Second impressions from the mosque

Copyrighted by Penny Rebel, 2012. Do not republish or quote from without contacting author.

There seems to have been some kind of misunderstanding amongst those who actually read my 5-pages long experience.
While it was first impressions at THIS mosque, it wasn’t my first time AT one.  For everyone who accused me of bigotry and not having read the Quran. You are wrong again. I have not just read but studied the Quran. Home alone as well as with others interested in religious science, many of them coming from Muslim backgrounds.

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It’s funny how the only religion that ever caused difficulty within our family was indeed the Islam. Not the Catholic, otherwise Christian, Jewish members of our family. Let alone the Buddhists and Pagans in our family. My uncle was not a moderate, he wasn’t really a Muslim at all. He celebrated a few of the Iranian holidays like agnostics and even atheists celebrate Christmas, as a Western tradition or family holiday. He didn’t believe in the Quran and he was fed up enough with the Iranian regime that he had escaped it. His family, however, was different. They were Muslims alright. Portraying themselves as moderate while visiting us in our country, but not so moderate after all when confronted about their specific beliefs. Excusing terrorism, extremism and being Israel-haters. To those that cry for “coexistence” I hear you. And I agree. However, it is important to make a distinction between religion or spiritual paths and politicized warcults. Islam is such a warcult, cloaked as religion and founded by a pedophile. History attests to that.

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But! – Enough with this little introduction. Back to the Sunni mosque.
So today I came „better dressed“, long Abaya (traditional baggy kind of dress), Islamic overcoat, and perfectly tied hijab.
Sister Rhada, our Islam class teacher, along with the girls I’d already gotten to know last time, greeted me with hugs and kisses and I got a few more from complete strangers. Rhada asked around who would teach me the rest of the namaz (contact prayer), since I don’t remember all the words anymore, and just to see how they would react I asked whether I would be allowed to pray Shia style out of respect for my Iranian family. There was a slight pause and apparent discomfort on their behalf, but my request wasn’t officially denied. We’ll see what happens next Sunday when sister Sara, who volunteered, teaches me how to pray.
This class also included the praise of Muslim life in contrast to Western life which was made out to be sinful, the road to hell and infidels should be avoided if they couldn’t be converted. Fervent nodding at all of this.

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Sister Rhada also mentioned good deeds being key to Muslims, and not just the zakat but deeds that were voluntary and came from the heart. “But!” She remarked loudly, “These deeds only have worth if you are Muslim. Remember how the people in this country are crazy about Mother Theresa and such people? Well, that’s very nice she did good deeds, but she’s an infidel and will still burn in hell for all eternity.” She laughed insanely after that, shaking her head and everyone else chimed in. Oookay…
We were also taught about the “big devil” America, the evil Jews and that it was easy to call the “Mujahedeen” terrorists when they were really just “fighting back”. And on it went. I’d heard enough, but still decided to wait until this “class” was over. I had to admit they were being very clever about selling their extremism. Explaining it with personal tragic stories, calling it rebellion instead of extremism, freedom instead of oppression, speaking of how everyone in Islam was family, the advantages of the “Ummah”, love bombing the crap out of possible converts. Clever, clever, clever.

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At the end of the class one of the converts asked for donations for a sister from Bosnia who had been lured to Germany and had been forced to prostitute herself. (By who I never found out unfortunately.) I was not surprised, but still shocked when I heard her say,  „Well, unfortunately she doesn’t wear hijab, but maybe you would still like to donate, if not I understand though.“ I’ll leave this uncommented at this point.
Later, the same sister (one of the ones who’d told us about her conversion last time) approached me. I’d seen her look over at me and lurk in one corner of the room, fidgeting with her hijab, waiting for me to pass her. I liked her even less after today’s comment.
„You are sister Penny, aren’t you?“ she asked.
I nodded and asked her name in return. At this point I wasn’t even surprised anymore to hear that her (convert) name was Arabic. So much for culture taking over religion/spirituality.
She’d heard me ask Rhada and a few other Muslim-born women about the hijab.
I made a short remark about this in my last „blog“ or „inside report“, so I’ll try to keep the following short: I had made my case and quoted the Quran as best I could from memory about there possibly being no  duty to wear the headscarf but to dress modestly instead. The original word used in the Quran actually also translates to „curtain“ and the paragraph that hijab-supporters rest their case on is actually about male guests at the prophet’s house. His wives were encouraged to „draw a curtain“ between the guests and themselves in order to be left alone and not get hit on. (Which was common at that time apparently; I read in another book that just like in many cultures all across Arabia it was custom to lend your wife to guests and that Muhammad did not want to share his wives, child brides and prisoners of war with other men.)

