Struggling, Questioning, Criticizing

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve updated this blog. The main reason for this is that I’ve spent the last few months thinking about religion – a lot. A lot of issues have been coming up since I first became ‘religious’ a few years ago, and they finally accumulated so I had to sit down and think about them.

Most of these relate to gender and sexuality, things I’ve been struggling with for a while. They’re very personal so I don’t feel comfortable sharing them on here right now, although I might in the future.

One of my main conclusions is that religion has seriously been defined in a way that puts a lot of people off. When I listen to my dad talk about Islam, it sounds amazing & beautiful: it’s all about general principles, loving each other and being a good person. When I hear young people talk about religion, it’s all about tiny details and going to hell. Oh, and judging each other.

I do feel a generational difference in terms of religion: many young people are more concerned with the details than their parents, who may have seen religion as providing the broad strokes, not the tiny details. But I’m sure this isn’t the only factor. We are also living in the world that is becoming more and more fragmented, and where identity politics are increasingly the main currency of communication. I see more and more people relating to each other through constructed identities such as religion, race, nation, gender and sexuality. And not in a good way.

Maybe my main issue is seeing religion as an identity. Should it be that way? It doesn’t work that way for me. I realized the only way I can relate to Islam is spiritually – not as a way of life that dictates every single decision I make. Of course most Muslims are going to disagree with this, but hey, who cares? 🙂

Anyway, the struggle continues and it’ll probably never end. On the one hand, I feel it is better to always question and criticize. Everything. On the other hand – it’s just exhausting.

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3 thoughts on “Struggling, Questioning, Criticizing

  1. I say keep at it! Youre right, it is exhausting, but ignoring the questions can be equally so. For me Islam’s main pull is spiritual and like you my parents taught Islam to me with the emphasis on love and equality. But as I grow up and try to have an Islam for myself, outside of the one adopted from my parents, I am finding that the practice of Islam, what the religion itself asks of me on a daily basis, is also important for me spiritually and brings me closer to the part of myself that I want to see more often. I try to remember that Allah does not want to make our lives harder for us, rather those things Allah asks of us ultimately saves us heartache and harm. For me, the big questions are what are the things Allah asks of us? What demands are traditional/cultural practices and what are Truths from Allah?

    As for it being an identity, as important as the Ummah is in Islam, I do not think I know one person who has the same relationship to Allah and Islam as I do, and in that sense I can only ever identify with parts of people. But that is true of all ‘identities’. No one is the same in every way and it makes no sense to try to be. Enjoy the differences, discover the similarities and in the end let your struggles in your heart only matter truly in Allah’s eyes!

    Peace and love, Zaynab

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