

Anonymous said...

Are you sure Lee Ann wasn't being sarcastic? The last paragraph on her letter would seem to indicate so

Westy said...

Hey SBG,

interesting story. Something I have been thinking about over the years is whether people who have left their countries/cultures/people are often more protective/strict in their interpretation of what it is to represent their home country. I am wondering if it is because people feel the need to maintain/defend their original heritage. It is interesting meeting children of immigrants that often lead more strict lives than people who have arrived directly from the same country. As though the people who left froze their values when they left, forgetting that things change over there years, regardless of where you live. Thanks for your story.



SillyBahrainiGirl said...

My Fake, I can't rule out anything. she could be sarcastic.. you never know.

Westy, Thanks for sharing your thoughts and for dropping by. Also...

"As though the people who left froze their values when they left, forgetting that things change over there years, regardless of where you live."

... This is just so so so true!! I salute you for this observation.

Joeprah said...

Hello SBG!

I happened across your blog through Pajama Media somehow and I really love your thoughts as a free spirited, rational women. You are a model of strength in my opinion just from reading over some of your posts.

As for that encounter in Canada, it is sad to say that no matter what religion, nation you come from, or clothes you wear, there is always going to be someone with a full-time job to show fault in your decisions (usually unsolicited). Usually parents in my case.

I myself never encountered much of this from the public until I became a stay at home dad and now it seems like all I get is surprising comments from Moms putting me down without even knowing me. Keep up the great work and thanks for the glimpse into the life of someone living half a world away from me.


SillyBahrainiGirl said...

Thanks for dropping by Joe. You sum up the situation beautifully when you say:
"no matter what religion, nation you come from, or clothes you wear, there is always going to be someone with a full-time job to show fault in your decisions (usually unsolicited)."
Chin up! As long as we are comfortable doing what we are doing, we won't let others run our lives for us.

Dreams do come true. said...

words from sillygirl to another sillygirl: Only look at who you are 'SillyGirl" :> coz, allah is only looking at you...forget people who are by nature not perfect and only look at the goodness you are and how you can give this goodness to those who need it. Salam.

Joeprah said...

Hey SBG,

I am back to blogging after several months of tech induced sabatical. I just wanted to say hey and that you are one of the bloggers that made me want to read and write some more after I was freed from my RAM prison. I will check in with you later as I love your point of view.

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