Learning About Islam ~ Seeking Answers 5

Welcome to my 5th and final post in my series Learning About Islam.

As I mention in a previous post ‘Learning About Islam ~ My Questions’, my initial exploration into what Islam is all about left me with quite a few questions. Obviously I didn’t get these answered all at once! In fact, I didn’t even think of all these questions at the same time. Rather, they developed over several months, just spinning around in the back of my mind.

Seeking answers to these questions also didn’t occur all at once. Instead, I’d see something and want to know more. Below is a summation of some of the information I found that lead to ‘answers’ for my questions.

(NOTE: these answers may not be true or accurate. They are simply what I found and observed on my own during my time of information seeking)


5 ~ What’s up with the hate against Muslims? How do Muslim people feel about that?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (perhaps Uluru?) you will have noticed there is a lot of hate towards Muslims. Trumps banning them entry, a random Australian is yanking someone’s Hijab off, Muslims viciously attacked as they exit their Mosque, etc.

I’d like to think the majority of Australians are no ‘anti-islam’. I think most Australians recognise the difference between extremism and Muslim Australians… but then you listen to what some people say, they propaganda they throw around… and it just makes me question more and more of what people say.

1) Why are communities against ‘Sharia’.

I get the distinct impression that the call for ‘no Sharia here’ has 2 parts.

1 – people don’t know/understand what sharia is
2 – people don’t realize that the way Sharia law works overseas is different to how it could work in Australia

My understanding of what Sharia is, is that it is the Muslim laws of behavior, what’s permissible and what is not. For example, multiple wives is permissible but eating pork is not.
Now, if I so choose, I can choose to live my life according to Sharia law. Australia won’t recognise it as law, which is irrelevant as Sharia is about abiding by the Muslim view of Gods laws laid out in the Quran.
So long as Sharia is followed within the laws of Australia, there is no issue. And I have not been able to find something that you could do in Islam where you couldn’t find a way of doing it in a legal manner here.

Feel free to comment if you can think of one, I’d like to know as much as I can.

The reason Sharia Law is different overseas, is that countries where government and legislation is based on Islam have no problem with people choosing to follow Sharia law… much like in Australia our Christian based legislation makes it very easy for us to follow it but it would be more challenging for us to try to follow Australia Law overseas.

2) Why are people against Muslims having a Mosque or a place to pray?

As far as I can tell, this comes down to ignorance and fear.

Ignorant of what Muslim people believe and how they live their faith, and fearful of what a Muslim person might do or that the ‘wrong type of people’ will move into an area.

If I could jump back to the ‘no Sharia here’ argument, those same people who don’t want Sharia, maybe they would do well to acknowledge that laws Australia currently has. Like people having the right to a place of worship and to practice their own beliefs without fear of persecution or harassment.

3) Why can’t Australia just allow Muslim people to live in peace?

Fear I think. The media has a lot of responsibility here, but I believe that the sheeple need to learn, listen, pull apart a story, look for evidence and STOP taking things at face value. Dig a little deeper. Think a little harder. Look just a little further.

Don’t accept the truth, find the truth.

 4) How can I support Muslim people? Is it awkward for them if I am not Muslim and don’t wear a head covering?

I’m not sure how I can support Muslim people. As I don’t have a lot of contact with Muslim people, I think the same way I would support any human would be sufficient.

  • smile
  • say hello
  • attend a big Ramadan celebration
  • refuse to share or pass on Islamophobic postings on facebook or other media.

5) What would happen if I wore a hijab?

Well, I wrote a little about this in my last post.

I thought if I wore a hijab I would get accosted or abused at some point. That didn’t happen.

There was one cranky lady behind the counter, but she was cranky at EVERYONE so I assume it wasn’t the hijab.

So, since nothing of great interest happened initially, I’ve started to think more ‘long term’.

What if I wore a hijab all the time? How would the islamophobic people in my life respond? How would my Christian aunts and uncles cope? What would my parents say?

I guess I can’t really answer these questions.


Well, there you have it!

That’s the end of my series on Learning About Islam! Yeah! We did it! Thanks for reading through these, assuming you have.

