May 11, 2011

The pot calling the kettle black

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. I am pretty loathe to admit this. It is absolutely horrible, hypocrital, and uncalled for. HOWEVER, it was my gut reaction and one I am sure others have shared in, whether knowingly or unknowingly.

I judged a sister for being fat.

There, I said it. Perhaps you don't really get how ridiculous this is. I am fat. (Ewww I said it. Out loud.) Anyway I am and I am (for the most part) happy with who I am. I know I have worth, I am intelligent, funny, caring, compassionate, and well.... just plain ole ME!

So here's what happened: there was a small little conversation on facebook and a sister I don't really know made a comment. Of course, I glanced at her profile pic and saw she was overweight. I instantly (and not even consciously) regarded her comment less seriously.

No, I am not joking. :-(

Anyway, I was going to comment (what she had said wasn't quite right, I felt, and I wanted to clarify an issue) but I got too busy. I logged back on later and saw this conversation again. I thought, Oh I don't think that sister is who I thought it was. So I click on her profile.

No, it wasn't who I thought it was. It was a sister but she was rather thin and had that look of an intense academic about her. Immediately I revised my opinion of her comment. 

Then it hit me. Whaaaaaaaaaaat? I examined what had happened, how I had went from kinda ignoring what she said to immediately reconsidering her point.

One explanation, which I am sure is part of it, is that this sister is an educated person who is qualified to hold an educated opinion. However, that wasn't how I made my original assessment. I thought she was overweight and I ranked her accordingly.

Ya Allah, you don't know how this appalls me! Not only the issue that it was over being fat while I, myself, am fat. But also because as a Muslim, as a human being, I pride myself on being open, accepting, and non-judgemental.

Yah. I do. OK laugh, I can appreciate the irony too.

I really analyzed my reaction and I think I know why I was dismissive of this sister in the beginning. I might realllly annoy some people with this but I am prepared. This is my blog, and my experiences, and my thoughts. Good or bad. This just happens to be some of the bad. :-(

Islam, alhamdulillah, was brought to some of the more ignorant and arrogant people on the face of the earth: the Arabs. Pre-Islam they were steeped in ridiculous traditions and a multitude of gods and were adamantly opposed to any type of change. Subhanallah, what Allah can make transpire!

Our religion has always spoken to the downtrodden: the mistreated slave, the unwanted baby girls, the exploited and the mis-used. Alhamdulillah again.

Even today, those who are unwanted or uninvited to other religions can find a home in the masjid.

OK I'm beating around the bush. Let me just come out with it. I've met many many women, overweight, divorced, with children, with disabilities, with little to no education,  often unemployed, etc. etc., come in and ask to learn about Islam.

After I would meet with them, the majority (90% of them) would explain how they met Mr. So and So, a Muslim, online. They got their groove on, started "dating" online, and now he's coming over from (fill in any Muslim majority country here except the Gulf, it appears). She wants to learn the basics (alhamdulillah) and find out about converting.

I would spend time with them, give them hijabs, an abaya, a Qur'an, literature; send them emails, call to check on them. Be available to answer any questions and being so willing to share the beauty of Islam and my conversion story with them. Basically accepting them as a friend even though many of the things about them personally were off-putting but I did it fi sabilallah (for the sake of Allah).

I didn't hear from most of them again. They wanted to know what any non-Muslim might want to know about Islam, to have that background information. Very few of them converted and from the few that did,  they seemed content to do no more than (possibly) pray. They rarely made any effort to gain more knowledge or dress more appropriately.

It seemed the carrot of marriage dangled in front of them by some good-lookin' muslim hottie (whom they should have sensed was out of their league) enticed them change teams. And that was the extent of their interest. Unfortunately for the few who would sporadically attend the masjid or stay in contact, the "brothers" the hooked up with invariably ended up either cheating on them, already being married (without the woman's knowledge) or just out-right leaving her.

