Contradictions

Celebrating the South Asian Female, Celebrating the South Asian Female 💜, Deen ☪ Dunya, Life ♥ Lessons, South Asian Female 💜

Masculinity and feminism.
Individual and society.
Culture and religion.

Often, these terms are used in opposition; often, as contradictions.
Masculinity and feminism, in particular, are such clashing concepts that can’t seem to co-exist peacefully.

There are so many directions that we can take this conversation. I do want to steer it toward the designated gender roles as deemed by my South Asian culture, as this is my experience and what I have been most impacted by. But if this taboo conversation can become an open dialogue amongst us brown folk, I hope this conversation can be inclusive of other gender-related issues as well, such as gender identity and LGBTQ+ rights.

It is common practice in South Asian households that as soon as a woman is of “marital age”, she must begin to transform herself. She must mold herself into the ideal wife, daughter-in-law, and mother. She must exhaust herself mentally, emotionally, physically in order to please her new family. Meanwhile, a man is not expected to change at all; no efforts at maturity, percipience, tolerance, acceptance, humility. But all of this and much, much more is expected out of a woman. What entails is often an unbalanced relationship defined by miscommunication, control/domination, ego, and therefore, mistreatment and abuse. (Source). Of course, the harsh reality of misogyny/inequality is quite obvious in countries like Pakistan and India, but these disparities absolutely exist here in the West as well. With sexual objectification, rape culture, and inequality in the workforce, as a few examples.

This poem was in part inspired by the documentary A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness. I encourage you all to watch this powerful film as well. If anything, the film asks us to reevaluate and reflect upon our identities. It is of the utmost necessity to redefine what it means to be a Man and what it means to be a Woman.

This poem is written in a series of questions. I hope you  benefit and also find it to be an invitation for an open dialogue (please feel free to disagree, agree, or add onto the conversation).

(Note: The baby in the left image is me and the girl on the right is my sister. Still, these two images [hopefully] serve their purpose: to showcase that a woman’s identity is given to her at birth. She has no choice over her own self. Rather, a woman’s identity lies at the mercy of the society that she is born into.)

 

Contradictions

If we are from the same womb, the same home
Why then must I, the woman, leave mine
while you, the man, stay in yours?

You see, you and I, we are imprisoned. Behind the bars of society.
My punishment for being a woman is to suck up the hurt and bear the pain.
Your punishment for being a man is to express it through anger.

Why are daughters raised to be actresses,
performing in roles in which we cannot be broken or human?
Why must we pretend that these wounds do not exist?
For if we let you in and allow you to see past that Perfected Outer Shell,
Would you still stay?

Why are sons raised to be callous? Raised in a culture of
“Boys will be boys” and “At least he never hit you”.
Limited in their emotional expression
and denied the right to be vulnerable and kind.

Why has society taken away women and men and replaced them with
pink, dainty flowers and blue-wearing brutes?

Why is a woman feminine only if she is soft, beautiful, and fragile?
Why is a man masculine only if he is cold, controlling, and strong?

I am told that my greatest validation in life as a woman, is in becoming a wife and a daughter-in-law.
Why am I told that this is also my test?
To stay resilient and silent through the abuse.
As if I have nowhere else to go.
As if I am disposable,
replaceable.

You are told that your greatest validation in life as a man,
is in your career, your ego, your manhood.
“Don’t cry, you’re not a girl, are you??”
Words that you’ve heard since before you could even walk.
You were raised to be strong and stone: a mountain.

Why is it that a proud father will tell his daughter that she’s like a son to him,
Whereas it would be of utmost shame for a son to be likened to a daughter?

When did women stop becoming the daughters of Khadija, Aisha, Asiya
and instead became daughters of acid, sorrow, and shame?

When did men stop becoming the sons of the Mercy upon Mankind
and instead, became sons of privilege, abuse, and flame?

So you and I, we find ourselves here,
imprisoned by etiquette and customs.
In a society of superstition.
Upon a bed of acceptance.
And I ask, once again:
If we are of the same nafs*, the same Creator, the same womb, the same home
Why then, must I leave mine, while you stay in yours?

 

Nafs- Arabic term for the self/soul/person

-Amna ❤

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I Am a Woman (Poem)

Celebrating the South Asian Female, Celebrating the South Asian Female 💜, Life ♥ Lessons, South Asian Female 💜, Uncategorized

As Women’s History Month comes to a close, I wrote this poem as a year-long reminder of what this month signifies to me. A life-long reminder, actually.

We all have our battles. We all have something that our hearts are attached to. From an Islamic perspective, Muslims believe that this has to do with the heart’s separation from its Creator. So our hearts are ever searching for something to fill this void, whether it’s money, or career, or status, or love.

Filling our hearts with love and acceptance, that’s something that we all want, but I believe it’s something that I and, to generalize, really all women struggle with the most.