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For reference: the suras I’m referring to are 24:31-32, 33:59, 24:60. The word zeenah in Arabic was actually not natural beauty (physical/personal) but meant jewellery, make-up, etc. Interestingly in 7:31 the Quran speaks of the believers WEARING their zeenah to celebrate God. I highlighted the word „wearing“ to further argue my case that zeena does not mean hair or face, body or natural beauty.
Unsurprisingly, most women at the mosque disagreed. Many interpreted the word not to mean curtain or in that sense veil but really headscarf/abaya, even the word burqa was uttered. A very few of them said that the headscarf nowadays, especially in a non-Muslim country (is it?! I think Germany is becoming more and more Muslim, we have 3,000,000 born Muslims and thousands of converts every year, and Muslims openly called it “sexual” or “birth jihad”, too) was a symbol and a means of recognition amongst each other. One of them said, „When I go outside I don’t want to be hit on by non-Muslim men.“ Well, if it’s only non-Muslim men you don’t want to get hit on going back to your home country would of course be the logical alternative. In addition to that I can only attest to the fact that Western men generally do not hit on Muslim women in my country. Why? Simple. Out of fear of their male relatives and physical harm.

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I thought about this some more just now, especially since some rogue Middle Eastern looking guy whistled and winked at me on the subway when I was going back home today, (I was wearing hijab of course, coming from the mosque). So the head scarf doesn’t seem to do ANYTHING at all in that regard. (On a side note: I googled the issue and apparently there are indeed surveys/statistics by several universities proving me right, in addition to rape statistics of Muslim countries where women veil themselves.)
Back to the convert sister approaching me when I was still in the classroom: She asked me if I wanted to have a cup of tea with her and we went to “Kabul” restaurant across the street. It was interesting for me to notice how much more „involved“ the waiter seemed. Was it paranoia, I asked myself honestly, some sort of prejudice that „they“ all stick together? But then I’d never had the waiter/s at that restaurant stop to chit-chat and laugh, definitely not call me sister, or slightly bow every time he refilled our drinks or brought more Baclava. He definitely was more attentive and more appreciative also. „He doesn’t even recognize me,“ I mused increduled. I’d come to this restaurant for about a year, simply because it was cheap and usually the buffet was really great.
„You know, there is a reason I wanted to talk to you today,“ Nuriyah said after half an hour of polite small talk. „I heard you ask all these questions about the head scarf and covering up in general. And I thought that my story might help you understand this from a very different perspective”.
I leaned back with my Dugh (better known as “Ayran”) and she started talking.
„I hope you don’t mind my brutal honesty. I realize this might scare or intimidate you, but I see no point in sugar-coating things. There is a particular reason I’ve been looking for God the way I did. Desperately. Looking for a love that wouldn’t hurt or cheat…looking for rules in a very confusing world – or life – that would just give me back some dignity and a sense…of…well…I dunno. Reason to go on maybe. But anyways.
I don’t mean to bother you with details, but let’s just say that my childhood was very violent. And that that was the reason I always felt like meat. Like an object. I’m sure you know where I’m coming from with this…
When I became a teenager I started sleeping around. I was looking for trouble, and I always found it. Or it found me, even when I wasn’t looking. I hated myself for living that way, but I didn’t know any other way. I wanted to be loved, but at the same time I was terrified. I guess I had to prove to myself with every „relationship“ or affair that there was no human love and that this was a way of toughening up. I thought at some point I would be okay living alone. I did pick the most terrible guys after all. I knew how to get them. Short skirts, do my hair…“ she laughed haughtily. „Guys are so easy. They are slaves to their urges, they are so weak, they really have to be protected from us.“ I couldn’t help but frown, luckily Nuriyah was still staring out into space, lost in memories.
„At the same time I was asking myself why God would ever allow bad things to happen. Why me, bla bla. You get the idea. I started reading the Bible, going to church. But I just didn’t feel it.
I remember sitting on the subway one day, years later, and looking around. I saw a woman enter at the current stop. She wore a head-scarf and a long coat with her abaya. And I noticed for the first time that no one paid her any attention. The guys on the subway weren’t checking her out. It was like she wasn’t even regarded as a sexual being. She was just a thing, but not like I was, a piece of meat-thing so to speak. That was just so…FASCINATING to me,“  Nuriyah exclaimed with vigor. „And I thought, if only I could be this invisible. If only I didn’t get greasy bastards checking me out, asking me out, thinking they could just do that to me… And I just got this very strong sense that I had found the solution to the problem”.

