My ex-career as a muslimah

Fringe Benefits – Part 1 March 1, 2011

Filed under: Fringe Benefits — evebitestheapple @ 3:08 am

Note: Refer to the Original post as the starting point for the ‘Fringe Benefits’ series.

Narrated Abu Hurayrah that Muhammad said: “None of you should walk wearing one shoe; you should either wear them both or take them both off”. Abu Hurayrah also said that Muhammad said: “Indeed the Shaytaan walks in one shoe”.

The above hadith(along with many others) has caused much paranoia in my life and childrens lives. It is the habit of  Muslims, in their zeal to worship Allah, to implement ahadith to the letter. Once my ex-husband found out walking in one shoe is the equivalent of being like the devil, he made sure no one did it. The minute anyone was caught walking without a shoe he would shriek at the top of his lungs  for the offender to stop in their tracks. Said offender was not allowed to move while everyone else was sent on a frantic search to find the other shoe(or sometimes sock). Sometimes the offender’s foot was in mid-air when the order came to ‘halt’. Islam has proven to have the added benefit of training one how to be a temporary statue.

As I came out of the bereavement phase of apostacy, I started taking note of things I could do and not worry about being progeny of the devil. The first few things were more out of rebellion. I thought to myself:

– I am going to start drinking with my left hand*.

– While I am drinking with my left hand, I think I will walk around with one shoe on and one shoe off.

– While I am drinking with my left hand, I will walk with one shoe on and one shoe off, and pass gas.

I started laughing hysterically at my newfound freedom and at the thought of gleefully walking shoeless, drinking as a lefty, and farting. And then, as I had done the few days before, I broke down into tears.

I thought to myself “I sound like I am stark-raving mad and like a complete lunatic”. What kind of insane religion makes people believe, with all earnest, that doing these simple things either gets you closer to God or makes you from the Shayateen? But what brought me to tears was asking what kind of person would believe such silliness and that all I had to do was go look in the mirror to see one.

It has been a bitter pill to swallow that I was in a religious cult. Part of my healing is not only recognition but the sobering fact that I will return to doing a number of things that was once just a regular part of life. Those small things will take huge effort on my part to remove from my system and my childrens. But the little things will forever be a reminder to the bigger picture of gratitude for having the choice of living a free life.

With that, I am off to go put my left shoe on first**.


*Muhammad said: Do not eat(drink) with your left hand, for Satan eats(drinks) with his left hand

**Muhammad said: When one of you puts on sandals, he should put the right shoe on first and then the left. When he takes them off, he should take the left one off first and then the right.


10 Responses to “Fringe Benefits – Part 1”

  1. anne Says:

    Ha! My husband does the hyperveniltating shoe thing (no shoes or two shoes) to the kids and still chastises me (a lefty) for not doing everything with my right.

  2. Stephanie Says:

    I’m quite lucky that my Muslim husband (whom I’m still happily married to) thinks all of the little rituals in which you describe, are all bogus or for the “extremist”. In his case, I’ve always felt like he picks and chooses, but then don’t we all?

    I think a large percentage of Muslims ignore these little idiosyncracies of the Prophet as well as the superstitions that pervade the hadith (and the Quran).How could they not? I don’t think I ever believed in jinn or black magic, or little shayateen whispering in my ears. Not to mention the hundreds of random mannerisms a muslim must follow (like the one you mentioned).

    Once I began to recognize these things were indeed part of the religion and couldn’t be ignored, my faith began waning.

  3. almostclever Says:

    I, nor my Muslim husband, have ever followed any of these rituals. In fact, the only thing that makes us “look” Muslim on the outside is that we don’t drink alcohol or eat pork.. Oh and he prays. That’s it. And I am glad that is it or my marriage wouldn’t still be intact.

    I think when religion goes to those ritualistic extremes, they are certainly the definition of cult, and I am sorry you experienced that.

