Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Laughing our way through life
The laughter echoed through the room, the ladies happily making jokes about their lives as we discussed the various issues that women have to deal with in marriage. This was already the 7th session in our ‘Marriage in Islam’ workshop and the women who were initially strangers to each other had now bonded and become sisters. We were laughing so much that if a stranger had walked past the Madressah classroom we use for this purpose, he or she would wonder exactly what goes on in these sessions. This time around we have a particularly humorous lady, who “entertains” us weekly with her wacky comments. It definitely makes the sessions very much more interesting!
Reflecting on the day’s happenings, I can’t help but ponder over how wrong they all have it. I wonder how much trouble it takes them to find the sad and despondent Muslim women that they keep showing us in the media. Admittedly, each time I’m involved with any workshop, we find women who have to undergo challenges and difficulties, whether it’s in marriage, parenting or even just struggling with self conflict. But this is not something reserved for Muslim women; this is common and evident in every situation and amongst all types of people. I’ve heard Christian and even Jewish people telling me about the exact same challenges that these Muslim women talk about; so clearly as human beings, and more specifically as women we have so much in common, so many experiences that are similar, so many ways in which we can relate to one another!
Despite life’s challenges though, here is this group of women, Muslim women, sitting in a classroom in a mainstream Mosque, dressed in long cloaks and wearing the hijaab, laughing, way too loudly at times, about their lives and how they deal with it and openly sharing their thoughts, opinions and feelings. It makes me think; clearly things can’t be that bad for Muslim women if they are able to do this?
Nevertheless, I guess my main point here is that Muslim women, like women from other Faiths and walks of life, have learnt to deal with life’s challenges in the best way they know how, some of them are able to laugh their way through it, others passively reflect on their lives as they consider their futures, and yet others argue and question as they attempt to make sense out of things. Islam does not at any point discourage women from any of this! And the dull, sad, silent Muslim woman who’s face seems like it has never ever smiled or laughed, is not as easily found as we are made to believe. As I laughed myself silly this morning, this was clearer to me than ever before.