Actually one woman went to meet a so-called brother in a different state. He was surprised she didn't bring her children with her (one of whom was a cute 14 yr old girl she had allowed him to speak with!). When she questioned how upset he was, he admitted he didn't want to marry the mom at all but had anticipated her bringing her young daughter with her. He wanted to court the DAUGHTER, not the mom. Subhanallah.

(Note: she actually let her daughter marry the man at the age of 15- no I'm not joking- and now alhamdulillah that daughter is still a muslim but the mother and younger children have went back to their previous way of life. It appears the man promised his soon-to-be MIL- who used to be his fiance!- a house and car, which never transpired.)

Sorry, back to the regularly scheduled program.

So I was happy when I realized why I had this immediate and gut reaction but still very unhappy about it. I guess I should also add that the sister's' name was very obviously that of a convert so it wasn't JUST the issue of weight but also that she was a convert. Once again, yes, the irony.

Please, I don't want or need any comments about how wrong this was. Yah, I get that. I also don't need any comments from my fellow fat sisters out there being enraged. Once again, yah, I know, it was W R O N G.  Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.

I have prayed, and asked Allah swt to change my attitude and change my heart in this matter.


june seghni said...

As salaamu aleikum sister... I am fat, (and a revert), but I'm not going to have a go at you, because your reaction is so normal. I have had the experience of having lost a lot of weight and suddenly finding that my opinions are much more interesting to people than they were when I was fat...and ,conversely, having regained the weight...(weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth...) I am suddenly chopped liver again..!
I don't know if it's a cultural thing or what, but it's certainly not unusual.
I myself am guilty sometimes of feeling dismissive when I see comments from someone who is very young..and yet they be far more knowledgeable about Islam than me..
Al hamdulillah ,Allah has given us the ability to reflect on things and to examine our hearts in order to change our attitudes..with His help..

Um Zakarya said...

Assalamu Aleykum dear sister,

Well I'm fat but not enraged don't worry :)
I have to confess something as well.I've always said (and meant it), "I will never marry a revert/convert because I don't trust them.What if he changes his mind and comes back to his previous way of life???"
See how ironic it is, as I'm a revert myself.Maybe it is because I have myself always struggled hard to keep my practice of Islam to what I think is an "acceptable" level.I guess life experiences just create some kind of automatic behaviors or thoughts that we should try to keep in control.Hope this makes sense :)

Love from your faaaaaaaaaaaaat sister (yes call me an ambulance shooter ) :)

ummH said...

Asalaam Alaikum sis

Nothing to say really as you already know how wrong it is and its good that you know how wrong it is.

I wouldnt be so hard on yourself... everyone can be judgemental, some without realising it or admitting it.... at least you have.

Ameen to your dua, inshAllah your attitude will change. x

Banana Anne said...

Alhamdulillah, even though this is something that you feel bad about, it's good that you acknowledge it and are trying to combat it. You are definitely not alone in these feelings; it reminds me of that song from Avenue Q that says "everyone's a little bit racist (or sexist or ableist or any other kind of negative -ism) sometimes". I know I sometimes have these thoughts that I know are not befitting for a Muslim (or any good human being) to have. I forgot the actual wording, but my Muslim chaplain told me a hadith where the Prophet (saw) said that a certain man was granted blessings from ALLAH because everyday he would pray "ALLAH, please remove the evil feelings I have towards people from my heart". Subhanallah, I love this du'a, and it's a good thing to keep in mind if you ever get angry, jealous, frustrated, etc.

Umm Hamza said...

Salams! I know what you're talking about. The sister who learns about Islam through the one she's in love with. It can be kind of sad if he's not practicing himself. I have this issue in my in-laws family. There's this spanish girl, engaged to a member of the family, and she converted to Islam, but he doesn't pray, so she only understands the importance of Islam by his standard. We've tried to help educate her, but if it's not a priority for him, then it isn't to her either. In all fairness though, I myself converted because my now husband of 9 years (masha'Allah) introduced me to Islam. I was pretty similar to them, taking my Islam only as far as he did, but alhamdulillah, he was VERY practicing. But I still didn't "get" it until I moved to Egypt and spent some time apart from him where I truly discovered Islam for myself, some 7 years ago. Alhamdulillah, learning Islam for myself has made me the muslim I am today. Sorry for turning this into a post on your blog. Maybe what I'm trying to say is that even if these sisters don't take it seriously in the beginning, that doesn't mean they won't eventually. It all depends on what Allah has planned. May Allah help us not to judge eachother at first glance, Ameen.

