Monthly Archives: April 2011

When We Talk To God

Are we really talking to ourselves?

I recently found myself in a bit of a bind and if the outcome had gone the opposite direction, the event may have effected my life in a very negative way. As I came to a realization of the seriousness of the situation, I began to engage in a long ignored but not forgotten dialogue.

You all know it. It goes something like this:

“God, if you get me out of this I swear I’ll never do such a stupid thing again. I don’t know why I’m so ignorant. Surely, if this works out the way I’d like I’ll try my best to be a wonderful person and always remember what a glorious guy you are and shower you with praises and give lots of charity and always be nice to the less fortunate and never lie or think bad of people or masturbate again”.

OK, well it didn’t go quite that way, but you get the gist.

It is a strangely soothing dialogue. It’s reassuring to know that in our darkest moments, when we’re the most desperate, there is some one there to listen. I’ve given up the idea of a God who is active in our lives, so why did I continue this conversation? Habit? Perhaps.

I think that these type of prayers or conversations or whatever you want to call them are illusions, but they do serve a purpose. For me, as soon as I realized what I was doing, there was also the recognition that a type of void has been created. I no longer have God to unload my burdens upon, but I do have my own inner conscience. I’m able to sort out my thoughts and emotions in times of great stress.  I am able to admonish myself for my own stupidity and also give myself a type of reminder to be grateful for the good things I do have. I’m able to control what I can and let go of what I cannot.  

Somehow though, talking to yourself (especially out loud) isn’t as settling as talking to the omnipotent, but invisible, Creator of the universe. It also might get you long sideways looks and questions regarding your sanity.

That doesn’t make a bit of sense if you think about it.

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Letting Go…

When I lost religion a few months ago, I did what any sane and reasonable person might do to cement the deal and make it official: I changed my facebook profile. Under the religion heading it now reads, “Free from religion”. Of course, it is true that I have never really been free from Islam. In fact, since just before my apostacy,  it has taken a hold of me like  an ever lurking, suffocating presence, never far from my consciousness.

While some commenters have chosen to take an aggressive and accusatory tone towards my discontent and others have been sympathetic,this  and this comment really sums it up the best. Losing religion is like a breakup. It’s an earth shattering and cathartic process. Sometimes it’s torturous and other times exhilarating. But mostly torturous. Sure, there’s the realization that I no longer have to worry about eating certain things or asking the waiter if there’s wine in the brown sauce or if there’s bacon grease in the mashed potatoes.  There’s the ease of going to get my hair done in an actual salon among real people, not hidden away in some back room because I cover my hair. There’s a slew of things that I can freely enjoy now that I didn’t before.  Things that blogger evebitestheapple calls “Fringe Benefits”.

But mostly it’s been torturous, a constant battle to overcome regrets and resentment. There’s a reason why the phrase, “losing my religion” exists in the vernacular. It’s not just an REM song, it’s a commonly used southern colloquialism which means something like “at the end of my rope”. It’s what a person feels when they’ve just had enough and can’t take it anymore.

It’s definitely not easy.

I’ve been fighting an epic battle to overcome the negative emotions.  Anger and resentment still lurk.  But in the last few weeks, it’s gotten better. For no particular reason, it’s like a tiny weight has been lifted. A small measure, to be sure, but noticeable still. I don’t want to be angry anymore. I’m tired of reading blogs and feeling a veiled sense of hostility. To be honest, it’s been the progressive and moderate voices that disturb me the most. Perhaps because that’s the only way I could ever imagine my life as a Muslim, and yet I find it so artificial. So false. I find it dishonest that (especially) women are taking great leaps to make Islam livable and acceptable to our modern morality, changing essential concepts found within the Quran and hadith and cemented by 140o years of scholarship, “reinterpreting” them into something so far away from what must have surely been the original intent as recognized by the Bedouins of the 7th century. Because God couldn’t possibly have thought women were lesser, or that non-Muslims unequal. The prophet couldn’t have possibly married a child or ordered stonings and beheadings. No, that’s impossible. So instead, let’s change the doctrine into something that works for today, rather than abandoning it altogether. It’s easier to change the religion instead of leaving it.  I chose the latter. But that’s my opinion and you know what they say about those.

