the world would be a most magical place. Together we’d eradicate poverty, there’d be no jealousy. no insecurities, no competitive judgementalism. No child would be left unloved, harmed. There’d be no crime, no prostitution, no drug trafficking and everyone would eat a la carte. We’d show communism the practise of its theory and would be one big, smiley happy global town…
Sadly not. Time and time again it’s said only to be quickly forgotten: Islam is perfect but Muslims are not.
When you convert to Islam you hear of the sisterhood, the unity between sisters; just as when you have a child you believe you’ll find friends, community with other mothers. Time’s controversial cover this week once again highlighted that within the “motherhood” there are fractions and somehow we – women, men, society – seem programmed to segregate ourselves into the fractions, label ourselves with abstract terms coined by those with the clout to coin such terms. And as the term “motherhood”, denoting a community, a “hood” of mothers who stick together, fails mothers as we term ourselves within that and judge each other upon our chosen definitions of parenting, the term “sisterhood” fails Sisters of Islam. We too create fractions amongst each other and forget the main purpose of our mutual goals is Islam itself: Submission, not to each others’ interpretations to the conforms of societal application of the religion according to community, but to Islam itself, the world of Allah and the doings of Prophet Mohammed pbuh.
The simplest explanation for our humanity is our imperfection – no human is immune to fault, no monk’s conscience crystal clear. As a community, be it one wherein we build our homes, shape our religion into practices or find support for our appointed roles as parents, teachers, lawyers etc, the purpose is – surely – to strengthen the blocks as individuals we start upon. Together we can build bridges, transform lives, empower young children to grow to be the individuals their hearts guide them to be. Together we can unite to make communities, regardless of individuals religions, ideologies, nationalities, political leanings, places where we feel safe, feel free to express ourselves in the rainbow of colours which make our world such a beautiful place. But more often than not we fail to do this. Manage instead to make communities an idealogical concept within which we exist but aren’t free, we follow the rules in to conform not to expand and to grow.
When I covered my head, I didn’t expect to be welcomed as kindred with every covered woman I met, but nor did I expect to be greeted with disdain by so many ‘sisters’ either. Sisters who judge me for the elaborate tie of my scarf, or the colour of its thread. Sisters who feel my tunic is an inch or two short, or believe sisters shouldn’t show their feet in sandals. Sisters who believe nail varnish is haram, or that only dull pattern-free clothes are allowed. Sisters who judge other sisters not by the intent in their hijab but the cultural interpretation of appropriate dress.
When I became a Mum, when the pregnancy test came back blue, I didn’t expect to find kindreds in amongst all Mums that I met, but I didn’t expect either to find the amniosity that exists to each other. I was oblivious to the label breastfeeding my baby put upon me, unaware of how not just the practise itself but the type of babywearing carrier I chose would define my mothering style. I didn’t realise that talking about Montessori theory as well as allowing my son to play with battery powered trains marked me not as an open minded Mum with ideas but as failing at a method and outside of a club.
Islam and Mothering are intertwined in my life and I often fall short of the mark for hitting perfection in both. And that’s ok. I’m human, I’m allowed to. Neither Allah swt nor our children expect us to be perfect everyday – so why do the women around us?
If all the world were Muslims, we’d still fall short of the mark, we’d still reveal the many faults in human nature itself. If all the world were Muslim we would still see the fractions within. And if all the Mums in the world were the breastfeeding ring-slinging co-sleeping type, there’d be a newly rich white man telling us how wrong we are. And magazines would follow en mass. Patriarchy is the enemy of sisters and mothers yet we ignore this eminent fact and buy into it ourselves, we create enemies of each other in mans name not ours. Feminism is crying in her grave.