Where I’m At

I’ve outgrown the other blog. Everytime I opened the thing I just felt like it wasn’t at all representative of my thoughts and opinions.

I’m hanging on to Islam with one hand and that hand is slipping. Perhaps I will let go altogether. I don’t know. This transformation has developed in a relatively short time and I’m not impervious to the fact that I sometimes jump into things head first. So in the name of prudence  I’ve decided to cling on a little while longer and take some time to really deconstruct this thing. 

I may end up being Muslim in name and tradition only.  The Islamic version of the Christian who only attends church on Easter and Christmas, weddings and funerals. Somehow though this seems disingenuous. But then I wonder why belief should be so black and white. Can you believe in the basic principles of a belief system but not the details?

While I’ve always had my doubts about certain aspects of the orthodoxy, I’ve never before had the notion that my own beliefs just can’t be reconciled with Islam or that Islam can’t be formed into something wholly just and reasonable. Until now. Indubitably, we all pick and choose from the texts. But, when we bend and mold the religion in order to elucidate an outcome which satisfies our own inclinations, when does it cease to be Islam and become something else?

After seven years I can honestly say I don’t see anything superior about Islam.

A few things I hope to address:

–Revelation. In Islam, Muslims believe that the Quran is the direct and unadulterated word of God. I just simply don’t believe that.  Even progressive, moderate and liberal “Quran only” Muslims hold this as the foundation. But I see a doctrine specific to 7th century Bedouin culture. It’s harsh. There’s a lot of threat of burning in hellfire. No matter how you reinterpret things there are misogynistic verses there. No semantic or linguistic gymnastics will change this fact in my mind. In the Christian and Jewish traditions it is well known that the Bible and Torah had writers and there are often more than one account of a particular myth or story. However, in Islam to propose the Quran was written by a human  is akin to blasphemy and in almost all circles this opinion puts one outside of  the fold.

There are great truths in the Quran, but no more than any other religious or philosophical text. There are many troublesome things within the text as well.

–Prophethood. Did the “prophets” really have some direct link to God, or were they closer to what is known as mystics? Did God really speak to humanity through them or did they just have some particularly convincing ideas about the divine. Much like a philosopher with a theistic bent.

–Religion. Do we need it? Sure, many areligious folks will try to pose the argument that religion is the bane of human kind. The catalyst for wars and murder. I believe that these things don’t exist because of  religion, but in spite of it. Hitler and Stalin weren’t religious people, but insane power-hungry dictators.  Does a thinking person really need a religion?  What is the purpose of religion if  not to understand the divine and our very existence. Wouldn’t we better serve ourselves in this endeavour through knowledge of all the religions, philosophy and science?

And last but not least, believe it or not I do have other interests besides Islam and plan on doing quite a lot of blogging about those as well. I’m absolutely enamored with poetry. I’ve recently started to study Western philosophy and would like to explore that as well. Often times I’m just sick to death of thinking about Islam and need a break and time to engage in other cerebral activities.

And yet I continue to  hang here with  hand slipping, blisters forming from the friction of it.

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23 Comments

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23 responses to “Where I’m At

  1. unsettledsoul

    I’m sure I don’t need religion, and I am sure I need spiritual intellect.

    Now I am at the point of where to draw that from. I am inclined to pull wisdom from all religious philosophies, including pagan teachings. Traditional American Indians worship all forms of life as sacred. They are considered by monotheists as pagan, which sounds like such a dirty word. Yet I think sometimes they have it figured out. Ultimately I think I will end up lingering somewhere in-between all of them. It is what feels comfortable for me. I also agree that sometimes we bend things too far, we need to accept that what we need to do is simply break from it. For example, in my case, I continuously was trying to reconcile homosexuality as a sin in the Quran and monotheistic religion. Finally I realized I just need to break from it, and if I break from it that means I reject that interpretation of the Quran, which means either I reject all of those scholars who came before, or it means I think the Quran was touched by people. Either way I am way outside the fold. So yea, I am breaking now instead of bending. But, I am choosing to remain Muslim. Does that make me only Muslim by name or by “holiday tradition” lol… we shall see.

    At the moment I am done worrying about it, I’ve made my decisions. I am focusing on other things in my life. I needed a change, and it seems you have also. I look forward to reading about your journey and us sharing our thoughts about it all.

