so one big reason i started this blog was to share some of my frustrations re. religion. my dad is muslim and so i am too technically, but i never really thought of myself as religious growing up in zambia (it was such a multicultural environment). anyway, when i moved to cairo i have to say i was completely turned off Islam. completely. what i saw shocked me: men sexually harassing women as they walk to the mosque to pray; sheikhs talking about things i (till now) have not found in the qur’an or hadith; people yelling and shouting at each other constantly; sexism; racism; driving like convicts on death row; and the list goes on. now, there are negative things to be found in every country. but what shocked me was how religious everyone proclaimed to be, and how negative they acted towards someone who wasn’t “religious” enough. the point is i felt really negatively towards Islam and muslims and could never see myself being a muslim, or praying, or any of that.
fast forward to early 2008, when i suddenly got the urge to pray one morning. so i asked someone to teach me, and since then i’ve been praying, fasting, reading the qur’an…basically i’ve become a muslim.
but i still don’t call myself that; and i still get pissed off at the majority of muslims that i meet here. one thing i’ve been thinking about lately is the growing rise in fundamentalism/extremisn here in egypt. we’ve gone from being one of the most liberal middle eastern countries (the 50s-70s) to one of the most fundamentalist (today). i wonder why? is it the masses of egyptians who returned from saudi arabia in the 90s full of wahhabi ideas? is it the identity crisis? is it a reaction against westernization, western imperialism (esp. post9/11) and the imagined loss of “our true culture”?
i really see it as a negative; as first of all i believe religion is PERSONAL – it doesn’t matter what i wear, who i see, what i do – my religion is between me and God and has nothing to do with you. if you think i’m wrong, then rest assured God will punish me for it, no? apparently people here don’t think like that, and think it’s safer for them to judge me first.
i will be talking about islam and my own religious experience a lot on this blog, and would love to hear from other people.