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I couldn’t help but interrupt, because while I felt for her harsh experiences as a child I know the kind of fanatic religious insanity this can cause. I’ve seen this in converts before and I’ve felt it myself, I just knew how to stop myself and not let fanaticism and fear take over.
„The problem.“ I stated, not askd. „The problem of men abusing children and women is…them not wearing a  headscarf?“ I tried to make myself sound a little friendlier, despite the obvious message of the latter question.
„Sister,“ she said softly, taking my hand into hers. My hand was ice-cold from the Dugh I held till a few seconds ago, but also just a little chilled from what she just insinuated. Hers are hot from her glass of chai. I can’t help but think, ‚Just like in reality. Hot and cold. I’ll never be on the same page with women like that.‘
„Sister, I know what this sounds like to Western ears. But look around you. We have become so desensitized to men ogling women or publicly hitting on them, even just touching them, no matter if it’s the famous slap on the ass or even „just“ touching someone’s arm. We are so lonely here without strong family values, that we will do anything to form some sort of bond, however superficial and wrong it is. We crave the attention and approval of others. Of men! Because that is the love we think we need and want. It is advertized everywhere, isn’t it? In the media? To get love you have to be sexy. Slim. Dress scantily. It is just another form of indoctrination. – ‘You are your body and nothing else.: And a means to destroy a society. Society is made up of families. Man, woman, children. Society is in fact, or should be, one big family. That is why we call each other brother and sister in Islam. We know that we are all one big family.

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Why do men cheat? Because they are slaves of their urges. For once. And also because women make it easy for them. Their wives do not know how wonderful it is to obey your husband because God made him superior, a protector, a nourisher. And because the other women aren’t taught how to protect their bodies and minds and souls anymores, so they end up mistresses. There are no girlfriends, they are all mistresses. The prophet, blessing and peace be upon him, was greatly concerned with women’s rights, you know!? He gave us the right to protect ourselves and also the men.“ She kept leaning forward, kneading my hand as she spoke, her eyes widening fanatically and smiling the brainwashed smile of a suicide bomber.
„Sister  Nuriyah“ I sigh heavily. „I understand how with your past and experiences you ended up in that kind of mindset. But even Rumi, a famous Persian poet of hundreds and hundreds of years ago wrote that if you cover something up, hide it away, make it unavailable the natural urge to see it will turn into obsession to uncover it, to possess it. And I agree. Men and women both have urges. Because the male urges are stronger WE are supposed to cover up in whole-body-condoms in order to protect them from themselves? That doesn’t make any sense and is not the conduct of responsible and self-aware adults. But alright, you want me to argue less than a “Westener” and more quranic. Then let me tell you that the Quran speaks of „modest clothing“ for BOTH sexes. I agree that is a good idea as in today’s world we rely way too much on outer appearances. On the other hand there is nothing modest about a woman wearing a sparkly hijab, diamond-covered bonnet underneath and skinny jeans with half a ton of make-up, bright-red lipstick included. I’ve seen some of the sisters in Little Orient when they weren’t attending mosque but were just out grocery shopping. The „goodies“ are all packed up, but the dress is meant to draw attention, it’s not modest and the only thing covered up is the hair and neck when they’re shaking their asses in their all too tight body-condoms.
There is no way around sexuality. God gave us this as a gift. It is what we make of it that is a problem, true. But what good does the strict separation of the sexes do? In most Arabic countries a man doesn’t have any contact to women on a personal basis except his mother and sisters, should he have any. Then he is expected to marry. Without knowing ANYTHING about women, how we work, what we like, how to treat or touch us. These are things a mother cannot teach you obviously, and as far as I know from friends, sex or talk of it absolutely is a taboo anyways. It is better to be honest and open about these urges and try to deal with them constructively. Oppressing them is psychologically as well as physically unhealthy. And it is far more dangerous to women, because if the accumulated urges and yearning take over no rational thought in the world can stop it anymore. Regular interaction, “the two sexes learning each other”, is important.
You speak of the hijab or Islamic clothing as the solution to the rape issue. I’m sorry for what you have had to endure, but that is offensive to every decent woman not covering herself up head to toe who got attacked by a man. I am definitely NOT a supporter of the rape theory which says that if the skirt was too short, if the hair was too shiny, if the smile was too tempting it’s the woman’s fault something happens. Or it was her fault simply because she is a woman. It should go without saying that you do NOT rape women, that walking down the street doesn’t equal “Take me now” and that NO means no.
Have you heard about the rapes in Afghanistan during the war? Women in burqa, let us not forget! Why the denial of rape crisis centers or domestic violence centers in Muslim countries? Qatar banned the idea, Dubai frowned upon it and doesn’t allow the issue or the first and only center to be mentioned in the media, in order not to „sully Islam.“ Islam condones violence and rape. Rape of children, of prisoners of war, of infidels”.

