WHEN ARE WE GOING TO LEAVE “BACK HOME” AND LIVE IN THE PRESENT?

Muslims in the United States particularly Pakistanis  (including myself, except when I kick myself to wake up) live in the past. It is a past that has been repainted to look nice and sometimes even fantastic. We have airbrushed out all the agonizing realities.

Our songs are full of pathos for good days gone by, for unrequited love, for regret and “what ifs” of events that never took place. The result of leading this sort of life is that as we continually hanker for the past we are unable to live in the present. We never reach the point of objectively sifting the choices that are presented to us every day.

Like a blind person we stumble through an immigrant life in the US alternately aping the white people or pretending to be one from the extremely rich class from Pakistan or other parts of SE Asia. We do this by wearing and flaunting exorbitantly priced ethnic clothing and jewelry meanwhile looking down our noses at the “less fashionable and the less fortunate”.

All this came to a head when once again the hype for Valentine started. Valentine is one of the most seductive holiday celebrated in the US. TV movies  show all types of illicit relationships making them look angsty and sincere. Doctors in Greys Anatomy and other such programs gave surprise valentines or received surprise valentines from people other than their spouses thus making them satisfied with their voyeuristic/virtual relationship. They then were too tired for the “unsatisfactory” spouse who also was enjoying attention from someone else.

When it comes to my office exam room, I see the real-time of the results of infidelity associated with the hype of Valentine or otherwise.

Even though I only see children the tragic drama that unfolds when a mother or a father commits an illicit relationship even if is with flowers or candy on Valentine it rents asunder the life of the kids in that home.  The kid whose father or mother has cheated go on a rampage of rage tearing up their school mates, destroying things at home and kicking in doors or going to sleep with illicit drugs…………they are then sent to me to see if “they have a brain problem” and why are they “acting out?” One can say what does that have to do with Valentine? It is a witch disguised as a cupid. The results are horrific but the superficialities are sweet and the flower, card and candy business is excellent.

Landing in the US is like landing in a candy store. Every Hallmark holiday is presented with fanfare and everyone has to perform. The immigrants jump into it without making a conscious choice or thinking of its ramifications.

If one does not have a guidebook of which candy is poisonous now and which one in the long run………one engorges one self to the point of collapse.

The guidebook as per my mother is “inside you” it is to remember that Allah is watching you. For those of you who for some reason did not get that internalization and the consciousness that Allah is watching you and that you are accountable to him at all times, must consult mindfully the Quran and Sunnah.

When we land in the candy field and do not know which candies are mined with explosives that will destroy us, our families and our future we too become a statistic:  a broken homes, drug addicted children, chronically sick individuals, and severe depression. All this does not happen “by chance” or suddenly. It is a cause and effect of what we choose to model for our children and our spouses and what society we choose to live in and what we celebrate and what we shun.

Going back to Valentine Day………..Rubik says Pakistani’s do not have love so they want to celebrate Valentines Day and the strict fundamentalist Muslims don’t let them.

The problem is when Pakistanis in the United States still think in the mode of “back home” where the fundamentalists are trying to stop them from celebrating Valentine, they make uninformed decisions and slide into the Hallmark culture.

If the immigrants coming to the US do not analyze and choose their lifestyle, their holidays and make a conscious choice of their beliefs and actions and practice them they and their progeny will be swept into the tsunami of the commercial pop-mass culture that governs most immigrants in this melting pot.

An excellent example of that is the mass of Lebanese living in the Midwest for the past hundred years and all of the Islam that is left in them is a last name like Sean Abdullah, but Sean while munching on a crisp strip of bacon does not know what the Quran is or where it came from. He does like falafel because that is what his grandmother used to make. He is now living with a girl whom he is in no hurry to marry. Neither he nor his family sees anything wrong with that.

Again going back to Valentine………..for years I have watched girls both Muslims and others anguish that they do not have a boyfriend to send them chocolates (which as my friend SN says would anyway give them pimples) nor flowers.

Many girls go out of their way to make themselves “available” to any one so as to feel “ desired” because that is what hallmark says: you have to be someone’s Valentine.

The feeling of rejection by the evening of Valentine is so intense and the appointments for physical depression pack the Doctors offices by next morning. The suicides we never see because they end up in the morgue.

The most pathetic and face saving is when mothers or friends or daughters give valentines to each other to make up for the “insensitivity” of the ignorant males.

