A brother I was talking to yesterday reminded of a situation that I had forgot about. I think I have mentioned before that once upon a time in Northern Virginia there was a 2 bedroom apartment that at any time would house between 10 and 15 Muslim brothers (mostly American brothers and always a heavy representation from Philly). The apartment even had a name, Dar us Sunnah, and it was used to mostly house students studying at the Institute of Islamic and Arabic Sciences in America in Fairfax, VA when it was open and I even briefly stayed there.It was housed in a generic suburban apartment complex in Fairfax near to the hospital. One bedroom in the apartment was for the brother who actually had the lease in his name, the other bedroom was for a few brothers who were paying a little more per month who would all sleep on the floor, and the other brothers were all lined up sleeping on the floor in the living room.
The rent for each brother would be like 130 a month and even at that rate a lot of brothers would get evicted and leave without paying the rent. There was no TV or internet in the place and only a stereo to listen to lectures or Quran along with a lot of books. The only activity brothers really engaged in was reading and arguing about the opinions of the scholars and who was and wasn’t a deviant and upon biddah.
The place was usually pretty clean and it smelled of fragrances oils and the incenses that constantly burned and outside of the occasional turmoil created by theological disputes things seemed to be pretty calm. It was one thing that the brother reminded me of that made me think though and that was the fact that for a one or two month period a sister lived in the place with her husband.
In order to accommodate the sister a makeshift tent was set up about 4 or 5 long and tied to the wall and she stayed in this little corner behind the tent all day unless she had to use the restroom. Since she was not from the area she rarely went out and was confined to living in a space a little smaller than a jail cell. The brother who was telling me the story said “she is probably not even Muslim anymore.”
Who knows, maybe she and maybe she isn’t, but it is hard for me to believe that an educated woman, or just a woman with a good head on her shoulders, could stay with a brother who puts her in those kinds of situations and then not have some kind of negative vision of the deen. I am also sure that if her family is anywhere close to being normal and knew of her condition they had a pretty negative image of Islam in their minds, because we can talk all day about the wonderful ideas and concepts in Islam, but at the end of the day people judge us based on our actions.
There other situations of the mistreatment of Muslim women, young girls to be specific, that I have been made aware of in the past few days but they are so disturbing that I have not even been able to come to grips with them in order to write about. It will just suffice to say that what is weighing heavily on my mind is the question of whether or not Islam in America is going to not only be able to attract educated women; but are we going to make a home for these women and make them feel comfortable once they are in the deen? Another question is if we do not get our act together how many more of our daughters will be leaving the deen, or at least the observance of it, when they become adults? This is already happening, and I have close friends who raised their daughters in the deen who have either outright apostated or who just do not practice anymore. We could just be hard on the girls or we could say this; they never knew a balanced Islam and they did not reject the deen, they rejected the lunacy and extremism they had been raised in.
I am not sure I am the right one to write on this topic, it would probably be better for a woman to address, and I would like for a sister to expand on the topic if she could.
The brothers I know involved in this situation are not bad people; but in their minds the most important thing in life is studying the deen and taking classes and if their families have to live in poverty and do without in order for this to occur then so be it. So, I ask, is this true knowledge, or is this just information they are getting void of any practical understanding?