Ya Sheikh, Wherefore Art Thou?

I wrote this after I engaged in an online discussion (it got heated!!), which made me realise that even if I surround myself with like-minded people, those who just don’t get it are still out there and that the work is not yet done.  

(published in The Crescent Times newspaper, 17th Issue, March 2010)

Ya Sheikh, Wherefore Art Thou?  By Eugenia Flynn

In February I commemorated eight years of Islam in my life.  A friend asked me what my reflections were of the last eight years and I told him that it was a bit odd, I felt like my knowledge of the Deen had deepened and that the way I viewed Islam in my everyday life had changed.  I suppose I have matured in my knowledge and understanding of the world in which I live and this makes me view Islam and its place in my life differently.

One of the biggest things for me has been the maturing of my thoughts on race matters within an Islamic context.  Initially when I reverted it was a pure shock to be around others who were either outright racist or more simply ignorant.  This then turned to a kind of stand-off between myself and other Muslims, I became insular, sticking to myself and feeling heartache about those in the Ummah that I had dealings with, who were not completely up to speed with how my Black State of Mind was thinking and reacting to the racially polarised world we live in, but that it seemed only I was acknowledging. 

Moving along to eight years later, I have gained a firmer positioning of my thoughts on race relations within my Western life and am now further prepared to consider how these fit within an Islamic context. 

You see, Islam is a global religion, meaning little old reverts like me who are firm in our cultural context, must find application of the Deen to our everyday lives and understanding of the world around us.  In a heated online discussion recently, it became clear to me that a lack of understanding of racism and black and white relations in Australia (and more generally in the Western world) means that some applications of Islamic injunctions are, baldly put, null and void. 

Without going in to the debate that triggered all of this, I want to state that through debate I have been enabled (alhumdilillah) to clearly articulate what I have longed for throughout my journey in Islam – that is, a religious scholar that I can go to who has a thorough understanding and knowledge of the nuances of racism and black and white relations in Australia and the non-migrant Western context globally, as this is my cultural reference for being. 

This subconscious longing and subsequent non-fulfillment has left me feeling very fragile as a Muslim, although it has taken some time to come to this realisation.  I suppose, as the longing was subconscious for so long, there may be someone out there who I can turn to, I just have not found them yet as I was not searching for them consciously. 

So now that I have come to the full realisation of this longing, I ask, ya Sheikh, wherefore art thou?  Who will rise to the challenge?

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