SAFspace

Welcome to the thoughts, rants and passions of a young Muslim woman seeking soulful enlightenment in cyberspace.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Heart-to-Heart


Those who know me very well know that I very rarely get upset or offended. So I don’t mind if you criticize my ideas…even my writing. In fact, I relish conversations with individuals who aren’t just saying, “you’re so right” and “you’re amazing”, but who seem to offer intriguing insights of their own. If you criticize my ideas, I may learn something new and change my perspectives accordingly. If I don’t, I will have at least had the opportunity to gain a better understanding of some of the viewpoints out there, and perhaps be able to fine-tune and develop my own opinions through the interplay of ideas.

So criticism is not the problem. But I do have issues with readers questioning my motives or attacking my character. I have been getting some hate mail recently, some of it seemingly anonymous, and I will say this: they’re utterly hilarious! Okay, that slipped out. But here’s my advice: if you think that I’m insincere, that I have some hidden motive, or that I’m using my smarts to covertly dissuade, then this is not the place for you to be. The beauty of an online forum is that it is a completely voluntary exercise.

Thinking Out Loud

Recently I’ve asked questions that may seem provocative to some of my readers. Question my intentions all you want, but I am simply a curious explorer seeking to expand my horizons and to enlarge my mentality by finding out about ideas and practices I know little about. For those who think I’m veering off onto a deviated path, have faith that I am a strong individual who will make decisions for herself based on her own convictions and beliefs. Asking questions does not mean I am shaky in my own beliefs.

I want to be clear on this point: this blog is about enlightening myself. So I will ask questions out loud - questions that arise in my mind. Maybe I’m asking the wrong questions. So be it. If I’m misguided, then forgive me. And if you’re so dissatisfied with my line of questioning or with me, then feel free to leave. But please don’t question my motives for asking.

You need to understand something about me. I’m curious. I will seek out ideas that challenge my own. But expressing a view here does not imply that I actually hold that view. I have been known to argue ideas I don’t actually stand for. I do so to test my own intellectual capabilities. I do so to ensure my own beliefs are sound. When I question your ideas, I am not challenging you. Neither am I attacking your ideas. Believe it or not, it usually means I have a high opinion of you – and that I think you’re capable of deepening the discourse. And surprisingly, my provocative questions do not necessarily imply that I disagree with you. I am likely teasing out possible explanations and understandings I hadn’t heard before. I may be seeking a multiplicity of perspectives, or I may be critically analyzing my own ideas, measuring them up against new ones. Call me devil’s advocate. For me, it’s an intellectual exercise.

Blogging and the Writer-Reader Relationship

Does a blogger have a responsibility to readers? We’re not getting paid for our work – at least I’m not. And it’s not the same as an author of a book or some other portable material that’s been paid for by the reader. The reader, in purchasing the author’s material, is making a commitment to the author, but they’ve chosen to do so after looking at the cover, flipping through the pages, and finally deciding it’s right. My readers don’t have to be committed to my blog. They may come once, never to return. Or they may be regular visitors, checking obsessively, hour after hour. There’s no patterned relationship here.

A blog is not quite a personal diary; neither is it a published piece. The blogger is speaking to herself, but she is also speaking to an audience. It is not always easy to maintain this balance. Although I do keep my readers at the back of my mind, I write primarily for myself. I write what sounds right to me, and I click “Publish” with the hope that others might be interested. I engage my mind in the process, hoping that my ideas will engage the reader. But I cannot cater to the reader or the reader’s reaction. I need to be true to my own creative spirit. If I think too hard about what others will think, my ideas will not be able to develop in any real way, thus defeating the very purpose of this blog.

Readers are able to contribute to the thought process by leaving comments or sending emails. And I welcome both. Sometimes I lament the fact that there is not enough discourse for my liking. I actually believe that a reader shows respect or appreciation for the writing - or at least for the effort that went into it - by leaving a comment that indicates some wheels were turning while they read. So I don’t want it to seem as though I’m shying away from comment or criticism. As long as the comment or email is not hateful, racist, vulgar or derogatory in some way, I welcome it. But a reader cannot force me to write one way or the other.

I know you as a reader have expectations of me. You expect me to post regularly, and to post good content. And perhaps there are other expectations too. Feel free to share them with me. But I have expectations of my readers too. I hope that you will be open-minded enough to at least read what I have written, to consider my ideas in good will. I hope that you will not jump to conclusions or try to label me one way or the other. It would be easy to misread my sarcasm or my penchant for humour. It would be easier to come to the wrong conclusions about me by reading a single post or the other. Taken together, however, I do believe this blog provide a good overview of who I am and how I think. New readers need to be prepared to suspend their disbelief until they’ve read enough to understand what I’m about.


I respect my readers immensely. And that is why I am sharing my thoughts with you. This post is not meant to address any one specific person. In fact, it does not apply for the vast majority of those who come here regularly. So if I have said anything to wrong or hurt you, please do forgive me. And please do not hesitate to share your thoughts and ideas with me, for that is what brings me back here so very often.

