When I/we (my older sis too) was little my parents hired a molvi sahab to teach us how to read the Quraan and supervise us over that aspect etc. Most audio recordings of the Quraan remind me of him, which more often than not just terrifies me. He was angry, bad tempered, and used to yell at me when I got a word wrong, which always made me more nervous. We’d sit around the same table we used for dinner- it was a table low on the ground, you’d sit on the ground. There was a mat on top of the table. There was a point he threw that mat at my older sister.
It just put me off the Quraan for many years. Later, when I went to Pakistan and my grandmother came (it was just for one winter), it was decided I would read the Quraan under here supervision. Since, well, I wasn’t reading it at all. I was nine, still remembered what it was like reading under anyone’s supervision at all, and afterwards would lock myself into empty rooms and fall asleep crying.
Eventually my mother let me be, probably just because she gave up, and moved her attention to my younger sister. She still kept telling me to read the Quraan, and since I’d grown to be afraid of reading the Arabic having being yelled at so many times over little mistakes made out of nervousness, eventually it came to the point where I would find the ones with translations and read just the translation. I know my mother disapproved, and kept saying so.
I have also always been too afraid to talk about any of this. Or maybe not really afraid, just hesitant I suppose.
After that, for a while I gave up entirely. Or maybe “gave up” is the wrong word, because I just stopped trying to do things defined my mother and how she practised her faith, because my beliefs, my relationship with my beliefs, is not and cannot be the same as hers.
There’s a thing in Muslims communities where it’s gotten almost cultish to the point where people insist you gotta do something in some particular way or you’re shunned. No? Think about the different sects constantly arguing with each other. And then about how people born into Muslim families often do things only because their parents do and people don’t always necessarily try to find answers for themselves and considering how much the patriarchy has twisted Islam it’s a serious concern. I mean, seriously. That’s despotism.
And then there’s people issuing fatwas because “some person said this and I think that” and people just love talking but no one wants to actually learn anymore, and very often people who think “aww, I’m going to stop listening to all these people and look for answers myself” are yelled at and told they’re things the wrong way and that because they don’t follow cultural things or disagree with age-old beliefs based on culture. And we can all go around talking about the rights Islam gives women or how Islam’s against racism but how many of us actually practice them? How many of us actually have open, honest discussions about these things? We tell the world Muslim women aren’t oppressed under their religion, which is certainly true, but we don’t work to end their oppression under the patriarchy in their culture. Kinda messed up.
I’ve gone off topic, haven’t I? Yes I have. But I mean, I guess I’ve been in the middle of an internal religious conflict for a while and still sorting out what I’ve actually learned about what Islam is and what I’ve been brought up to believe and do.
And there’s a lot of ways of ‘traditional ways of prayer and showing your religious devotion’ etc but it’s never worked for me. Maybe I haven’t sat somewhere with the Quraan in my hand and read chapters and chapters for three years, which has become the “traditional” way, but I’ve read the Quraan on the computer, between work, through listening, just because no one’s seen me with the Quraan in my hand doesn’t mean I don’t read it, does it? I am well aware that I’m not a perfect Muslim, or even a good representative of what one should be, I get angry, I snap at people, get bitter, don’t always remember to do all five prayers, but the first thing on my lips on waking up is always a dua’a, I’ve studied- and hope I continue doing- things people have accepted as ‘Islamic’ “because some scholars said so”, re-evaluated a lot of things tainted by cultural beliefs, consciously work not to hurt the people that always get trampled on… all that has got to count for something, doesn’t it?