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

Friday, May 20, 2005

Finding My Place

It didn’t happen on any particular day. All I know is that at a certain point in my life, I became fed up with my community. On the surface level, I seemed fine. I was happy, involved, even committed. But inside, ideas roiled around at will, leaving me discontented, confused, and agitated. I was surrounded by so many, yet so completely alone. I was tired of searching, yet longing for someone to understand me.

When the frustration could no longer be ignored, I left. Barely anyone knew I had done so. "Where've you gone?" people asked. "How come you weren't at the meeting yesterday? You should be part of this." I made excuses. Things are too busy right now. School is killing me. It was the truth, but I had never let academics get in the way of anything else I'd wanted to do. The problem was that my spirit was no longer with the community. I felt incapable of participating and I withdrew from people and events, disillusioned and disappointed.

The period following my ‘departure’ was not a great deal of fun, but the time away was vital to my personal growth. I found new friends and supporters. I explored my interests and discovered my passions. And I gradually gained awareness that I could not leave; I was too strongly attached to the very thing I was unhappy with. My place was in the community, not elsewhere. I would just have to make it work. And slowly, I found myself gravitating towards the community once more.

I only realized the extent to which my feelings had changed at an event that took place last Sunday. It was an appreciation dinner for two former MSAers who were departing for Egypt forever. It was only then – surrounded by friends, classmates and acquaintances – that I was overwhelmed with the sense that the MSA community really is my family. Yes, we say it all the time. The community is about brotherhood and sisterhood, we claim. But it was at that point that I felt something I hadn’t felt for a long time. I felt belonging and real love for the people around me.

I believe that withdrawal period increased my appreciation of the Muslim community as a whole. And I returned with a greater sense of purpose; a stronger awareness of who I was and how I could contribute in a meaningful way to my community. By the time I was ready to rejoin, I found there was already a place waiting for me. There were people welcoming me back with open arms, individuals who cared. It was a startling realization, and one I feel blessed to have experienced.

Ours is a beautiful community that continues to grow and develop – even evolve. Yes, there are ups and downs. There are disagreements and clashing worldviews. There are individuals who will never compromise; who see things in black and white; who want to do things their way. But there are also people with pure intentions. Generous, kind, good souls. We need only seek them out.

Some brothers pose for a group photo after the dinner...

...and here are the sisters

My advice to those who are struggling to find their place within the community? Don’t give up. Never think your ideas are too strange to share. And never turn your back on your community. What I found was that the more I isolated myself from the community, the more I perceived that I didn't fit in. But when I decided to try and make things work, I found that I wasn't so different after all; there were others with ideas somewhat like my own. There were brothers and sisters out there who were willing to hear me out and who wanted to work with me to make a difference in the community.

The dear brother who left for Egypt yesterday offered me similar advice every time we met. We had a very contentious relationship, for in some ways we are very similar – we could see through each other and discern the other’s faults. We disagreed regularly, and I often thought him meddlesome, but I will never forget his repeated pleas that I stick with the community; that I develop my leadership abilities, that I help to establish the ummah in Canada. No, we did not always share similar opinions, but we shared a dream that the Muslim community would flourish and grow. He has come a long way, and so have I. And the community has room for both of us.


  • At 5/21/2005 12:04:00 a.m., Blogger Nzingha said…

    Salaam alaikum

    Thats great you've found your place. Me I'm still searching, inshallah one day. I do believe the key is to be around people who can agree to disagree. I had to leave a very nice bunch of sisters who were able to do just that. And I've found very few who are capable since then.

  • At 5/21/2005 12:28:00 a.m., Blogger Hasan the Not-So-Great said…

    subhanallah, I feel the same way about my friend Raihan. Hes leaving to Lubbock, Texas and won't come back for 2 1/2 years so ishallah i want to get him a gift.

  • At 5/21/2005 12:56:00 a.m., Blogger Safiyyah said…

    Nzinga, I don't know if I've found my place, so to speak. I think it's a continous process that involves regularly assessing and understanding oneself and one's community. I do feel a bit more secure within the community, and I'm not sure why. Perhaps it's because I too am becoming more tolerant and understanding of those I disagree with.

  • At 5/21/2005 01:14:00 a.m., Blogger Safiyyah said…

    One more thing: If any of you T.O. folks went to see other pics taken at the dinner, let me know.

  • At 5/21/2005 07:28:00 a.m., Blogger cncz said…

    the weird thing is that in what's supposed to be my place, they like me more when i'm gone. i hope that's not what people really think about me. Oh well.

  • At 5/21/2005 10:56:00 a.m., Blogger boumaaraf said…

    salam sister , i think you're right , it's a continuous process but we have to keep some points to refer to ,by nature no one can live alone , we need to interact with people but the problem would have more impact when you live in corrupted society like mine ( i'm algerian ),i don't want to be a member in a community in bankruptcy ,but i'll do my best to protect myself ( sincerly i feel very alone ), by the way visit my blog at : , salam

  • At 5/21/2005 04:24:00 p.m., Blogger dawud al-gharib said…

    just from the 'reminiscing' side, i'd like to see some other of the photos - it was nice to see akram, mohammed basil, and others... smiling - mba and akram are graduates though now, no?

  • At 5/24/2005 12:20:00 p.m., Blogger Shoshana said…

    Your feelings are definitely not exlusive to the Muslim community - I struggle with similar feelings on a regular basis. My way of dealing with it has been to find those with whom I agree and see the world in a similar manner and try to stick with them so I don't get so frustrated. I am happy to see that you have found peace with your community. Thanks for visiting my blog and your comment - I am looking forward to reading yours as well!

  • At 5/24/2005 09:06:00 p.m., Blogger Safiyyah said…

    Dawud: Most of the photos are of the girls. I may have caught one or two of the guys - I've definitely got Khaled giving his speech.
    As for Akram and MBA - I have no idea. I do know Akram will be on the MSA exec next yr, so I guess he hasn't left UofT just yet.

    Shoshana: It's interesting that I'm much more comfortable with those I don't agree with now. That simply wasn't the case a few years ago.

  • At 5/27/2005 05:52:00 p.m., Blogger dawud al-gharib said…

    ma Salaamah Safiyya;

    i would appreciate seeing Khaled's photo; and if you have it, I would also like his email - or you could send him mine. If he's in Cairo, we may be able to meet.

    thanks for your concern, and your adab towards me. if i've offended you, i've noted your tolerance towards me - and i'm sure we disagree on several points we haven't made clear, but as sister Nosheen and you established, there's bonds of commonality between muslims that are stronger than differences of opinion.

    as per the hadith:
    'ikhtilaf ummati RahmatiLlah'

    and: (to the effect, though the Qu'ran can't be translated)
    'if you spent the wealth contained in the whole world, you could not have bonded their hearts together, but Allah has brung their hearts in intimacy'


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