When speaking with those of South Asian origin...I'm always reminded of how divided we are as a people, how many different types of divisions there are and how tribalism plays a huge role in those divisions....how brutal and bloody our histories have been. Sikh vs. Muslim vs. Hindu - there is so much hate among these groups :( I long for people to drop that baggage and just bond sometimes. When speaking with Indian apologists I am quickly reminded that I am a lowly Pakistani... Muslim scum. When speaking with Pakistani apologists I'm soon accused of being an Indian agent or closet Hindu working to soil the reputation of Pakistan. If only the masses could see that humanity comes first....not self-made divisions of caste, religion, nationality, etc.
Occasionally, I do come across people who have the same ancestral land as me, who have dropped these things and see us as one big human tribe. Nothing makes me happier...evidence that we can come from such a fragmented background and transcend that to discuss things openly, honestly. Critiquing our own groups is necessary for progress (Rarely in another context will you see a Muslim being open with a Sikh about flaws, and a Sikh being open with a Muslim about flaws...but perhaps because we shed those affiliations and are 'ex' versions, it becomes a bit easier).
Many are unable to admit fault with their own culture, religion of birth, community. Those that are able are my heroes, to be quite honest. They are the ones bringing betterment.
I've come across a few ex-Sikhs on social media and it's refreshing to see people leaving faiths you rarely hear of people leaving. We meet on the other side of this division as companions in humanity.
I always say that mainstream critics of religion have focused a lot on Abrahamic faith, which is great because it is deeply flawed and manifests in the most troubling ways. It's good to focus on larger problems, but sometimes other superstitions/harmful beliefs get left behind and aren't dissected in the same way. I think it's important to discuss them all...not draw equivalences (so unclench, please)....rather, just not give any belief system a pass.
I have heard from ex-Sikh atheists in the past that they feel a little left out when their religion of birth is missing from mainstream critique of religion. The issues they want to bring awareness to are not given much importance on a global scale. I've heard this from ex-Jains too. If we're truly going to move ahead as a whole, we need to a) of course highlight the more problematic beliefs and b) not leave other beliefs entirely out of the conversation either. Two pronged dismantling of religion everywhere.
So before anyone "but what about Islam's" me, please take a look through my hundreds of posts before this one, or just glance at my Twitter feed.
You didn't feel happy having uncut hair, can you describe why?
I think it may have been something to do with being raised in a country where most people do in
fact cut their hair. I did stand out. It wasn’t necessarily a bad thing that I did, but I personally didn’t
like the idea of having Kesh and not being able to do things like spike my hair with gel. I thought that
having the “guti” (see below) didn’t make me look very attractive. These were feelings I had, I suppose.
|Guti (Image from Wikipedia)|
And what was the pressure like to keep it? As a child did you feel isolated or different from others because of it?
The pressure was fairly intense from my father but my mum was much more open about it. My dad
would just get angry every time I brought the issue up. Once physically hitting me after I dared to ask him in front of a family member. I cried at that point. It just felt like I was trapped. I had to keep my hair because I was a Sikh and I had to stick with my identity.
To do otherwise would be to dishonour my dad and go against the Panth.
(I googled what this means so forgive me if i'm wrong - Guru's Path?)
I still did all of the regular things that a young kid did but I would often get teased at school about having a guti, once being laughed at and teased repeatedly when it came undone after I headed a ball during a football game. Stuff like that really got to me, when younger. This wasn’t an isolated incident and there’s only so much teasing I could take. I felt different because of this and as if I couldn’t be “normal”. This eventually pushed me to cut my hair and I’m thankful that I finally had the courage to do so at the age of ten.
(I am happy you did too...that's heartbreaking and I can only imagine how tough it was as a child. Kids can be so cruel to other kids. :( Being forced to dress or look a certain way especially in childhood must be traumatic. I have a relative who's 8 year old daughter wears a hijab, but when her parents aren't around she is happy to take it off, indicating this is not something she herself feels comfortable with. It's very upsetting for me to think about how she must feel wearing something that separates her so obviously from her classmates. Apart from that, hijabs on kids especially...have a sinister sexualization aspect too. Anyhow, I'm glad you got to change something that wasn't working for you.)
(To clarify, I don't favour a blanket ban on Niqabs either, but in government spaces, courtrooms, banks and schools, etc. - I'm definitely in favour of not permitting them.)
But with respect to the Kirpan, I entirely agree. Sikhs, just because they’re Sikh,
Couldn't agree more. One rule for all.
So much yes to what you just said, the shrieks of islamophobia for every criticism of ideology do nothing but muddy the water, and make actual bigotry harder to spot.
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