Wow, it’s been awhile since I updated this blog. The reason for that is not laziness or being busy; I’ve been updating my other blog regularly. The reason is that in terms of my spiritual life, I got lost. And I really don’t see this as a bad or negative thing. I think it’s necessary in life to get lost and discover new ideas, feelings, relationships. And the fact that you always end up somewhere new at the end is an added bonus.
The reason I started to get lost is because I felt myself being pulled from two different ends of a spectrum. On the one hand, there were Muslims who were usually very conservative, patriarchal, and focused on how to be a “good Muslim” in terms of outward appearance. They knew what was halal and haram in detail; they prayed 5 times a day; they made millions of judgements about any act they saw as “wrong”; they saw nothing wrong with correcting the behaviour of other Muslims; and finally, they generally did not think deeply about any issue.
On the other hand, having moved to the Netherlands, I was constantly seeing/hearing Islamophobic comments. Islamophobia as a discourse was becoming normalized & widespread, even more than before. This made me defensive and made me cling tightly to my “Islamic identity” – I wanted to defend Islam, to show people that this isn’t what it is. (Thank God I’ve moved past that now, after realizing that many Dutch people are beyond help. Negative & Orientalist discourses about Islam and Arabs have existed for centuries, and are not going to go away anytime soon. I can’t spend my life arguing with people, or getting defensive. Besides, I also realized that Islam doesn’t need to be explained or justified to non-Muslims. It is one thing for a non-Muslim to be curious, quite another for them to simply want an opportunity to be Islamophobic.)
Anyway, there was a point where it became too much. I was praying one day and just stopped, because the feeling, the connection between God and I had disappeared underneath all the rationalizing, debating, and analyzing. While I strongly believe that religion is and should be rational, I also strongly believe that that needs to be balanced with spirituality. If you don’t feel God, no amount of rationalizing will make up for it.
I started reading a lot about atheism and agnosticism. But it didn’t take long before I realized that that wasn’t my answer either. I do believe in God, a spiritual realm, and spirituality in general. I don’t believe that science by itself is enough. I also began reading critiques of science, modernity, and atheism, and realized that atheism has been constructed as an alternative to religion but with many of the same faults. It is just another extreme.
So that is the point I am at now: I went from one extreme (religion) to another (atheism) and found neither to be satisfying. I cannot accept religion from a intellectual point of view, especially from my position as a postmodernist and social constructivist; but I also cannot accept atheism because I do not believe that humans are purely rational beings. We are spiritual beings, and there is a spiritual world out there.
I believe in God, but not the God found in traditional texts (unless they have been severely reinterpreted).
So what now? I catapulted from one side to the other, and now I am drifting somewhere in between. Do I need to *be* something? Do I need to categorize my beliefs, feelings, values?
Another thing is that I can’t seem to let go of Islam. And I know this is not because I was “brainwashed” into believing it, since I wasn’t brought up Muslim. I guess I just feel very attached to it for some reasons, and find its symbols and stories very powerful. It is feelings like these that are difficult for me to ignore.
Well, I’m not sure I have any readers left! :)) But if I do, I would love to hear your stories, and any advice.