Oh. So then why do you do this?

That was the question a friend asked me when he implied that I wrote for an audience when I write here, and I replied, “I don’t think I really write for anyone. I don’t think I’ve ever really written for anyone.”
Sometimes people comment or send me a message saying “I really enjoy reading you, even though I’m not part of your intended audience.” And it surprises me, and I think but if I don’t have one, aren’t you? I’m glad you’re here.
I must give the impression that I have an intended audience. As a matter of fact, I think I came right out and said it in one of these posts. I think I’ve said even more about who my audience isn’t. You can find that information to your upper right.
“I got the impression you wanted to lecture terrorists about how they’re wrong to be terrorists,” he said half-jokingly.
“Yeah, I’m sure al-Qaida is following my blog closely.”
Terrorists know damn well that they’re wrong to be terrorists. They know the excuses they give are… excuses. I don’t care about explaining that this isn’t what God wants, because they don’t care. I was never interested.
But another understandable assumption has been that I’m using this as means of reaching those who really, actually do believe they are doing is what God wants–because we are inclined believe that they do exist, and they do oppress believing that oppression is the Message. They aren’t the ones blowing themselves up, they’re the ones actively oppressing women because they believe it’s what Islam dictates, and they are a greater number than suicide bombers. They really believe it, and if they knew it’s not God’s will as they think it is, they would stop at once, right? Right?
It would be naive to think so. They know, too, that this isn’t God’s message. They know this as well as the terrorists know it. I’ve learned that from, among others, the Muslim guy who randomly told me that women are not capable of being logical enough to be proper witnesses when I pointed out to him the exact text in the Qur’an that states a woman’s witness is enough. I showed him, and he went straight to an irrelevant exploitation of evolutionary psychology that had nothing to do with God. It wasn’t even accurate science, but who cares if I’m the one rolling my eyes, because what do women know of the nature of sciency sciencyness?
Have we learned nothing from the confirmation bias of non-Muslim American men? It doesn’t stop there. When women make any progress, we are bombarded with cries of outrage from men who say they fear misconduct or disorder or “reverse” sexism, even though we all know that this is not a competition, that allowing women to practice their God-given rights does not take these rights away from men. And yet there is resistance. They tell us that feminism is outdated now, but they’ve been saying that for centuries. Feminism became outdated when men could go to jail for drugging and beating their wives. “What else do you want? You’re getting too much power!” Feminism became outdated when women could vote. “What else do you want? You’re getting too much power!” Feminism became outdated when women could apply for the same jobs as men. “What else do you want? You’re getting too much power!”
And feminism is outdated today. “Your movement is useless now,” a man tells me. “It used to serve a purpose but now–“
Yeah, you know what? The douchecanoes who lived back when women were not allowed to practice their right to apply for whatever job they wanted believed feminism was outdated after that last accomplishment too.
I’m not here for them.
The third impression is that this space exists to explain to non-Muslims how ignorant they are to assume that the creep who posts Quranic verses out of context in the Youtube comments section to “prove that Islam is a violent religion” is onto something.
Educating a privileged majority is not my responsibility. I am happy to engage with those who have good faith and are really interested without gloating a presumptuous agenda, but if anyone’s looking for something to just confirm their bigoted beliefs about Islam and Muslims–you’re going to go on believing it no matter what I say. So I choose not to waste my time with you. You can use my hostile, dismissive attitude to prove that all Muslims indeed have something to hide. There, I’ve given you some great material. You’re welcome.
“Are you just doing it to organize yourself?” he asked. “Sometimes it sounds like you’re talking to someone. Your other stuff”–he refers to my creative writing–“doesn’t.”
“Little girls.”
“What?”
Little girls who are not aware of their own rights because they have been taught interpretations that submit to patriarchy rather than to God. Little girls who have been taught histories with portions erased and traditions that have been modified since the Prophet’s time. Little girls who’ve been taught to believe that God doesn’t listen to little girls.
And so we put Quranic verses back in their contexts and correct mistranslations. These are not reinterpretations, they are not “liberal” or “conservative” interpretations. They are, if anything, the original interpretations. The rights that God gave to women are not negotiable by men or subject to liberal or conservative interpretations. These rights are absolutely clear in the Qur’an, and it is only cultural and political ideology that has modified them to be used as political weapons.
“For little girls like me,” I said.

