Wednesday, April 6, 2011
For too long, I have tried to find “understanding” within the walls of religion. Recently, I had a comment from someone that was very negative in its very words, but in comprehending, pondering, meditating, and then understanding, I find myself sitting here tonight with complete understanding.
The individual who wrote to me accused me of having an “identity crisis”, they told me that I should have “gotten over” my identity crisis years ago. While my initial reaction was one of complete shock and hurt at the words, I now am grateful for those words because it caused me to open my heart and my mind to complete and total opening up to my Self.
Over the years, I have traversed many spiritual paths, gone on spiritual journeys, and tried very hard to find my sense of “belonging” within the walls of organized religion.
This started in my mid-teens when I was in a foreign country attending school in a distant location from the town I was living in with my Grandparents. Alone, lonely, away from “home” (the home that I had grown up in with my parents), and without the friends I had known most of my life, I was friendless in this town. The only people I could consider as “friends” from school lived in the city, a distance from where I was.
In that loneliness, I was introduced to the Mormon Church via members of the church who embraced me and accepted me as one of their own. At 16-years-old, it was no wonder that their complete, total, unconditional acceptance appealed to me and drew me in. Whether I actually believed in the teachings of the church, I felt that I had found my place of belonging.
After I was baptized in to the Church, I found myself leaving within 9-months. I began my true “journey” through many different paths and religions, returning often to the Church, but never staying long.
For so many years I could not understand why I was not “satisfied” to just give up my life and any other beliefs that I might have and remain within the bonds of the church; at the same time, I wondered why I kept being drawn back to the church.
So when I was finally “out” of the church, my name removed from their records as if I was never even in existence; in essence, wiping me away from the mind and the cognition of God, I felt freed and relief. Now, I was finally released to truly explore my own truth.
After my father died, I delved in to the religion of my ancestors, my father and my birth; Islam.
Initial study taught me that Islam was more a way of life; it was a spirituality where Allah (God) was everything, not merely IN everything, but actually WAS everything.
Removed was the belief and teaching that God was a mortal man, an image that I simply could not comprehend since first learning about this “white-bearded Deity”. My mortal conceptualization of an omnipresent being contained within a body of flesh and bone seemed overtly limiting to me. The idea of a Holy Ghost and Son seemed even more foreign to me.
So, as I delved more into the study of Islam, things began to make sense. And that is why when I was first harassed by what are known as “haraam police” (haraam meaning “forbidden”), I was shocked. These individuals claiming that their “correcting” me was “sunnah” and that if I was to be a Muslim, I had “better get used to it”.
Often, I felt like I was a mere child being scolded continually by individuals whom I had never met and whom I did not know; strangers, that were labeled as “sisters” simply because we were both Muslim.
I became increasingly frustrated and angered at these people who were correcting my every thought, my every belief, my every action, and most often these individuals were much younger than me.
A couple of times, I came close to giving up the entire aspect of Islam because of the nastiness that was spouting out of these individuals, followed up by the prevalent “I say this because I love you for the sake of Allah”. What the hell did that sentiment mean? They only “loved” me to keep in the ‘good graces’ of Allah; and that “I”, the “you” they were correcting, had no matter, no meaning, no worth?
I began to withdraw from a lot of the social and religious activities within the community as the offense of more than one unnerved me. I was told by the select few I confided in to just “ignore them”; but in my doing that, I was continuing to give them permission to act in such an abusive manner.
An individual with my background does not accept abuse by simply rolling over and taking it. I have long-learned to open my mouth, stand out strong and tall, and shout out against abuse.
In my frustration, I tried to understand why I kept delving back in to different spiritual paths. Why was I not simply satisfied with “me”? What was I truly searching for, and would I ever really find it?
In a moment of complete and sheer frustration, I unloaded on a dear friend, and divulged a part of myself to her. I let down my barriers and opened up to a secret I kept long buried. In my doing so, in her amazing response, and in my thinking about her words, I finally saw clearly the whole picture. I finally understood myself, my frustrations, my “need” to hide behind organized religion.
This was a process that first began last year, but I could not let myself go enough to be honest and truthful with who I was and “why” I was.
In this openness that I finally began embracing, I began to SEE and see for the very first time.
I began addressing issues that I had seen crop up time and time in religion, and especially what I had recently learned within the confines of Islam “the religion”.
