*Wipes dust off*
Oh my. What do we have here? My favourite blog feature resurrected just in time for October! So in honour of my favourite month (after the gorgeous heat of August being another favourite), I thought it was time to see what goodies are out there on teh internetz. In this warm-up edition of the roundup we’ve got a smack down for the budding student of Islamic knowledge, a little Muslim Blue Steel, a nasheed singer turned eco-warrior, and Alice Cooper.
1) Dear Western students of Islam. Do you love Islam and yearn for sound Islamic knowledge? Do you exotify and dream of pure Muslim lands where people glorify the name of the Prophet in every sentence, where Allah is remembered in every gathering, where 7th century living is par for the course? In the face of lacking western spirituality, do you aim to purge your western sensibilities and influences by travelling and studying in Yemen, Syria, Egypt or Jordan — finding the spiritual fulfillment you’ve been searching for?
Well here to burst your bubble and keep your deen firmly on the ground is the truly amazing Suhaib Webb. In a well needed “Letter to the Aspiring Western Student of Islam” Imam Webb provides us with such glittering gems as:
Some people go abroad to study for a number of months or a year or two and then return home with the mistaken impression that they are now fully qualified to join the arena of Islamic scholarly discourse in the West. I would argue that a person like this is actually more harmful to us as a developing community than someone who hasn’t studied at all.
Often, students who study abroad return to the West with baggage of impassioned, unyielding opinions… transferring vitriolic debates to the West… This is actually quite nonsensical when the average Muslim in the West may be struggling with much more practical elements of their religion such as raising their children with an attachment and love for Islam… dealing with the challenge of wearing Islamic attire or avoiding alcohol in the workplace, and so on, and for whom Ibn Taymiyyah or Ibn al-Arabi have little relevance to their everyday practice of faith.
Muslim lands are certainly not perfect, and they have their problems and cultural idiosyncrasies and things that will frustrate and sadden you and drive you crazy…. Many of us have hidden away inside of us this strange sort of guilt, that living in the West is not right, or that it’s not really where we belong. You will, in your travels, see that Allah has caused you to grow up where and how you did for a reason, and through your travels, He may gift you with experiences that help you appreciate the good and the positives of your homeland that you may have often overlooked.
Smack down! Now go study with the right intentions!
2) Muslim women — challenging stereotypes. Muslim women — owning businesses and owning the fashion industry. Muslim women — freeing themselves from oppressive regimes. And then there’s the Daily Beast saying, Arab models — the New Faces of Islam. Congratulations ladies, you’re challenging Muslim stereotypes with your waist size:
About that same time, in the tourist town of Nabeul, Tunisia, a young woman with the gamine features of Audrey Hepburn was having similarly fanciful thoughts. Hanaa Ben Abdesslem had always drawn lingering glances because of her soaring height and impossibly thin frame. The stares made her self-conscious and shy. But when she flipped through fashion magazines, she’d gaze at those “tall, thin, beautiful women, and I thought perhaps someday I could feel at ease.”
I am absolutely certain there’s more to these women than pointing to how they don’t fit the voluptuous Arab stereotype and therefore, by great extension, they somehow represent a new kind of Islam. Nice try though. Gorgeous pic.
3) “I’m just a rock and everyday I sit and watch the sky. I don’t want to be a bird, ’cause us rocks were never meant to fly. But you can sit and rest on me when you pass by. Alhamdulillah I’m a rock. And that is all Allah asks of me.”
Awww! My Islamic childhood nasheed singer talks about returning to his human roots and living frugally in Pakistan. Natural recycling, schoolwork with chalk, growing organic, eco-warrior and a look into his latest album. Which, like the last few, are decidedly less Islamic and more spiritual in nature.
(I met him once, forever ago, and totally made a fool out of myself. I practically threw an empty glass at him. Long story.)
4) ATTENTION ATTENTION! Muslim leaders call for more women to assume mosque leadership!
I just thought you should know.
5) Finally, Muslim women rock.
Oh hell yes. I remember the first time I picked out my special red and black hijab just so I could rock out at an Alice Cooper concert in style. In this fun article over at the Guardian, Remona Aly talks about how rock music is the perfect genre for naturally rebellious hijab-wearing Muslim women:
Recently, aged 31, I set out in my coolest headscarf to see the best live band in the world: Muse, on their Resistance Tour. I looked around, but spotted not one of my species – an “undercover Muse-lim”, as one friend dubs me. But there are others.
Shabana, a solicitor and mother of three, has listened to rock music for as long as she has worn a headscarf. She has dragged her husband to a Jon Bon Jovi gig; her son has taken up electric guitar. “People are always surprised to find out about my rock collection,” she says. “They take one look at my headscarf and assume I’ll be into choir music!” I know the feeling.
Damn right. You sing it sistah.
I recently learned that Alice came out with his sequel to his seminal work “Welcome 2 My Nightmare” and I am on pins and needles waiting for the Nightmare tour to start. Eryn is going to have a blast. How’s that for challenging stereotypes. /sarcasm.