Saturday, 31 March 2012

Weird satysfaction

A couple of days ago two ladies knocked at my door. They were Christians but I'm not sure which branch of Christianity they subscribe to.
In any case... They invited me to some kind of celebration of Jesus' resurrection or something along those lines. I listened to what they had to say and kindly replied that I am not interested since I'm not a believer. It gave me some weird satisfaction to say it outloud and admit it, not only to myself but a random person who knocked at my door...

Sunday, 12 February 2012

It's been a while...

It's been a while since I posted anything here... The last month has been really busy that's why I didn't have the time and energy to engage in religious debates/topics. I must say, the topic is getting a bit weary on me... I do intend on reading the Qur'an again and post about but I have a bit more time and surplus of good energy cause I know that it will be sucked out of me pretty soon. Unfortunately, the Qur'an doesn't have the effect it does on the believers... Most of the time it makes me pretty misanthropic and this is not the direction that I want to go.

Anyways, there is an interesting article that I've read recently and I thought it'd be worth sharing for those who might be interested. 

I hope that you are all in good health :) take care!

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Practicing REAL Islam and why you are doing it wrong ;-)

I vaguely remember writing a similar post back in time which I can't be asked to search for. This post was prompted, again, by another commenter - Ibn Hanif (thanks Ibn Hanif :-) ). Namely this part of her comment:

I really wish to read about the doubts you have about Islam. I believe that your misconceptions have been caused by your pure misunderstanding of the Islamic sources of knowledge. (...) I myself had doubted the belief system which was presented to me with a label of real Islam. But praised be to Allah Who changed my life and helped me to come out fo the superstitious sect and attached me to the Quran and Hadith.

Several months after my first google search on Islam, I can say one thing: I know what Islam is NOT but I don't think I have gained much more knowledge on what Islam actually IS. My question 'what is real Islam' still remains unanswered. I did learn a valuable thing though - there is no rigidity. I would even venture to say that there are as many interpretations of Islam as there Muslims in the world (that would amount to a hefty over 1.5bn interpretations!). And most of them, as claimed by those who hold them, are valid. Who am I, an outsider who is trying to make sense of it, to judge?
I do appreciate variety but in case of a religion I see it as a disadvantage and a flaw. 

I don't expect any Muslim to validate MY interpretation. My interpretation and how I feel about the Qur'an is mine and mine only, and I take the responsibility for my beliefs. I can only tell you how and why I decided not to become a Muslim...

I approached the Qur'an with open mind and heart. I wanted to be Muslim more than anyone reading this blog could ever imagine. However, having issues with organised religion, I promised myself I will not do anything that I don't feel comfortable with. This meant that every single verse in the Qur'an would have to present itself as true, logical, rational, a good idea, thing to do etc. You get the drift. The book would have to be wholesome from cover to cover.
I was on a quest about finding the truth, not what suited my interests. I promised myself there will be no bending, no stretching, no intellectual acrobatics to accept things that I find unpalatable. I was having none of that. I wanted 100% book that I can trust, that is coherent inside out and there is not a single hole that can be found in it. You could call me an absolutist if you wished. Yes, I did set the pole rather high...

I also knew that my decision to convert would not be met with applause. What I would experience could be called more of a backlash. I knew that my parents would be less than pleased, I knew my friends would be asking questions and I knew some of the questions would be hard if not impossible to answer. I put myself on the spot and started thinking of questions that I could receive. Frankly? I didn't know how to answer some of them. It caused me some grief cause these questions were not only relevant to Islam, they could be easily applied to other religious beliefs. So I searched for answers but I couldn't really find anything that would convince me. You could say that I wasn't trying hard enough... Maybe...

The quest, this time for understanding better, continues. And this time there is no emotional pressure to make a decision. I can take my time and see whether I arrive at a different conclusion (which is highly unlikely but not impossible). We will see what the future holds...

Thursday, 29 December 2011

This year, I will find the time... read the Qur'an again.

So in the spirit of New Year’s resolutions I decided to reread the Qur’an, something that I have been meaning to do for a very long time now. Instead of making excuses I’m just gonna jump right into it and see how it goes.
I want to read a few translations at the same time just for the sake of good understanding and clarity. So these are the translations that I will read:

1) Yusuf Ali
2) Pickthall
3) Shakir

I've heard they are pretty good and give a rather accurate picture of what the verses mean when combined altogether. I will be reading them here most of the time cause it's just convenient. However, there is also a brilliant website that you can find here which offers many many different translations of the Qur’an and there is also some commentary that comes with it! I will also do my best to read tafsirs as I heard they are important and can give one invaluable insight into the meaning of the verses.

