As I begin to write this series, I have concluded my interest in learning about Islam and have moved onto learning how to do Islam. In case this is your first time viewing my blog, please read this, it explains why and how I differentiate between ‘about’ and ‘to do’.
Before you can set out to learn something, you need to discover a gap in your knowledge. So, this seems like the perfect opportunity to explore why I wanted to learn about Islam and how I came to be where I am now.
So, why did I want to learn about Islam?
There is no one answer (and I’m sorry if you were looking for a single, all encompassing answer). There are a lot of little things that added up to a general sense of feeling that there was a lot of injustice being served to Muslim people living in the west, but specifically Australia.
Below, are the top 5 reason I felt compelled to Learn About Islam. To find the truth between the lies.
1 ~ The news paints an abhorrent picture
Turn on the news any night of the week and you won’t find a single, positive news story about the Muslim people. It is a similar thing with newspapers and online media.
If the news and media were to be believed, Muslims are flocking to this country in droves, attacking us, planning to attack us and converting our young men to extremist values in order to have them attack us.
Or, they are coming over here and taking our jobs.
Or, they are coming over here to take our welfare.
Or they are living here refusing to abide by our laws (e.g. multiple wives).
All of the above seemed absurd and illogical. For starters, one cannot simultaneously take our jobs and be on welfare at the same time. If thousands upon thousands of Muslims were here to attack us, they’d be doing so already in great numbers. We are a large country but our population could easily be targeted. Our military forces are comparatively weak when compared to the numbers people fear. And regarding our laws, I’ve yet to be convinced they are breaking any. But that is DEFINITELY a large post for another time.
2 ~ I’ve known Muslim people
Looking back on my life, I’ve known Muslim people in an indirect way.
I had a Muslim boss. You wouldn’t know it. She wasn’t a Hijab wearing woman. The only reason I knew was because I noticed she kept her register/scanner impeccably clean. When I asked about it, she did so because of the animal blood that would inevitably end up on her register and because of her religion, she kept her space clean.
I had a Muslim co-worker. The only reason I know, is because she observed Ramadan. I felt awful though, because I didn’t know why she wasn’t joining the rest of the team when we went out for team lunches during that time. Had I known, I’d have made an effort to include her in something that wasn’t food related. She was a lovely woman, very private about her life.
A fellow student at University was a Hijab wearing Muslim, studying full time while also Homeschooling her children. Damn I admired her and her commitment to the rights of refugees, women and Muslims.
Unfortunately I’ve never had the opportunity to know a Muslim man. If I met a Muslim man, I doubt I would even know it!
But none of the people I have met, have been anything but kind, polite, warm, funny and INCLUSIVE people.
3 ~ Women are being denigrated and subjugated by men
This goes back to the media, but deserves it’s own space. Suffice to say, I was being told that Muslim women are being forced to wear a Hijab and live by the rules of men.
I wanted to get angry about that. I really did. I’m all for free choice, but I just couldn’t get all ‘up in arms’. I couldn’t be angry because it was unsubstantiated. I didn’t have enough information to come to any conclusion. Who were these women? Where did they live? If it was happening in Australia, when, where, how, tell me more? There MUST be more to this story?
How does material denigrate and subjugate a person? Clearly it isn’t the Hijab itself that does it. If I put a scarf over my head I don’t feel denigrated and subjugated to anyone.
4 ~ I don’t know anything about it
If you asked me ‘What is Islam’ I would have told you it’s a religion. That is all. I knew they believed in ‘Allah’. Honestly, I wasn’t even sure what kind of deity Muslims believed in.
I thought ‘gee, for something so controversial, I know nothing about it’.
5 ~ The hate against Muslims felt real and unfair
Signs like ‘NO SHARIA HERE’ on the Sunshine Coast made me sad to look at. I believe in my heart that Australia should be a free country, where people can follow all sorts of beliefs and faiths, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the rights and responsibilities of others.
I’d hear about Muslim women (often the target as they are obvious with the Hijab clothing), being hassled, harassed and abused by ‘civilised’ Australians.
I’d hear and see these things and I’d feel hurt for them. I kept thinking, what if this were me? I’ve felt the target on my back before, I know what it is like to be different, to not be doing anything that effects others, but experience the harsh responses of others.
My heart ached for people I knew NOTHING about.
So to summarise:
I heard and read things that made no sense, were hurtful and wrong to me as a kind and caring person and I began to have questions. Lots of questions.