7 Comments:

  • At 3/26/2005 10:22:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    AA wow! that was a really well-thought out, sensitive and intelligent piece of writing MashAllah and I agree with every word! I know how boring, but you hit the nail on the head-what is it with muslims why can't we ask questions of islam and ourselves without ppl worrying that the answers will turn us into insta-kaffirs? I question Islam so I can get more satisfaction and sense of truth out of following the true path and so my religion stands up to intellectual scrutiny. I mean how else will be able to answer non-muslims questions about islam(not all of them respectful)if we can't answer them ourselves.
    I'm really sorry you got hatemail sis, you do not deserve it.
    Sorry if i'm wrong but i'm guessing this has to do with the female imam thing? if so i don't agree with it at all but i'm glad that we're mature enough to use rational thinking to respond to it rather than just glowering angrily if anyone dares to say anyhthing else about the matter other than condemn it. Keep going sis you are doing great MashAllah
    Zinnia

     
  • At 3/26/2005 03:56:00 PM, Blogger Lyvvie said…

    I think it's a shame that you are getting hate mail. I love your blog, and your thoughts. I don't have access in my own community to Muslims, They, and I to some extent, keep ourselves to ourselves. It's a small town.

    You have helped me immensely to overcome anxiety that I've felt since 911 (However I will not fly on aplane, sorry....can't make me) Where the words "Kill all Americans" was flashed about, and I was a very conspicuous American in a large Scottish city, and you never know what nutter will take those words seriously.

    I always stive to face my fears, and overcome them where I can. Learning more about your world, helps me reach that goal. You are helping me, and I thank you, Saffiyah.

    Please do not change.

     
  • At 3/27/2005 06:05:00 AM, Blogger cncz said…

    Invoke a dictatorship and delete away and report to service providers. There is no place for drama and negativity in the blog of a happy person. If someone is unhappy they need to go away. If they have a problem with you they're just jealous because you actually proactively open your mouth instead of reactively opening your mouth. Plus the hater(s) must be pretty sad to hate on you because your blog totally rocks, macha Allah!
    Don't change Saffiyah!
    Salam

     
  • At 3/27/2005 02:31:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oh Flanstein, I pity you, I really do. I can't imagine being like you with the purpose to express hatred and anger rather than actively seek out and understand another's viewpoint. Do you not know intelligent people realise you are using Quranic ayats out of context? I will not try to explain these to you because there are better websites out there to do the job and because if I do your anger will make you blind to the truth and even more resentful.
    I bet you read Muslim blogs just to fuel your resentment and anger.
    One thing you should know buster, Alhamdulillah there are 1.3 billion of us and growing InshAllah and I bet that's what's making you so furious.
    Oh Flanstein, I see enough sorrow in this world without you adding to it. Do something useful.
    Sara-tal-Mustaquin

     
  • At 3/28/2005 09:58:00 AM, Blogger Lyvvie said…

    This is why I don't have relegion in my life. I have belief and I have faith and that is plenty for me. As soon as relegion enters into the mix, there's far too many ways to twist and warp what should be a comfort into something terrifying and controling. I mean, there are ten commandments...and folks can't even follow those. Pres. Bush is trying to bring relegion (Which one I'd ask...melting pot remember?) back into schools and government, and he's also a supporter of the NRA...the only thing a gun is used for is killing.

    Just too much "Do as I say, not as I do." and "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain..."

    I can't be a part of a relegion where it's own followers can't follow it's rules.

     
  • At 3/28/2005 12:21:00 PM, Blogger Safiyyah said…

    I’m forced to return because of Frankenstein. Lyvvie, don’t succumb to his tricks. This is his very intention – to cast doubt within those who are not tainted with hatred. Frankenstein is a known individual who goes around posting vile material on Muslim blogs and websites. This seems to be his life mission. His statements reveal that 1) he’s misquoting religious texts, and 2) he’s taking them out of context. The vast majority of the Muslim community is able to recognize this. This is why, for example, Muslims were able to denounce the perpetrators of the September 11 attacks so easily. In the Prophet Muhammad’s time, there were periods in which non-Muslims were actively harming and attacking the Muslim community because of its religious beliefs. Eventually, revelation gave permission to Muhammad to struggle against those non-Muslims. But the general rule, the scholars would agree, is to live in peace and harmony with those who do not share one’s faith. There are verses to that effect too in the Quran, and there were periods of peace and reconciliation among Muslims, Christians and Jews. Textual references to non-Muslims must thus be understood in their context.

    This blog is about respectful discussion and dialogue. While I value open inquiry and admit I’m tempted to respond to this individual, I have decided I cannot allow my blog to denigrate into a breeding ground for hatred and vilification. More importantly, I haven’t the time, patience, or energy to respond. I have thus removed this individual’s comments, and plan to continue doing so until he decides to change his childish antics and re-evaluates his a priori bigotry and prejudice towards Islam. I’d be happy to welcome him back when he proves himself mature enough to engage in honest, meaningful exchange with other Muslims.

     
  • At 3/28/2005 12:31:00 PM, Blogger Safiyyah said…

    One last thing: I just those of you who offered supportive comments. It meant a lot to me.
    Much love,
    Safiyyah

     

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