Spirtual Journey II
Before I came across the Understanding-Islam
site, but after I had started praying regularly again, I was in a strange place. On one hand, my prayers were very effective in giving me a great deal of spiritual energy. I was feeling very close to God and felt all of the beneficial effects that such a state of mind gives you. I was more energetic, nicer, harder-working, more optimistic, and felt more at peace than I ever had before. On the other hand, I was dogged by all the doubts I mentioned earlier. It didn’t help matters that some of my close friends were very narrow-minded people with a “Muslim vs. Kafir” approach to the world. I just couldn’t accept that way of thinking. According to them, there were a hundred and one ways to sin everyday. God was a very petulant deity, who was just looking for a chance to throw my sorry ass in Hell.
These guys were mostly the tableeghi lot. I respected them for their regularity in prayers, but they really got on my nerves sometimes. According to them, all non-Muslims will go to hell and it’s our responsibility to ‘save’ them by going over to them and telling them all about Islam. If we don’t do our very best, then when these poor souls, who didn’t receive guidance because of us, are all thrown in everlasting hell, then God is going to have a things or two to say to us as well. It was a really depressing view of the world. I spent a lot of time with them. I went to an ijtima
, I went on gushts
, I bought and read all of Fadayl-i-amal
and I discussed many issues with them. I was at a loss as to what to make of them. I liked the fact that they were so into Islam, but all the weird things they believed in disturbed me.
One of them, on being asked why God didn’t destroy the ‘Western kafirs’ replied blithely that this was because they had not been invited to Islam yet. Only when we go to America and advise ALL of them to ‘come into the fold of Islam’ and only if/when they reject Islam will our prayers asking for their destruction bear fruit. It was sheer stupidity and I just couldn’t swallow it. Islam was the only acceptable religion in the world, which meant the majority of the world’s population today would rot in hell when the time came. They could not see anything wrong with this way of thinking. They believed in miracles. If only we Muslims would all start praying again and doing what God ordered us to do, then we would be granted victory over the infidels. And why didn’t the Prophet prohibit slavery in his time? This was a big question for me, and I asked one of my tableeghi friends this. He replied that all kafirs could be slaves of Muslims if caught in battle.
The worst of it was that all the people there were neatly divided into two categories:
- The ones who believed all the Muslim vs. Kafir stuff and prayed regularly and did all the other 101 things they were ‘supposed’ to do.
- The ones who believed all the Muslim vs. Kafir stuff and didn’t pray regularly and didn’t do anything else they were ‘supposed’ to do because they accepted that Islam was too hard to follow properly so why bother trying.
I couldn’t really fit in anywhere. The tableeghis were hard-core exclusivists, and the other group didn’t have any spirituality to them. When I finally found the Understanding-Islam site, it was an enormous weight off my mind. I finally understood Islam to be something easy to practice. A religion that described a few basic rules of conduct and gave us freedom to decide the rest for ourselves as society evolved. No longer was Islam an enormous laundry list rules. How to eat. How to drink. How to shit. How to go to sleep at night. How to screw your wife. How to enter a room. How to leave the room. How to do this, how to do that. Yada yada yada. No more suffocating rules. I was free.
Eventually, when question after question was answered with wonderfully convincing logic, I stopped being afraid to question my religion. I was sure there was a good answer for any issue I might have had with Islam. Faith was not blind and was never meant to be blind. I knew that Islam would stand up to the strictest of scrutiny and that I shouldn’t be afraid to challenge and question any aspect of it I thought was weird. Islam went from being a big dark mess of tenuous beliefs and dubious rules to one of openness, freedom and crystal clear clarity. It was a religion that appeal to my humanist instinct. Why has the Quran not clearly prohibited slavery?Is ‘Truth’ relative of absolute?If men and women are equal…