Is the middle way the road less traveled?
UmmLayla I am a mother to four wonderful kids and the wife to one wonderful Egyptian! We live in a small town in the Midwest and work in our small businesses. I am also a traditional midwifery student, a breastfeeding peer counselor, a part time homeschooler, and a generally crunchy mama (think hijabi in birks).
Saturday, May 10, 2008
I struggle to find my way through the maze of choices in this life every day. I kinda feel like I am stuck with either going to the extremes of the issues to be accepted by one group or staying with the middle path and having both sides disapprove. Now I'm not saying that approval is the most important factor in my decision making process. To be honest it rarely even factors in, unless we are talking about my husband which is another post entirely.
So, I guess what I am asking is where has the middle path gone? Does it exist? I feel inspired to keep looking for it when I hear someone such as Haza Yousuf speak... But I feel I rarely see it in my actual life. Maybe I'm just not looking in the right places, who knows.
Something I struggle with is whose opinion to take when I am seeking an answer to a question that I feel is unclear in my knowledge of the deen. Let's take pigs. I have heard with my own ears learned men saying that the FLESH of the pig is what is forbidden so gelatin is OK because it is made from BONES. No, I'm not kidding you. Now on the other extreme I have had Muslims flip out when they saw Layla's Piglet toy. "Oh!!!!! A pig!!!! Is that a pig your daughter has?!?!?!? HARAM!!!!!" Where is the middle path people? No, I won't eat gelatin. But yes I will give our daughter a stuffed pig if it makes her happy. On second thought, let's not start on toys that look like living things... Oh I don't even want to try and unravel that one with you! So, I just want to ask have you noticed the following...
**If a new sister puts on hijab but has an American twist on it people will tell her it's not "proper hijab". If that same sister puts on jilbab and khimar people will tell her she's too extreme and she doesn't have to wear all that.
**If you get a loan and buy a big house the Muslims will come to visit you, ooggle over it and say masha'Allah about 70 times during thier visit. Then, behind your back they will criticise you for dealing in interest. However, if you buy a smaller house they will say masaha'Allah to your explanation of not dealing in interest and then behind you back go on about "How can he shove his whole family in that horrible little house??? His poor wife!"
**If you are a mother and you bring your kids to the mosque people will be irritated with thier behavior. If you stay home they will chastise you for never going to the mosque.
**If a brother marries an attractive woman (especially from a different nationality) he will be criticised for only choosing her based on looks. If he marries a sister who isn't so attractive everyone will be gossiping about what's the secret reason he would marry someone unattractive??? Money, a good job, dating her before marriage and her family forced him???
**If you support the Muslims in places like Palestine too much you will be accused of being an extremest. If you don't you will be abandoning the ummah.
**If you like to go to the movies, listen to music, read popular literature... You will be too Western. But if you unplug the TV and never spend another penny on popular movies or music... You are extreme.
You see where I am going with this... Right? I guess the Muslims are never happy. But also we can't seem to find a middle ground and leave people alone about it. Why is that? And what can we do about it? Just thoughts people, just thoughts...
Posted by UmmLayla at 1:00 PM
I have to say that UNFORTUNATELY what you are talking about is ALOT ofthe negative that I have experienced since becoming Muslim. I know exactly what you mean.
I think for me, I had to come to a point where I just stop thinking about the "community." I don't mean that in a bad way, but I just got so bogged down with some of the scenarios similar to what you described, that I finally came to the conclusion that I just can't worry about it anymore. I am not saying you are worrying about it, but it really can get a person down because its like you are Da#ned if you do and da#ned if you don't. I personally feel that these small issues that people gossip about and make a big deal really ultimately take us away from the truth and away from the deen and becoming more sincere in our practice.
Something I also learned from this type of thing is that I really don't care what other people are doing unless its a big Haram. And I had to realize that I cannot control what others do and what other people are going to say about me and my family. I just had to refocus on what I know to be important to live as a Muslim and try not to let the community get me down. It can be a really negative influence at times.
Just my opinion....as you can see, I have had a lot of disappointing experiences within the ummah!
May 10, 2008 2:58 PM
Speaking from a Christian perspective (hope you don't mind "smile") I can completely understand what you are saying. My family BTW is from the middle east so even though we are of different religion we can relate on a number of cultural things.
I see this at times on my own blog as well as other blogs when people will simply think that what they see as middle ground being middle ground. Most of all with family and friends exactly the same things that you say.
If you don't take your children to church they talk behind your back that you are not filling their spiritual needs but directly to you they act like they understand your reasoning behind it. If we dress modestly (long skirts and headcovering) they will say "ow how nice you look" and behind you back they will say that you are taking scripture to literally.
It's a no win situation and believe me it happens in all religions and cultures. I believe there is no true middle ground only the reality of ones own life and how they choose to live. You need to define your own middle ground and live it. At times it's hard but that's what I've been doing because I got real tired of trying to find that place where everyone is satisfied.
Peace be with you,
May 10, 2008 4:48 PM
I think there is a phrase in psychology called "crazy making" which describes the situation. Yeah we need to step back and stop worrying about what others think. Always give the benefit of the doubt. I'm reaching that point too, forget what people think. Gosh how much more open we would be to Muslims in all states of Iman, and able to care and support each other instead of judging. Well, finding the middle ground was the topic---must be different depending where you are living. It is difficult to find the middle ground, especially if you are in the market to increase your ibadah, or iman. It is sooo easy to get too carried away or at least put yourself in a position that is unsustainable (extreme) for most people living in this country. On the other hand I have been experimenting with the middle ground on Hijab--my own personal problem... and I find it soooo easy to go the otherway as well.
May 10, 2008 9:14 PM
I can totally relate to what you're saying. I think for me it helps me to be true to myself and do what i feel is right because the truth is people will criticise you either way. It is something that I have always struggled with to some extent, I guess its all part of the test.
May 10, 2008 9:42 PM
actually if you are struggling, you probably are on the middle path. We are not perfect, we are humans worshipping allah.
May 10, 2008 9:53 PM
Salem Alekom Sister,
As a convert of what .. 2 months old? I already have noticed this!
I love your blog and wanted to know if I could link it to mine? Thanks and may Allah bless you and your family.
May 10, 2008 10:06 PM
Umm Yehiya said...
Well, this might help you on your middle road, pertaining to 1 thing you mentioned...check it out. I found it extremely helpful, and it makes perfect sense to me. :)
May 11, 2008 7:14 PM