And for myself, because I need you.

16 thoughts on “Oh. So then why do you do this?

  1. I like this post. I was a little hesitant to engage with you about some of the questions I asked, because like you said, I don't feel it's your responsibility to educate non-Muslims (I assumed you were writing to a Muslim audience), but for all the googling I can do, you seem to have insights that aren't… common to a lot of stuff I've read. I'm actually going to use your explanation of the "two women's testimony =/= one man's" the next time my aunt brings it up (she married a Muslim and lived in Malaysia for 10 years, I keep telling her Malaysia does not equal every Muslim society ever). So I appreciate that you do write here, whether or not I am part of your intended audience.Random sidenote, what's a PDD? All I can think of when I see those letters is Pervasive Developmental Disorder and that makes no sense.

  2. Thank you! You've been nothing but wonderful here and you're more than welcome to ask questions.PDD=Privilege Denying Dude. You're not the first person who thought of Pervasive Developmental Disorder. I think I'll actually write it out.

  3. This is really awesome, and similar to the reasons that I blog, if I think about it. Except I blog for the boys, the ones who think women don't like to fuck and can't be nerdy and don't like nice guys, and that they've got to choose between celibacy and being who they are. Patriarchy gives everyone a raw deal, doesn't it? :)

  4. I'm just really really glad you're writing here, Nahida, and I look forward to reading your posts. Like the "two women's testimony =/= one man's" post made my day.(Oh, and thanks for spelling out Privilege Denying Dude. I figured you didn't mean PDD as in autism, etc.)

  5. Awwe thanks Galla! And I should have written it out earlier, but I didn't fully realize that privilege denying dude is not for what it's most commonly known to stand.

  6. Wadha

    Hi. When I read that you write sometimes to little girls I felt goosebumps crawl up my arms. I started reading your blog the month before I turned 14 or the month after and you changed my life. You truly did. Nadia, thank you so much. Now I feel like maybe God’s rooting for me. I never feel as much relief as when I read your posts.

    It’s been more than a year now and I’ve become so much more content, so much more confident. I want you to know that you were the catalyst to my transformation, to how the world suddenly changed around me. I’ve become happier. Death doesn’t scare me much. The world is now irredeemable to me but I would’ve come to this belief whether I’d found you or not, but the afterlife’s justice makes me okay with this, somewhat.

    You’ve helped me connect to god. I asked God at 11 to help me, and God answered 2-3 years after. You were God’s help to me, I want you to know that and to understand that you are one of the greatest people I know, if not the greatest. I devoured your words for a summer, could do nothing else, and felt still wanting when I finished them all. But you’d given me the understanding that I can find God on my own, and that’s a power no one can take from me no more. So I did not despair. And now it’s been a year. I’ve started high school and I’ve changed so much and it makes me sad a lot, that I feel like past me is not in my grasp anymore, and I feel like the ship of Thesus, but I know I haven’t changed that much, haha! It’s still me, despite everything.

    Anyways, I also wrote this to say your words did reach a little girl, if you’d consider a 13-14 yo a little girl (I sort of would, they, and I at that age, seem very kiddy to me) and also to thank you a lot for it, because you’ve changed my life and future and I felt like someone really, really cared about me and girls my age and it was an addicting feeling. You wrote once that you forgive people in hope that perhaps they have potential in them that the world has a plan to reveal – you were part of my plan, Nahida, and you didn’t have to be self-harmfully forgiving for it. You just had to be you, with your vast knowledge, wonderful magic, brilliance and words.

