I’m having a go at this again because my post was just put to shame by the brilliance of my fellow convert bloggers, mashAllah. See all of their contributions here in the comments.
I want to say first that I feel I came off a little glib in my last post, as if my checklist could solve all your mosque problems.
Believe me, I know that it won’t. I just know that this is how I’ve dealt with problems that I’ve faced.
But also know that I plain gave up on going to ICC Tempe in Arizona because all the women there froze me out, despite all of my attempts. Yes, I’mma call ICC Tempe out because I wasn’t the only one to face that same problem. Shame on all of you. I mean that from the bottom of my heart.
I also only made a few appearances at ICC Phoenix because of the same issue. O Ummah of Arizona, you need to get your ish straight.
I was the most welcomed by the Pakistanis of the 32nd Ave Masjid, even though I didn’t go often because I wasn’t 100% happy with the leanings of that Imam, even though he is a good man mashAllah. At the time (this is 4 years ago, so things may have changed) it was definitely a culturally-driven Islam being taught there, and it didn’t jive with me.
My point is that I encountered the same sense of not fitting in, and the same lack of a supportive ummah.
And that is why I value the ummah in Minnesota so very, very much.
UmmLayla blogged about the mosque that she would like to see built and what amenities she would like to see it offer. Alhumdulillah this is something that we have achieved here in Minnesota, so my friends, take heart. It IS possible.
I want link up to the organization that has put into place so many of the programs that we need as an Ummah: Building Blocks.
Building Blocks isn’t the origin of the wonderful ummah here, it is a PRODUCT of it. It is the product of many years of work done by wonderful, community-driven, Muslims and under the supervision of Sheikhs who made themselves available to an avid and hungry community. It is the product of blood, sweat, and tears; of 20 hour days and sleepless nights. It is the product of cooperation between Masjids and Sheikhs who don’t always have the same ideas, but are willing to put aside differences and work towards a greater goal.
I’m not sure its something all communities can achieve, but it IS possible.
I want to move on to another subject though; one brought up directly by Amie and alluded to by other contributors: the idea that Islam/Muslim and Western can’t ever exist jointly. You’re either Muslim, or you’re Western.
The idea that if you haven’t completely given up your western side then you are not a true Muslim and you will always fall short.
I alluded to it too, when I spoke of the initial phase of converting to Islam, the astughfurlillah and apologist phase.
I also said that it is something many converts eventually grow out of. Like Nicole said in her post that most of us blogging dinosaurs figured it out, but disappeared and now the new Muslim bloggers are making the “New-Convert-itis” mistakes that we made or read about five years ago. Eventually they will make all the mistakes we made, or saw, or had to deal with as new converts years ago, and we will watch as some of them implode, while others grow up as we did.
The problem with so many of the new converts is that even if you tell them that they are making a mistake, or that they are wrong, they won’t get it. They won’t understand. They’re stuck in that phase and they just have to live it out.
But we can be there for other new converts online or in our local masjids, so long as we keep our presence up. And that would involve dealing with mosque-politics, for better or worse.
How does that saying go? I don’t mean to be trite but: be the change that you want to see in the world.
So when you see a new convert, or would-be convert enter the masjid, welcome them. And if they can’t pronounce the surah correctly, tell them that it will come with time.
And show them, and the masjid too, that its possible to be Western and Muslim, so long as Islam is what guides you.
I also want to, as an end note, give credit where credit is due. Never underestimate what your online friends can bring to you, because even after 6 years of being Muslim, I still make a helluva lot of mistakes. I judged, even if it was silently, certain people or movements.
And so, while I may not always agree with the ideas of some of these sisters, I need to give them a shout out for making me see how important it is to let the judgement go and see that the most important thing about a person is that they are Muslim and that they are trying.
I may not agree with their path, but the most that I can do is be the best Muslim that I can be and leave the judgement up to God.
So, Nicole: I hope you know that your rants have made a huge impact on me. Thanks for being so angry. (just kidding.) You always have an important point to make.
Organica: I don’t always agree with you, but yours is a voice that needs to be heard because there is so much wisdom behind it.
UmmLayla: Because there is so much sage wisdom behind what you say and what you don’t say.
Thank you ladies for smacking me around when I need it.