Sunday, December 18, 2011

Can Men and Women Be Friends?

I wrote a response to a Muslim blogger who wanted to reconnect with male friends she knew before Islam. Many readers told her that it wasn't a good idea.  I also stated that opinion.    However, you won't be able to read my response on her blog because she deleted the post.

So, I am posting here what I wrote:

Asalamu Alaykom,

You do seem up and down and then up and down with alarming frequency. This is only obvious to us who read you because you tell us. If you didn’t tell us then we wouldn’t know. You are announcing your moods and thus are locking yourself into a mindset.

I gave up the notion that “happiness” was really that important to me any more. It has helped immensely. I am no longer a slave to my emotions. Sure, I still swerve from the calm I want but it isn’t such a long detour as it used to be. I want peace. I work for finding and maintaining peace. This isn’t as HIGH a feeling as happiness but it sure beats the resulting lows. Being Muslim and making a commitment to Islam means giving up some of our old notions.

That whole idea of “just friends” is not just un-Islamic; it’s illogical. Watch this video  to see some proof from Non-Muslim, Utah college kids.

I realize that you want to stop us readers focusing on your desire to reconnect with male friends from your past. Well…that’s not possible. You threw something out there which is really a bombshell. It’s like a call for help that we responded to and then you want us to stop seeing it as a big issue. It is!

You aren’t really single—from what I’m understanding (and it is convoluted). You seem to still be legally married. That brings a couple of issues into play.

Don’t give the father of your child any rope to hang you. If he finds out that you are still legally his and you are in contact with men it could mean a custody grab. Men do strange things when they think another man might have some sort of closeness or influence with their child.

And maybe MAYBE if you are not fully divorced then you could still save your marriage. Been known to happen! Not an outlandish idea. So, you being seen to jump ship into the emotional arms of a former male friend could upset everything. Leave it alone.

But why do we have to adhere to your thinking that, “I’m a Muslim woman writing this blog, but this blog is not about Islam”? If you are a Muslim then everything you do and say ESPECIALLY in a public forum is about Islam. You are representing Islam.  With every post and response we give we are living out our Islam. There is no way for a true believer to separate ME from MY FAITH. We are our faith in our every move, moment and membrane.

You want to write a blog which has in its title an piece of Islamic clothing, and discuss your life in Saudi, which is a Muslim country, and yet you don’t want us to call you out when your decisions run counter to Islamic principles? You can’t have it both ways.

And “no” you can’t be a Muslim woman and have male friends. The closest I get to this is my writing partner Ben on our blog and even that I constantly question.

Life should be about questioning who we are NOW—not who we were. We weren’t actually that great before. We weren’t! And the people who stayed in that “not so great” place will only encourage us to stay there with them. Though your hub has qualified in your mind as a shlunk, he is still a Muslim man and closer to you than any of those Non-Muslim men will ever be.

I’ve truly “been there and done that”. I’ll tell you what happened for me after my divorce from my Mister.

Those short, funny conversations with a Non-Muslim man will start playing in your head. Those men are closer to our original culture and the interactions are therefore comfortable and comforting. We then wonder if that’s a big loss to have given up. We can’t have these cute little chats about Rog from “What’s Happening” (such an obscure referrence to a 1979 sit-com) with our former foreign-born hub. No pop culture referrences! No simmilar backgrounds. Eventually, we start to wonder if we’ll have to leave Islam somehow to find that connection. Because, as we know, we can’t marry a Non-Muslim man. So, it takes a really awful experience to shake us from playing with fire. And, I believe that, if you did venture out of your Islamic principles, you would get that moment which burns you.

All of us who are advising against this idea would rather you didn’t get burned. We, and I believe I do speak for everyone who reads you, really care about you because you are this sweet, honest woman striving through adversity. We wish the best for you.


Anonymous said...

So who is Ben?

of Yosra and Ben.

Your brother right?

Zarina Hassem said...

This video is so interesting and makes the point so easily in such a clear manner. Thanks for posting this. Also, I think your response to the fellow blogging sister was a really good one. You speak with so much care and consideration and without judgement bring your point across. May Almighty Allah reward you, Inshaa-Allah.

Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom Anon,

Ben is not my brother. I have no brothers and no sisters.

Ben is many other things. He is an accomplished writer, thinker, humanitarian, vocal talent and Hollywood hottie.

He is also someone I've known since childhood. His siblings would babysit me. We went on to college together---at least for some time. We ventured out into young adulthood together.

I never thought about him as available to me. He's very much a gay man.

I look at our (often-shelved) collaboration on the blog as something necessary in the world today. We do care about one another as human beings. We do wish the best for each other. We are in very different social groups YET we can find the simmilarities and encourage peace and understanding between the two inshahallah.

That's who Ben is.

