First thing that struck a nerve was this, "To me, the concept of God has been co-opted by the outspoken Muslims who speak of a conditional God who approves of me only if I pray, wash, dress, and eat a certain way." (page 159) I don't think God is conditional, number one. Number two, I don't think that God is asking us (Muslims) to do these things for His benefit, but for ours. I think that God loves us (mankind) and that these "rituals" (whether you're talking an Islamic, Christian, Jewish or whatever religion) are a way for US to show Him our love and/or devotion.
On the same page, Ranya says
"I don't like the idea that I am only a Muslim if I cover my head and act a certain way. I can accept a headcovering as a sign of respect in the house of God, but I don't want it to be the thing that qualifies a woman for membership in Islam."
Uh...it's NOT. There are many women that I know who are Muslim who don't wear a headscarf. I think that Ranya is too concerned about what everyone else thinks of her - she will NEVER be truly happy in any country or religion until she is able to get over herself and her giant ego.
On the next page, Suzanne sums up my feelings (and maybe anyone else's who's had the misfortune to read this book!). "Frankly, I was getting frustrated hearing Ranya lament week after week about how she had no Imam, mosque and no community....I wondered if her inability to find a welcoming mosque stemmed from a prejudice that religious communities where inherently close-minded."
She goes on later to say,
My husband and I find that our church community helps us provide our children a moral compass for life. It helps us renew and enhance our own faith through communal prayer and study. And it provides the opportunity to experience God's goodness through communal acts of charity and service. It keeps me grounded at the same time that it lifts me up.Wow -- replace the word "church" with "mosque" and this could have been written by me! I mean, I don't have to like every person who goes to the mosque. I don't have to agree with the way that everyone does something, or dresses or what have you. I think it's petty to do so. What is Ranya's deal?
Then, Ranya writes, "I cannot believe that God, who created us in so many different variations , can be of a limited, close-minded nature. How is that possible?" That's right, Ranya -- how is that possible? The only person who has ever said that he was "limited" or "close-minded" is Ranya herself. The God that she describes here is NOT the God of Islam. She is simply creating her own issues, then complaining about it.
In the same paragraph, she says, "...why would He communicate with just one person?" Once again, who said this?? In the Quran, God tells us about talking to Moses, Joesph, Jonah, Suleiman....and more. There are many prophets and messengers that He talked to. What the hell is Ranya on? Earlier on in this book, she talked of how God calls Jews and Christians "The People of the Book" in the Quran -- now she's discounting everything! I hate her more with every whiny sentence.
Later in the chapter, they discuss the 5 daily prayers in Islam. Five prayers...they take maybe 5 minutes each to perform...so we're talking less than 1/2 hour in an entire day devoted to prayer...and she considers that extreme? Really??
When she tries to say how she prays, but not the "prescribed" prayers, she says, "Do I pray? Yes, I do. I held a Quran and prayed before I gave birth." (page 170) -- Okay, we've already talked with my issues around this. But here's what gets to me. How does holding a book -- any holy book -- make one faithful? To me, it's like holding on to the steering wheel of my car and calling myself a race car driver. Seriously?? I don't consider holding a book a part of faith, whether it's a Quran, Bible, Torah...whatever.
She whines more and more about "her form" of praying. How it's the way that "she" practices Islam. You know what -- we ALL do this. In Islam, it's called dua (supplication) -- a little prayer sent up to God, "please let me pass this test", "Please let this dinner turn out", "Thank you for this glorious day" etc. They're little "mini prayers" if you want to think of it that way, but they are in no way new to Islam. Then, she says about her little "modern form" of prayer "I don't have to be in a mosque or even at home to pray." Once again, who the hell told her that? You know, my kids have a CD filled with little Islamic children's songs. One of them is called "All the Crazy spots" -- a song talking about all the strange places that the singer has prayed...in Islam, the entire world is our mosque. We can pray anywhere ~ why doesn't Ranya know this??
Then, she says "I explained...how vulnerable I felt as a Muslim in the eyes of other Muslims who asserted that it was their right to qualify or disqualify me as a member of the religion." No Muslim should EVER do this! Only God knows what is inside the heart of a man or woman, and only God can be the judge. If Ranya faced people like this, than truly do feel sorry for her -- but I also wonder if she even gave them a chance. She seems to look at the world as "out to get her." I have found that you tend to find what you're looking for - you know the old adage "Seek and you shall find"
(at this point, my daughter bumped me and it published before I was done or had spell checked --- there's more!)
Finally, Ranya meets a group of "like minded" Muslims who all prayed together. She talks about the fuss about the segregation. I feel the need to explain once again. Back in the day, the men prayed in the front, older children behind them (to watch/learn) and the women behind them (to correct/guide). How is this a bad form of segregation? Sure, hard-core extremists have gone and made things more segregated, but that's politics once again, not religion.
As Ranya met these new Muslims, I wondered how she could like these ones, but be so repulsed by the others. Some of these girls wore a headscarf (and she didn't run in fear) and she even said "Most had no extended families here , having left them behind in lands as varied as Malaysia and Uzbekistan." Watch out people -- Ranya's hanging with the immigrants!!! *gasp*
Then, she talks about hanging out with these people for a day of fasting because, "the festivities and traditions of the holiday are made more meaningful ... when those around you are fasting..." -- You mean -- the RITUAL of fasting? I thought Ranya wasn't about rituals?? This woman is so contradictory and I cannot begin to pretend to like herand her "better than you" attitude.
Whew! That was quite the post...but I warned you all!!