The concept of blind faith frightens me.
Over the past few years, I’ve started questioning some of the givens about Islam that I grew up believing. My questioning has very rarely been about the foundations of Islam as a religion; those I find myself wholeheartedly believing in. One God, Muhammed is the last prophet, praying five times a day, fasting the month of Ramadan, paying alms, doing the pilgrimage once in your life; these and others are things I haven’t found myself questioning.
There are other issues, however, I find myself continuously questioning and not understanding. Details. Mostly things related to the roles of men and women in society and in religion. I read a Qur’anic verse or a Prophetic saying and sit in front of it bewildered, not really understanding what it means or why it seems to mean something that doesn’t make sense to me. And so I do some reading or I speak to people more knowledgeable than me. Sometimes I will hear an argument or an interpretation that convinces me. Other times I won’t. And the conversation will most commonly end in: Nadia, are you a Muslim or not? Do you believe in Allah and that the Qur’an is the word of God or not? Do you accept Islam in its entirety or not? If so, then you need to accept that there are things that we don’t always understand. If God says do then we do. That’s it.
But is it? God tells me in the Qur’an time and time again to think and to contemplate. I’m told to use my head. I’m never told to go to my local sheikh and have him, the more knowledgeable clergyman, tell me what is right and what is wrong. Why am I expected to depend on men who admittedly did a lot of studying of their own to come up with certain conclusions and interpretations within Islam but did so some 1000 or more years ago? Why am I not allowed to question their conclusions? Why am I not allowed to come up with my own?
I have no plans to become a clergywoman myself. I have no plans to issue fatwas on one topic or another. But I do want to understand why I’m doing something and if it is in my best interests, and that of society, to continue doing it. I want to be able to come up with my own conclusions and to feel free to practice the Islam that I believe in and not the Islam that some other people believe in. I don’t want to get into didactic debates about details with people. I want to feel free to read, listen, learn, and do according to my own understandings. I want to feel free to do this without being judged as being an infidel or a bad person or as a person on a slippery slope to hell.
Blind faith frightens me. When a whole society has blind faith it terrifies me. What is a cult if it is not a group of people with blind faith?
I feel that all my life I have lived in the midst of people who have dictated to me how I should live my life in a way that will please God. And if I deviate from their understanding of that way of life I am judged and put down and made to feel guilty. I am made to feel that should this be my last moment on earth, at this time of questioning, at this time of deviation from “the norm”, that I cannot trust in God to save me from the hell fires.
I am very upset with myself when I realize how much society’s pressures and judgments affect me. I do not feel this way about Islam the religion. I feel this way about Muslims the people.
I am sure this is a dilemma that many people, regardless of faith, go through. Christians, Jews, Hindus, teenage girls and boys, mid-aged men and women, professionals, all feel under pressure to conform to what is dictated to them as the norms of their various societies and circles.
It is exhausting. Conforming can be an exhausting exercise if the actions are inconsistent with the person one is within. Trying to break out of conformity is also an exhausting exercise. But if it leads to an inner consistency – an inner peace – it should be for the best in the long run.
I am exhausted. I am exhausted from conforming. I am exhausted from trying to break away from conformity. I have no inner peace. I am constantly in a state of inconsistency with myself and with society around me.
Blind faith frightens me. Conformity and breaking away from it exhausts me. I need my inner peace.