    You have such an amazing view of the world and God and I hope to gain a quarter of it, along with 3 quarters of my own unique view, because whenever I read your thoughts I feel like magic exists, God is breathing next to me, and Justice exists. You give me hope. How do you do it? Keep going, you’re not talking to the void! And I hope one day you solve your inner crises, those that have to do with the present passing you by and you feeling like you can never truly love someone, can never settle anywhere. At least that’s what I felt you were going through.

    (I hope I wasn’t too creepy!)

    1. @Wadha: You remind me of me. I’m 14. I started reading Nahida around 3-4 months ago. She is awesome. I had to reply to this comment. It’s insane how much you echo everything I’ve wanted to say.

      “You have such an amazing view of the world and God and I hope to gain a quarter of it, along with 3 quarters of my own unique view, because whenever I read your thoughts I feel like magic exists, God is breathing next to me, and Justice exists. You give me hope. How do you do it? Keep going, you’re not talking to the void! And I hope one day you solve your inner crises, those that have to do with the present passing you by and you feeling like you can never truly love someone, can never settle anywhere. At least that’s what I felt you were going through.”

      ^^I second this in every way.

      “You’ve helped me connect to god. I asked God at 11 to help me, and God answered 2-3 years after.”

      Same. You must be my alter-ego or something.

      “But you’d given me the understanding that I can find God on my own, and that’s a power no one can take from me no more. So I did not despair. And now it’s been a year. I’ve started high school and I’ve changed so much and it makes me sad a lot, that I feel like past me is not in my grasp anymore, and I feel like the ship of Thesus, but I know I haven’t changed that much, haha! It’s still me, despite everything.”

      OHMYGOD SAMESAMESAME.

      You write beautifully, by the way. Good Lord, I’m seeing double. I have an alter-ego somewhere.

      @Wadha if you see this comment, this is me on Twitter. You remind me of me so much; I have to know who you are. I know this sounds creepy, but we’re all creepy around here. XD twitter: @imaanxoxo

      1. Ugh, I’m rambling too much as usual. But people like Nahida literally saved me. I don’t want to get too emotional–that happens far too often–but the effect Nahida’s work had on us? I want to do that someday. I want to teach someone like that, and help them. I’m starting a blog and I write partially for little girls too, but I don’t consider myself one. (I’m ~14.6 years old). OMG I need to get off the computer before this sentimentality gets the better of me, but I had to say this. Whoever you are. I need to say this to you.

      2. Wadha

        It is an awesome moment when you find a similar person! It really is great! Thank you, and you’re not creepy at all (if you are then I am)! I’ll try to talk to you as soon as I can! I was super happy when I saw your reply.

        Nadia really is an inspiration, isn’t she? I hope you really do succeed with your blog. I can already tell you’re gonna inspire a ton of girls one day.

  7. OMG, hi again! I was super happy to see yours too. I’d actually started up my blog earlier, and I had a lot of stuff up, but I took it down because I was rushing myself and I needed more time to write. I’m going to start the website back up first thing this summer inshallah.

    I love Nahida because it’s horrible to have your entire religion effectively hijacked and taken away from you, and she’s fixing it. Islam has been misrepresented by Muslims and nonMuslims alike and it’s exhausting to put up with, but I think we can fix it with Allah’s help.

    Nahida has all my contact info and I believe she has your email as well, since WordPress saves email addresses. If you’re ok with it, I could get your email from her and we could talk on there. I have several email addresses under different names that I check pretty regularly, so we could use one of those. (My parents don’t know I research Islam, so I have to make use of numerous clandestine anonymous accounts in order to evade their obsessive parent-stalking.)

    Oh. On another note, I highly recommend this website. http://quransmessage.com/ It explains a lot of stuff on hadith too.

