Today I travelled to another city to attend a one day course for work.
After the course finished, I had some time left before my train was due, so I thought I would go to the mosque. Asr was nearly due and I wanted to go somewhere quiet and read the Quran. The more I thought about the idea, the more appealing it became.
I called Directory Enquiries and got the number of a local mosque. I rang the number. No answer. I passed a Shalwar Khalmeez shop with a Muslim name, I went in, gave my Salaams and asked if they knew where the mosque was. Of the five ladies in the shop, one returned my Salaams. I asked where the mosque was. They looked at me like I had asked for a bacon sandwich. "It's the other side of town".
I left the shop and I felt saddened by their rudeness. I'm starting to have doubts about going to this mosque, from the ladies' reaction, it could well be somewhere women aren't allowed/encouraged to go. I passed by a university, usually a good place to find a prayer room. It was closed. The shopping centre didn't have a prayer room either. It's getting late, I decide to try and catch an earlier train.
The timetables are located on a gloomy quiet platform. A gaggle of teenage boys are nearby.
I hear the word "Waki"(wannabe/white Pakistani) and with a sinking feeling, know they are talking about me. One actually walks over, pretending to look at the timetable, so he can check that I am indeed, white.
He returns to his friends and I hear the words "P*ki Lover". That would be about me too, then. Since my indignation would just feed their obnoxious behaviour, I walk away. I think that if I did have a Pakistani husband standing with me, they would have probably kept their opinions to themselves. Cowards.
I've had enough now. Alhamdulilah, there's a train that I can catch. As the city slides away from me, I feel relieved.
The stereotype of the Muslim woman is that we are isolated from society, either through choice, or due to the stereotypical image of the tyrannical, domineering Muslim man.
The sad fact is that, so much of society makes you feel uncomfortable, it's easy to stay in your comfort zone. It's annoying not being able to find somewhere to pray. The stares make me feel weary. I can tell myself that it's good dawah, it's good for us to be representing Muslim women in a positive way and it's good for people to see a convert.
Sometimes, I just feel so tired. Tired of explaining, being made to justify myself to people who view me with suspicion anyway. Several times, I've walked onto a train carriage and people have not just moved seats, but moved carriages. When I wear abaya, I know the nasty looks will increase as I'm viewed as not only a Muslim, but one who needs to go back to their own country.
I'm tired of explaining to both Muslims and non-Muslims that no, I didn't convert for marriage.
I think many converts are torn about whether to carry on living in their country of birth or to move to a Muslim majority country.
I don't belong here anymore, but where do I go next?