Until my next little series, thank you and keep checking in!

New house ~ No news

Still no news from the real estate about the new rental. 😦 *sigh*

I called them yesterday from the work phone, and funnily enough they were calling my mobile at the same time, I found it funny.

Apparently they haven’t been able to reach the homeowners to speak to them about my application. Apparently they haven’t been able to reach the owners for about 2 weeks… sooo… I’m sitting here in *slight* disappointment mode thinking the worst.

Maybe they don’t want us

Maybe they don’t want to rent anymore

Maybe they’ve decided to change the move in dates

Maybe they want more money!

Agh! I don’t do ‘waiting’ very well. In some ways I am so incredibly patient (6 hours at the hairdressers, anyone?), yet in others I’m like a small child… I want it nowwwwwwwwww..

I’m (mostly) sure that it will all work out…

Learning About Islam ~ Seeking Answers 4

Welcome to my 4th post in my series Learning About Islam.

As I mention in a previous post ‘Learning About Islam ~ My Questions’, my initial exploration into what Islam is all about left me with quite a few questions. Obviously I didn’t get these answered all at once! In fact, I didn’t even think of all these questions at the same time. Rather, they developed over several months, just spinning around in the back of my mind.

Seeking answers to these questions also didn’t occur all at once. Instead, I’d see something and want to know more. Below is a summation of some of the information I found that lead to ‘answers’ for my questions.

(NOTE: these answers may not be true or accurate. They are simply what I found and observed on my own during my time of information seeking)


4 ~ What do I want to learn about Islam?

At some point I realized I wanted to learn about Islam, so I needed to figure out what was it that I didn’t know and what did I want to know more about? This was only a very basic initial exploration, so the questions and answer reflect that.

1) What is Islam?

What did I knew? I knew Islam was a religion. I actually thought it was closer to something like Hindu.

What I discovered ~ Islam is a monotheist religion, like Christianity and Judaism. Allah (god) is the exact same god that Christians and Jews believe in. Muslims (the collective name for people who follow Islam), believe that Allah made Muhammad a Prophet, the last prophet that there will ever be before some type of end of days and such.

2) Are there any basic rules?

What I knew? I knew Muslim women wore a variety of types of head coverings. I knew that it was still largely considered a patriarchal religion. I knew that they fasted once a year for a month, called Ramadan.

Here I was really interested to know more, I wondered how people fasted for about 30 odd days without dying.

What I discovered ~ Muslims fast from sun-up to sundown during Ramadan. Muslim women do wear head coverings and this can be due to many factors, most significantly is the belief that Allah wants them to be modest and protected from men or others who are not family. Yes it is a patriarchal religion, by our western standards and definition it is.

Islam has 5 pillars, which is the bases I guess for everything

  • Shahadah: sincerely reciting the Muslim profession of faith.
  • Salat: performing ritual prayers in the proper way five times each day.
  • Zakat: paying an alms (or charity) tax to benefit the poor and the needy.
  • Sawm: fasting during the month of Ramadan.
  • Hajj: pilgrimage to Mecca

 

3) Is the Muslim God the same as the Christian God?

Turns out, they are the same God. If we are all believing in the same God, just in slightly different way, I don’t really understand how there can be so much fighting and hate between them.

4) Why do I only see people kneeling & bowing?

This is how Muslims pray. I guess if you back a few years (or maybe it still happens in some churches), people would kneel in church to pray, etc.

It is similar in Islam, they kneel and ‘prostrate’ before Allah. It is very ritualized, with specific prayers being recited in a certain way. Always in Arabic.

Maybe that’s why non-Muslim people struggle with Islam. As an outsider, it is really difficult to connect with and understand. And let’s be honest, to the western ear, it doesn’t sound positive/safe/normal… I’m not sure what the right description is for this, but the language puts people in a state of unease. Maybe that’s due to the difference in how the languages are spoken, or the medias negative portrayal. (when do you see Arabic in a movie and how often is that followed by a Muslim extremist blowing something up?… it’s pretty regular).

5) Where is the English version of the Quran?

