Wednesday, February 25, 2009

No Applause

When I was still a church-going believer, I hated applause during the service. I loved that parishioners loved The Lord enough to sacrifice time, energy, and talent to sing a song. I hated when the ending came and the clapping started.


It wasn't clear to me until I took a class in ritual. That college class made me ask, "Who is the ritual for?"

If the performer was doing their shtick for God, then their reward should come from God. The sanctuary, which was supposed to be worshipping The Creator instead was turning its adoration to a person. The energy flow then became more horizontal than vertical. You get me?

It's good to know who you are worshipping and why you are performing your rituals. An unexamined life is not worth living.

This week, my actions were all for Allah. I did what I could and I asked for strength and sabr to keep going.

I was oblivious to many different intrigues but I was made aware of a few.
At first, I was aghast that any Muslim would pick apart the actions of another Muslim at all, but especially at a time of mourning. I thought it was just one person or just one incident. However, it kept happening.
"Why did she...?"
"Why didn't she...?"
"I would never..."
"Can you believe they...?"
There was a lot of talk down here from believers about believers; very horizontal.
If someone feels badly about another person's actions, it would serve everyone so much better if they went to Allah. Allah knows the contents of our hearts and the intentions behind every action. In sujud, empty your own heart if you don't understand the heart of another.
"Oh, Allah you know better why she said what she did. You know better her fears and worries. Please release her from their grip. Please quiet her mouth and her mind on this subject. Please help her to see that I meant no wrong. Please forgive her what she said. Please forgive me for any upset I've had over this. Please quiet my own mouth so I don't continue the hurtful actions. Please empty my heart of any anger and clean my soul so I can serve you more. I do forgive her."
There was one sister I met here who was so beautiful. Really, when I met her, I loved her right away. I felt this way with so many new sister-friends. We hugged each other and gave each other goodness. I felt absolutely at peace with her and then I learned her name! LOL! Isn't that so funny how we are bonded by our hearts before even knowing the most basic information?
Days later, there was another sister I met who was so haughty. She entered the kitchen where I was making salads for the family. She immediately told me that I had done something very wrong when I left the cemetery on the day of the burial.
I remember that day well. I had stood in the hot sun with my lovely friend. She had just buried her daughter and she couldn't move.
"I don't have the strength."
"I don't either," I replied, "but I'm going to ask Allah to give us the strength."
It was then that I walked with a grieving mother away from her daughter's grave. My supposed mistake was right after that. If I did do a wrong, then may Allah forgive me. I truly had just used most of my brain cells to get through that moment. I wish people could make excuses for others, as they would wish others to make excuses for them.
Back in the kitchen, four days after the funeral, she began quizzing me on my life. It was not a conversation. Apparently, I had troubled her without meaning to. She ran her fingers through her hair as she picked on me. I continued working and tried to deflect comments. I tried to change the subject. She was very aggressive in her tone and in her need to find out information about me.
"You married a Moroccan?" She remarked upon one of my short answers. "I guess you don't have any good friends to advise you."
Comments like that.
She finally left me alone and I was wound-up tight in tension.
When I came out to sit out with the others, I had to ask, "Sister, what is your name again?"
She told me.
"Is there another sister with that same name? I met a sister with that name who was wearing a hejab."
"Ya, I don't normally wear hejab. I wore it here out of respect the first three days."
I swear to you that these were two different women. I don't mean that lightly. I mean I literally can't think of them as the same. I believe when she covered with hejab, Allah covered her faults. The woman in hejab treated me in purity and kindness. She was a quiet, young woman who was small in body, agile, and humble in appearance.
The woman who chastised me, with her flowing hair and tight jeans was enormous in size and thudding in her gait. She was overbearing and loud. She wasn't just criticizing me, by the way, many others got a pronouncement of good or bad as she held court on the couch. Subhanallah!
When it came time for me to leave, she did offer a ride, which I accepted. Why? I thought that I might have been to quick to feel hurt. I wanted to accept the ride so I could improve our understanding, even if she was someone I had just met. Then, I was told that she had invited another sister out for food. Did I mind if they grabbed a bite to eat first?
Allah knows what went on in her mind. My thing is that I'm very straight-forward. If something strikes me as very weird, then it isn't about's about them. She offered the ride but not the time eating out. Allah knows.
I headed out of the home and told her that I didn't feel well and just needed to get to where I was staying. I didn't even tell her the name of the friend who was housing me. I felt that badly about her. I felt exactly like she was eating my flesh.
Alhumdulillah, I got to re-learn of the ugly side of the sisterhood. I had been reveling in this immense love I had revived for these ladies. They have been my chauffeurs, my tour guides, my counselors, my cooks, my babysitters, my supports, my...SISTERS!
I wasn't here for my sisters.
I was here for Allah.
If a sister hates me for what I'm doing, do I stop? No. I am not doing it for her. Allah knows. This way, I can say, "alhumdulillah," because I am no longer a performer who needs applause to continue. I am a Muslimah and I swear I've been doing my best for Allah. I can't say that for my whole life, but I can say it for this week. Allah knows, even if not everybody does.


