22 February 2016

I'm not a good Muslim...

art by Andina Irvani, her self-portrait, and I related! great work, Andina!

I don't think I ever will be. I was never a good Catholic, and I was a pretty mediocre Wiccan. Here's my issue: I don't think any religion that, at its core, preaches love is incorrect. I truly believe our Creator gave us life, made us different, and encouraged us to wonder about the world in different ways to test us, to see in part how well we could take care of each other despite those differences. Would we rage war, hate, ignore, and segregate, or would we learn to blend some traditions (appropriately, not in a way that is appropriation), respect, learn, and admire?

It is obvious and depressing which answer the world has chosen time and time again, at least with the loudest voices and the most horrific methods. ...always that single off-key voice, forte, in a choir singing pianissimo, cutting through and wrecking the gentle overtone. That is a very different conversation. I hope it is not always so. The quiet, beautiful things, the kindnesses shared, are never the ones picked up by the news or trended enough on social media. I guess they haven't sunk quite far into our pores to start the chemical reaction needed to make the difference humankind desperately needs. (...in my mind, to survive.)

Islam is where I feel closest to God. There are more than a few things I disagree with and definitely separate me from the greater community. Namely, I'm gay. (You can read what the Qur'an actually says about homosexuality here.) I don't think as long as you're responsible and do it in moderation, drinking should be something for which one is condemned. I believe a person should be allowed to date before married if they please, and there's a bunch of other things the haram police would come after me for, I am sure. Like leggings.

sourced from Zaina Arafat's article on VinePair.com

No, I don't believe I'm going to Hell for any of these. I don't think I need to repent for my occassional glass of wine, the gender or absence thereof of the people I love, or my yoga pants. A lot of people will tell me differently. Years ago, I did drink way too much because I lost my self-respect, there was an alcoholic in my life that made my behaviour seem normal to me after it had started. After they had started to scare me, I saw what I could turn into, I put my foot down and made a change in my life that I'm glad for. I stopped drinking for a few months, and when I felt comfortable, I slowly reintroduced alcohol in a healthy, normal way. I was unhappy with the relationships in my life and the attention I was attracting. That is what I needed to focus on and what I need to continue to make sure never happens again.

So, who am I? What do I stand for? What is the role of Islam in my life? Well, I'm a pretty progressive person. I stand for equivalency and the right to choose in the context of a safe, compassionate environment where people take responsibility for their actions and feel the reasonable, humane consequences of them. I believe in self betterment, a balance of independence and interdependence, constantly learning, emotional intelligence, open communication, and putting oneself outside their own perspective to understand another. That's a few things, briefly.

peeks of what I've been up to lately...
In terms of Islam, I am continuing to learn. I know what's most important to me are the teachings and life of our Prophet, Muhammad, (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam). I want to read all of and learn as much as I can about the Noble Qur'an. I want to find a schedule and method of prayer that is amicable to my health and a new masjid close to my new home. (I finally feel stable in my living situation.) I also want to continue to enrich myself by learning about other religions over my lifetime because I think not educating myself about things I don't understand is foolish. (No, no interest at all in moving away from Islam!) I will continue to incorporate little parts of past traditions because they will always be important to me.

My friend Ammar who is also Muslim stated in a post on his personal Facebook post today (not linking yet for his privacy,) that he's not religious, but he is spiritual. He continued, "Being spiritual is between you and whatever you believe in or don't believe in. Being religious, to me is following what everyone else is adhering to, which are generally a bunch of traditions that weren't part of the original message in the first place." It struck me, which is why I wrote today. Be true to your personal beliefs. If they have to change, change them, but make them meaningful. Follow through.

I wish you blessings and light on your own path, whatever it may be. As you walk down that road, use your candle to light your neighbor's or a nearby lamp. You won't extinguish your flame by lighting another's. You will help light the way for more to come.


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