Turns out, there isn’t an ‘English version’… at least not solely English. Muslims believe that in order to keep the Quran true and pure, without significant changes, that it was always be in Arabic.

You can get Qurans with translations in the book, so it contains both Arabic and English, usually with commentary from the translator to help explain some key challenges.
For example, according to the Quran I was recently gifted (thank you!), the translated word ‘Lord’ (example, our Lord Allah), is not an exact translation. The Arabic word is Rabb, but it doesn’t have a direct translation to English and means several different words. ‘Lord’ is just the closest word to Rabb in the English language.

6) What’s the difference between the religious coverings people wear?

The different types of head coverings seem to fall into 2 categories.

Religious variations and cultural variations.

Religious variations seem to be when the Quran is interpreted to mean a woman should completely cover herself, including the eyes (e.g. Burka) or if the face can be left open (e.g. hijab)

Cultural variations seem to be more around the style, how it’s worn, color variations, length, type of material, etc.


Well, there you have it. Part 4 is done.

Stay tuned for part 5 where I attempt to discover where all this hate is coming from.

Learning About Islam ~ Seeking Answers 3

Welcome to my third post in my series Learning About Islam.

As I mention in a previous post ‘Learning About Islam ~ My Questions’, my initial exploration into what Islam is all about left me with quite a few questions. Obviously I didn’t get these answered all at once! In fact, I didn’t even think of all these questions at the same time. Rather, they developed over several months, just spinning around in the back of my mind.

Seeking answers to these questions also didn’t occur all at once. Instead, I’d see something and want to know more. Below is a summation of some of the information I found that lead to ‘answers’ for my questions.

(NOTE: these answers may not be true or accurate. They are simply what I found and observed on my own during my time of information seeking)


3 ~ Are women being denigrated and subjugated by men? Is that what Islam actually does?

It can be very difficult to separate Religion and Culture, particularly in the more strict Muslim countries were their cultural norm is based around the Laws of Islam, hence they are known as Islamic or Muslim countries.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking Australia doesn’t do this. Australia (Like America and many European countries) have laws that are based on Christian beliefs and values. You only need to look at Australia’s public holiday system to see that the majority of our holidays are Christian. To my knowledge we don’t have special public holidays where Australia openly celebrates non-Christian holidays. We have a few secular (non-religious) holidays, but the country doesn’t stop for other religious festivities.

Why is that important? Well, my exploration of ‘are women being denigrated and subjugated’ is limited to the Australian context. I have not explore this within the context of Muslim/Islamic countries. I simply couldn’t do that topic justice, given the varied social, political and culture issues that come into play. So, let’s just focus on Australia.

Are Muslim women forced to wear Hijab? Forced by who? The government? Obviously not, Australia has a fairly lax dress code. Meter Maids anyone? The key is wear what you want. During my exploration of this topic, I read someone say ‘but Muslim Australian women and migrant women don’t know any different’… wow, ok, way to deny someone’s intelligence. Muslim women are not inherently stupid and unable to think and consider options because they are Muslim (or choose to be Muslim). But if I were to entertain that argument, I could say that Australian women don’t know the difference, as they haven’t worn one and may not know the reasons why women might choose to wear one.

Look, to the best of my knowledge, no one is in a Muslim woman’s home, holding them down and force wrapping a Hijab around their head. I realise that is a little extreme. I am aware people mean culturally forced to wear one. Or that if they don’t wear one, they will be shamed and isolated from their family or friends.

Well, I have a news flash here for you. Being shamed or isolated from family and friends isn’t a Muslim thing, and it’s not just occurring around Hijab wearing. Here are some Australian cultural examples:

  • go to the beach in a bikini, but you’re not stick thin
  • the debate over public education, private education or homeschooling
  • catholic vs uniting church vs Anglican, etc
  • boys playing with dolls, girls playing with trucks
  • being gay!

And not too long ago, interracial marriages!

So, no one is forced to wear Hijab in Australia. There may be religious and cultural pressures to wear one, but you cannot force someone to wear it.

What rules of men are women being forced to live by?

