It has been ages since I’ve blogged. I have just been too busy with work, studies and settling into South African life.
I recently joined the Muslimah Media Watch team. It is truly an honour to be able to contribute to such an important effort! I have learnt SO much in just two months, and the mentoring by the revolutionary Fatemeh Fakhraie has been invaluable. The ladies at MMW are each unique and uplifting in their own way, and although I don’t know any of them well, I still feel connected to them through our common purpose.
What we do, at MMW, is critique images of Muslim women in the global media. We aim to deconstruct stereotypes, and present an objective picture of Muslim women. Too often, we are misrepresented, and indeed, we are the only ones who can remove ourselves from these pigeonholes other people put us into. No-one is exempt, whether you’re Muslim or not, if you’re saying something about Muslim women, we will cover it. We do tend to stay away from religious debate though, as the aim of the organization is not to influence people towards a certain ideology, or punt a certain groups viewpoints. Rather, our motto is inclusion, so whatever type of Muslim women you are; pink, blue or orange, we will defend you, or point out your bias.
Most importantly, through all of this, are the spiritual needs of my soul, which I have been, of late, attending to. It has been a true blessing of Allah that He has allowed me to meet with such inspirational people from the Sufi tradition, whose lives are examples of true followers of the Prophet (PBUH) and whose work in the social and humanitarian sectors, illustrations of the depths of Ibada (worship). The effect of Congregational Tadhkiya (meditation/remembrance) is difficult to explain. Suffice to say, I am left feeling on a high, spiritually. Even if it is just me doing dhikr alone, I feel refreshed and energized. What attracts me to Sufism, is the beauty of its followers. They are truly lovers, of Allah and His creation. They are intoxicated with the remembrance of our Lord. The women of the Sufi tradition, particularly, are so liberated from the excesses of material life, from sexism and misogyny.
People have often condemned Tassawuf for extricating itself from the Shariah, enacting Bid’a (innovations) and other such heresies. This could not be further from the truth. Tassawuf, is indeed, the sweet liquid which fills the cup, of Shariah. I would much rather have my chalice brimming with sweetness, than an empty one! Tassawuf is part and parcel of Islam, as it has always been. It is not sect, or a group, or a school of thought, but encompasses Islam in its entirety, and is perhaps, the thread that holds it all together.
I still have a lot of research to do, and questions to find answers to, but I am trying to escape this mindset of “analysis paralysis” and submit to a greater purpose. I maintain my stance against blind following and “guru syndrome”, but I am leaning more and more to the realization that the need for a spiritual guide is imperative in the search for Allah, for Truth, and for contentment of the Ruh (soul).