    As an aside, reading your account, all I could think about was how much people with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) must be able to hide within Islam, because their incessant rituals just look like piety. I am willing to bet a large number of Muslims have untreated clinical diagnoses of OCD.

  4. Sig Says:

    I think Muhammad probably had OCD and his issues have been enshrined as divinely ordained commands, creating an ummah of people who adhere to OCD behaviors out of fear of divine retribution (and a lack of critical thought). But following these “sunnats” isn’t a cult or a minority – there are a shit ton of Muslims all over the world who do it, so I’d rather not play it down. It can really hamper the life of a convert who hasn’t been trained up in these things since birth. I think a few of the commenters above are fortunate to have married men who are more liberal and have a more nuanced, humorous look at these things. (Or in some cases, to have stayed liberal, nuanced, humorous folks rather than converting to more orthodox forms of Islam – which was all that was on offer in the 80s and 90s, mind you).

    For me, eating while standing up, eating w/ the left hand were two things. Also, I did meet some sufis who covered their glasses / cups, every time they weren’t drinking out of it. I asked why, and they said shaytan will get in your drink if you leave it sitting unattended. These were orthodox sufis, by the way, not hippie mystical types. Just not feeling guilty for not uttering the thousand little duas for *every single stinkin’ thing* like entering a room, drinking, putting on new clothes, etc. Now, I never did these things – it was too much for me to memorize – but I would – from time to time – feel guilty about it. My former husband used to start praying every time he pulled the car out of the driveway and I’d be like “Uh, oops.” (There is a dua for when you start riding your camel or, in our case, driving your car).

  5. almostclever Says:

    Why does “shit ton” of people doing it, mean it is not qualified as a cult? I don’t think it plays it down at all, I think there are a “shit ton” of people who follow cult-like forms of Islam. Period. It is absolutely cult behavior.

    This is a definition of a religious cult, in terms of Christianity, but I don’t see how it is not exactly what is happening with these hardcore forms of Islam:

    “A group is called a cult because of their behaviour – not their doctrines. Doctrine is an issue in the area of Apologetics and Heresy. Most religious cults do teach what the Christian church would declare to be heresy but some do not. Some cults teach the basics of the Christian faith but have behavioural patterns that are abusive, controlling and cultic.

    This occurs in both Non-Charismatic and Charismatic churches. These groups teach the central doctrines of the Christian faith and then add the extra authority of leadership or someone’s particular writings. They centre around the interpretations of the leadership and submissive and unquestioning acceptance of these is essential to be a member of good standing. This acceptance includes what we consider non-essential doctrines e.i. not salvation issues (such as the Person and Work of Christ.) The key is that they will be using mind control or undue influence on their members.

    An excellent book on this subject is “Churches that Abuse” by Dr Ronald Enroth. “

  6. Jude Says:

    I agree with Sig, let’s not play it down. Tons of muslims do it and the majority of those who don’t at least believe in it and feel guilty for not doing it !

  7. Sig Says:

    Well, I think religions are just really big cults. Call it Islam, call it any number of the sects of Christianity, they’re just glorified cults that became ‘official’ along the way. I have to confess, I don’t really take it seriously when people who adhere to one religion of invisible beings point the finger at followers of another and say cult, whether that’s Muslims to Yazidis or Christians to followers of Osho. The sunnats are long established rituals of Islam. How is it more cult like to eat with the right hand only but not to pray with your arse in the air 5x a day?

  8. Becky Says:

    Wow, this is crazy, I’m happy I never even learnt about this! Though it did have me giggling the other day, as I was putting on my shoes and then suddenly couldn’t find one. As I was hopping around trying to find it, I was reminded of this post 🙂

  9. Leo Says:

    Reminds me of when I went hajj. I had decided to do the hajj on foot. As we set off for Arafat from Mina the straps snapped from the shoes of a poor chap- we had over 2 hours til we arrived! I didn’t have the heart to tell the poor bloke about shaitan and walking with one shoe.

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