Culture & Society · Faith & Spirituality · Recollections & Reflections

An outsider’s view

I saw this article the other day and it filled me with such calm: During Lent, a Christian tried praying 5 times a day.

While I do understand the author’s concerns over the fear of blurring the lines (for e.g. can I as practicing Muslim truly practice yoga? What does it mean that my “yogi” is a white woman from Texas?), a big part of why I love interfaith work is that it deepens my own faith commitment. When you’re asked to talk about why you believe what you believe and why you do what you do to someone who doesn’t know and would like to know, you are forced to ask yourself the truly important question: why?

I am so grateful to have been born into a Muslim family. I don’t know what I would have been had my parents not been Muslim and emphasized the importance of Islam in my early years. Would I have found Islam on my own? I honestly don’t know. I know some people in the faith community might say you should never question, that it’s a slippery slope to disbelief. But I think it’s important for all believers to at least THINK about it. Because a faith that is unexplored, in my opinion, can be used for means that are selfish or political or just plain evil.

Ignoring the reality that revealed religions are indeed ambiguous leads to immobility.

I can’t say that each time I pray, I truly feel I am connecting with God; I often find myself being ambushed by thoughts and tasks completely irrelevant to my current station. But a part of me also feels like God knows this. The struggle of coming back to God when the empirical world has you in its grips is why I think we are asked to pray multiple times throughout the day – whether we want to or not.

When I talk to my non-Muslim believing friends or colleagues, we often end up agreeing that at some point you just gotta let go. Faith is believing in concepts that are not always observable or explicable. The opposite of faith is not disbelief; it’s hubris, in my opinion, thinking that we human beings are capable of answering all the myriads of questions we have and have always had.

In a way, I see it as a dialectic, this relationship between God and us… as long as we are willing to truly engage in that conversation.

4 thoughts on “An outsider’s view

  1. I totally agree with you when you say that it’s important for believers to think about, even question, some aspects of the religion. I mean, the first word revealed in Islam was “read.” We’re literally supposed to learn about it for ourselves. Ask questions and find answers to them, if possible. That, in my experience, strengthens one’s faith tons more than blindly following it would.

    I, too, find it difficult to be 100% connected with Islam all of the time. Sometimes the amount of gray area and uncertainty of some situations frightens me. But I see it this way. It doesn’t matter what religion you practice or what life you lead, you will ALWAYS have certain questions that will remain unanswered. “Faith” means complete trust and confidence in something. I actually really like not knowing everything. :]

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  2. It’s kinda cathartic to be able to admit you know, the not feeling 100% all the time? I feel that anyone who says they haven’t about any revealed religion hasn’t plumed through the history and full tradition. The first time I had my rude awakening, if you will, I was upset and couldn’t believe what I was reading… but I don’t know, maybe it’s the thing about living in the 21st century, there are a lot of things that I do that a lot of non-Muslims will never understand and make sense of. But am I doing it for them? Nah. Faith is easy, it’s everything else that comes along with it that’s the struggle for me. But maybe that’s how it was meant to be.

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  3. Hey, assalamoalaikum Rafia,
    It’s been a long time since I visited you. Life happened. I am trying to get control back InshaAllah. Your entry hit home in my heart once again. The question ‘what would have happened had I been a non-Muslim?’ has rattled my brain many a times. And I asked one of my revert friends once about how her mind changed. The story, of course, shook me up even more because I began to think if I would have tried that devotedly to find truth, to go against family and norms, like she did. Alhamdulillah for being given Islam on a silver platter since birth.

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  4. Salaam girl!!!!! How you been? I’m so sorry, I’ve been MIA myself. I hope you’ve been well though, Insha’Allah. Yeah, you bring up a great point, with the way I was raised, my family being everything for me, would I have had the courage to defy them and go it alone? I don’t know. But then on the other hand, I do think my parents’ understanding of Islam also influenced how I was raised. Maybe I would have been more of a rebel if I had another set of parents. AllahuAlim. I think it is a test for our generation, we shouldn’t take being born into Islam for granted… because with the way the global culture is changing (or perhaps always has been), it’s a struggle. But I suppose it was always meant to be that way!

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