Happy Monday friends! This morning when I settled in at my computer to get some work done, I found this letter from a reader.
Hey, I recently came across your website and was hoping I could get your opinion or view on some of the stuff that I have going on. My boyfriend of almost 2 years just broke up with me out of no where, he said something about we can never be anything more than we are right now because he is Muslim and I am not. He was born and raised in Canada and I’d consider him to be very westernized, he drinks parties, dates all that stuff. We have talked about the future before and have always worked things out but suddenly he doesn’t think it will work anymore. I believe that some of it has to do with pressures from his family because ideally they would like him to be with a Muslim however they didn’t dislike me at all and they have told him that they will love and accept him no matter what. I know that he still loves me and cares about me but is trying to shut me out and forget his feelings for me. Do you see him changing his mind and doing what makes him happy instead of what he feels is the right thing?
I sent M this response and asked permission to get your opinion.
I’m so glad you’ve reached out. I’m sorry you are hurting right now. After spending 2 years of your life with a man it is very hard when they decide they need to make a change.
In my experience, most Muslim men who come from pretty strict families are rebellious in their younger years and then as they age, they return to following the sunnah more closely. It sounds to me like your boyfriend has come to a crossroads. His family may have upped the ante on the pressure for him to marry a Muslim woman. Even though they like you, and it is perfectly permissible to marry a Christian woman, if he is dependent on them, that could be extremely difficult. While he still loves you, he may be in the position of choosing between you and his family.
My advise to you is to let him go. Grieve your loss. I know it can be messy but this will be the kindest way for YOU. If he is still calling you, tell him you would like to remain friends (if you do) but that you need some time away from him to grieve your ending relationship and the loss of the future you thought you had with him. Give him a time period in which he cannot contact you. This will help you mourn and it will help him come to terms with his decision. You, in turn, don’t contact him. Do what you need to do to mourn this ending relationship.
For me, grieving has always been about watching a lot of movies and reading a lot of books. Talking to a counselor and then connecting with some friends. Do something cathartic. Allow yourself to heal. Then, after the time has passed, you can reach out to him and see how he is doing. You will always love him in some way, but it may hurt a little less.
This piece was published on July15 as part of The Hopscotch Hijabi’s 2015 Interfaith Ramadan Series.
This post was first published on July 8th as a part of Hindtrospective’s 2015 My Mosque, My Story: A Side Entrance Ramadan
If there was ever a time I felt completely at a disadvantage while parenting Muslim children, it is during Ramadan. I am so often embarrassed when we go to the Mosque during Ramadan that I would rather just not go.
I am the only non-Muslim that attends Jummah on a regular basis at our Mosque. We go every Friday because I take my children and I sit with the ladies and we listen. I cover my hair and wear a prayer skirt out of respect for my family and because it is what is appropriate. I’m not out-of-place there because people are used to me. They know I sit there where I can see the speaker. I listen to the khutba and my girls are dressed appropriately. We are attentive participants. We don’t talk when the speaker is talking. We Listen. Once the sermon is finished and the prayer begins, I move to the side and wait until everyone is finished praying. Everyone who is a regular knows this. They know me. We say ‘Hi’ to each other. People ask me to watch their babies while they pray.
But during Ramadan, people come out of the woodwork to attend Jummah Services. It’s the same at churches, during Christmas and Easter, there are members who only show up on holidays. The Arabic Jummah is packed with people trying to reestablish their place as a member of the mosque. The English Jummah is also filling up because people are just learning about it or they are holiday Muslims.
People who don’t know me are showing up, taking my spot on the carpet, and eyeballing me when I’m not praying, judging what they do not understand. Watching us like we are the strangers there, not them.
Because I am the regular, and because I’m so used to new people being welcomed at church, I introduce myself to anyone to appears not to know anyone. I approach them. I say hello. I welcome them to the mosque so they don’t feel out-of-place. I have mentioned before to my husband and friends that I would love for there to be a welcoming committee so that there is at least one person at every prayer to be on the lookout for new people. Or the regulars should have name tags. That way you would know at a glance if someone is just at a new service or is new to the mosque.
I approach them, welcome them and ask if they have been to this mosque before. Or, sometimes I remember meeting them someplace before and I mention that and draw the connection for them. I want the new person to know that they are important and its good that they are there. I want them to feel welcome. After I do all of those things, the first thing they say to me that isn’t a response to my welcome is, “are you fasting? – Do you fast?”
That question shoots me back to that place where I am the odd one out all over again. Invariably I am stunned into silence. I can’t believe that they are so rude to ask. Everything that I plan in my head to respond to their rude behavior flies out of my mind because now I feel like everyone is looking. The spotlight is on me and then I tell them no. I confirm their suspicions that I don’t belong there. They belong and I do not. I’m not part of the club and I can’t masquerade as though I am. I don’t know why I’ve bothered.
