From the beginning of my involvement with the Muslim community I was faced with contradictory information about the religion of Islam. Alongside this were countless conversations about the great harm done to the East by Western nations. Discussion and research did not help lessen the confusion until I finally studied classical Arabic at a Berlitz school of languages. For the first time the subject of Islam began to make some sense, but it would be many more years before I would fully grasp what Prophet Muhammed had been talking about very clearly and without contradiction. After this I encountered a far more perplexing situation when I tried to discuss my discovery with educated, Arabic speaking women who knew the meanings of the words and phrases used throughout the religion that clearly demonstrate Prophet Muhammed was teaching the exact opposite of the patriarchal, macho message being propagated today. These women did not argue with me, even confirmed my findings, but they did not want to talk about it, instead going on ad nauseam about how to properly perform the rituals. Their reaction floored me–the men I could understand, but the women? Couldn’t they see where this was taking them?
My interaction with the Muslim community was derailed by the sudden death of my husband in an accident. Soon after that I found myself involved with the mental health industry and facing the same extremely unhelpful patriarchal, macho attitude I had been living with in the Muslim community for the last thirty years. In discussions and books about psychiatry and mental health I kept running into the word “power.” Psychiatrists, drug companies, and the state have the “power” to force their treatments and drugs onto vulnerable, traumatized people, all the while never giving any explanation as to who or what gives them this power. Their use of the word “power” is very misleading, because it infers strength and bravery when what we are actually dealing with is weakness and fear: fear of loss of control, fear of humiliation, fear of scandal, fear of dishonor. This fear leads to the kind of control that is the very opposite of power, because it only breeds weakness.
The families of those diagnosed with some “mental illness” demand involuntary treatments and drugs designed to silence, repress, and control unwanted behaviors and speech. Families also use religion to silence, repress, and control unwanted behaviors and speech. And our government uses slavery, disguised as a criminal justice system, to silence, repress, and control unwanted behaviors and speech. The problem is, the more you control, the more you lose control. Balance is necessary for survival, and it is impossible for people to learn balance when they are perpetually being controlled and forced to do everything by someone outside themselves. They lose all sense of the inner self one must be aware of and listen to in order to learn how to balance. So instead of balance, we get addiction to prescription drugs, alcohol, nicotine, street drugs, and above all, addiction to the controlling behavior that leads to the need for something outside oneself to cope with a life out of balance, out of control, out of order–broken in every way.