Sunday, 9 August 2015

Finding the Simple Faith

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following was posted on The Sharing Group by a brother, on the 27th September, 2014.

“I am deeply touched by much that has been said and asked lately.  Being a former Islamaphobe, this is really the first time that I have ever heard Muslims themselves raise the very same issues and concerns about certain people who call themselves Muslims that I would have or anyone else would have.

Not sure why, perhaps because this is a group directed to converts, but many of you seem to have a much healthier approach to how you go about understanding Islam, and many of you seem to be much more accepting of others than I have seen among other Muslims.  Again, perhaps because the group is geared towards converts, there seems to be much more acceptance of people doubting their faith or struggling to understand how it fits into their world, their life.  So, a little about me.

I grew up as an Ultra Orthodox Jew, I have studied much in my past and never thought that I would ever have a life outside of studying the Talmud and praying.  To make a long story short, I had serious doubts about my faith, and because that was the only life I knew and the only world I knew, my biggest fear was that somehow someday, the truth would escape my lips, that I was not a believer, so I proceeded in doing some serious tortures on my mind and body to get my brain to believe but it would not, that period resulted in symptoms that took about 9 years to recover from, and the grateful movement out of that secluded world.  Eventually, I became a Christian, and then almost a Muslim and now finally agnostic, I call myself spiritually agnostic.

My experience has shown me the amazing amount of damage that fear can have over people, and how much we will do, how much I have done, just in the attempt to now lose the respect of others, the support of others.  In my opinion, we as Jews have created all of our problems, or at least most of them.  Life has plenty of difficulty but we have found a way to compound those problems.  I believe by setting ourselves apart as different, and imagining ourselves to be better, we have distanced ourselves from others.  By having ‘sacred’ texts that appear to be saying that we have the only way, we create others who need to say the same.

We, as humans, are profound readers of body language, the body gives off messages; it is so easy for me to tell you, just with a few movements of my neck muscles whether I consider you the same as me, better or less than, so when we feel we have a better way, the only way, yes, we do tell those around us that we feel that way, and then they know, that we are not ‘with’ them.

When I was an Orthodox Jew, I thought I had the truth, a better one than you.  When I was a Christian, I knew that I had the only way to God, through His only son.  When I was almost a Muslim, I had that same feeling: I have the truth and no one else does - or at least they do not have the ‘real’ truth, the ‘best’ truth.

What is going on here?  We humans have profound imaginations and you cannot imagine how badly I want to believe that I am better than you, or that I have something that you do not, or that God is Shining Himself upon me in a special way, but these are all things that I know nothing about.  I barely know anything about science or technology; I surely know nothing about God.

As a matter of fact, I am pretty sure that no one alive today can say with certainty that they have seen God, yes, of course, we all have that feeling, that hope: yes, of course, I have ‘seen’ God, in my breath in my hands, in my hearts beating, but, have we really?  Has He spoken to you and told you that your way is the only way?  Well, maybe He has Spoken to you, but one thing is certain, He has never spoken to me.  Then what do we have?

We have the stories we tell about God and each other, and for now, I appreciate that you guys are helping me see another story about Islam, perhaps a more real story, a more human one.  Yes, it is true.  I grew up among people who are almost identical to religious Muslims, or maybe a little crazier in some ways, and so yes, I am highly concerned when I see a mass of people who often, from my experience, hide genuine feelings, concerns and questions underneath the simple answer of “It's just what the Prophet said.”  Because it is this kind of simple faith that, in my opinion, has led my people and at times your people to do some really horrible things.

Simple faith.  What does that mean?  Sometimes it is a blessing, but sometimes it means “I can do to you, what I believe my God has told me to do, because since you haven’t seen Him, and I haven’t seen Him; there is no way for you to prove that my take on what he’s telling me to do is wrong!”  So, I get to do whatever my imagination tells me is right.  So yes, that could be pretty scary.  It was scary growing up among Jews.  And it is also scary when I see Muslims saying the same kinds of things.  If Muslims did not have such a superiority complex about their perfect club they belong to, I would proudly call myself a Muslim, not because of any fancy faith that I have, but just because there truly is much beauty in Islam and you know it!”


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