Having been a Muslim blogger for six years or so, I notice that every few months themes appear on which all of us seem to blog. This month’s theme seems to be the rising awareness of ex-Muslim blogs being blogged about. Ms. Safiya’s latest postand the ensuing comment and counter-posts got me thinking on the topic of ex-Muslims, converts and specifically convert marriages.
The critiques on Muslim marriage in these blogs follow the same lines as the general criticisms from both inside and outside the ummah today: quickie marriages, men “going p”, bad advice from Imams and communites in the face of domestic violence and STDs, questionable sexual relationships both in and out of marriage, marriage for papers…These critiques aren’t entirely unfounded- the ummah has SERIOUS problems when it comes to men and marriage. I’ll be honest, I don’t know a lot of us who have “good” marriages and I am not overly optimistic on my chances of re-marriage given the “dating pool.” But yet throwing the baby (Islam) out with the bathwater (shit marriage) seems too simplistic to me.
My premise on ex-Muslim blogs is simple. I don’t like reading the blogs because it puts me back in the state of mind I was in earlier in the year- angry at the world, blaming my ex, and just generally anxious and pissed off. I see the stories of women who are stuck in this cycle of pain I have transitioned out of and no longer identify with. Some could argue, and wouldn’t be totally wrong, that my marriage wasn’t as bad as what is out there. Those who know the former DH know that he isn’t 100% asshole. As far as people choosing to leave the religion, ok Islam didn’t work for you, and good luck finding that which does works. But just because your marriage was bad and my marriage was bad, don’t call me out for being a tool for staying Muslim after leaving my big bad Muslim man with back homeland pseudo-orientalist baggage. I reject the idea that people who leave Islam after a bad marriage have somehow woken up from a bad dream and that those who choose to stay in Islam are delusional and haven’t digested their breakup enough. I also won’t buy stock in any argument by someone who comes to me saying that Islam is a fundamentally bad religion for women, which is one of the tactics the ex-Muslims try to use in “raising awareness.” That said, I had a discussion with a friend of mine a few weeks back about conversion theories. I completely buy and am willing to co-sign the idea that one of the reasons I choose to believe in God period is because I grew up in the southern US where believing in God is normal and accepted. Maybe had I grown up in Switzerland, I wouldn’t have chosen any religion or maybe I would have left Islam after my separation. It’s a logical possibility, but not the whole story.
Some people like to make the difference between women who convert in order to get married and women who convert before getting married. I make no difference. People are “called to Islam” through a variety of ways, and I have met plenty of girls who “converted for marriage” who are just as sincere in their deen as the next girl. I don’t know if girls who “convert for marriage” are more or less likely to leave the deen after than marriage fails but I don’t like the idea that that is how it is presented. And Muslims and non-Muslims are just as guilty as dismissing these “converted for marriage” girls and people are oh-so-impressed to hear that I converted before, and still plan to stay Muslim. It makes me want to call bullshit.
I’m definitely NOT the same Muslim I was when I was living with my husband (as people IRL and in Lausanne can attest), Eight months on, I’ve gone through – and am still going through- an adjustment period of what being Muslim outside of marriage means- but I defy anyone to call into question my identification as a Muslim. I definitely did not have a “bad” marriage when I read what passes for “Muslim marriage” in the blogosphere, but it didn’t work out, we both hurt each other, and it sucked and still hurts A LOT. I don’t think it is fair in 100% of cases to blame the brothers. In my case, I know what I did wrong and I know my shortcomings. I just don’t think it is fair for Muslims and non-Muslims alike to call into question the sincerity or the validity of converts’ decisions (from whether choosing Islam or not, to having the odd ham sandwich, etc) after a painful marriage and divorce where your whole world falls apart. So, in short, a lot of things aren’t fair. But reading ex-Muslim blogs is nothing more than rehashing train wrecks, it doesn’t uplift me and I can’t relate because I went through the pain and chose to stay Muslim. To each their own.
(For the record, the most “famous” of the ex-Muslim blogs is purported to be the work of a former Muslim blogger par excellence. FWIW I don’t buy it is her, the ex-blogger is a better writer and critical thinker and more informed than the ex-Muslim).