Thoughts of a Wasat Girl: The Way Will Be Made ClearPosted: April 10, 2013
A “Wasat Girl” embraces being in-between multiple cultures, because this transcultured space is globalism living out loud. It was where culture happens, the place of power, that middle space – “wasat” culture
I am at a coffee shop sitting across from a man far younger than any of my previous coffee companions. “I don’t know much about Islam,” he says.
“Whatever you know, it probably isn’t right,” I comment.
“So,” he asks. “On a scale of 1-10, just how Muslim are you?”
His question is sincere. I don’t know to answer. I feel pretty good about my Muslimness some days. During those moments, I’m a seven. Most other times, I feel that I don’t even register on the ratings scale. I am pathetically depleted, unsure of where to put all of these complexities, the wasatness of being in-between a white girl and globalized Islam; someone who is currently rebooting her spiritual operating system. I’m in a weird place as a 39 year old divorced Muslim single mother who is embarrassingly overenthusiastic when I find anyone I can talk to, even a boy more than a decade younger.
Then, at another café in a bookstore on another day, I see two Arab girls in hijab. They are elegant, beautiful, and poised at the cusp of full adulthood, ripe with marriage potential, blossoming sexuality and all things womanly. They are good girls, you can tell, hanging out on a Saturday night together at a Barnes and Nobles. I want to go up and talk to them. I know you, I want to say. I was like you at one point.
I pause. I’m scared. A strange, sad thought peeps out: I wonder if they will want to be my friend.
This silly thinking makes a point, of course. How do I explain my story (I left a perfectly good Muslim man because I wanted to “find myself”)? I discarded my hijab just as these women are growing into theirs. They will think I’m a freaky white girl, because I feel that is what I’ve become. I’m just some insecure American woman who invites men in their 20s out for coffee.
I embraced Islam almost twenty years ago. I’ve had numerous Muslim women as mentors and friends. I’ve lived and traveled throughout the Muslim world. I’ve circumvented the Kaaba, but look at how I now slouch towards Mecca. Just look at me. I’m fumbling towards my own ecstasy. You silly girl, my inner script says, you don’t deserve Islam. Shame on you for leaving your husband!
You are a bad, bad Muslim girl.
What will it take to bring me back to myself? I really want to find out. Because whatever I am right now, it isn’t working for me. I’ve struggled with this dilemma for the past year and a half. It is starting to feel like dry heave with no vomit.
All things that rise must converge. For me, things rise and converge through my writing. I’m about to find out what I am made of, as Allah is merciful and the Universe expands far and wide. There is grant money from the North Carolina Arts Council for my memoir project, tentatively (yet aptly) title, The Way Will Be Made Clear. If anything can gut a girl, it is in writing her story. There will be personal gnashing of teeth; there will be blood, tears, and profound epiphanies. Transformation awaits.
I am so scared. I wonder if I will want to be my friend.
My flailing about, even with a young coffee boy, is because I just want a friend to bear witness to this process and to applauded when I write out my triumphs and my sorrows. Writers know that any new project comes with a social and emotional price tag. It is possible that I will miss out on potential relationships because I’ll be otherwise disposed. When you are already insecure and alone, this process is akin to exorcism. I have accepted, begrudgingly, that this is something I am supposed to do all by myself. If I am going to release my demons, ain’t nobody gonna be around to catch ‘em.
I need to write my story as a way for me to honor myself. When my identity as a married Muslim woman walked off, in marched this self-doubting girl from my 20s. I thought that I had grown out of that. Hell, no. She was just waiting in the periphery, spinning spells and other potions to make me forget all that I know I am. And now, she is armed with this Muslim wasatness business that she tries to use against me.
You are too complicated for a good man, she tells me. Forget your story. It isn’t going to do you any good.
There is power in the telling. Finding that authentic self is required to truly worship the Divine. I’m fumbling, of course, and I’m scared. Oh, but I am also ready. I am about to show up for me, which is also one way of showing up for Allah. Writing is invocation. It is magic; it is the purge. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God. Read/Recite, in the name of your Lord.
Labbayk Allahhumma Labbayk –
Here I am, O Allah, Here I am.
Deonna Kelli Sayed is a Love, Inshallah contributor and author of Paranormal Obsession: America’s Fascination with Ghosts & Hauntings, Spooks & Spirits. She has also contributes to altmuslimah.com and Muslimah Media Watch. Deonna is currently working on her memoir, The Way Will Be Made Clear. To learn more, visit her website, and join her on Facebook and Twitter.