I know that the girls are watching though. They see me do this thing, this welcoming. I’m hoping that when they grow older, they will do the same as what I’ve done. If they do, it will be worth all of my embarrassment because the difference will be, when they approach the new person; they will be ambassadors from inside the clubhouse. I will have made a difference here. The mosque will be more welcoming.
Last Friday was the Eid Prayer. As you remember, we’ve been attending our little mosque’s Eid Prayer for several years and each year it the attendance keeps getting larger and larger. Why? Well, I think that the community likes to pray behind our Imam. I also think that they like to pray outside. I think that our youth group does a really great job of organizing the event, from parking attendants to entertainment and the food.
This year, the youth, in cooperation with the Imams of 5 of our mosques, organized 1 huge Unified Prayer Event. It was a beautiful thing to be able to pray with all of our friends. The khutba was in English first and Arabic second. There was more than enough room for everyone. We had a parking shuttle, a photo booth and food trucks! I took many pictures, and even a video of the prayer so I could show you. I’m having a difficult time uploading it though, since it is 8 minutes long. If anyone has advise on how to upload a video that size, please share.
How have you been? It’s hard to believe that tomorrow is Eid. Does it seem to you that this Ramadan went by pretty fast? I don’t know what happened. It seems like just the other day we were ramping up for the first week and now Poof! Its finished.
I started this post on Monday, and because the days were super busy preparing for Eid weekend, I didn’t get it published until today. GO Figure. I should have stopped time so I could have 1 more hour to upload and tweak my post. Lets still take some time and review what went well this Ramadan and what didn’t work out so great.
Suhoor – I saw this online a few days ago and I thought it was soo true. (Theirs said something about eating Kunafa for breakfast.) Suhoor week 1 – Scrambled eggs with beef, Cheese, Melon, Milk . Suhoor week 4 – Milk & Juice. Today, the last day of fasting, I made beef and duck bacon with pancakes. Only Mr. Fox ate.
Iftar – We are unlike a lot of families in that we don’t really change our eating habits during this month. We don’t cook big, lavish spreads. We eat leftovers. We get takeout. We eat breakfast for supper. The only differences are when we eat Community Iftars and when we invite Mr. and Mrs. Imam over, we cook a lot more dishes.
Community Iftars – Nothing to report. Seriously! Week 1 I took Watergate Salad. Week 2 we took Mango Kunafa and Macaroons. Week 3 we skipped. Week 4 we took Pig Pickin’ Cake. (Google it, I’m not lying.)
Every week, I sat with Mrs. Imam and a bunch of ladies that spoke English. Usually there was a bilingual speaker sitting with us in case Mrs. Imam was missing out on the conversation, but otherwise it was really a nice atmosphere. Last week, I was even asked to help with specific tasks.
Our community Iftars are set up segregated family style. Women on one side of the room, men on the other side and some out in the hall and prayer room. Most of the time Khaled sits in the same room with us. Baby Steps. Right?
I do know that there are community Iftars at the other mosques and even the community center in town, but I’m just now comfortable with our home mosque event. I’m not sure how well it would go if we went someplace else. I don’t want to risk it. Y’no?
Eid Shopping – I ordered abayas before Ramadan even began so we are all set for that. No last-minute shopping. I also got them some small gifts that I knew they would like, and we picked up some books. I’m taking my ladies for Eid Manicures this week as part of their present. We are also going to be doing a bunch of special stuff this weekend so we are super excited.
Decorations – We have our lantern collection out, and I forgot that I picked up some new lanterns when I was shopping over the last year. Plus, we added those sweet Crescent Star lights and some colorful faerie lights we picked up on Christmas clearance.Activities – We kept our activities to a minimum. It wouldn’t seem like it based on my constant driving rotation, but Arabic & Quran class, Guitar, volunteering and exercising. This year we did something new and organized an activity for a bunch of the kids who were fasting. I went to a paint your own pottery place that we often go to that is locally owned and arranged for the kids to cut out crescent moons and stars. Once they were fired, we went back and glazed them and then the next week we picked them up and turned them into garlands. It was a wonderful experience. We basically took over the place. Next year I’m going to arrange it on a day where the studio is closed to the public.
Failures – I ran out of ideas on what to feed everyone. We didn’t invite as many people over as we would have liked. I woke up late one day and everyone had just 10 minutes to chug some drinks. We didn’t listen to Quran before Iftar this year, and didn’t attend any tarweeh. Despite my running everywhere it seems like every day…they were bored. Our off days were filled with reading, games and a few bike rides thrown in for good measure. I kept working and doing what I needed to keep the family comfortable. I know it wasn’t super exciting, but really, there weren’t enough hours in the day to do any more.
How did this Ramadan go for you?