Monday, December 14, 2009

Islam and everything

I am currently reading Monica Ali's "Brick Lane" which is about a "good Muslim woman" living in the UK, who is originally from Bangladesh. It is really interesting to see the contrasts of the "Western" and "Eastern" worlds as Ali presents it. I am only about halfway through the book, but I became curious of women's rights within Islam. Obviously there are different sects as with every religion, but I wanted to get a better understanding of the book.
Although it is never specified, the characters in the book are most likely Sunni, since that is the predominant sect of Islam within Bangladesh. Sunni Islam tends to give more rights to women than we in the West think. I read a lot about Islam and the treatment of women... it seems that after the 9/11 attacks, with all the focus on Islam, the West became obsessed with women's rights in Islam.
I think that this was such an issue because we were only presented with the extremists. The Taliban is actually incredibly strict on women's rights; for example, they cannot be educated after age 8. Well, as we all know, this isn't the case for most Muslims. I have Muslim classmates that are women, and I tutor high school girls that are Muslim as well... and they are much older than 8 years old..
I will admit that I have my own qualms with women's rights in Islam, but they are really not different from my qualms with women's rights within Christianity, or the world in general.
What so many people forget is that very often, views on women come from past cultures.
I'm not sure that I like how Monica Ali portrays women in Islam in her book. While much of it is true, and extremely based on culture, I think that much of it can be taken (with ignorance) as saying that Islam is too strict on women.
In her character's case, it is too strict. She thinks that her husband is good just because he doesn't beat her, regardless of if he is a good person. It is just frustrating.
I get frustrated of being misrepresented as a Christian, so I can imagine that someone might be angry about being misrepresented as a Muslim.
With all the strict rules, you would think that they breed the perfect children. The girls cover themselves, a man and a woman can not touch if they are not related (or married)... but I have been around these children. Teenagers are still teenagers.
We are all the same. Human Beings. That is all.

Why do we create these barriers between ourselves based on different religions or political views? Why does it matter what color a person is? It would be boring if we were all the same.
I mean, in all reality, I understand why there are wars, and why we don't get along... Disagreement. Power. Greed.
I just don't like it.

Ok. So this isn't really about Islam. It is more of just a rant about how frustrated I get with people. I have just had a bombardment of being challenged with these types of situations these past few months, and it is hard not to fall into despair.
I have the most amazing professor this semester for my Literacy and Cultural Diversity course. His class is literally life changing... In fact, I was just talking to someone randomly on campus about his class, and her best friend had taken it, and then moved to Africa after she graduated to deal with hunger and education issues there. Amazing! He really inspires people to make a difference. I want to be like that, but I don't know how to get over the completely atrocious and hopeless situations of the world. Sometimes all I can do is cry. I cry because my neighbors baby is screaming and crying and all they do is yell. I cry because my friend will be sent to Afghanistan in January, and he will miss out on the first year of his child's life. I cry for the people who don't have enough money to eat dinner tonight... but what can I do? How can I help one person when I can't even help myself?
Some of these teenagers that I tutor have it more together than I do. Amongst the slackers and the one who drop out are the ones who show up everyday. They come to class, do their homework, and go to their jobs after school so they can help out with rent. They may not have many friends, but they don't complain. They think they are so lucky, so absolutely blessed to be in the United States and attending a real school. And some of them really are blessed. Some of them actually came from refugee camps! Some of these 16 to 20 year olds have seen death. Really seen it, up close and personal. They carry these heavy weights around on their shoulders, and they don't talk about it.
Then there is middle class America. We see doctors and psychologists on a regular basis. I shouldn't feel guilty about that, should I? I just can't help it. I feel like depression and anxiety, both of which I deal with, are just a middle class disease. That is, depression and/or anxiety that are there for no apparent reason. Post traumatic stress disorder, and people recovering from addictions and such are a different story... they have reasons.... I don't.
I question quite often whether or not I actually have a problem, and then I remember two Christmases ago. This is an embarrassing time of my life that I don't talk about. I had frequent and severe panic attacks. I didn't sleep. Needless to say, I had issues. But I still don't know what caused it.
As this rant turns more to the depressing complaints of a twenty something college student, I can't help feeling completely insignificant. I just want to devote my life to a better cause, and I don't know what I am waiting for.
Graduation? Maybe.


  1. Kait, i think you are incredible! I truly do. You are such a significant person in SO many ways. Never stop believing that. My mom always tells me about whats going on in your life, and she thinks the world of you as well. I am so happy that you are there to spend time with her, when I cant. :)

    I love the way you think about the world, and the way it makes me think too. You are making a difference.. I Promise!

  2. First of all, I didn't think for one moment that you were complaining in this post. You share from within yourself...your history, your present life and your fears and desires for the future. Kaitlyn, never be embarrassed about what you have experienced in your life. There is value and lessons even in those things. Depression and anxietys have a lot to do with hormones and also that you are honest about it. I think there are a lot of people that have experienced exactly what you did or struggle with, yet they keep that stuffed and hidden from the world. The fact that you admit makes you human and also gives you the opportunity to better yourself from it. Never be ashamed for getting help for something you struggle with. Be proud of that Kaitlyn because it takes guts and courage to reach out and admit you need help.

    Yes, depression and anxiety seem to almost have become an epedemic these days. Is it because we have eaten foods with hormones and artificial things in them and have cause our hormones to be messed up and causing such things? Or have these things just been here among humans all along and because of the vast ability to communicate and talk about such things open the door to it being more known? And have they increased because of the stress we surround ourselves in? Some good...some bad but stress nonetheless.

    When you write that sometimes all you can do is cry because of the hurt and pain you see in our world...bring tears to my eyes because it tells me how wonderfully compassionate you are. These things should make us cry Kaitlyn. It's when these things stop making us cry that we should be concerned. These things or situations that we see with our eyes or hear about with our ears break our hearts because we "see", we "hear" and our hearts "feel" for those that hurt.

    What a blessing it is for you to learn from these students you tutor. Your eyes are open to their journey and what they have been get this chance to have a front row seat to lessons you will never learn in a book or classroom. Bravo for this chance you've had! You are making a difference whether you see it or not. Just know, that by listening to them, and not judging them or running from them you are giving them the gift of acceptance and showing them that there is compassionate people in this world. It takes one person at a time to do this. You are that person Kaitlyn. I am so proud of you. Don't fool yourself Kaitlyn, you are already a part of a "cause". You will find your way to where you are suppose to be...just keep listening to your heart...keep seeing and hearing and caring and don't ever stop crying for these things that break your heart!

    I remember praying for you a couple of years ago when you were struggling with your inner pain. I remember praying and crying because I understood. But I also knew that in it itself you would learn something and it would make you a more understanding person in the end.

    You are amazing Kaitlyn. Embrace all that you are and keeping running with it. Love you! XX