The average American Muslim young adult is in a constant limbo when it comes to personal identity. The pieces of the puzzle are many – culture (our own and that of our parents), social and gender roles, our place in the community – but the piece that rules them all, that forces us to tweak the way we see the world and persistently finds its way into every little corner of our business is just the one: religion. Islam is called a way of life, and it thus appropriately addresses most every domain of this life – health, relationships, education, politics, morality. But it is one thing to read, “And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquility with them” (Quran 30:21) and quite another to know what to say to the guy or girl you’re considering for marriage who is being unhelpful by sitting in front of you with the same confused look.
Nobody tells you those things. There are certain status quos and how-tos that aren’t addressed, because one rainy afternoon in the middle of the 10th century, some guy who was having a really bad day made a list of all the things that should never be talked about, and our community adopted it as law. So here we sit, well into the 21st century, surrounded by possibility, opportunity, unparalleled resources…and all these boxes into which we are supposed to find a way to squeeze ourselves, while holding onto our faith, with only half a clue of the way to do it.
So let’s talk about it. Let’s talk about the status quos and the how-tos, and let’s consider the possibility of creating boxes that fit each of us, while still remaining true to – indeed, embracing – our beautiful religion. That is the purpose of this forum – to discover our identities as intelligent and contributing members of modern society, to have opinions and discussions about all the things on that confounded list, and to define ourselves as we attempt, in our own ways, to Define Muslim.