Thoughts of a Wasat Girl: The Way Will Be Made ClearPosted: April 10, 2013 Filed under: Thoughts of a Wasat Girl | Tags: dating younger men, divorce and shame, exorcising personal demons, faith and writing, Love InshAllah, memoir writing, Muslim American Islamic identity, Muslim love, Muslim men, Muslim relationships. Deonna Kelli Sayed, Muslim spiritual writing, Muslim women, Muslim women and dating, Muslim women and divorce, rebuilding after divorce, the writing process 13 Comments
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.
Reblogged this on At the Foot of the Mountain and commented:
Amazing article. I am now officially a Wasat Girl!
Great blog! There is a lot I can relate to. I grew up in a Muslim American community, but now live far away from my childhood crew. And now I find it hard to make new friends, not because of them, but more I have a fear that I won’t be liked because I’m not “enough” anymore, due to my life being different… But you know, you can only be true to yourself and beliefs. 🙂
One of the greatest powers you gain in telling your story is learning you don’t stand alone.
Reblogged this on Noor In The North and commented:
First time I heard the term “Wasat Girl” I can definitely relate to certain points, a good read for any convert/revert sisters.
I cried while reading this. I am going through something very very similar. It’s great to hear i’m not alone in this. Thank you, and may god be with you always I.A.
I agree with Kaymillaz, I think many people can relate to this. Thank you for sharing, it can mean a lot for people to struggle with the same things or want to understand other people more. Salaam from me 🙂
I forgot to say, I think it was very brave of you to share it, and if I was one of those girls I would have liked to talk to you and be your friend. Salaam from me again
Reblogged this on Deonna Kelli Sayed and commented:
My latest column at Love, Inshallah.
Thank all of your for reading and responding. I can’t tell you what it means to know that 1) people read my work and 2) it means something to them!
This has been the blog post I have pondered most this week. When you wrote your last post for LoveInshallah, I really didn’t get the wasatness idea. But this article makes it much more clear. And I find myself in that same space now. I know also what it is like to semi-stalk young hijabis, wanting to be their friend, but also wanting to tell them to wake up – not really them, but myself 10 years ago. It seems like there is a movement lately among blogging convert ladies to go out and find themselves, and define their own Islam & what it means to be Muslim. I’m loving it. And I am looking forward to reading more of your journey. congrats on the grant, I can’t wait to see the you that emerges in words and in life. salaams 🙂
Salaam. Thanks for your feedback and for reading! I know people are talking about this being a convert/revert thing, but I was introduced to the idea first from Arab/Indian Muslim women around me and from postcolonial literary theorists. I think that many Muslims, regardless of ethnicity and how they arrived in the faith, are struggling with identity and belonging in the world. Even men. I’ve seen this among some Muslims when I lived in the Muslim world. Globalism, social media, changing political dynamics, etc., creates cultural confusion, but also new opportunities to talk about our spiritual identities. I think it is interesting that people see this as a “convert/revert” thing when the first conversations I ever had about it were from immigrant Muslim women – maybe I’ll write about that! 🙂
I don’t have any wisdom to offer — I just wanted to thank you for your voice and for your story.
I went backward – I read your blog about you and your son and ex driving to Washington and then found this. I love your ability to verbalize your feelings. I wish I could do that. I may have to try for my own mental health. Try being an American convert, married in 1971, divorced in 2002, married again in 2004 and now divorcing in 2013. Almost 65 years old…..if you are a bad Muslim girl, what does that make me? And, as you said…I see the Hijabi girls & women and sometimes, I say ASA, but I feel their disinterest in me. I am lost in my life right now…with no direction. Shouldn’t 65 year old women have their life on a plan, by now? As the poster above stated, I don’t have any wisdom to offer, but I offer, again, that your life is open to you…you have strengths that you haven’t discovered that will become apparent as you move along. May Allah grant you wisdom to know the right paths to take.