The All or Nothing Culture- Why we should not ostracise those who practice less

In a world filled with these images of Islam:



Why are these…




..offensive pictures in the eyes of some Muslims?

This isn’t a post about the technicalities of whether it really is ‘Islamic’ to wear funky and tight Hijabi clothes, or if the comedian Dean Obeidalla in the ‘hug a Muslim’ picture above really should have been open to hug both genders. Nor is this a post about ‘freedom’ of expression and what not, because this isn’t the real issue here.

No.This is a post about all those annoying preachy Muslim folk out there , who not only love to monopolize Islam, but also feel the need to make everyone else feel like a ‘bad’ Muslim for not practicing every single detail of the religion. For those who know me, this is all coming from someone who happens to be a conservative Muslim who, in fact,  likes to practice all details of Islam; or at least try. But I understand that in a world that is losing its connection with spirituality and religion, we should never make  young people  who are proud of their Muslim identity feel like they’re being pushed into a corner and can either practice all or nothing. Because guess what, given this kind of choice many will choose to give up on religion all together.

This is one point. The second issue that I want to draw attention to is this whole business of representing Islam correctly. Many  well known Muslim fashion bloggers such as Dina Tokio get attacked for the way the dress based on this idea that they are misrepresenting Islamic values. My question to them here is which Islam? Seriously, which Islam? Islam is an international religion practiced by individuals from all cultures all over the world. It also happens to be a very deep and complex religion that has countless interpretations and many schools of thought. There is no one convenient form of Islam that we can all simply follow. Whenever someone throws me the line ‘well Islam says…’, I’m always tempted to stop and say ,’wait, are we talking about your Islam, or my Islam?’. Because if Islam is this:


Then this is not my Islam.

As a conservative and practicing Muslim, I see the benefit in having a variety of Muslims who practice the religion to varying degrees. What some fail to understand is that the image that these Muslims give of Islam can be at times more attractive and accessible to non-Muslims, which is a huge benefit especially with the growing attention to radical Islam. I’m not a hipster hijabi (so not my style) but this does not stop me from seeing the benefit of having this ‘take’ on  Muslim woman in the West; as opposed to this typical view of Muslim women in Islam:


Certain types of clothing may not fall under my personal understanding of  fully ‘modest’ and Islamic clothing. However, I’m well aware that walking down the streets in the West, among the mini skirts and overflowing bosoms, hijabis even those in ‘tight’ clothing would be considered very modest. Likewise, I personally am not comfortable hugging men, but I still love the fact that some Muslims in the past have conducted the hug a Muslim experiment. Is it technically correct for members of the  opposite gender to hug? In my opinion, no. But I could never bring myself to say that those who did this, did something immoral or bad. And the reason I’m saying this is because something about ‘the hug a Muslim’ experiment captured the spirit of Islam and we need positive images of Muslims more than ever now.  No religion is black and white, and sometimes a non-practicing Muslim can carry and convey the spirit of Islam more effectively than a zealot. Islam is not one or two dimensional. It’s a beautiful and complex multidimensional ornament, every time you turn it  to one side, you discover a new side to it. A non-practicing, moderately practicing or even fully practicing Muslim can never represent Islam fully. But we can all represent its spirit , if we stop judging each other and allow others to engage with the religion as much or as little as they want.

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