Another Intersection: Striving for Tawhid as a Muslim and Punk

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Salaams everyone and I hope that this blog post finds you well! After taking a much needed break the past few weeks to address some minor medical concerns (sinus congestion) and sort through my job search plans, I am back and feeling rejuvenated thanks to a halaqa talk last night. The topic for the evening was relating the story of the early Muslim community’s hijraor emigration to Medina from Mecca, to individuals experiences of physical or metaphorical emigration. For myself this issue is something I think of both within in the Muslim and punk environments, both of which are identities that have elicited strong positive and negative responses from others. For example, the alignment with each community simultaneously drove me apart from some people in my life (‘You’re too liberal/idealistic; your music all sounds angry; you’re a terrorist’) and introduced me to a new, more understanding set of friends.

Over the course of the conversation last night my mind kept drifting back to the parallel experiences that stem from my involvement with my faith and punk communities since moving out my parents’ house in 2005. A friend in the group mentioned something that I feel best summarizes this recognition of the intersections between one’s identities and experiences: “The best among humans are those that strive for tawhid in their lives.” A surface level definition of the term is that of “unity of creation,” but I believe tawhid goes further than that. In many ways it reminds me of the lifestyles embodied by individuals within the DIY-punk communities that I admire most: seamless, ethos-driven, and unchanged by the surrounding environments. Yes, that does seem a bit hardline and unrealistic, but the ideal is worthy of chasing after throughout life. It is my hope that those who know me in person or have would agree that I try to live my life as seamlessly as possible and not create separate spaces in which certain qualities are exhibited or are absent.

A life lived in this manner definitely entails an amount of uncertainty when it comes to how it will be received and an ability to adjust (tone down) one’s personality if needed for the sake of cooperation. In both my Muslim and punk communities I am working on breaking down the walls between them each day – a lot of the ethos mirror each other and are not in opposition in my opinion. Trying to be divisive in order to hold onto some human fabricated, exclusive identity is bullshit and gets in the way of working with others. This is not to say people should pretend identities/labels do not affect people in very real ways – just look at racism or classism. What I am arguing for and what came out of the halaqa comment is that the acknowledgement of our different identities, whether internal or external, should not limit us in the pursuit of social justice and equality for all. The pain of another individual, regardless of whether or not we are the same somehow, is still my concern and something to listen to.

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