From the age of four, i was put into mosque studies. Spending two and a half hours from Monday to Friday learning to read Arabic and memorising different verses.every week including holidays I would spend learning about the Quran and Islamic studies, spending hour after hour reading and understanding. This meant that by the age of seven I had read the entire Quran, which for this age is very early. My mind was quick so picking up this new language was easy for me. As a child, i hated going for this long after school, making me unable to attend events such as birthday parties. However, my relationship with god at this stage was very strong I liked my teacher and made many friends there.
However, as I got older I moved from mosque to mosque, and there was a certain mosque which I disliked, the teachers were horrible and everyone there was way older than me making it hard to integrate with them.I also had to learn Arabic from the beginning memorising different rules and their meanings.They also had mosque rules like not being able to use the restroom and also making it compulsory to come to events such as the eid prayer. I did not enjoy my experience here. However, i still believed strongly in God. Even after leaving this mosque I attended about 6 more these varied from houses to mosque institutes.
One of my worst experiences was attending a 7 hours Islamic session in a nearby city, this was hell I did not know anyone there and I stood out due to myself having a different accent. All this pressure, however, this didn’t stop me believing and giving my all to good. I still really had my whole heart in this.
The real reason I believe that my relationship with god weakened was when culture got involved. I believe that culture was the demise of my religion. As in the Pakistani/Asian culture honour played a large part in everyday life. And you may think its stupid but being forced to attend cultural/religious events time after time made me think that the two topics were connected. Meaning that I was less close with god as I hated being paraded in front of people pretending I was a perfect Muslim girl when I was not. I was presented in front of old women and men, my parents telling them lies on how spiritual I was and how I was the perfect daughter in their view, which was a backwards way of thinking. Wearing clothes in which I could not express myself, and not being able to go out with my friends just in case someone saw me who knew my parents. My self-esteem decreased, my mother beat me and I lost myself. I pretended to be someone I wasn’t at school and even my friends began to see through my lies.
I was a 14-year-old girl with a moustache, bad eyebrows, and the worst dress sense. Trying to fit in the popular crowd, and it was not working out. I lost my friends and myself, along with some faith in god. However, I still prayed, as I still believed in Him restoring hope.
(More coming soon on this topic.. keep tuned)