egyptchick7 said...

What was the "supposed" mistake. I'm interested to know if it is some cultural taboo at funeral thing.

My impression from your writing was that the non-hijab lady who chastised you and the hijab lady were the same...but then you describe them in different physical terms, small vs. enormous. And if that's the case, you saying "I believe when she covered with hejab, Allah covered her faults", then am I correct to assume that you are implying that Hijab makes one more, faultless, I guess?

Being a non-hijabi muslimah myself, I will admit that when I put HIjab on, I do act is bc I have respect for the Hijab. Those who wear it and wear the tight jeans and those who wear it and wear the jilbabs BUT judge up and down, are not wearing the HIjab correctly, aren't giving the Hijab justice. I don't wear it, frankly, bc I am loud and obnoxious and I wanna dance in public, etc etc. Inshallah I will wear hijab, one day. But, back to the story, I guess what I am trying to say, is yes, when a non-hijabi wears hijab, I become a different person. But, it isn't universally true, especially for hijabis.

And it is indeed true, that we are here for Allah and it is HE who we only need to please. And uhm, I think I was pretty adamant warning you against a Moroccan for marriage, no? I wish I could look back and see if it is the case? LOL. The woman doesn't know what she is talking about.

Brooke said...

"she began quizzing me on my life" I have got to learn an effective manner to negotiate out of these kinds of dialogues--I hate these interogations. Especially the ones that start with asking me who my husband is, where is he from and what does he do.

o0UmmHasan0o said...

come and choose an award!

SubhanAllah it gets on my nerves how other sisters can be..

Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom EgyptChick,

Nice to see you upon my return :) In addition to talking about my wonderful sister-friends I've just left (back home now), I need to give a shout out to my sister-friends on-line too! You have advised me many times--that's YOU as a person, EgyptChick, and YOU as a collective, dear readers. I do know that there is goodness encircling the globe through this blog.

The, "mistake"? I hesitated about putting it in the posting. I didn't want the posting to become a discussion on the minutiae of that day. Truly, it pains me that anyone could focus on something else other than the parents who were grieving.

When we got to the parking lot, my lovely friend decided that she wanted to ride alone with the imam and his wife. I know she wanted to ask them questions about what had just happened. All of a sudden, I no longer had a ride. There was another car there still and the imam asked the two brothers if they could carry one more passenger. They agreed. I rode in the backseat with them. That's what it was.

As for the hejab/non-hejab befuddlement for me: the thing is that I was TRULY amazed. It was as much as if magic had happened in front of my eyes. I'm not trying to be figurative. I was LITERALLY unable to identify them as one person. Honestly? I still can't reconsile that in my head.

EgyptChick, someday I do hope you take hejab. My advice? If this is a real goal, then start making changes in who you are now to bring you closer to that goal BEFORE you put it on.

I love you, sweetheart :)

Asalamu Alaykom Brooke,

Thanks for the love and peace. Needed that last night more than you know! I canNOT figure out how to get out of those uncomfortable intterogations either! And it was not my house, I was busy cooking,and I had love for this sister (which I hoped would stop the misunderstanding, but it never did).

Asalamu Alaykom UmmHasan,

Thanks for reading and giving me this very simple comment which is going to re-play in my mind the next time. :)