I’ve had a rocky journey across many terrains for my heart and soul. Now, I find myself rooted (that’s not the word though; it’s the opposite of rooted) in a pragmatic Islamic eclecticism. I wander between oases.
I don’t get everything I need in one oasis. Rarely, I find multiple kinds of treasure in one person, one community. I value these precious souls tremendously, but mostly my journey is a perpetually parched quest for sustenance.
I visit the Sufis for gnosis, Love, reverence, deep connection. But often, here, my heart is broken by the male-centric practices of many tariqahs. So I get up, usually quietly, sometimes grumpily, tired, and leave.
I go and find my Muslim feminists, seeking out a just sisterhood, a struggle for finding the heart of Islam that is just for all – an intersectional justice. But sometimes, even here, I find that my heart is not filled, and I am exhausted with struggle. So I stumble back to my Sufi circles for a quick drink of that wine.
But then here, I find a tendency to live in a bubble, to vanish from the everyday struggles of the poor and the dispossessed, and sometimes, worse, a tendency to support the status quo, the authorities, the amir, the powers-that-be.
So, from these Sufi circles, I run in a state of vehshat, terror, alienation, and I find solidarity warriors for political struggle, people who are allied with the poorest, the majority of the people, seeking change for them. And then, after a while, I often find among these a disgust with religion and spirituality, a utilitarianism that uses religion only as a political tool.
So I flee once more. And sometimes I seek the comforting home of meticulous Muslims, to strengthen a diligent correct observance, a religious discipline. But then these often tire me out, because they often do not care how I feel, they tell you to push yourself, no matter your personal circumstances or illness or perspective, and to follow the ghosts of the past, always, never to live in the present.
So I flee again, and I find the comforting laughter of ironic Muslims, the ones who know how to laugh at themselves and to make light of the very serious issues that weigh us down so heavily that we can barely move.
And on and on and on.
My friend Saadia Yacoob reminded me of her inspiration, the Prophet’s words: “Be in this world as if you were a stranger or a traveler.”