One of the biggest issues was the idea of covering in the hijab. When I first covered, I did it for myself. I did for my own reasons and it had nothing to do with the common misnomer held within Islam. And I had often questioned myself if my own reasons for covering were “in line” with what was common thought within the religion itself.
The verse in the Quran says; “And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty…” Qu’ran 24:31
And when I finally came to understanding, I realized that when God speaks, He speaks in the whole sense of the explanation and it is us mere mortals who understand in literal, and in so-doing, MIS-understanding.
“Guarding” one’s modesty is something that most of us do already. What is “modesty” in the true understanding of the word? In the online Princeton Wordnet definition it says that modesty is freedom from vanity or conceit. When we guard against this, we are removing EGO (Edging God Out) from our lives.
So covering the body in “modesty” as the literal translation has been interpreted, might not be what the original belief was.
When I meditated on “lowering their gaze”, I realized that this was not something that was also literal, but realize that this was the precursor to guarding modesty. Again, I finally understood it to mean that we need to be aware of our surroundings. When we lower our gazes as we walk, we are being cognitive of the path ahead of us. While this is indicated towards us as individuals, it has a much bigger meaning to it. A deeper, more spiritual meaning and not the literal translation that has kept so many women covered in cloth for so long.
I questioned why, if modesty was such an important thing, were we all born naked and emerging out of our mother’s naked vaginas. And then I understood the complete picture…
We are already “covering our modesty” as we emerge out of the womb, as we are forming IN the womb. Our “covering” is our physical bodies, and this covers that which “drives” our bodies, our soul.
In discussion with my husband, he asked “So does this mean that we’ll all be naked in heaven?”
No. We will not be naked; we will not have the bodies which we have now, because we are nothing but forms of energy.
We say Allah is everything, not just IN everything, but IS everything. How could that be? What is true omnipotence? The concept is difficult to comprehend on so many levels. But as we transcend in Spiritual awareness, it makes complete and total sense. Upon shedding of our mortal bodies, we too are omnipotent in that we can be in more than one place at one time because we are nothing more than energy forms.
Does this concept align us with Allah and “enjoin” us to him? Yes and no.
Yes we are aligned because if we truly believe that Allah is the creator of all things, therefore OUR creator, we hold a strand of His DNA within us. This is shown in the mere fact that we are alive, we are breathing and we are feeling. We have a soul, and in that soul, He holds a part of us. This is what is called Divine Connection. This is also what links each and every single person upon this earth to each other.
Does this mean that we are in essence “Gods”? No. However, we do hold a part of God in us through that Divine Connection, but we are NOT Gods, at least in my comprehension.
In answering my husband’s question, no we will not be “naked” because we will have no form to be naked with, but rather we are energy.
Someone asked tonight “how can God judge us, and why God would like some of us or dislike some of us when he doesn’t have a character and human emotions?”
I replied, “From what I have learned over my years (not IN religion), I have learned that this "judgment" is truly that Divine source in all of us (our soul connectedness) that will be responsible for judging us based on experience culminating with the intensity of Love on the Other Side, as well as complete and total understanding of the ages once removed from our physical form and limitations as well as human, earth-held, understanding. I have a very difficult time comprehending a "court" with the energy force that is Allah at the head handing down judgment and "sentencing".”
And I truly do believe this. It just makes complete and total sense to me. I suddenly “get it”, I understand and I feel completely freed in my understanding.
I no longer feel confined within the bounds of man-made religion. I finally can understand the concept of living and experiencing without the man-made rules and regulations.
Am I no longer “Muslim”? Yes I am, because I understand the meaning of Islam being “to submit” or “to surrender”, from the Arabic root word “Peace” (Salaam). Muslim means “one who submits”. But again, I do not believe that it means this in the literal sense, but rather in the limitless sense.
We all submit and surrender in so many aspects of the meaning, being “submissive” does not mean the same thing which many have come to understand the meaning.
As a tree bends in the wind, so to we bend with the winds of change. It is a natural process.
Life is as easy or difficult as we choose to make it. For me, I choose to make life easy, without all the confines of rules and regulations, rights and wrongs. I choose to simply Be.
The true purpose of life; is to experience, and in those experiences we learn, we expand our minds, and we live.