Submitted by Anonymous:

So I’m not sure where to begin to be honest. Over the last few years I’ve had a lot of time to reflect and really think about the Muslim community and the countless issues we are facing as a community. Poor Islamic schools, Mosques that aren’t welcoming to women, lack of qualified scholars willing to teach, a healthy community for our children to be connected to and the list goes on and on. These were the common issues that for the most part most committed and devout Muslims are aware of and discuss amongst themselves to see how they can be resolved.

There is another issue that the majority of Muslims don’t really discuss but unfortunately it’s become very common in the community and that’s spiritual abuse. I experienced this abuse personally by a community leader and it was hard to come to terms with. At first denial kicks in and you don’t want to believe that someone you respect, someone you consider a friend, someone you look up to would take advantage of you so you pretend it’s not happening. You give the benefit of the doubt and move forward. The funny thing is deep inside you do realize something is off, the only time you hear from them is when they need you to do something, the only time you get any affection or love is when you’ve run errands for them but you never receive any acknowledgement outside of when you’re doing favors for them. Eventually, I was able to see there was something wrong and I was able to step away to clear my thoughts and really think about what I’d experienced and how to move forward in a positive manner. Unfortunately, that was just the beginning. Over the course of the next few years I came to realize that this was much more common than I would have ever thought, many of the teachers and community leaders I looked up to used their power and authority to control people. They used religion and sufi principles to manipulate and use people and the worst part was, it was being done by some of the most prominent leaders in the community.

This was a hard pill to swallow. I was hurt, I was confused, I was upset and most of all I was helpless because I knew no one would take my concerns seriously. The victims are always the ones who get the bad end of the stick. I’m a really strong person so for me, I was able to get over it and move forward but this has had an impact on my spiritual growth as a person. I’ve become much more cynical and I’ve lost immense respect for people in leadership because I’m going into things already judging them to be just like everyone else. Even when I don’t know them, my initial thought is that of spiritual abuser/charlatan because it’s so common now. I know that’s not how it’s supposed to be but this experience has impacted the way I look at people now. I’ve lost so much respect for community leaders and “scholars” because it’s hard to really trust anyone now, especially since I’m aware that a lot of these spiritual abusers read NLP books and they’ve studied the art of making people trust and believe them. These experiences have really jaded my experience of Islamic spirituality since so many of these principles can be manipulated in a negative way. People just want to belong, whether that’s to a community or to a group of people. We all want to have a bond, a close knit bond and I think that’s part of the reason some people keep going back to these detrimental spiritually abusive relationships because for them, it’s better to have some semblance of a community than not. Trust is one of the most important aspects in any relationship, once it’s been taken away it’s very hard and will take a lot of effort to return. Until there is a system in place to help educate leaders in the community this issue won’t go away.

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