Commitment-Phobe: New Muslim friends
Moving on from atheism, Commitment-Phobe toured churches and tried God. Now, as a new Christian, her journey continues
I attended a parenting course earlier this year, where half the women in the room were Muslim. The others a mix of Christians and Hindus. There was an awkward mix of languages and culture, but in time we have got to know each other better. One mother has five children ranging from three to 13 years old. Another has two children and a variety of health issues to cope with as well as the traditional chores expected of wives from a Pakistani background. She was going to have an operation and it was clear that she was going to need extra help. Like many women in London she did not live close to her extended family. Like many mums over 30, she was more likely to be looking after her relatives than supported by them.
During a lunchbreak, I asked her if she could engage the help of fellow mums at her mosque. I had made the assumption that, as in my church, there would be a community of mums helping each other out. I was put straight by her and another mother who explained that women were not required to attend mosque, only their husbands, and that they could pray at home instead.
Why? I thought. I need a centralised place to learn about the word and how to engage with it, to get spiritual refreshment and learning. I felt a huge sense of sadness for these women who work so very hard but have so little spiritual nourishment and community in their lives.
In fact, it was partly personal choice. The local mosque is a little too old-fashioned for them and their children. Another mother takes her children there for ten hours of Qu’ranic-learning by rote each week. One of the mums said that she wanted her child to understand the hadiths, not learn them like a robot. I would feel the same if that was how our kids’ church was taught on a Sunday.
My new friends were expected to work harder than me inside and outside the home. I live by the maxim ‘a tidy house is a sign of a wasted life.’ I forget to hoover, I don’t think I have ever made bread, and ironing is done by my husband. But these women did all of this with more children to rear, more grace and less support from an extended community. What I had in common with all these women was a sense of isolation and a need for parenting support.
This thought led me to contact a missionary who attends my church and whose mission it is to build relationships with Muslim women. …
This is an extract from an article that was published in the July/August 2017 edition of Reform