Post Script 9 October 2008: I would like to thank you to everybody who reads this post and has set some time to send me private responses and messages. I understand why you choose to not posting your comments here and contact me directly. I appreciate the time and energy you have spent to share your own experience, and I apologise for taking a wee bit too long to respond to each comment, as they are A LOT. Thank you.
I have been wondering for a long time. About religion(s), that is. About what I thought I believe(d), about what I know, about what I want to believe. I have so many questions and yet so few answers. I know people will most likely tell me just to ‘swallow’ it, and ‘it’ is what it is, that my brain capacity is not powerful enough, not big enough to absorb the hints and information provided by God Almighty around the world. But I can’t just ignore thousands of questions in my head. And I can’t certainly practice something that I am not convinced is beneficial for me.
My unrest journey began several years a go. I met a guy through work who had been doing hell a lot of a soul searching, and now is into sufi (maybe, I don’t know what it is called and I don’t think he classifies himself into anything). Through short discussions I found comfort, that all things happened in the world has sort of explanation behind them, or underneath them. That God must have a master plan which is so big we are tiny dots we can’t fathom the perimeter lines, let alone the essence. The short discussions have opened my eyes that there are a lot of others who have the same questions and are looking for answers, and believe that everything, every phenomenon, in the world can be explained. And we should read Qur’an with open mind, that it has lots of metaphor we can’t just digest it in its face value.
But work took up my time and my life and promises left as promises, I never went to his group discussions. Yet our short meetings, which only happened in between coffee breaks and meetings, linger until now (I wrote about our meeting once, in this post).
I have been Muslim my entire life. As usual, I don’t choose to be one, the religion was stamped on me when I was born, and have become part of my identity as I grow up. I remember I patted a neighbour’s dog when I was 7, when my Qur’an reading teacher was about to leave our house and he went ballistic, telling me that touching a dog is haraam. I was so afraid I thought the earth will split and swallow me alive. I remember I asked why, since dog is such a cute creature and considered a man’s best friend, and his answer was disappointing: because Qur’an says so. I remember being in one Qur’an study during high school, an event organised and funded by my (Catholic) school, and the preacher slagging other religions, particularly emphasised on several friends whose parents had two different religions and told them that they were illegitimate children under the God’s eyes. I remember how disappointed I was when we were told it was wrong to say merry Christmas to our Christian friends. I didn’t feel the whole things made sense. And I started to feel compartmentalised.
I think Muslim community is paranoid, we feel that everybody is after us, everybody is about to destroy us. I think Muslim community is insecure, always feel like being treated unfairly, and demand a payback, or constantly, violently, must defend ourselves to the smallest degree, whether the the threat is real or not. I think Muslim community is aggressive, that we can’t live in peace next to others who have different believes, that we must destroy everybody who is slightly different from us. We don’t have a sense of humour we have to hang people immediately if they attempt to make some jokes out of Islam. How insecure is our God then, if we can’t even smile in front of at Him/Her/It?
With so many questions unanswered, over the years I start to ask what it means to me, to have Islam as my religion. Whether I cling on to it because it’s been part of me for over 30 years, or because I love it. Whether keep practicing it because I want the society looks at me in certain way, or because I believe in it. More importantly, what I would do next. Whether I should stick to it, or let it go.
I am waiting the light turns green.