But beyond that even if we are not, why should I or anyone else attempt to fit into the tiny little box everyone else tries to put us in?
Recently my attention was brought to a post by Peaceful Muslimah in which she writes:
"I recently came across a discussion by an American muslimah living in the US lamenting her “homesickness” for an Arab country she visited. Another MuslimahOf course this is a reference to my post on missing Egypt.
from that country questioned whether “homesickness” was the correct word/concept. This is just one particular thread but I have read many similar ones over the last year that express similar ideas. Many times Western Muslims glamorize the Arab world as a place where “real” Islam is practiced and often confuse Arab culture with Islamic mandates. I’ve written about this before with regard to converts taking Arab names, wearing Arab clothes and eating only Arab foods. I thought it might be interesting to share my perspective on the issue of Arabophilia."
Now I'm not even really upset and when I left a comment it was interpreted as being defensive, but honestly my only real issue with it is that she seems to have stuffed me into the same box as so many others who do legitimately romanticize the Middle East.
However I'm not one of them. I'm not going to Egypt to "get closer to God" or "become Arab" or even "find Islam."
I found Islam, and a more truer form at that, here in the US and I am content with it.
I'm content with who I am, I love to learn other cultures and I am certainly looking forward to getting to know Egyptian culture better but not with the intention of transforming myself into an Egyptian.
I am not obsessed with other, or otherness except in the form of discovering what the "other" believes and thinks and how they view the world. It's called discourse and its my absolute favorite thing in the world.
Today I was reading Artemisia Rants and I came across what I find to be the most brilliantly explained example of how I, myself, view the world and its "other" inhabitants (except in Artemisia's words):
". . . I can see past the surface appeal of this world of ‘otherness’ however, and I have never suggested that it is ‘better’! What interests me is the point where faith and culture meet. I am a strange creature in that I don’t really
trust anything. Only Allah. I can happily love people without trusting, I can
enjoy a culture without trusting, I can move between ideas without trusting.
This tasting of experiences from everwhre is interpreted as superficial, “not
knowing what I want”, but for me, the world is superficial. There are so many
ways of understanding everything. I draw the line at oppression and abuse that
can be quantified. This is where I will stand and judge.
Usually people want to rescue me from my “confusion”, situate me within a definite point of view. But they fail to recognize that I don’t want to be situated anywhere that is closed. My openness is what allows me to float. And I hope to move towards
Allah. I see though that at the moment I am drifting. I don’t need solidity in
my world view, but I need method."
I am not obsessed with "exotica," but I am obsessed with existentialism and I certainly refuse to be fit into a box or conform myself to wear the labels others would like to give me.
I have little to no desire to "fit in."