Why I'm struggling

As refugees from Idi Amin's Uganda, my family and I settled just outside of 
Vancouver in 1972. I grew up attending two types of schools: the secular public 
school of most North American kids and then, for several hours at a stretch 
every Saturday, the Islamic religious school ( madressa).

I couldn't quite reconcile the open and tolerant world of my public school with 
the rigid and bigoted world inside my madressa. But I had enough faith to ask 
questions -- plenty of them.

My first question for my madressa teacher was, "Why can't girls lead prayer?" I 
graduated to asking more nuanced questions, such as, "If the Quran came to 
Prophet Muhammad as a message of compassion, why did he command his army to 
banish an entire Jewish tribe?"

You can imagine that such questions irritated the hell out of my madressa 
teacher, who routinely put down women and trashed the Jews. He and I reached 
the ultimate impasse over yet another question: "Where," I asked, "is the 
evidence of the 'Jewish conspiracy' against Islam? You love to talk about it, 
but what's the proof?" That question, posed at the age of 14, got me booted out 
of the madressa. Permanently.

At this point, I had a choice to make: I could walk away from my Muslim faith 
and get on with "emancipation," or I could give Islam another chance. Out of 
fairness to my faith, I gave Islam another chance. And another. And another. 
For the past 20 years, I've been educating myself about Islam. As a result, 
I've discovered a enlightened side of my religion -- in theory.

But I remain outspoken for change because of what's happening "on the ground" 
-- massive human rights violations, particularly against women and minorities 
-- in the name of Allah.

Moderate Muslims insist that what I'm describing isn't "true" Islam. But these 
Muslims should own up to something: Prophet Muhammad himself said that religion 
is the way we conduct ourselves toward others. By that standard, how we Muslims 
behave is Islam, and to sweep that reality under the rug of theory is to 
absolve ourselves of any responsibility for reforming ourselves.

That's why I speak out. That's why I'm passionate. And that's why I call myself 
a Muslim Refusenik.

Kirim email ke