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I noticed that suddenly it was my hand that felt hot and sister Nuriyah’s that was rather cold and clammy. She swallowed hard, her face twitching, close to tears.
„Be that as it may…“ she stuttered, „I can only tell you why to me the hijab was a godsent.“
„But it wasn’t!” I threw my hands in the air in exasperation. „It was a man-sent! It is just another way of oppressing women, the physically weaker sex. They look at „us Western girls“ without it and think we are easy. Because that is what they are being taught, with the help of you converts. I know all those women who say they WANT to wear the hijab, that they are proud of it, that it is a feminist symbol. These women have no idea what feminism is. They know the liberal media and brainwashed majority of the population just needs to hear certain keywords and they will bow down repeating it like an invocation, defending the dumbest and most dangerous things. Like the hijab. I understand that you want to be or feel safe. Respectable. But I,“ and here I couldn’t take it anymore, the bonnet and head scarf just felt like a sweaty prison and I yanked them down and took a deep breath, „cannot support covering up one whole sex while the other gets to run around in muscle shirts and tight jeans with shaved chests, bling bling and porn sunglasses. That is simply hypocrisy. Women aren’t supposed to look appealing? Not to themselves either? Why not?! If menare that weak that they can’t control themselves it is the men that need help and altering, not us. Well, then maybe the emotionally weaker sex should start averting their eyes as is said in your Quran, eh”, I concluded. Nuriyah was very pale and very silent.
Look,“ I tried a more polite approach. „If a man stares at me I stare him down. Or I look away shaking my head. If he tries to talk to me I turn around and walk away. That should get the message across in most cases. I don’t need a head scarf for that
Nuriyah remained silent. She was staring down at the table. At some point she had let go of my hand.
The waiter approached, raising his eyebrow in surprise at me sitting there with my hijab down my neck and my hair all askew, face sweaty. I couldn’t help it. „Yo brother,“ I drawled in the broadest dialect of my hometown, leaning back on my chair, „how ‘bout some more tea, eh?“
He blinked, then nodded hectically to scramble away with a worried glance at his “sister” Nuriyah.
„I know you’re not completely wrong” she said finally. Her voice was thick with tears and I felt guilty about it. „But for me there was no other option anymore. Islam got me away from the drugs and the alcohol, the parties, the lonely nights, the not so lonely nights that gave me even lonelier days…“
I felt sorry for her and sorry for having spoken so honestly, then pulled myself together reminding myself that this was all about studying and phenomenologically bracketing. Nothing else.
When I had been in my teens I’d made the mistake of wanting to „help“ my study objects. And I got reeled into things I’d had no control over anymore. Converts were the worst, they were beyond reasoning. Only then did I notice that I never met a convert that didn’t have a tragic life story filled with loss, abuse or other.
We resumed to small-talk as the tea arrived. I carefully tried to avoid any kind of „heavy subject“. When we left KABUL it definitely felt like leaving a war zone. The irony was sort of tragic… We stood outside for a few seconds, awkwardness between us. „Where are you headed?“ I asked. She pointed to the left. „Ah, I’m going the other way.“ Callous lie. But I had to get some space to think. We exchanged quick, dutily hugs and each walked our separate ways. I turned into an alley, looked around, pulled out my mirror and pulled out my bright pink lipstick. I needed that now.  After having tried to live like a Muslim for weeks on end I had an incredible urge for a hot dog and some beer and made my way to the nearest vendor I knew. Taking the first bite I felt like shedding the oppressive rules and customs of Islam. I felt free again, my heart was lighter instantly and I never felt happier about living in a secular democracy.

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And to the fascists calling themselves liberals: STOP saying “It’s not all of them, the majority is moderate” – millions of victims throughout history and daily deaths, rapes, mutilations today disprove that. If you love Islam so much go live in a Muslim country and see how long you will last there. You want true tolerance? Petition for churches, synagogues or Pagan rights in Saudi Arabia.

http://www.faithfreedom.org/oped/sina51021.htm

http://freethoughtnation.com/why-is-islam-so-intolerant-and-violent/

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