Also, this time I am going to read the Qur’an in the chronological order of revelation cause as far as I am aware the current order is from the longest to the shortest surah. Not sure why but apparently it's easier to keep track of things when you read the Qur'an in the chronological order.
Here you can find a table that explaines the chronological vs traditional order.

Another useful website that I found is quran4u which offers tafsirs in a pdf format. And the last one is the Qur'an Corpus.

Righty! I think I should get down to reading! I will be starting from surah 96.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

On being offended.

This post was prompted by a comment left by Sarah on my last post:

Why do you keep attacking a religion that you decided wasn't for you, leave it and move on. It's really annoying the way people like you always try to justify to others your reasons for making your decision. Who cares, just leave my beliefs alone, no need to try to save me or other true muslims from our religion. Sarah

It's not the only comment of this sort that I received since this blog started. Hence, I thought I will briefly post what I think about comments like that.

First of all, I think there is an important distinction that needs to be made between attacking and criticising. I don't think I am attacking a religion, let alone people. Criticising, yes. Criticism is about expressing one's disapproval of someone or something, talking about their faults or expressing judgments about the good and bad qualities of something. If you get your panties in a bunch because of someone on the internet writing something that clashes with your 'Islam is perfect' idea, then it just MIGHT indicate that your idea(s) about Islam are not as watertight as you would like them to be and it's time to revise them. Just a thought.
Even if I am criticising Islam, if you love Islam and feel completely confident of your beliefs, then what do you care what I think about it? 

Secondly, I am of the opinion that religious doctrine is just like any other set of beliefs or ideas out there that are free to be examined and commented on. I have had MY ideas criticised many times in the past. In fact, thanks to such exchanges with others, I changed some of my ideas simply because they showed me the error of my thinking and after doing some research myself I came to the conclusion that I was wrong. I am still alive and I am not even one bit traumatized from such experience. If I can do it, you can do it too.
Also, please learn to differentiate between criticism of an idea vs a person/group of people. 

Thirdly, I think that most of the time people who leave such comments as above have no problem whatsoever with converts broadcasting their conversion via their blogs, facebook, youtube, you name it! Some of them even become 'celebrities' simply because they embraced Islam. It's okay for them to tell the whole wide world why they converted, why their previous religion was just pure nonsense but it's annoying when someone who decides Islam is not for him/her, or leaves the deen altogether gives their reasons for doing so. Double standard much?

Lastly, NO ONE is forcing anyone to read this blog. Everyone who comes here does so out of their own free will. If anyone has a comment, disagrees with anything I write is more than welcome to tell me why he/she thinks I am wrong, provide a counter-argument or bring to my attention things which I might have missed while I was coming to a conclusion on a particular subject. Absolutely! But it's a cop out to simply tell me to mind my own business.

So please, allow me the rights that you yourself enjoy. Thank you :-)

And something to light things up a bit:

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Struggling to understand...

One of the members of The Council of Ex-Muslims Forum (CEMB) posted yet another brilliant video on CEMB's youtube channel. He explains why he left Islam and bids those who watch it farewell as he is moving on with his life. His other videos are worth checking out as I feel he is being very fair and asks legitimate questions about the faith.

As I stated before, I am still very much interested in Islam as a religion but also in people who are Muslims. 
I have never been an even moderately religious person. Religion for me was a personal matter. First time I had to think about religion was when I met my now ex-bf. I watched loads of conversion to Islam stories on youtube. Most of them by women. I was kind of fascinated with convert stories. Could I become one of them? They were soft-spoken and looked really content. I was wondering where it was coming from, and yes, I wanted it for myself too. 
However, when I started to actually read the Qur'an, hadiths and Islamic websites my fascination turned into asking one simple question over and over again: why? 
Until now I struggle a bit to understand why women convert to Islam. I must have comprehension issues.
Personally, as soon as I found verse 4:34, I was pretty much done. There was no way around this verse. I have searched high and low for interpretations. The apologetic ones seemed stretched. 
I would still read the Qur'an hoping that there is something that would change my mind. But I didn't find anything apart from more 'nails to the coffin'.

I do know for a fact that if you want to believe Islam is the truth, you can do it. You can surround yourself with material that supports your point of view. There is plenty of Islamic websites that simply omit problematic verses and teachings. You are not to find out about them BEFORE you convert. Those who give dawah will not present you verses that might trouble your conscience. There is even a word that somebody coined for such practice: dawahganda. 
Once you invested in your conversion and crossed that bridge, you are let into a secret and are allowed to find out about the less pleasant bits.

