To fear or not to fear? That is the question.
There is no truth. There’s just what you believe.
I took a wonderful stroll yesterday with my sociology teacher in which I unloaded a lot of baggage about the Circumstances and how I feel lost because I don’t feel like I know anything and I don’t understand why geometry is such a rutting pain in the backside. I left wonderfully serene- full of the same sort of serenity I’ve only felt when praying in school courtyards at debate tournaments and walking past Chritmas lights at night after a good cry. Because not only were my feelings and opinions honored and validated, but when I finished he looked conspiratorially around and said, “I’m going to tell you something I’d never even bring up to another student… just because… just,”here he lowered his voice to a whisper, “believe in the power of prayer… er… meditation… whatever. Because that’s something that’s real.”
“It’s funny you should say that,” I replied. “Because faith does seem to be the only thing I have left to believe in, and know that I believe in… It’s just, that’s hard, too ’cause I’ve kind of been having a sort of faith crisis lately.”
“The funny thing about faith,” he said, “Is that it always seems to bring about a crisis of some sort. I’ve been going through my own thing, lately- trying to sort through what’s true and what’s just crap from the institutional aspect of religion… because there’s some stuff that’s really real, and true; and there’s other stuff that was put there in the interest of an institution.”
God is there. I know that much. And I know that there are things that can’t be explained, and that there are special things, really real things like prayer that might be realler than anything else. But that comes with religion. And religion is scary, and hard, and confusing. Because there’s the never-ending issue of faith.
For example, I recently began questioning my sexuality when someone referred to one of my very close friends as “your girlfriend”. It all began with the realization that I liked the way that sounded. I liked the idea. And I thought a lot about it, and about what factors might contribute to my feeling that way since I’d never really had reason to question my sexuality. And as I was thinking about it, and wondering if I might be even more like Willow Rosenberg than I initially suspected, I was scared. And confused. And tried to stop the wheels from turning, because I didn’t like where they were going. Because Muslims aren’t allowed to be gay. Even though I’d never understood how love could be a sin. But I never once doubted the fact that I was a Muslim, in every sense of the word, that I was willing to surrender to the will of God. I just wasn’t sure how those two convictions could coexist without my turning into the barber who shaves only those who do not shave themselves (I might have butchered that right there, but it sounds impossible enough to me). I have a lot of problems with female gender roles, but I’m not sure it’s because I lean toward womenfolk. I liked the way “my girlfriend” sounded more than I liked the sound of “my boyfriend” because of the implied power, possession, authority. I liked the thought of my romantic partner being mine, rather than my being his. Because the feelings associated with “my boyfriend” are feelings of submission, of having been won over, of losing some of my autonomy. Naturally, that’s not quite as appealing.
But what my sociology teacher said yesterday made me realize that when I question religion, I’m not being blasphemous or arrogant- I’m not pitting my opinions against God’s. I have the freedom to interpret the Qur’an in a way that doesn’t necessarily jive with what the experts and scholars say. Because they belong to an institution. They are human, like me. What they have learned, they have learned from people who had political, power-motivated agendas. The fact that I don’t believe that God hates f**s doesn’t mean I’m challenging God. Of course, I always knew that.
Any time somebody tells me I’m going to go to hell on the grounds that I’m not christian, I tell them that I like to think that God values one’s compliance with His proposed archetype of righteousness than one’s rationale for doing so, and if they tell me I’m wrong and God is going to send good people to hell for not believing in Him then I mention that that’s not really the type of person I want to spend eternity with anyway.
It’s ok to be gay. It’s ok not to be gay. Either way, God is there. And he cares. And he listens. And he loves me. And I’m never really lost, and it’s ok that I’m not exactly staying afloat in geometry at the moment. “I am the only person who can change the world the way I can. Not because I’m so special, but because everyone has something only they can do for the world, something they, personally, were sent for.”