Of the three things that make the world go round are: politics (you can clearly tell from the going ons in our own country), sex (let’s not touch on this today at all, I’ll try..) and religion. There are many religions that have found their way into people’s hearts, souls rather? There are the holy books, prayers, worshipping houses and most importantly the supernatural beings, gods or God depending on where you lie. And this is where all the confusion and finger pointing starts, being a Muslim, people insist that my God is Allah. Yet that is just a title we use to glorify Him.
Growing up Muslim, there are several encounters that I simply can’t shake off. Here is a short list:
1. Being branded the ‘characteristic’ Islamic names.
Apparently being a Muslim girl, everyone assumes you are an Amina, Khadija or Halima! This is a trait especially mastered by touts who want to get your attention as you pass by. It is time to conduct a research and discover the wide variety of names from this side. Those might be names of great women from the times when Islam emerged but we ARE NOT all named after them.
2. “Nyinyi watu mna pesa”
It was Eid a few years back, my family decided to spend it at the Nairobi Safari Walk. At the entrance the two guards decided they will keep making senseless jokes until my father parted with a few thousand notes. Not because we were celebrating but because we were Muslims, ‘hamwezi kosa pesa’.
We are like everyone else in the land trying to feed and succeed. A religion doesn’t necessarily make you rich! Please get that. It is highly annoying.
3. Ati your women are not allowed to go to the mosque with underwear?
This is the most outrageous rumour I have ever landed on! It is scandalous even. To make matters worse, the rumour monger gave me a reason that doesn’t hold water. He said he ‘heard’ that we women are not allowed into the mosque unless our panties were off, I was horrified.
Brother, how now?
What if the poor lady decided it’s no underwear since she wants to keep fresh down there? Does her going into a mosque in that state determine it is a requirement?
4. You don’t puff sheesha and you are Muslim?
Hold up! Is the origin of sheesha Islam by any chance? No where in the Qur’an do you come across smoking sheesha as an acceptable condition to be Muslim. Please smoke your sheesha and shush. Peer influence is bad. And ugly.
5. Handshakes with the opposite sex.
This is the bit that rattles me the most. Ugh, people, a little break please? A very learned man comes and stretches out his hand in greeting, I decline to take it.
Si unisalimie ama wewe ni wale waislamu hamsalimiani?
There you are knowing that we shouldn’t be shaking hands but you mischievously try to trick me. What will you gain?
First, we shouldn’t be shaking hands with our non-Mahrams (a Mahram is man who cannot marry you as stipulated by law such as your brother, father, uncle, etc) and yes yes, I know you wouldn’t want to marry me but still let’s respect MY religion. This is to avoid sparking off the desires that are a little dormant in you including attraction or temptation to get ‘freaky’. Imagine getting that ka-feeling for every man’s hand you shake?
Second, this is more of a personal reason than religious, how do I know where your hands have been? Did you wash your hands after using the urinal? Do you have some skin disease that could spread through contact? You get the drill?
This is perhaps the most difficult challenge a Muslim, man or woman faces in current times. Sometimes a person does not know that it is haram for us to shake hands with the opposite sex and in this age of fast cars and smart phones, there really isn’t time to go around explaining to non-Muslims the reasons behind the prohibition. It is a big dilemma for us. At times, you shake the hand and keep going.
6. Are you from Mandera? Coast then?
I am not sure how this happened but Kenyans please, you don’t have to be Somali or Borana to be Muslim! Not every one of us comes from the neighbouring country bordering on the East. I, for one, am not Somali and I don’t happen to originate from the North Eastern region of the country.
As much as most Muslims hail from the Coast region, that doesn’t make the whole bunch Waswahili. I’m telling you being Kenyan is really hard! Kenyans literally have to place someone in their ancestral home the first five minutes you meet them. Why?
Thankfully, the Al-Shabaab dread has gone down. Otherwise most of you will fail to associate with me just because I am Muslim and somehow I must be a member to a certain terrorist group!