Umm Aaminah said...

Jazakum Allahu khair my sisters! Thanks for all of your words of understanding and support.

I think I am still surprised I felt that way because I know a lot of my sisters (both IRL and online) struggle with weight issues. INCLUDING myself, as mentioned. :-) These are sisters I look up to for their kindness, their iman, and their knowledge.

I almost didn't post this because I felt it would open up a lot of controversy or hurt someone's feelings. NEVER my intention. And for sure, if I were not fat myself, I would never have admitted this.

May Allah make me more conscious of my actions and thoughts, amin.

Umm Aaminah said...

Oh Sr. June, funny story. :-) I used to work with a woman I really disliked and the feeling was mutual. She was just dismissive of me.

I ended up losing about 30 lbs (due to end stage renal failure) and one day she starts talking to me. I was kinda dumbfounded UNTIL she got around to the inevitable:

"You look so great! How did you lose weight?"

Uh huh. So before I was nothing and now cause I dropped a couple I'm suddenly worthwhile? Nah, don't think so. I answered pretty snarkily that I had a terminal illness and it tends to help the weight fly right off. I laughed and went on my way! lol

Bonnie said...

The thing is with weight is that it of course has come a societal expectation. Thin-good fat-bad. I lost 90 pounds through a lot of hard work and to many people that was what finally gave me worth. Before when I was hugely fat was when I would judge others for being the same but once I lost the weight I also lost the prejudice. Sometimes what we dislike msot about ourselves we also dislike most in others because we see our faults mirrored bsck.

Umm Aaminah said...

Sr. Bonnie, well said! You know, that thought crossed my mind as well. While for the most part I am happy with myself, obviously I do not like my weight and assume others have preconceived ideas about me as well.

I am so impressed you managed to lose 90 lbs!!! I just realized, to be at my physician targeted weight, I should lose 100 lbs. To get to Umm Aaminah comfort level, I need to lose 70 lbs. Yikes!!!!!

Halima said...


Well, I appreciate your honesty- and I also acknowledge that alot of your observations are true.
But just remember- there are alot of fat Arab women as well, hehe! You know, the one's whose posteriors cannot possibly be hidden under any abaya! I have even heard (fat) Arab Muslimas say "Arab men love fat women"! ho ho ho.
On the subject of weight- I have even heard some ask "What about all the fat sheikhs and religious scholars- are they sinning because they're over-weight?"- yeah.

Bonnie said...

It took a lot of exercise and a lot of not eating bread! Now that i'm nearly seven months pregnant and gaining weight like crazy I suspect that i'll have to start all over over again once he's here!

Just take it slow, people who rush it nearly always gain it back. A little less fat here, a little more water here and if you can start walking so much the better :)

HijabiMommy said...

I left a comment before but I guess Blogger ate it up. I had just wanted to tell you bravo for admitting your faults and realizing your mistakes. We all are judgmental at times but Alhumdulillah, we can ask for forgiveness and pray that Allah purifies our thoughts and actions and helps change our hearts. It was an extremely raw post but extremely brave of you to own up to it {and in such a public forum, too!}.

Aameen to all the duas.

Umm Mini said...

Wa alaykum salaam,

Alhamdulillah you realize your own mistakes. That is very important. I was more shocked to be honest bout your story of the lady and her daughter, Subhan'Allah.

Umm Aaminah said...

Ummm I don't know what happened to all of the comments on here!!!! Sr. Halima brought it to my attention; I saw in my blogger dashboard that I had a lot of comments to moderate... maybe I deleted them? :-(

Sorry to my sisters if I deleted your comments; I'm going to go to my dashboard now and see what happened, if I can undo it.

Thanks, Sr. Halima, for the heads up. Wow, that's never happened to me before. :-)