Us  women, we know very well how to value others but we seldom know how to value ourselves. We wholeheartedly do things for others, but rarely for ourselves. We even show other people more respect than we show to ourselves. In doing so, we effervescently give others the love, honor, and acceptance that we do not know how to give to ourselves.
This only leads to a downward spiral of disappointment, loss, pain, and self-deprecation. And only further exacerbates the symptoms of this “separated heart”.

So my greatest battle has always been accepting myself.
A lot of this stems from my South Asian heritage where misogyny, male privilege, and other gender disparities have migrated to the West alongside the rest of my people.
However, some of this stems from my own personal experiences with self-acceptance and love as well.

But after years and years of struggling with the notion that I’m “not good enough”, I have finally come to the realization that when I… when we live with this mentality, when we think less of ourselves, we are denying our purpose in this world.

There’s the *Hakim (The Most Wise) who created all parts of us for a reason: our bodies, our minds, our personalities. Even our flaws were created with so much wisdom that we don’t even have the wisdom to comprehend.

Every one of us was created with precision and expertise and honor. We are all so valuable, so beloved, and so necessary for this world and for ourselves.

And you know, I’ve slowly learned to love all parts of me, even the parts that I wanted to change for the longest time. But it’s me. It’s all me and I love that. I love myself.

So this poem is an homage to….me.
To finally accepting myself as a Woman, as a Human, as a Muslim, as Me.

With these words, I wish to spread the love and honor that we don’t show ourselves too often. And through this poem, as I stand for myself, I hope to stand for all women.

I Am a Woman

I am a Woman.
My body is made of blades
and my mind, of steel.

I am Strength.
The spine that supports the weight of this world
and the womb that keeps it alive.

I am Wisdom.
I know now that time is not healing my pain, no.
Time, instead, is teaching me how to stitch those wounds
that I spent years ripping apart.

I am Love.
A manifestation of which can only be found in God Himself.
I am the proof that He is indeed “*Al Wadud”.

I am a Diver
and I will sink.
Hit rock bottom, as I have done before.
But I have found that only at the bottom is where I find pearls
and resurface with such precious gems,
rising higher than i ever have before.

I am  Beauty.
Not reminiscent of a flower, whose beauty fades with its age.
But an ever-lasting one,
as intangible as my soul.

I am a Nomad.
A product of diaspora.
I wander in search of a place to call home.
Only to find,
that home in me.

I am the Heart.
The kind that was created to be broken and torn
so that it could instead be mended
and given back to its Creator.

Today, as I speak for myself,
I speak for all Women.
I speak for Struggle. Ambition. Hope. Empathy. Life.
I am all of these. And so much more.
But most of all, I am mine.
And I am enough.
Because I am a Woman.
I hope you now know, too.
-Amna Haq

*Hakim- One of the 99 names of God in Islam,  meaning the “Most Wise” in Arabic
* Al Wadud- Another of the 99 names, meaning the Ultimate Source of Love

 

 

A Note From a Muslim

Life ♥ Lessons

2015-11-14 14.47.04

This is what the world looks like to me. Diverse. Tolerant. Loving.

Clearly, a group of girls from different backgrounds. But here we are, bound together by love in the City of Love.

As we all know, yesterday was a tragic day for Paris. And equally, for Beirut. And equally, for Baghdad. The citizens of these three cities suffered tremendously at the hands of evil.

Is it ironic that yesterday was also World Kindness Day? I don’t think so.

All of us are changing our photos and updating our statuses to bring about awareness to the horrors that Paris faced yesterday.

Well, I too, desire to bring awareness.

Therefore:

This is for the French, who are standing firmly together to sing “Peuple français, connais ta gloire, Couronné par l’Égalité”.

This is for the Lebanese, who are mourning the innocent lives lost in the deadly bomb blast, regardless of faith.

This is for the Iraqis, who remain united, despite the malevolence of the cowardly terrorists.

This is for the millions upon millions who are tortured, killed, and placed under much despair every single day.

For the families who are left behind to bear the markings of pain, long after their loved ones are gone.

And finally, this is for those whose plights were never known nor will ever be known by us. They suffer and then leave this world silently without even being noticed by the rest of us

But every single one of these lives matters. A lot.

As much suffering as there is in this world, there is even more love. As we can plainly see, these horrible tragedies do bring the world together, regardless of faith or ethnicity or any other irrelevant boundaries. We can see that our numbers are far greater than the evils of this world.

We have a power, a great advantage that the oppressors and tyrants of this world lack….. we are still human.

We are still capable of feeling, of loving, and of caring.
If anything, let’s just be inspired by the courage, unity, and compassion that prove that humanity still exists, stronger than ever.

Let’s surpass these boundaries of race, faith, gender and continue to support, love, and stand for each other.

After all, je suis humain.