Love for the sake of Allah: The Beauty of Sisterhood

Ok, before you even read this post, you have to go read this love letter from a Muslimah, and this post on the sisterhood of Islam.

“Allah will ask on Day of Judgement: “Where are those who loved each other for the sake of My glory? Today, on a day when there is no shade but Mine, I will shade them with My shade.”

Hadith Qudsi narrated in Muslim

This whole “love for the sake of Allah” thing was not something I really understood or experienced, up until very, very recently. Now that I do know how beautiful it is, however, I am a little obsessed with how much I love my fellow Muslimahs and our community, just for the fact that we are supposed to love each other as sisters in religion. Which is why, when I read those two posts above, I couldn’t get them out of my head. Especially that love letter, made me smile all day long!

The whole notion of sisterhood and community was one of the things that actually really attracted me to Islam, once I started studying a little more in-depth. I think it was The Ideal Muslimah that really clued me in to what a beautiful community the Muslims must have, always treating each other so kindly, giving gifts just for the joy of it, lending a helping hand to any sister in need. Upon citing these things to my house-mate, who was not much of a fan of the transition I was going through, as reasons that I was seriously considering Islam, she promptly told me that I should just join a book club or a knitting group, and I could find community that way; I didn’t have to make such a drastic change. 

The thing is, I can talk about books or knitting or kittens to someone for a while, but at the end of the day, that is where our friendship is going to end. Maybe we will have a few other things in common, but I was in need of something much deeper: Islam isn’t a club that you get to join, it is an entire way of life. The bond you naturally have with someone who shares the same fundamental beliefs as you is very different from the bond you have with the girl who also happens to appreciate Dostoevsky. Because whether you prefer knitting or crochet or you don’t like needle-crafts at all, if you are a fellow Muslimah it doesn’t matter. We all have wildly varying personalities, interests, and cultures, and that is OK. We still love each other because at the core we are all on the same path, and we all have the same goal: to please Allah swt.

One thing that I missed, however, when I read The Ideal Muslimah and other books that expounded on the wonders of the sisterhood of Islam was the ideal part. Which is why I was left feeling a little jaded and bitter about the whole idea of sisterhood until just a few months ago.

For some reason, before I converted I expected every single Muslim sister I met to be wonderful and lovely and my best friend. I expected everyone to just love me for the sake of Allah swt, and I would love them back, and we would all get on fantastically. Obviously, that’s not how it works.

There are rude Muslim women, just like there were rude girls at my high school. Some women form cliques that I don’t get to be a part of because I am not an Arab, I don’t have kids, I don’t speak Urdu, or whatever their relationships are based on, just like outside of Islam you stick with people who have similar mindsets as you. And yes, there are plenty of mean and judgemental women in the mosques who just want everyone to practice exactly how they say it should be done, just like there is that one lady in the front pew of the church who is going to tell you off for running in the sanctuary as a kid and will for sure tell your mom whenever she sees you outside of your house (anyone else here from a small town?!).

Ideally, we Muslimahs should love each other for no other reason than the fact that we love and strive to please Allah swt. But we are all humans, and we are flawed.

So, since I converted, I have had a couple of really close Muslim friends, and learned to kind of avoid the community at large (at least in the U.K.).

When I started blogging though, I found “my people.” I have met plenty of sisters through blogging and WhatsApp groups that don’t necessarily share the same interests (and some that do) or even the same culture, but we are all kind and patient with each other because we have a deeper connection. I am even friends with sisters who I thoroughly disagree with on some topics within Islam itself, and I love them all the more for it because at the end of the day we are not here to judge and hate each other, but lift each other up and help each other along the way.

The basis of these relationships is the love of Allah swt, and I find that when I talk to these sisters I am constantly learning new things, striving to be a better person, and increasing in my remembrance of God. When I have a problem, I know I can turn to these sisters for advice without judgement, and when I have good news I know I can share it without jealousy.

And through experiencing this supportive, uplifting love and sisterhood, I have learned to love those women who put me through hell in the mosques, despite their flaws. I know now that in their hearts, they probably think they are doing their best to guide me. And I have found that even if they are rude and judgemental and not even a decent person, I should still remember them in my prayers because at the end of the day they are my sisters in Islam, and even if they don’t have any good will towards me, I should still be wishing the best for them.

