old friends, religion and life

In the past month I’ve somehow managed to cross paths on multiple occasions with people I’ve gone to school with. Whether it’d be planned outings or simple bumping into on the street, I can honestly say a good 2-3 random people from my old classes a week.  

It’s funny because up until now I’d never really given it much thought. I spent a good chunk of last year and maybe even a bit of the year before forgetting about my old friends or more so, the people from my community and focusing on trying to make new ones. It must have just been a phase of growing up because I realise now that what I had, going back 3-5 years ago totally trumps what I have now. I’ve spent too long trying to branch out to other people only to find that clashing on the most fundamental level is something that is not easily overcome.

Let me just say, that I am an open minded person. Regardless of my Islamic background and upbringing, and the level at which I follow my religion, I don’t treat people differently because we have conflicting beliefs. If there is somebody in my life who goes against what I believe it, I let them be and try to be their friend, even if just at that superficial level. I’m sick of justifying my religion to anybody and everybody and it’s unfortunate that we live in a time where society in general is anti-islamic and on a larger scale, anti-religious. Saying that you’re a ‘religious’ person almost has people looking down on you. I say almost because we’re not fully there yet, but we’re heading in that direction.

A friend put it into perspective for me last week whilst we sat over dinner and discussed our old friendships in our schools. He pointed out that it was because we went to a Muslim school, and that no other school be it private or state was anywhere near being the same. The tight knit community that was formed over my year level and to some extent, my school, wasn’t because we all got along. If anything, it was quite the opposite. There were many personality clashes and lots of drama back in high school, but somehow we all accepted each other and fought for one another when it truly came down to it. We all got along, because at the fundamental level our beliefs, our morals and our cultures were one. 

It’s small things now that I see, and can love. For example, a friend of mine recently decided to wear the headscarf as part of her daily attire. By choice. No oppression and non of that media enforced bullshit. For most people, responses range between ‘I don’t know where she stands, can we still hang out/talk/touch/be friends’  to ‘maybe she’s getting married’. When we bumped into the girls tonight from school (who do not wear the hijab btw), all I kept hearing was ‘I’m so proud of you’ ‘congratulations’ ‘I’m happy for you’ ‘What made you do it?’. All positive responses, all supportive for her choice and merely because they understand the reasonings and how big of a deal it is. They’re not judging her, they’re genuinely happy for her, all because they understand. That’s the part I miss, understanding.

I appreciate and have grown to be very happy to be part of a school and community that valued interpersonal relationships as highly as they valued themselves. I was at that school for the entirety of my schooling career, graduating with students I had known for 13 years, and at my age that is a significant chunk of my life. It’s only now that I am grateful and blessed to feel part of a community, a community that I loved and was part of for so many years, and a community which still accepts me even though I turned my back on them for some time.

More to come, perhaps I will update this one later. I just feel like there is so much more I want to say but cannot put much into words at the moment. Goodnight xo