Being a girl definitely comes with its set of challenges, and being a Muslim girl comes with a few more. Add to that being a Desi (South Asian, from the Indian Subcontinent) in the West, and you’ve likely had some unique struggles at times.
1. Cultural Confusion — Desi Enough?
Juggling multiple identities is not easy. Desi Muslim Girls in the West are usually expected to be 100% Desi at home (or at community events) and 100% Westernized when they go out in public. This can cause a lot of confusion, as both cultures are very different.
2. Religious Confusion
There are often contradictions in this department… For example, a high level of modesty is expected, but religiously inappropriate Bollywood movies and songs are constantly playing at home or at community parties.
And it doesn’t help that most Desi Muslim kids are pressured into “finishing” the Qur’an at a very young age, with no idea of what the actual meanings are.
3. Of Course, You Are Expected to Become a Doctor
This is usually just a given if you’re a Desi anything (Muslim or not, male or female).
4. If you Do Become a Doctor, You’re “Too Educated.”
This is usually an issue when marriage comes into play. Suddenly, becoming academically accomplished female is seen as a negative thing, and may even prevent you from getting as many proposals. Speaking of which…
5. Marriage is Pushed From a Young Age.
It’s almost a religious obligation to be engaged by the age of 22.
6. The “Biodata” Issue
You’re always going to be seen as “too liberal” or “too conservative” by someone. After all, the only stuff they’re learning about you is your height, weight, skin color (seriously?), family educational background, and other superficial information. Oh, and of course your best picture in ultra-bright lighting will be attached for purposes of further objectification. All to be reviewed by the “rishta aunty” on the other side.
7. Marrying Outside of Your Race is Almost Equal to Blasphemy
After all, what will the community say if you’re married to a kind, handsome, religious, educated man… Who is Black??
8. You’re Lucky if Your Parents Are Happy With You 2 Days in a Row
The fact is that you’ll hardly ever be seen as a satisfactory child. It’s just a necessary part of the Desi Muslim Girl experience. That, and constantly being compared to other girls in your family or in the Desi community.
9. There Are Topics You Will Never Be Able to Discuss With Your Parents
Even the Qur’an, our Holy Book, is more open about topics like menstruation and marital intimacy than your parents will be. Shhh…!
All jokes aside… Strange cultural pressures and religious double standards like these have the potential to negatively affect a person’s self-esteem, and even their opinion of Islam. It’s important that we all work together to eliminate these problematic elements of our culture.