    • hmm, but I wonder why bother calling yourself Muslim. why not just be monotheistic and leave it at that. Author and expert in comparative religion, Karen Armstrong, refers to herself as a “freelance monotheist”. I love that!

      • unsettledsoul

        Because there are other people in my life. Honest truth, remaining Muslim does not hurt me or anyone else, I am free to think and feel as I want, but for my husband’s sake and my future children’s sake, and my in-laws sake, I don’t think I need to proclaim myself as “outside the fold” in order to express myself completely in my life. I don’t think I will ever convert out of Islam or claim myself a non Muslim. I think it will be my responsibility to stop preaching my views though, if I do decide Islam is not for me. I think Islam, for me, is a squiggly line. It goes up and down. At the moment it is down. Who knows what the future holds though. I think I can totally have my relationship with God in an Islamic context, and I can reject what I reject and find no hypocrisy in calling myself a Muslim. There are so many different Muslims in this world, and I am one of them. I am choosing not to try bending Islam to meet my views though, I am choosing to break from certain things and make sure it is known I have broken from certain things. God can judge me. My intentions are pure therefore I am comfortable.

        I converted for love, to get married, and I am of no illusion about this. But marriage brought me Islam and a new way of thinking about things. I find this was for a reason, God’s way of talking to me. I rather enjoy everything conversion to Islam has brought me. It brought me this blog, for instance. 🙂 Sure I am struggling with the nuts and bolts of it, but I am not and never will struggle with the feeling of God in my life. Islam brought me that. Before Islam it was nothing at all.

    • Loved your reply to Stephanie’s comment. You are a beautiful soul 🙂

      • It’s interesting how different our paths are. While I wholly agree with the basic tenets of Islam, sometime very soon after conversion, I began to feel completely disconnected to God. Certainly, my belief is the strongest when viewing the natural world, not while doing salat or reading the Quran or engaging in any activity even remotely Islamic. That bothers me.

  2. I think I am a “freelance monotheist” who is also a Christian. Don’t attend a church or find the divinity of Jesus at all relevant, but I do identify with my Christian roots. (Grew up Catholic and had my moral/spiritual grounding there.) I’m a “Jefferson Bible” kind of Christian.

    I have had times in my life where I didn’t think my religion was important or “worth it.” I’ve come out on the other side of that with the belief that I am a spiritual being. I want to nourish that part of me the same as I do the physical, emotional, etc.

    I think God speaks to each according to her need. Right now, maybe the message is, “Cut yourself some slack.”

    How do you do everything you do in a day anyway? Poetry sounds refreshing. I like the look of your new blog.

    • unsettledsoul

      Steph,

      Actually, that is basically where I am at also in terms of feeling God through the natural world. I think your way of viewing the term “Islamic” may be different than mine, and that may be why you see yourself on such a different path.

      • Sarah–When I say “Islamic” I guess I am referring to what would traditionally be seen as the best form of worship–or reading and reciting the Quran and salat. I don’t feel anything when I engage in these things. In fact, when I read the Quran I usually end up feeling angry.
        What is your definition of Islamic. Care to do a post?;)

  3. Good on you for taking the time to figure things out.

    “But, when we bend and mold the religion in order to elucidate an outcome which satisfies our own inclinations, when does it cease to be Islam and become something else?”

    I absolutely agree.

    To be very honest I wasn’t much of a practising Muslim before. I was quite knowledgeable of it. I understood it. But I didn’t really practice it. I knew it was right for me but it was as if I didn’t care. After some life changing events I decided it was time for a change.

    I took some time to figure things out and I commend you for doing the same. InshaAllah, everything will fall into place for you sooner or later. That’s my wish for you anyway =)

    Keep writing and posting those beautiful photos!

  4. Such beautiful and brave thoughts. And many of the same things that I’m struggling with myself. I’ll really look forward to continue reading your blog.

  5. unsettledsoul

    Steph, will do 😛

  6. Haleema

    A salaamu Alaikum sister

    My name is Haleem. Ive read your post and sister please please please I am begging you please hold on to the roap of Allah. it sounds like Shaitan has been wispering to you and has finally pushed you to the point where you are ready to renounce your religion. Turn to Allah and make dua for Allah SWT to Guide you to the truth. Please do not let Shaitan win. It wont be worth it on Judgement Day.

