The Gift From My Muslim Ex-Husband

Hey kids.

I’ve been watching/listening to/reading about the anti-Muslim news in the U.S. through half-closed eyes. Squinting in the hopes that eventually it would go away.

Listen, it happens. I’m not proud of that. But we all have our moments as activists where we put the pack down for someone else to pick up. Privilege plays a big role in that.

Well, my knapsack is firmly back on my shoulders.

Today’s post is written from my perspective as a New Yorker, as a cultural Jew and as a convert to Catholicism. I’m also writing it from the perspective as the former wife of a Moroccan Muslim man.

I know – news to some – but not to everyone who reads this blog.

R is my second husband. I was married to H for over three years.

There was a Quran in our house.  H usually prayed five times a day, as many Muslims do all across the U.S. He prayed in our Brooklyn apartments. In celebrations at Prospect Park. At the local mosque. At the homes of our friends and families. At the restaurant where we both worked. Later on, at his media job in the city.

Fasting during Ramadan while working as a cook in a restaurant must have been tough as nails. But H did it cheerfully. Faithfully. I would join him and fast on Fridays during Ramadan. I felt very connected to him spiritually during those moments.

I went twice to Morocco. In the working-class neighborhood where H’s family lived in Casablanca, the calls to prayer were announced over a loudspeaker, no matter the hour. I was welcomed by H’s family with open arms, this non-Muslim woman from the U.S. who spoke next-to-no Arabic.

So I don’t tell you this today to make me out to be an expert on Islam. But I am talking to you today as someone who once shared her life intimately with a Muslim man.

I’m furious about the ignorance, hatred and fear towards Muslims that I’m watching explode all over the U.S. The mosques that are being torched. The protests in New York City against the construction of the Cordoba House Community Center. And the white men who want to burn the Quran in the name of all that is holy.

I want to be rational about this, but I find that I can’t. I keep thinking that I’ll blog about this when I’m calmer. But I’m only getting angrier.

If R is able to enter the U.S. again, we always thought that it would be great to go back to New York. At this point, I want R to be able to enter the U.S. out of a deep desire for justice. While R thinks that he may never be able to enter the U.S. again, I’ve always cupped my hand around a small spark of hope, trying to keep it alive.

But you know what? On a day like today, I’m sitting here in front of my laptop with my head in my hands. The United States of today is not the U.S. that R was deported from on April 26, 2001.

H and I didn’t work out. It was my decision to go. We haven’t spoken in years. But today, I stand in solidarity with my former husband. I will always stand for his right to be a pious and practicing Muslim in the United States. I will add my voice to create safe space for him.

One of the biggest gifts that H gave me was that I learned a a great deal about Islam. I got over my ignorance and my fear. I have opinions about Islam based on knowledge and experience. From waking up on Sunday mornings to the sound of H praying towards Mecca in the next room.

H, if you are reading this today, shukran. براك الله فيك


8 thoughts on “The Gift From My Muslim Ex-Husband

  1. Those who are ignorant about Islam need to
    Read their own sacred scriptures a bit more in depth. Followers if Jesus ( Catholics, Christians, Protestants, Mormoms, etc) Jews, and Muslims not only share a common heritage, but also common teachings. Our sacred books are bound together by history, geography, and faith. All our religions have committed atrocities immune name of God. When all cultures understand that Love and not Hate is the driving force of truly enlightened individuals, our world will enter a new era of knowledge. And, even though some ” biblethumping” nut job will probably argue differently, ALL religious view that involving hating another religion, culture, or race is WRONG. Some may pray five times a day, others might wear strange clothing, or even call God in other names. The truth remains that the paths towards finding the almighty are many, but they all involve Love, Peace, and Respect. Those who think, act, or speak otherwise are those who are truly lost.


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