Feelings, Like the Wind

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Like many of us do at one point or another, this Anonymous guest writer felt the need to fit in with her school and her peers. But can fitting in ever make up for the values we give up and the pieces of ourselves we let go?

Let me start this off by saying that I am sharing this story with you all in the hopes of giving you a new perspective. Let me also start off by saying that I am only hoping to create a new perspective in the Muslim community for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Everything in this story is a hundred percent true. However, I will leave out some aspects so that my identity cannot be discovered.

I would also like to make one more thing clear. I am not writing this story to persuade you to change. Only you can make that decision. Furthermore, I am not sharing my story to receive praise, sympathy or to ignite your feelings in any way. I refuse to use the methods of the media when it comes to associating feelings, and only feelings, with making a choice. Feelings come and go, but principles are everlasting.

If anything, I am writing this to make you question yourself about life. I am sharing my story to appeal to your intellect. To your sense of rational, reasoning skills. This is not to say that I am heartless and do not have feelings. Quite the contrary, I have deep feelings. But they are feelings that stem from intellect. They are feelings that agree with the beliefs and values I have from Islam. Oh, and the story is going to start. So please do me a favor, and put on your thinking cap.

Close to six years ago. The day still streams through my head like it was yesterday. It was my first day in public school. I had been going to Islamic school for practically all of my life, and I was finally taking the big step into the scary “unknown.” Until this day, the reason why I left Islamic school is still unclear to me. My parents told me it was because we could not afford it anymore, but I felt there was also something more to it. I didn’t ask my parents what it was because, quite honestly, I did not like Islamic school.

When I say I didn’t like Islamic school, please don’t take this the wrong way. I am in no way bashing the place, and I do have many good memories with great people from there. It’s just that I never felt accepted. And I used “not being accepted” as a reason to dislike Islamic school. Little did I know that true acceptance does not come from other people. But being the naive 7th grader I was, I didn’t realize things like this until very later on in life.

I have many things to share, so I am going to cut some corners to get to the important points. Throughout middle school, I was just as religious as I was in Islamic school. I prayed five times a day, fasted during Ramadan, lowered my gaze around the opposite gender, wore abaya and hijab everyday, and gave dawah every chance I got. Things started to change for me around 10th grade. I always remember seeing the popular girls in the cafeteria at lunch. They all sat together in their tight Hollister jeans and halter tops. They were always decked out in the latest trend, getting a new outfit practically every week. The hottest guys in the school were practically waiting on them hand and foot, texting them 24/7, and holding their books for them. At first, I would look at them with disgust, saying astaghfirullah. But there is one thing you must not forget. I did not feel “accepted” in my previous school. And this “feeling” led to me wanting to fit in somewhere.

So little by little, I started to change my perspective of these girls. I started to look at them like they were the face of beauty. I saw them for their hair, their clothes, their accessories, and the attention they got from guys. Slowly but surely, I started to change myself to fit their criteria. I knew one thing was for sure, though – I didn’t want to stop being Muslim for them, and I stayed true to that promise. I still considered myself a Muslim even though I wore a scarf with tight clothes and make-up. I still prayed, fasted, and was not friendly with the opposite gender.

The girls in the group started to accept me. Even with my “hijab,” Hollister and make-up-weird-looking-thing I tried to pull off. I would sit with them at lunch almost every day and they would talk about things I had absolutely no experience with. Like what their first kiss was like, or how they wanted to wear a mini-skirt to the Christmas party. The girls invited me to parties all the time, telling me I would have a great time if I came. It was at this moment that I knew something felt wrong inside of me. These girls were known to get drunk at parties, and because I knew this, I told them no each time they invited me. I told them no each time they asked me to flirt with the really cute guy at the end of the table. I just said no.

And do you want to know why I said no? I said no because I did not feel comfortable doing it. I’m a hundred percent sure it was my fitrah (that inborn disposition to know right from wrong which was given to us by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala) kicking in. The truth was, I was fooling myself by not wearing hijab the right way. While I’m glad that I didn’t take off my hijab completely, did’t have a boyfriend, didn’t get close to guys, and didn’t go to mixed parties, I still feel that I lived a couple of years not understanding my purpose in this life.

I thought that I had to feel accepted by other people in order to be happy or content. I didn’t feel accepted in Islamic school, so when I had to leave, I readily followed through with the idea. I wanted to fit in, in public school, so when I changed my image and wore hijab improperly, I did not even realize it. I truly owe it to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala for showing me what these “popular girls” were really all about. He showed me that these girls did things that disagreed with everything I believed in. He showed me that I did not have to say yes to them, and that I could go back to wearing hijab properly and being active in the Muslim community again.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala showed me that true acceptance comes though pleasing Him alone. True acceptance comes from loving yourself, the way Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala created you. I know in comparison to some of the stories out there, mine may not seem applicable to your life directly. I did not overstep certain boundaries, but I know many people who have. And it is through this experience that I think I better understand why those people do not listen to their fitrah.

The fitrah is only as strong as you make it. The more you disobey it, the easier it is to fall into greater sins. When my conscience told me “ this is not right,” I listened to it the first time. I didn’t hesitate for one second. When our parents told us to listen to the voice in our head that tells us when something was wrong, they weren’t kidding. All of my issues with wearing hijab incorrectly stemmed from a feeling of isolation. A “feeling.” It was after all of this had happened that I realized I could no longer make decisions that would affect my soul based on feelings alone. I had to make my choices based on Islam. Feelings come and go like the wind. But the values and principles Islam fosters exist indefinitely.

Many times, friends have come to me with various problems dealing with how to follow Islam correctly. Most of the cases of “veering away from Islam” occur because of a “feeling,” like I said earlier. A feeling  of wanting to be accepted, loved, cared for, paid attention to, and more. But when you think about it, what do all of these “feelings” really mean if you’re getting them in a haram way? They only bring immediate gratification with no reward in the hereafter. Gee – that doesn’t sound like a good deal. Then why do we do it? Why do we give up eternal happiness for two seconds of so-called “pleasure”? The exact reason is different for every person. But I will leave you with a couple of thoughts.

Pleasure is as we define it. So maybe we are giving up on eternal happiness for two minutes of haram because we have convinced ourselves that that’s the only way we can have fun. But just as equally, you could convince yourself that the only way you can have fun is by engaging in halal activities. It’s all about how you choose to look at the situation. You could choose to believe that the present culture of America will bring you fun, and to be quite honest, who can blame you for thinking that? You see billions of advertisements every week that associate haram with enjoyable. You see all of your friends dating and drinking, so you think that makes it okay. So no, I don’t blame you for thinking that way. That’s the way the media wants you to think.

But don’t sacrifice your religion, your beliefs, and eternal happiness for some failed promise of happiness in this life. I sacrificed pieces of my religion at one point for the sake of popularity, and I can tell you there was no happiness for me. I don’t want you to fall into the same trap, I don’t want you to turn towards choices you will someday regret. And it’s only my personal experience and journey, and my concern and care for you, that make me tell you now, “Don’t go there.” Yes, we do have free will, and in the end, no one can make a choice for anyone else. It is your choice, and your choice alone. Just please, do yourself a favor… and before you act, stop and think.

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