“An inquisitive and obstinate freethinker.”
That’s a phrase my mother use(s/d) to describe me.
I have evolved, but one element that is steadfast in my life is my religion.
Yet, I fail to abide by certain notions of Islam, and when I explore the corners of my mind as to why, an array of assorted excuses (to justify myself) stares me in the face.
This is a controversial topic which is usually swept under the rug in my society, but I have been known to get myself tangled in controversies and here I am, once again. I grew up questioning several notions of Islam, and I fire a “WHY?” whenever I come across a religious commandment that isn’t compatible with my own set of beliefs. I refuse to accept it until I find a justification I can be at peace with, and I spent most of my teenage years trying to perceive ‘justifications’ to the euphonic verses of The Qur’an. Because for me, faith is a matter of my heart and doubt is a matter of my mind, and many times the two don’t see eye to eye. After all, the brain is the skeptic in the heart/mind relationship.
As expected, 95% of the questions I asked were dismissed as blasphemy by my close ones, as my society is framed in a way where people ‘blindly follow.’ The norm is that humans are expected to follow their forefathers’ religions, and any questions regarding why certain things are expected from us are brushed off in a jiffy. That made me feel guilty for allowing doubts to pop up in my mind, but doubt is not disbelief and I shouldn’t have felt guilty about it. Yes, doubts can lead to disbelief but it can also lead to stronger faith, depending on your reaction.
“When they are told, “Follow what GOD has revealed herein,” they say, “We follow only what we found our parents doing.” – Surah Al-Baqarah
There was always a tradition of discussing the philosophy of Islamic Laws amongst the scholars as these laws have a notable influence on our lives. Hence, I believe there is no evidence in the Qur’an or Sunnah that limits our questions, except that there is a limitation to the circumstances that ensues.
“O you who believe! Do not ask questions about things which if declared to you may trouble you, and if you question about them while the Qur’an is being revealed, they shall be declared to you. Allah has pardoned of this, and Allah is Forgiving and Forbearing.” – Surah Al-Ma’idah
As an avid advocator for women’s rights, I have been told that Islamic Feminism is an oxymoron. I wrote an article in 2015 (here) to clear a handful of misconceptions, but the comments I received made me question my stance once again. That was the lowest moment of my life, but my truth rooted in my heart since birth was my saviour. My version of truth might contrast with yours, but we’re all on a quest to find veracity and I gained Islam. الحمد لله
“…all religions, all this singing, one song. The differences are just illusion and vanity. The suns’ light looks a little different on this wall than it does on that wall, and a lot different on this other one, but it’s still one light.” – Rumi
As Allah (SWT) has revealed in Surah Ar-Ra’d that He will not change the condition of people until they change what is in themselves, I realised that I don’t need to justify myself. My faith is wrapped solely amidst me and my Creator, and as long as I am not hurting anyone else with my religious views, I’m good to go.
To me, Islam is also the soul that binds my home. It’s the love that aids my family to go like clockwork, and a connection to the heritage of my grandparents. It’s the murmurs of prayers that escapes my mother’s lips throughout the day, and the Father-Daughter moments I spent with my father during Ramadan. It’s waking up on Fridays and prepping for the weekend, as I headed to my family home after Jumu’ah during my childhood. It’s one way I can connect to the memories left of the family members I have lost, as I utter The 99 Names in my prayers. It’s the sight of my cousins stepping into the mosque as the call of azan encompasses the city, and a nūr which lives within all of us.
“It can be helpful to think of humanity like a pearl necklace. Each human being is a pearl with distinct characteristics, but underneath there is a string that ties us all together, invisible to the naked eye.” – Gudjon Bergmann
Today, my inquisitive nature has not changed but I have taken my obstinateness down a notch. I still question, but not in the exigent tone I was accustomed to, for the understanding of Islam which I acquired serves as an aspect to strengthen my imān.
Images © Eama Binth Musa 2018
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