This one had me really confused for a while. My conclusion is that we find it difficult to accept the patriarchal nature of the Muslim culture. And on many levels, I agree that it is definitely patriarchal. So is Australia. The fight is there to even the scales, but it is deeply rooted in culture and religion.

But let’s not forget, patriarchal society doesn’t always benefit the man. To be a ‘man’ in a patriarchal society comes with a lot of pressure. It all rests on him. HE must provide for the family. HE must be strong. HE must be capable of providing spiritual guidance. HE must protect his wife and family. HE holds the ultimate responsibility for all the deeds, good and bad, that happens to his family or that his family do.

I’m reminded that each and every law and rule we follow in this country has it’s origins as man made or decided. I argue that we are all, Muslim or non-Muslim, living by laws that were decided on by men.

Other than that, I don’t know a lot more about this particular topic. My research hasn’t made it clear what ‘rules’ people refer to. It appears to be a generalised statement about women doing what their husband say, or what the male religious leaders say.

But again, in the Australian context, the only law you can be ‘forced’ to live by is the Australian law. Everything else is social and religious pressure.

Is there a difference between Australian Muslim women and Muslim women overseas?

From the blogs I’ve read, there doesn’t seem to be too much.

I did not that a lot more women overseas are speaking up about issue that would be termed ‘feminist’ or women’s rights however the lack of content from Australian women may simply be because many Australian Muslim women already enjoy the freedoms that Muslim women overseas are pushing for.

Muslim Australian or Muslim from overseas, they are religiously more or less the same. Guided by the same book. There may be cultural differences, but again I stress that people should not confuse cultural behaviour and religious behaviour as the same thing.

If women are being harmed, what’s the underlying cause? Is it religion? Is it cultural? Is it prevalent in Australia?

This is so hard to find. News, blogs and some gov websites, have noted that migrant populations often experience more conflicts with our laws than people born in Australia.

This could be for any number of reasons, for example, lower socio-economic status has been shown to be a significant indicator of whether someone will engage in criminal activities to have their needs met (like stealing).Many people who come to this country are often disadvantaged with lower education or standards different to ours, challenges with language, finding work is difficult, etc.

As I’ve mentioned in another post, a hot topic of ‘women being harmed’ is domestic violence. I couldn’t find any information to support the idea that more Muslim women are the victims of violence than any other cohort in this country.

What is it like to wear a Hijab? If I wore one, would I experience negative responses from the community I live in?

This seems like the kind of question you can only answer by actually wearing a Hijab!

So I scrounged around in my cupboard to find a scarf that I would normally wear around my neck in winter, watched a few YouTube videos, practiced putting one on, then I ventured out into the big bad, scary world of the sunshine coast.

img_3345I did this on 2 different occasions (For those of you reading this who are Muslim, please pardon my hair. I was learning!).

This first time I went out, my ever supportive Husband
came along. We went out and had breakfast at a café in
Maroochydore then went for a stroll along the water.

I admit, I was disappointed. No one stared for hours on
end, no one insulted me or shamed Islam. It was all
incredibly normal. Within a minute I’d forgotten I was
even wearing it.

img_3445The second time I went out and about, my husband dropped me off at Sunshine Plaza. I wandered around by myself, looking in clothing stores, grabbing some lunch, bought an instant scratchy, etc.

I smiled at random people, I helped a lovely elderly couple to locate a particular store (they were trying to use the shopping centres computerized screen to lookup stores), I stopped to assist a lost child who’d walked out of a shop away from his mum, etc.

After a few hours, I was exhausted from shopping, but still I remained unaccosted by the general public. In fact, I’d had nothing but positive experiences… again as I was disappointed as I hadn’t been able to recreate what the news and media were leading me to believe… Namely that Australians hate the very sight of a Hijab or Muslim person.

What was it like to wear it? Actually incredibly normal. Ever pulled the hoody up on your jacket? Or held an umbrella over your head? Or worn a hat? It’s pretty much like that.
Depending on interpretation, you do need to be careful about your hair showing (oh but my color is soooo pretty!!!) and readjust occasionally, but to my surprise they don’t move around that much.

