On Privilege

…It’s like the idea of white privilege. As a white person you can’t fully realize the privilege you have because you have/will never experience living without it. Or rather, you can realize it and acknowledge it, but you will never fully understand it. It’s the same idea applied to someone of my socioeconomic background in Egypt. I can realize how blessed I am to have this privilege, and in fact many do because it is part of Islamic teachings. But in the end we can never fully understand it, even if we do experience living without it for a period of time. In fact, one of the main ideas behind Ramadan is to deny yourself some of the privileges you were blessed with and to experience the denial that many people live on a daily basis. But even that is nowhere near similar, not only because many people have forgotten this side of Ramadan and simply take it as a religious teaching (or cultural/ritualistic practice), but also because in the end this denial is by choice. A denial by choice can in no way compare to a forced denial. As I choose to deny myself for a temporary period of time, in the end I know where my next meal is coming from. Many people do not. And half of the battle of poverty is the insecurity that comes with it. In a sense, privilege is more than just the idea of having, it is about the security of knowing what you will have and the certainty that you will have it. The certainty that you will have this much money at the end of the month. The certainty that you will go home to find a warm meal on the table or at least food in the fridge. It’s true that being a Muslim entails a belief in the ultimate uncertainty of things. For example, as a Muslim I fundamentally belief that everything I hold dear to me can be taken away from me in a split second if Allah so chooses. I believe this, however, do I feel it? Is that really part of my emotional make-up? This belief impacts my psyche in that it makes me grateful for everything I have, and humble knowing that I have it through no effort or worth of my own. But I do not feel insecure. I do not feel afraid. These emotions are not part of my psyche. People of privilege (be that white, male, socioeconomic, or otherwise) can understand what privilege means in terms of the “things” they have, but privilege as security is something we can never truly comprehend until we lose it.

~ by youngmuslimworld on November 13, 2013.

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