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

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

It’s All One Big Religious Ritual

There are some individuals who will unknowingly presume a religious connotation for everything a Muslim might do. This is a frightening thought. Think about the implications: If you’re an oddball, or even if you just let loose and act strange one day, you may unknowingly end up tarnishing Islam’s rep for everyone else. Consider the following (and admittedly mundane) encounter with a woman who probably isn’t very bright:

“Why are you so grouchy today?”

“I’m not. I’m just in a rush.”

“You seem grouchy.”

“Well, maybe I am, a little bit. My brothers spent hours in the bathroom this morning and I didn’t get a chance to take a good long shower. I hate being rushed in the shower.”

“You bathe in the morning?” She’s shooting me an incredulous look.

“Yeah, I do.”

“Every day?” I’m getting the whole works now, eyebrows shooting up, forehead furrowed, lips already forming a sneer.

I’m starting to feel mildly uncomfortable. And slightly puzzled too. “Yeah, every morning. Why, is that weird?”

“Is it like a religious ritual or something?”

My mind freezes for a moment, and I silently beseech myself not to give way to the laughter that threatens. “No, it’s just what I do. What my whole family does. We were brought up that way.”

“Well, most people take a shower at night.”

“I don’t see why I would shower at night when I’m ready to go to bed. That just seems absurd to me. People do things differently, I guess. I mean, I suppose some people don’t bathe every day either.”

“A lot of people don’t. Especially in the winter when it’s cold.”

“Well, I apologize for not being like a lot of people. But I’m telling you, it’s not a religious ritual. It might seem weird, but it’s just my version of cleanliness.”

. . .

Moral of the story: Be careful what you do. If you’re jumping up and down, making funny faces in a public space, some poor lady might assume you’re praying. If there’s a perpetually angry look on your face, others may conclude you’re thinking of martyrdom. If your wife’s trailing behind you with a gaggle of babies in tow, some dude might think that’s Islam for you. And if you’ve got your wife and teenage daughter with you... well, four’s the limit, isn’t it?

Be careful.


  • At 3/01/2005 03:36:00 p.m., Blogger Yusuf Smith said…

    As-Salaamu 'alaikum,

    What's worse than people thinking your morning wash is a religious ritual is people thinking hate crimes by Muslims are "ritual murders" - a term otherwise associated with the Jewish blood-matzo myth, on the basis of which numerous innocent people have been murdered in the past. I heard the Theo van Gogh murder being called this, and some Jewish novelist called Nidra Poller refer to the hate murders of Jews by Algerians in Paris as ritual murders, because the killers said Allahu akbar. You can explain to these lying morons that there is no such thing as ritual murder in Islam, but it comes out time and again.

  • At 3/02/2005 08:02:00 a.m., Blogger Levantine Historian said…

    Or non-Muslims freaking out because you've got your hairy foot in the sink while performing wudu in a public bathroom.

    Any comments they make can be countered with 'didn't you just go to the bathroom and not wash your hands' Gross.

  • At 3/02/2005 04:36:00 p.m., Blogger Safiyyah said…

    Very funny. Actually, hairy feet in sinks are quite traumatizing, particularly in public bathrooms. Just visualizing all of the contortions required to get your foot in there is a bit disturbing...please make sure you don't dislocate any joints in your haste to return to normalcy when you hear that door open. :)

  • At 3/03/2005 08:46:00 a.m., Blogger Aoife said…

    Other person: "Why do you wear a black scarf?"

    Me, whispering secretly: "Because it matches."

    Heheh.. I understand this, though.

  • At 3/03/2005 08:56:00 p.m., Blogger Ginny said…

    Assalamu alaikum, actually, the other day, I was making wudu in the kitchen sink, 'cause I didn't want to walk all the way to the bathroom, or use the utility sink inthe laundry room (yeah we have a utility sink, you know, those really big sinks?). Anyway, my brother saw me, with my foot in the sink, and started laughing, and I laughed right back, because I can imagine how funny it must have looked. And he wasn't laughing in a "making fun of" kind of way, so it was cool.

  • At 3/05/2005 10:23:00 a.m., Blogger Seabreeze said…

    Quite an interesting insight. However I think your blog showed quite a degree of paranoia. Though the example used is not one to cause alarm, but I'll just use that since it's what you talked about. So my reaction to the "you bath in the morning?!!!" would be "You bath in the night!!?" with eyes rolling as if they have a pair of horns on their ears before walking away.
    My advice: Be yourself.
    And be amused by them just like they are amused by you.

  • At 3/07/2005 01:47:00 p.m., Blogger Hasan the Not-So-Great said…

    That is an opinion i have held for a long time now....Doing athan in MSA is cool except when the die-hard republican cnn junkies hear "Allah-o-Akbar" and make assumptions...


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