For the first time in my life yesterday, a non mahram, non muslim male asked if he was allowed to extend his hand to me for a handshake. I was at a job interview and when I walked in the room and saw I was being interviewed by two females and one dude, my heart sank and I began panicking. When I thanked him and told him that was the first time someone had ever asked me that, he told me others need to become more culturally aware. As the interview progressed I gathered this guy had the ability to flick from street to formal in the flash of a second, much like myself. I also realised half way through the interview that this job wasn’t for me but didnt know how to tell them so I started answering my questions poorly in order to completely throw them off. At one point I actually answered a yes no question with ‘hell no’.
This topic legit infruriates me for so many reasons. In the language of my ancestors, there are two words to describe light and dark skin, which roughly translate to ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’. SubhanAllah. Whilst in many of these instances of desiring fair complexions, no outward racism is shown to other groups of peoples, the internal racism highlights a much deeper and darker issue at hand.
The idea that light = good and dark = bad can be traced to imperialism and before. If I wanted to I am sure I can find medieval scriptures but allow that. My favourite thing to do is bash imperialism and colonialism so lets focus on the western/white-anglo saxon superiority/saviour complex that has gone as far as to undermine and encapture entire nations and groups, and, ima just throw this out there, forcibly make prophet isa AS out to be a white guy.
Whether it be explicitly or subconciously, this whole world runs on the philosophy of darkness being associated with inferiority. Whilst Islam eradicates such notions (Alhamdulillah) the work of western imperialists and colonials have been drilled into the mechanisms of many communities. The sad part is that they dont even realise it.
Whenever an individual desires a person or themselves to be fair, they are succumbing to the desire to resemble their oppressors. You desire fairness because they told you fairness is what a civilised, good human being ought to possess.
If youre interested in the constructions of western idealism and eastern ‘exoticism’ (-_-), please check out ‘Orientalism’ by Palestinian Historian Edward Said who knocks this debate out of the ball park, Ma sha Allah.
They say the definition of madness can be found in the actions of a person carrying out the same experiment over and over again, expecting different results each time.
The same can be said for people who carry out the same mistake repeatedly, expecting some miraculous outcome eachtime;
a happy ever after of some sort. These individuals we come across have within them a fearless helplessness. A unique brand of helplessness combined with determination.
How can you help them? These helpless? The answer, You cant.
You cant help someone who wont help themselves. You can comfort, advise, assist, plead and urge all you want but there comes a point where you need to step back. Soon enough your help becomes resented and your capability of witnessing these series’ of spiralling train wrecks extinguishes. Leaving you yourself another form of helpless.
My grandmother who was my late grandfathers first wife hadnt seen her husbands second and third wives in about ten years. Over the years, after my grandfathers passing in 95, some of my step grandmothers let the feelings they’d repressed for decades erupt and it resulted in my grandfathers children and grandchildren scattering across countries and really very sadly, breaking ties.
Today the three of my grandmothers, one that I have never met and one who ignores me everytime I walk past her in the streets, sat together, all at the same time, for the first time in decades. I wish I could have witnessed that moment but even though I wasnt present, I feel a great deal of happiness and peace.
Sure one probably doesnt know I exist and sure one acts like I dont, but these are three of the women my grandfather loved most and were he still to be alive I know he would have been ridiculously happy. The fact that they put sisterhood and my grandfathers happiness first, honouring their husbands even after his death, really overwhelms me. Alhamdulillah.
Can we all take a moment to register the fact my cousins fourteen year old son sent me a message saying ‘… this is how we would be as a team’, followed by a song file called ‘invincible by tinie tempah ft kelly rowland’. He also calls me Kaddi cake nowadays….
I. have. no. words.
I decided this year to ease off my visits to the masjid to pray teraweeh during Ramadan. As a woman it is more appropriate and blessed to pray at home. However, there was that part of me that longed to pray in congregation with the sisters, feeling literally at one with the ummah as we pray in sinchronisation. SubhanAllah, after resisting for a week, the weakness in me led me back to a masjid and again, I actually fell in love with the old night prayer; The towering of abaayas to the ground as we stand before Allah swt, the perfectly formed rows of humble servants, moving in unison, inhaling and exhaling the remembrace of their Lord. SubhanAllah. There is something about praying in a masjid, with your extended family, listening to the surrahs I pray I can someday memorise and recite so beautifully.
Just as I feared Id let myself taste too much of what Id hoped to avoid this year, and just as I left, Allah swt reminded me exactly why women ought to pray in the privacy and comfort of their homes. I emerged into a wave of brothers and prayed I could be anywhere but there, SubhanAllah.
Lesson learnt :(
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