I am not a Valentine scrooge. However as adult, intelligent women particularly immigrant Muslim women particularly from Pakistan, we must evaluate and examine each of the 35 Hallmark Holidays in the US and decide which ones coordinate with the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah and which ones should be left out because though they may be neutral from the religious point of view but socially irresponsible and may encourage society to denigrate those who cannot attain that status except by illegitimate means.

Most Pakistani women celebrating Valentine feel they are integrating into the American society by doing so. On one hand they want to pretend they are all American, on the other hand they are stuck in the past with all their anti religious biases, their lack of a solid education in the practical tenets of faith and yet a reluctance to let it go for another ideology or no ideology.

The question is with their brown skins, and their foreign accents and their un American tastes in food can they ever be accepted as main stream Americans?

The question I ask my compatriots especially the upper crust ladies from Pakistan what is their goal? Is it to actively seek a God centered, God conscious (muttaqi) life?  or is it to concentrate, yearn and struggle for what pleases Hallmark?

11 thoughts on “WHEN ARE WE GOING TO LEAVE “BACK HOME” AND LIVE IN THE PRESENT?

  1. Islam encourages human relationships. A married man receives more reward for his salat than a celibate man, similarly a mother with a baby is said to receives more reward for her salat.
    Allah is recognizing the sacrifices and effort any caring relationship entails.
    However it is easy to take it for granted. Grown children may get reminded once a year to thank parents and spouses may get nudged to renew romance even if it is with the borrowed sentiments of Hallmark cards.
    My dear mother loved to receive cards on mothers day from me and her grand children.
    There are many mothers who only receive that little remembrance.
    By the way, mothers day was created by a woman appealing to an American president to recognize mothers for what they do for society.
    I think celebrating Mothers day, Fathers day and Valentine day (for spouses) would be a mustahab act.

  2. That is lovely Masha Allah. That’s such a fulfilling but difficult to master profession!

    I study (training to be an early years professional) and I run around after my girls, create culinary disasters (sometimes wonders haha) and pretend to write freelance and of course blog.

    The effects of losing our culture really are heartbreaking. Don’t be hesitant to share your views because they are valuable AND they pack a punch! *Thumbs UP*!

  3. I must say this an excellent piece of writing. Being in Dubai the situation is different but there are many similarities. The hallmark culture of which you speak is gradually eroding our own. You have a point when you say it’s nothing but a breeding ground for haram activities and subsequently depression.

    By the way do you work as a psychiatrist?

    • JazaikAllah hu Khairan, I was hesitant to write it and yet the effects were so much in my face that I felt that they needed to be laid out, no personal offense to anyone. I am a child neurologist but I do see patients at the neuropsychiatric border.
      what are you doing in Dubai?

  4. Assalamu’alaikum!

    I avoid all the V-Day posts…the ones talking about celebrating it and the ones talking about why it is against Islam. For myself, my husband and I do not practise it and it was my husband that convinced me not to make such a big deal out of it. He pointed out that it is so much more special when he does sweet/romantic things for me throughout the year rather than just once a year when everyone is expecting it. I also know how commercialized the holiday is and that factor def. irks me.

    I have had two V-Days out of the states. The first one was when I was 16 in Pakistan. I was in absolute shock! All of the restaurants had hearts and V-Day decorations everywhere. I went to a basant mela (the kite flying festival) which fell on V-Day at my cousin’s school…and I could not believe what I saw before my eyes. There were stations for guys/girls to buy a rose to give to their valentine’s. I was so disgusted and appalled by all of it. Me the american kid…so ashamed. Subhanallah! I wasn’t even particularly religious at the time. Forget the fact that in the morning there were tons of v-day cards lying in the mailbox for my cousin from his “friends”.

    This past V-Day I was in Singapore. We went out to eat at a random restaurant (b/c we eat out everyday while we are here)…and we could not eat anywhere! Every restaurant had a prix fixe menu for V-Day. I have been in NYC and may have gotten small reminders here and there that it was V-Day…but it could be easily overlooked if I was busy with school, work, and friends (single practising Muslims). In Singapore, it was absolutely impossible. I felt like V-Day was completely in your face here.

    Woah! So sorry for writing such a long comment.

      • I honestly don’t know. It is a great question. Could be a great research study. It could be b/c ppl are just adopting to the culture. Just like many ppl make a Thanksgiving dinner even though they may not celebrate Thanksgiving itself. I know a few of my more cultural friends (less religious) always ask me what we are doing for V-Day. It could be pressure from other ppl that are mixing in to the melting pot. I’m not sure if I think they are love starved. I know some ppl also celebrate V-Day b/c they are so caught up in work and life that it allows them to take time out from their bz schedules to be w/ one another.

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