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14-Jun-2016 20:13 by 5 Comments

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My parents were quite religious when I was younger but they were cultural Sufis and weren't that strict back then.

This influenced my parents and through that there was a lot of influence on me; indeed there was coercion too.I remember that my sister told me that “if you don’t wear the headscarf you’re a coward.” As a 14-year-old girl I looked up to my sister and I still believed in a God, so I felt guilty for not being more religious.This had a massive impact on me and that was the beginning of me becoming religious. Begrudgingly at first, but then as the months went by I felt like I have this identity now so I have to embrace it – like if you can’t beat them, you join them. Until I was 20 I was completely religious – six years of my life – my youth, was given over to religion.I strived to please God, and there are different strands within Islam which offer different things.I sought out whichever I thought was the purest form.It started just being spiritual but then it became more political.

But I wasn't settled, I battled with my religious thoughts and eventually sought out a different sect in Islam, mainly because I thought that that kind of spiritual teaching was closer to me.But after doing that for a couple of years it fizzled out. One of the crucial points was when I was with someone that I wanted to marry, who was a Muslim convert.While we were together we used to talk a lot about Islam and I think the discussions with him, especially from his convert perspective, made me think more about the intricacies of Islam.I would never have discussed Ayesha and Mohammed with anyone else, it just doesn't happen among Muslims, but because he was new to it I would discuss it with him so I would think about those things. I kept on thinking about the things that didn't make sense to me in Islam, and also around that time I went through a difficult phase in my life with my parents and I felt unhappy.I felt I'm always trying to please God, so why is God not making my life better?I was angry with God and that’s when I stopped wearing the hijab.