As a Muslim woman, I have some things in common with atheists. I wonder where God is when people are being murdered and brutalised. Where is God when the young girls in Nigeria were kidnapped? Where is he when young people all over the world are being abused? The vulnerable being exploited shakes my faith to the core.
The case of the kidnapped Nigerian young girls is gut-churning horror played out in real-time on rolling twenty-four hour news scenes. They have been taken by the militant group Boko Haram who have threatened to sell these girls into slavery. It makes me wonder (for the umpteenth time) how it is possible to misunderstand the meaning of being Muslim and use it to legitimise the oppression of the most vulnerable.
It has got me thinking about faith and being a Muslim feminist, something I alluded to last week. It is not often I write about being Muslim. To be honest, I struggle with my faith. I struggle with my relationship with God, with religious observance and with the idea of a God that metes out justice.
My faith has been a journey: from a time when I felt spiritually connected to God to a time when observing my faith felt progressively harder and harder. I struggled most when I went through the trauma of a forced marriage. It was at these times that I wondered where God was; why did I feel so abjectly alone; why was God not protecting me or saving me from this fate
In the months leading up to that wedding, I lost my faith. It is in my isolation that I realised that I could trust no one, rely on no one. When I finally left because I felt that my life, my personhood, was in danger, I did it alone. There was no saviour; I had to – and I did – save myself.
Many years later, as I have become more involved in activism, through blogging, writing, volunteering and becoming a trade unionist, I realise that my alienation from my faith was a reflection of my alienation from humanity. If your family can treat you this way, what is left of humanity?
So when I ask again where God is when young girls in Nigeria are kidnapped, it is my expectation that an omnipotent being should intervene. If he doesn’t, does that mean he doesn’t exist? Again, it shakes my faith.
What restores my faith is the understanding that there is more to humanity than this. There are people mobilising: from those marching, to those lobbying and campaigning to support groups to speak out within Nigeria and help find these girls.
But this has to continue. Irrespective of faith, it is humanity that saves people, the humanity we show ourselves and the humanity and kindness we shows others in times of acute desperation.
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Huma Munshi started the #fuckhonour hashtag to express her anger at the oppression women have experienced. She is a writer, poet, blogger and trade unionist. She is a regular contributor to Media Diversified, F-Word and Time to Change.
She has written widely on honour based violence, mental health, film and intersectionality. This column will reflect her passion for activism, a feminism that reflects her own experiences as an Asian Muslim woman, film reviews and current affairs. Read more of her articles here
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- What Will Nigeria Owe America Now? (mediadiversified.org)
- In fear of dishonour – when the perpetrators are family (mediadiversified.org)