Asalamu Alaykom Zarina,

I'm glad you got something out of this post. Isn't it amazing how the truth is the truth no matter who speaks it? On the video there are such different people than I would expect to be making this point. Maybe their message is even better because of who they are. Could Muslims have made such a good video? Maybe---but we didn't! ;)

The response to the blogger was something I crafted and I hate to throw away anything. So, here it is and it is full of caring actually...ya. I don't know if she understood it as such. I'm glad you heard it for what it is.

Jaime Brown said...

Assalamo alaikum sis,

Once again, well-written gentle guidance and advice from the depths of your Egyptian (deskless for now) think-zone.

So often as reverts, we sometimes battle within our own mind's barriers of comfort. It's so easy to slink back to our old ways. It's easy to want to do the same things that we've known as "normal" all our lives. Yes, it's very easy. But! Our faith has to come first. The Straight Path is very narrow and at times can be very difficult. Falling OFF that path and the resulting consequences are far more difficult however.

I think you mentioned some excellent points (especially about falling into the comforting arms of a male friend who can relate...on a level foreign born husbands can't). Sometimes it's easy to think about how we "used to be" and how we "used to live". Well guess what? That all disappeared when we said the Shahada. No longer are we ignorant to what is right and wrong. Playing dumb for ourselves only results in self-destruction.

Kudos to you for speaking your mind and reminding (all of us reverts) that Islam is not for dummies. There's a wisdom behind everything and we need to stick to it--whether we feel like it or not.


Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom JB,

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways!

Yes, you are wonderful to post a comment tonight. It's Christmas and I miss my family in the U.S. so it's great to have a "sista" give a shout out.

LOL @ my desk-less think zone. I wonder if my humble surroundings actually make me a better thinker. Maybe if I rise up to a few feet off the floor, I'll loose my grounding.

I was thinking today if I really can offer advice. And I concluded I can! LOL! It might not always be the best but it's better than nothing. Luckily for me I can't keep quiet.

Yes, I did feel the emergency of the situation with a revert wanted to go backwards to the way we were (cue Barbara Streisand!). It's better to admit we've changed and it hurts sometimes to admit. But the hurt of admitting is better than the hurt of falling off the path.

Thanks for seconding my opinions. Isn't so easy to laugh with a culturally in tune dude? Yep! And yet, when I stand next to my husband at fajr prayer, I know that all those surface-level laughs don't equal up.

Hope you and the hub are finding a way to live, love and laugh. Halal is really an awesome way to go!

Kisses your way as well :)

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Yosra said...

Wa Alaykom Asalam Sandy,

Thanks for identifying yourself in that last comment. My guess is that you were also the first Anonymous wondering who Ben was.

Your second comment about Ben isn't going to be posted here. I decided it was too mean spirited. You took enough digs at me on that other blog. This blog is mine. I get to say and do as I please.

Yaay for me!

Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom Readers,

Sandy has written and wants it known that she did NOT write that first comment about Ben.

My mistaken guess. I said it was a guess. Guesses are not to be taken as fact but rather conjecture.

We all clear on this? Good.

Let's moooooove along :)

Anonymous said...

You also said "Your second comment" as though it were a fact- but really I won't quibble now. I really do appreciate you setting it straight and will gladly move on. I know you think I am mean-spirited for what I actually did write- I disagree but respect your right to your opinions. I generally don't mind people dislikling me for what I actually DO say- but I don't like it for what I didn't say.

In spite of our differnces I wish you all the best. We are on interesting life journeys- it isn't easy transplanting to the Middle East. I think we all do the best we can.


Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom Sandy,

I agree that quibbling doesn't get us very far in life. Thanks for understanding my needs.

Thanks also for your well wishes. I wish you better than you wish for yourself.

Both of us have transplanted, that's true. Yes, we are both on a journey. Sincerely, every person is on a kind of journey. Some choose to acknowledge their journey and some don't. Everyone does the best they can at the time. Doing better every day than the day before is my goal.

I appreciate your efforts at reconciling our differences.

I hope that we can leave each other in peace. Masalama.

khaki said...

assalam-o-alaikum yosra!
I would really appreciate if you could give me a little advice on dealing with heartbreak..when one wants answers but cannot get them and the pain gets too overwhelming. I know and understand that whatever Allah wills is the best for us.. It astonishes me how people can change, not caring for the others. I'm very emotional, i guess, that makes accepting reality more difficult.

Yosra said...

Wa Alaykom Asalam Khaki,

Sorry to hear you've had a break-up. Thanks for trusting me enough to write to me.

I have give you an answer here:

I sincerely hope that I'm of some help. If I'm not then I really am sorry and don't give up asking until someone says something which helps. Of course, asking Allah is best :)

The best of what I've written is from Allah and the worst is from me.

May Allah be with you now and always. :)