    I love you- May Allah Guide you Aright. Amin

  7. Sarah

    Declaring yourself a “monotheist” and simply leaving it at (without following religion) is the equivalent to saying to God Almighty “I know you exist, but I don’t want to listen to you.”

    May Allah protect us from such ignorance and give us an open mind to accept the truth.

    • I find it quite interesting that you evoke the idea of having an open mind in the same sentence you declare to have ownership of absolute truth.

      You do realize that every religion claims ownership of the true way and would argue just as passionately for their ideology.

  8. Sarah

    Yes sister, I find it very narrow minded to belive that everything out there can be ‘the truth’. You can be open-minded but remember that you have to be realistic at the same time. There is one God, which is a belief reached by faith but supported by LOGIC. I also belive that this ONE GOD, did not create us out of mere play and that there a religion that he sent to mankind as the truth. When you look at history of Prophethood its easy to conclude that there has only ever been one religion – monotheism. And ofcourse when presented with all evidence I have to say, Islam is the only religion that defines true monotheism without rejecting Prophets such as Jesus. (which is the problem that Jews have). I know Jews are monotheistic but they hate Prophet Jesus peace be upon him. How can one accept a monotheistic religion that hates the son of Mary? So thats Judaism out of the way.

    overall there is only one true Religion, monotheism, aka. Islam.

    • unsettledsoul

      Sarah,
      you are a bully pretending to be someone who cares. Does knowing “the truth” make you feel good about yourself, at the detriment of others?

      Good for you.

    • sara

      You could ask that of the prophet Muhammad, also the Messenger, who took Safiyah who was a firm jewess. So I am thinking, he was more open-minded than contempararies like yourself? It is abit strange and quite a contradiction to claim Islam being the absolute only true truth, when the Quran accepts and demands respect for people of the book, Jews and Christians and confines them in the same catagory as Muslims,- believers. So when Allah does not discriminate here, why do you? And how can you possibly assume to know what a monotheistic belief is without having searched the hearts and minds of all monotheists? That, in my humble knowledge, is only something Allah can do. So leave the judgements and absolute definition of truth to him.

  9. Sarah

    By the way, I know they would argue just as passionately, but they simply do not have enough Logic and evidence as much as Islam does. Thats just how it is. If you ask a Christian to prove Jesus is God, he would find it very difficult to find evidence outside of the Bible to support his thought. Whereas Islam uses Logic and science to prove that there is Only one God.

  10. “Can you believe in the basic principles of a belief system but not the details?”

    Yes, because the basic principles are handed down from generation to generation, clan to clan, religion to religion. The basic principles are hardly an innovation and have stood the test of time and scrutiny from a time that predates most monotheistic religions. I recently read an excellent argument that UnsettledSoul’s comment reminded me – the author was arguing that it is wrong to claim that monotheism is more moral than polytheism and amongst many arguments the strongest he presents is that monotheism is less tolerant and less inclusive than polytheism, and most moral and ethical injunctions in monotheistic religions already existed in polytheistic belief systems. A quick example that comes to mind is that restriction on the number of wives was first placed not by Islam but by a Hindu law in Manu Smitri in 200 BCE:

    “There are four castes: Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas, and Sudras. Males belonging to them may take wives according to the order of the castes: Brahmana four, a Kshatriya three, a Vaisya two and a Sudra one.” (Baudhayana Prasna I, Adhyaya 8, Kandika 16, verses 1-2).

    You are so brave and so sweet, Stephanie. I wish you the best of luck in your quest for peace and truth; your truth.

  11. Sarah

    @ stephani
    An Atheist has no proof that there is no God.

  12. h

    Just was thinking about your comment as to what is the definition of islamic?

    The other day, I felt that I find God more outside the mosque than inside the mosque. In fact I could think of almost no other place that I found him least.

    So dont feel bad, I think its natural. I think it made alot of sense to me when I read the entire world is a mosque.

    I think for me the definition of islamic, is that which leads you to become the best person you can be. A muslim is then someone who is on this path, to try and grow to be the best person he/she can be, to fulfill their potentional, and to teach this lifestyle to others. If we say a ‘mosque’ is a place you go to remember god, then anyway place, be it nature, looking at your son or daughter, anything that brings you happiness and remembrance of this purpose, of improving yourself, becomes ‘worship’ and hence is your mosque.

    Thats it. That was always the message I think. Of all real religions, or rather truths.

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