(And to make some of you feel a little better, here is a photo to show my Hijab skills, knowledge and wardrobe did improve over the following months)

img_3920

Stay tuned for the next post in this series.

Our pets ~ Their happiness is paramount

Our pets are happy enough, but they were happier when we lived in Brisbane.

The irony is that we have more space now than we did when we lived in Brisbane.

Brisbane Vs Now

The dogs spent all day outside and no neighbours ever complained VS the dogs can’t be left outside alone otherwise the neighbours complain. The dogs are now regularly locked in the bedroom (which we now call ‘The Den’) whenever we have to leave the house.

The cats used to have run of the house all the time VS the cats are regularly locked away in the big empty sunroom because the dogs can’t be left outside

The cats never complained about being locked in a room (they had the whole house) VS the cats regularly meow and winge, clawing at the door and banging it in order to be let out. It seems non-stop some days

The cats were never punished for being cats VS regularly (daily) being sprayed with water

The dogs would always eat their food VS some mornings the dogs just don’t bother

The snake used to have pride of place in the house VS the snake is tucked away in an easily forgotten space. It’s like we don’t even have one

The dogs were free to do the odd bark, 2 or 3 barks was all they would do VS even one bark and we’re rushing outside to tell them to be quiet. Total silence is the only acceptable practice lest the neighbours complain again.

Never needed an anti-bark collar VS out of desperation I purchased citronella collars


9 months on, and it’s taking it’s toll on the animals.

The dogs seem sadder and have less energy.

The cats are becoming cranky and moody.

The snake probably doesn’t care! 🙂


This is why we need a new place.

The dogs deserved 8 hectares where there are no neighbours.
The cats deserve the run of the house again.
The snake deserves to be looked at.

I deserve peace of mind without feeling the need to jump up every time a dog barks once.

Fingers crossed for the new place.

Moving House – a brief inventory

Since we are moving shortly, I’ve been giving some thought to what we need to take with us, what we pack up, etc.

And it has occurred to me, our next house is going to be very, very empty.

My husband and I don’t have a lot of big items that you normally find in a house. We’ve put so much time, effort and money into the business, that we haven’t been able to justify buying certain things, like couches.

When we moved from the Brisbane house, a few of the things we did own, we got rid of or left behind, such as our TV and dinning table. This was easy to do as the house we moved to already had a wall mounted TV and a media room with a projector.
It had a full couch suite left here as well as a futon/lounge thing. They also left their massive 8 seater dinning table and chairs. So this house hasn’t been empty because it came with some furniture!

So briefly, the following are the large items we own that will go to the next house:

  • queen size bed
  • single bed
  • large IKEA shelves
  • 2 x office/study desks
  • 1 kitchen caddy (recently acquired for free from business partners)
  • garage shelving (also recently acquired from business partners)
  • and the snakes cage with stand

That’s it. That is all the furniture we own. And to be honest, it is all we have needed since this house had the extra furniture. I have to admit, in our previous house I was ashamed to have people visit because it was a terrible house and we had so little. Can you image, please come over for a cup of tea.. but here you have to stand here in the kitchen or sit at the office desk.. oh and we only have 2 tea cups, so anymore than2 people and you’ll have to wait your turn.. And forget dinner parties. 🙂

When we move we will have zero spare dollars to buy furniture, so we will make do with what we have and I guess I’ll have to keep an eye out on gum tree for anything I can get for free until times improve.

This is what I find the hardest in our life right now. People see that we own a company and the company is growing and doing exciting things. But that doesn’t mean that we are getting money from it. We take enough to get by and that is all.

Don’t get me wrong, we are not poor. The business is able to pay most of our rent, we have a work vehicle that is only 4 years old, the company covers our fuel, our phone and internet is also covered. The only true expenses we have are our food, our health, our pets and clothes. But in those personal areas we go without so the business can move forward.

Anyway, slightly off track.

