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?