I understand that some people before their conversion were led to believe into a different Islam than the one presented to them AFTER they converted. There are plenty of female bloggers who struggle with parts of the scripture and still cling to it as a drowning man will clutch to a straw. Why search far and wide for excuses and preform intelectual acrobatics to explain away things that make you feel uncomfortable? Why not admit that there are problematic areas in Islam, maybe some that are simply irreconcilable with your conscience? Shouldn't it be about what the truth is instead of what gives you warm fuzzy feelings?

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Haggling with conscience

It’s been a bit rough recently with literally nothing going according to my plans and wishes. It’s as if the entire world united against me. Yep, I did wonder whether it is God punishing me for my lack of belief and being outspoken against religion. Yep, it is difficult to get rid of such mentality.
Therefore, the entire situation and my frustration invited the case of „what ifs” and „should’ve, could’ve, would’ve”. I stay up at night and think cause I can’t sleep. I swear, my brain can be my worst enemy at times.
I often think what would have happened if I became a Muslim, moved to the Middle East to live my life with my ex-bf. In moments of desperation I think I should have converted. My life would look so much different now. Would it be better? I cannot possibly know that but I certainly wouldn’t be experiencing situations and feelings I am facing now which are a direct result of NOT converting.

I often think whether I really gave it all my best shot. Sometimes I feel like turning up at his doorstep announcing I’m a Muslim now. To try it out for some time in order to see the beauty of Islam that I can’t see no matter how hard I rub my eyes. Maybe then I could see and feel it?
In times like this I recall the moments I did barganing with my own conscience. I tell you people, conscience is a tough negotiator. Actually... adjective ‘tough’ is an understatement. I don’t know about yours but my conscience is hard-nose, unyielding and astute negotiator. You can’t even haggle a pence out of the original price. And if you do something stupid in the spur of a moment, it will remind you of it on every possible occasion.
We finally sat at the negotiating table when I felt that I could not become a genuine Muslim. I just didn’t believe in the Qur’an, there were things in this book that downright put me off. Desperation to keep the man I loved put forward an idea of becoming a fake Muslim, a Muslim by name only. Could I put up a facade of Muslimness in front of others? Sure, I could! I thought to myself. But my conscience presented me with a film of my life as a fake Muslim: full of resentment towards others for not accepting me for who I am but also full of disappointment and contempt directed at myself for not standing up for what I feel is right, and being deceitful to myself and others. My conscience showed me how I would slowly but surely wither away intelectually and internally. I like to think I'm rather strong but there are certain things that could smother my spirit. There would be nothing but a shell left of me. Most likely though, I would rebel. I would fight. It doesn't really matter cause either way it would inevitably dismantle our relationship/marriage.

Even hard-pressed I couldn't say this is the kind of life I wanted for myself...

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Stupid little thing called love

I have always had a very idealistic view on love. Probably that's why when it finally hit me, it hit me hard.
I didn't fall in love with my ex, I plummeted in love with him and it felt so damn good! And scary at the same time. I was scared of him to see me the way I am, insecure and vulnerable under the shell of false confidence and cheerfulness. 

I can't remember anyone or anything making me feel so high as he used to. It was him who could make me feel so high on life, it made me think that I don't need or want anything else. Why would I want anything else if I had pure joy and happiness within the reach of my hands? My happiness had deep brown eyes and lush black hair I would run my fingers through… My happiness kept me warm by holding me tightly in its sweet embrace. Those arms and heart that promised to keep me warm and safe, protect against everything. When you hear such promises, you think that you can conquer the world… 

I know those were just moments but at the time it felt that only because of them I could breathe and function normally. Many times I felt like a drug addict, just waiting for another fix to make his/her life worthy of living again. And as a drug addict every fix pulled me deeper and deeper. Every next fix was as toxic and unhealthy as the first one. Desperation creeped in. There were moments when I forgot about self-respect and I'm not proud of it. 

I sometimes feel like a recovering drug addict who wants his fix, who knows that it is so damn bad for him but still yearns for it with every breathing cell of his body… to feel high for a moment… to feel ALIVE…
It seems impossible for me to grasp why I can't be with someone who captivated my heart, mind and soul. It just doesn't make any sense to me. It does get better with every day though.

Maybe that's why a new Rihanna's song and especially intro to the song resonate with me so much:

it's like you screaming and no one gonna hear,

you almost feel ashamed that someone could be that important

that without them you fee like nothing.

no one will ever understand how much it hurts...

you feel hopeless, like nothing can save ya

and when it's over and it's gone,

you almost wish you could have all the bad stuff back, so that you could have the good…