That, I am learning, is the true nature of sisterhood; once you find them, it is easy to love someone for the sake of Allah swt who loves you for the same reason. It is easy to forgive faults in friends whose good sides you see more of than the bad. It is easy to “agree to disagree” with a sister who is kind and respectful to you despite your differing opinions.

It is hard to wish well for someone who has shown no kindness to you. Though it is a very emphasised sunnah of relationships, it is hard to forgive and cover the faults of a sister who has missed no opportunity to give your faults a public airing. It is hard to spare a smile for the sister always following you with her eyes, and a kind greeting for the sister who would never condescend to speak to you.

But that is the nature of our religion: we aren’t supposed to treat others as they treat us, we are supposed to treat others with kindness and respect, and show them the best of Islam in the hopes that one day, they can see the beauty of this religion too.

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Admin note: I realise that it is Friday and generally I write about something hijab-inspired, but I have decided to expand that out a bit from now on and use Fridays as my day to write about issues that pertain specifically to the sisters. That could be hijab-related, or one of my feminist-y posts, or anything that might be helpful specifically to new Muslimahs who are reading along. In shaa Allah you will enjoy reading about these kinds of things as much as I enjoy writing them! Mondays and Wednesdays will stick to more general posts =)

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6 thoughts on “Love for the sake of Allah: The Beauty of Sisterhood

  1. As Salaamu alaikum
    I have often been accused of sticking up for the other guy, and here i go again…
    I, too have been misunderstood, so sometimes there really is a reason for not-so-polite behavior. If there is a lot going on with a sister she may very well wear that face outside. If someone else sees her, it may be misunderstood as a slight towards that person. Even a harsh word may not be meant that way, but it too is the result of an inner issue. I was once accused of thinking I was better than other people when I did not join in a conversation. In fact, I was shy and did not think my input would be appreciated. I apologize for the hurt I caused unintentionally. It may not apply to others, but it just might.
    Sometimes small events can be held that bring people together to discuss issues, and this gives sisters the opportunity to air their differences. it really can make a difference. I have attended some of these “healing” sessions and they are very beneficial. i still want to believe that our sisters really mean us no harm, but that they have problems. Let’s pray for them and us, ameen

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ashleybounoura

      Wa alaikum salaam!
      I don’t mind your “sticking up for the other guy” at all, in fact I appreciate your perspective! And I understand what you mean.

      I think there are definitely instances where I could be misunderstanding someone, or even projecting my own past experiences of harshness and judgment onto their behaviour, not to mention I am sure some issues result from a language/culture difference a lot of the time. But also many of the things I have experienced come from a handful of sisters who treat others this way consistently. I’m not talking about merely not joining a conversation-I tend to be quiet and shy too, and don’t enter a conversation until invited :)-but I am talking about sisters who literally just glare at me when I try to say salaam, or sisters that I see consistently in the masjid policing other women in a very unkind way, for not being dressed “properly,” and things like that.

      But it also depends on the community-most of these experiences I had at the London Central Mosque. East London Mosque has been far better for me; no one was particularly welcoming, but everybody was going about their own business and not getting into anyone else’s.

      I would definitely love to find out about these healing sessions though! I doubt they have things like that here in Algeria, but it is certainly something worth looking into when I am back in the States in shaa Allah 🙂

      May Allah bring us all together and instil love in our ummah and guide us ever closer to the truth, ameen.

      Like

      1. I really do understand your situation..
        The healing session was something we needed as a women’s organization in our effort to be more effective despite our differences. It would just take being active in a community then making that suggestion if you still see it being necessary, and if you can get support from other sisters. I’m hoping you can be an area with a community that you can feel comfortable in.

        I too love this cyber sisterhood. There are some very nice people here, but the physical one does have some advantages, no? (companion to events, lunches, teas, just hanging out on a beautiful afternoon, an opinion on a new project or recipe……? or how about a big hug and smile?
        May Allah bless you on your return, ameen

        Liked by 1 person

      2. ashleybounoura

        Ameen 😊

        I haven’t actually experienced much physical community yet; I had a couple of close friends in California when I first converted, but when I moved to London I ended up quite isolated from the community. And here in Algeria it is a completely different story haha but in shaa Allah when I am back in the states I will be able to get more involved!

        Like

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