It’s wrong of me to feel anger towards reformists.I’ve realized that while I stand by my beliefs and assessment, it really doesn’t matter what Islam was meant to be as orchestrated by Muhammad, or his loyal followers or the fourteen centuries of scholarship. It only matters what it is today and what it will be in the future.  It only matters what it can be. So for the sake of humanity everywhere, for my daughter and future grandchildren, it is much more advantageous to seek out an Islam that gives women equal footing in public and in private, an Islam that is tolerant to non-Muslims, and an Islam that views God as one of forgiveness and love while seeking out the kind and gentle qualities of its prophet. An Islam that can coexist.

It’s wrong of me to feel this anger because of what I am and what I believe. I believe people in America have the right to practice their faith in whatever way they see fit. But most importantly, I believe that women have the right to see their chosen destinies fulfilled, a right to self-determination and an essential belief in their own self worth and value, irrespective of traditional, conservative gender roles . I believe this can only be accomplished through progressive and reformist thought and for this reason, most especially, I support the movement.

More than anything I resent myself. I truly wish I never converted. I simply cannot understand why I ever chose to willingly enter a community in which questions of whether it’s okay for a woman to pray next to a man, or uncover her head, or even speak in public is “acceptable”–a community in which most of its members would answer a resounding no to the above questions. In this day and age. What the hell was I thinking?  I can’t believe I would willingly enter a religion in which owning a dog is a scandal and listening to music controversial.  Why on earth would I choose such a thing for myself? Me, the girl who used wear bright purple hair and listen to punk rock. The girl who never listened to anyone and could never be tamed. The girl who was wild and fun and mouthy and  just a bit crazy. The g irl who used to smoke ganja perched atop ancient oak trees, far above the world, swaying in the breeze.  

Why?

Perhaps this has been the hardest question of all and one I will surely continue to ask.

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Busy Busy

I’m physically and emotionally exhausted at this point. The last few weeks of this semester are upon me, as are exams and pending research papers. When things get this chaotic, I sincerely question my decsion to attempt  grad school at this point in my life. I can only hope, no, I know, that it will pay off for me both professionally and personally in the long run.

Anyway, I’m quite disposed with research and study and writing, intermingled with mopping  floors and cooking meals and scubbing pots while tending to littles and sharing kisses and cuddles, all while still trying to engage in the rare quiet moments with my husband. So, I’ll leave you with this excellent article by tazaqqa entitled “Muhammad’s Misogyny?”

One of my favorite bloggers,  Tazaqqa is always fair and kind and generous. Not to mention thought provoking. I agree so much with closing statement.

my conclusion was that if he had indeed been receiving divine revelations he would have known that all this is not the best moral example for the seal of prophethood since Islam closes all doors to future moral standards by calling Muhammad the “best example” and the last prophet.

So until I have a moment to breath and not one second before I’ve enjoyed a nice long bubble bath, a big glass of Zinfandel, and a long evening date with Netflix, enjoy the article and I’ll return soon for more fun. Inshallah.

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Collector of Quotes

I’m a quotes person. Maybe I’m just intellectually lazy, but I simply love little nuggets of wisdom that can be easily ingested and pondered over.  I keep a document  in Word labelled “Random”. It’s just what it’s called, random thoughts of mine: various poets, writers, and musicians I hope to check out, objects and thoughts I come across throughout the day that give me pause. It’s also littered with quotes.

 Here are some of my favorites:

”If you have never been called a defiant, incorrigible, impossible woman… have faith… there is yet time.” Clarissa Pinkola Estes–Thanks to unsettledsoul for that one.
 
“Women might be able to fake orgasms. But men can fake a whole relationship.”  Sharon Stone

“Do or do not. There is no try.” Yoda–The Empire Strikes Back

“God, please save me from your followers!”   Bumper Sticker–I want, but doubt husband would tolerate.

“All murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.” Voltaire
 
“Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices.” Voltaire –Voltaire has some good quotes.

“Now, now my good man, this is no time for making enemies.”  Voltaire–on his deathbed in response to a priest asking that he renounce Satan.

“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”  Albert Einstein

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”  Albert Einstein–another one with great quotes.

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.” Mark Twain

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” Emerson
“I had a lovers quarrel with the world.” Robert Frost– the great one.
 
“”No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”  Eleanor Roosevelt–my girl.
 
Anyone else a collector of quotes? Got one to add to my collection?
P.S. Sorry for the funky formatting. WP is acting strange.

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