    I want to recount this so bad, so I’m going to tell you some background. I’ve been researching Islam since I was 11, almost 12. I’m not sure how I started–I think I just googled “women in Islam”–and I was so horrendously disillusioned that I couldn’t do anything until I figured Islam out. To me, it used to be absolutely paralyzing when I didn’t understand something about Islam. I was rendered entirely incapable of doing anything else until I figured it out, to the point where it bordered on dangerous. I remember returning to California on a flight from Dubai, on which I hadn’t slept, and then spending the entire subsequent night awake at home doing Islam-related things. I didn’t realize until afterwards that I’d spent 2 consecutive days and nights awake with no sleep. It was the equivalent of being really drunk. I ended up delirious and literally hallucinating. I had no control over what I was saying and my parents were considering calling 911, all because of my Islam obsession.

    So yeah. I know how completely miserable and paralyzing it is to have Islam taken away from you and then be unable to do anything about it.

    I’m in my first year of high school. So far it’s been awful. My first semester was a disaster, grades-wise, which was weird because prior to that I had perfectionist grades. I’ve only recently (like over a couple weeks) stabilized to the point where I can research Islam and be sane at the same time, and balance it with regular work. It takes forever to learn how to do this, but I’m so grateful it happened. We’re so much stronger now.

    Just a couple weeks ago, I was frantically texting Nahida about how my life was over because I didn’t understand like one word from one verse of the Quran. But it falls into place eventually. It really does. I’m still shocked by how that happens. God legitimately knows what He’s doing.

    Anyways, sorry for the textbook-length lecture. I’m always prone to descending into sentimental cascades like this, but I thought it was fitting this time. :)

  8. Wadha

    Often I think it’s hopeless to try to change anything is always slow. Even when it seems ‘sudden’ or like it came down all at once, there are always prior events, unseen and unnoticed, that caused it to happen. I don’t like that change is slow because people are lost in the years it takes change to gear up. But I also remember that slow change is better than no change. And when I feel like my actions are useless because they effect only one person, I remember that I am only one person and Nahida affected me and it meant something to me. One person is not something to scoff at. I am one person. I matter. One person ‘contains a multitude of universes’. One person has a dream, likes the feeling of drinking water after a long thirst, loves to catch bugs, has a cat, raises a child, encounters thousands of people in their lives whom they can also affect. It’s something to keep in mind for me. Nahida is the reason that belief, that it’s better to help a person than leave them lost, has been so solidified in me.

    Yes, being raised under a God that despises you and disdain of your filthy womanhood is quite traumatizing.

    I’m completely, absolutely, most certainly A-OK with you getting my email! In fact, that would be WONDERFUL, go ahead! Please!

    You’re way more thoughtful than I am – I keep my research a secret as well but not half as well as you do. In fact, the only thing I do is clear my history. You’d think it was pornography.

    That website! I’m pretty sure it was the first one I discovered – before Nahida, I think. I’m not sure. Or maybe immediately after. The first article I read on it was the one about if Hell was never ending punishment or more temporary.

    It feels good to exhale and tell our own stories. I’m really interested to know more. Like, what was the thing about Islam you didn’t know that sent you into a panic when you returned from Dubai.

    High school. Horrible. Procrastination Queen here. You HAVE to give me advice on how you got organized.

    You’ll have to excuse me because I will grill you for info on the Quran. I feel I gotta note that I don’t bother with the hadith and sunnah and such. I don’t consider them worthy of attention, personally. I might have discredited them somewhat unfairly. But I have a fair amount of evidence most of the lost is bullshit.

    Don’t apologize. Most entertaining lecture of my life! And I enjoy sentiment. I’m sentimental a lot, too.

  9. Wadha

    Spell check, etc: Often I think it’s hopeless to change anything /because change/ is always slow /and often unnoticed/.

    I mixed up affect and effect, too. I have a few other mistakes, but I feel as long as the meaning’s been portrayed that’s what matters.

  10. You’re right regarding hadiths–religious legislation should not be derived from them. A lot of them contradict the Quran; it’s like fuel for hypocrisy.

    I responded to the rest of your comment on email :)

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