The most difficult of all things -the only difficult thing perhaps is to enfranchise oneself and – even harder – to live in freedom.
Anyone who is in the least free is the enemy of the mob, to be systematically persecuted, tracked down wherever she takes refuge.
I am becoming more and more irritated against this life and the people who refuse to allow any exception to exist and who accept their own slavery and try to impose it on others.
Isabelle Eberhardt, 1902
from the blog Julie Unplugged:
Isabelle Eberhardt’s short life was anything but everyday.
What else could describe a French female journalist who masqueraded as a man, was the first European to be admitted as a member of a Sufi brotherhood who died during a flash flood because her clay home basically fell to the ground upon her?
She was born in Geneva, a child conceived outside of marriage. This not only lead to a life of emotional instability, but also financial instability because she could not gain access to her inheritance. She was a very smart woman, multilingual, and enjoyed spiritual study with her father. They poured over the Koran together and had lively discussion about what they read.
Her choosing to dress as a man started as a young age, primarily because she knew men had more freedom than women. She could move about freely as a man. She could travel alone. When her brother joined the French Foreign legion and moved to his post in Algeria, Isabelle and her mother joined him. What no one could have known is not only would Isabelle convert to Islam and become a part of a Sufi Brotherhood, she became known as Si Mahmoud Essadi and fought against the foreign legion. She is reported to have used hashish and before her marriage she enjoyed a lusty and fulfilling sex life with a variety of men.
She wrote of herself,
As a nomad who has no country besides Islam and neither family nor close friends, I shall wend my way through life until it is time for everlasting sleep inside the grave.