We have plenty of non-furniture stuff. We have so much stock, tools and equipment in this house that I can’t find my own belongings from within them!

img_3922aFor example, you can see in the picture:
1 ~ Stargate (love it!)
2 ~ Business records from a previous venture
3 ~ Wedding box
4 ~ Pet things (leashes, record of registration, etc)
5 ~ Sewing things (I actually can’t sew, but want to)
6 ~ Books
7 ~ dumping ground for things
8 ~ Coke (has to live somewhere)
9 ~ shoes

Every other space is work related. Tools, spare pieces, etc.

Thankfully the new property we are (hopefully) moving to has a proper storage room and shed space for a good amount of this stuff.

So, when we move house, I’ll show you all the empty space!

 

‘I’m waiting for her to ask a question’

Image result for free image questionThis post might seem a little out of place in the timeline of my Learning Islam posts, but I want to put it in here regardless.

I recently attended my 2nd Friday prayer time after which those who were able (didn’t have to rush of to work or other commitments), gathered at the nearby shopping centre for some lunch and a time to be together. It was great and the people were lovely, but I’ll skip ahead for now as that’s not the focus of this post.

As the numbers dwindled, myself, the Imam and 1 other couple remained. It was fascinating to listen to them speak with him as they had questions about organ donation (permissible or not), and then the topics rolled to prayers, and then fasting for Ramadan and everyone’s experiences of this so far.

I cannot remember what they were discussing, but Mrs Muslim (because obviously I don’t want to use her name, I’ve not sought permission and she may not want to be identified), suggested that Imam explain for me something that he’d just said. He responded with, ‘I’m waiting for her to ask a question’.

Now, some people might find that harsh, or dismissive but I don’t think that was the case at all. I suspect he was being respectful. From our brief email correspondence, he knew I was interested in learning about Islam. Likely he’d noticed  I was eagerly listening to their conversation and surmised that I would ask a question if I wanted clarification. I felt the conversations they were having were providing me with a much broader understanding and context than direct question answer ever could. I said I was picking up a lot from just listening. And hopefully I sounded more confident than I felt.

But that was Friday. It is now Sunday. And I’ve been pondering that concept ‘waiting for her to ask a question’. Why haven’t I asked any questions? When I’m at home I have plenty of questions. And as they arise, I google them and look through as many varied sources as I can find, especially ones who reference the Quran in some way.
So why haven’t I asked any questions?

It isn’t that I don’t have questions. I currently have 2 questions, in fact one of them is quite an important question! The lesser question is ‘How can there be Devine Destiny and still humans have free will?’. This seems contradictory to me. I re-watched Episode 20 of Islam Unveiled (highly recommend watching), on Devine Destiny and I’m still not clear on how both can exist. The second question, the one which is ever more important, is if I converted to Islam in the future, what would Allah expect me to do with my marriage? This I have googled, and found mildly conflicting information, but my instincts tell me I know where the truth lies, and I probably don’t want to hear it.
Don’t misunderstand, I do want to know what the Quran says regarding the matter, but part of me feels that once I know, it will be much harder to continue learning. I don’t want to experience the ‘what’s the point then’ feeling and stop learning.

Now, returning to why I don’t ask questions. Growing up, asking questions was strongly discouraged. Not by adults or not intentionally. No one ever sat me down and said ‘ok you shouldn’t ask questions. It’s not ok to ask questions so don’t.’ In fact, it was quite the opposite. I felt encouraged by adults, the education system, TV etc, to ask questions. The discouragement came in the form of responses.

I try not to think back on this, because the feelings are as raw and stabbing as they were when they happened, but I can recall numerous occasions were I would ask a question and be laughed at, ridiculed, told to shut up, called names and generally dismissed from ‘peers’. That stuff hurts and it has long lasting impacts on people.

People’s nature is to avoid hurt. To create various coping mechanism to avoid being hurt. In my case, I stopped asking questions to other people unless I was certain I either knew the answer or knew the type of response I would receive (that it would be positive), or knew that I could hold my own in the following conversation (particularly if our opinions differed).

I have questions, but I’m not used to the traditional means of acquiring answers (asking someone) being a safe option. I know that the Imam will provide a safe and positively worded answer, so time and conversation permitting, I will seek an answer on Friday next.