Since I was a kid I’ve been observing Islam with great interest. It’s my religion anyway.
At first I noted how my elementary teachers and our adults are preaching something, but doing entirely different things. Also we’re taught that Islam is all about dogma. There’s almost no compassion on it. There is no joy. The religion seems to be all about mumbling on prayers in language that we don’t understand, five times a day. And anyone dare not doing it may face public humiliation and/or physical punishment.
The Ramadhan was especially tormentous – we couldn’t eat nor drink during the hot days (30 – 35 degrees celcius). The night prayers are 11 rakaat, and followed by a very long (and very boring) sermon.
Nobody cared to really explain to us what’s all these about. We’re just supposed to do it without asking any questions.
These are the traditionalists.
Islam is just believing, no thinking. You just do. Don’t ever ask.
I asked once, and the teacher ended up stuttering and scolded me for it. I don’t ask again after.
It’s enough to make some kids lose faith and care about Islam, but I held on. I think, there’s an explanation to these, and I shall make the journey to find it.
When I’m older, in my high school years, I found out about Islam’s sects. With open mind, I joined one after another, most interested in widening my horizon. I noticed though that many of them are not good to be in for long term.
In the beginning, they will be nice to you. You’ll be called brothers and sisters. For those who didn’t find love at home, bullied at school, and so on; this is pure joy. Suddenly you feel needed, and wanted.
But after a while, they will try to draw you into their community. Locked you in, and started the weird part of their teachings.
Each sects have their own peculiarities – getting as much money for the sect using any (and I mean any; cheating, stealing, killing) way possible, made you swear an oath of allegiance, teaching irrational hatred for people (even Muslims), brainwash you, allows prostitution, make their syaikhs (gurus) close / to the same level of a prophet or even God, and many other horrible things.
All of them are the same in this regard – they all claim to be based on Quran and hadits, but interpret it to their own wishes. They’re extremist in this regard.
Anybody who dare to question their sect will be excommunicated from the group. This may seem trivial – however, after years of intense involvement in the group; most will find themselves suddenly alone in the world. Their old friends and families have long gave up on them. It’s truly heart breaking.
The fear of this kept many as the member of the group, even though the inner heart are crying.
Indeed not all groups are like that. A few are good and on the right path. But sadly, they seem to be the minority on the scene, and can be quite hard to find.
Then I went to UK, work there for 5 years, and found something else – the Liberals.
At first they seemed good – they preached upon tolerance, open-mindedness, equalities, justice, and critical thinking.
However, digging deeper, I found troublesome things.
They preached upon tolerance, yet they will get rid of their opposition and have no hesitation on silencing their voices whenever possible.
They preached critical thinking, yet they’re cherry-picking verses from Quran and Hadith to support their claims. Many times, they’ll just plain lie to you. If they can have the opportunity to assassin your character, they will.
And just like the sects, these liberals claim to be based on Quran and hadits; but they interpret it so liberally; it’s as if they’re telling you that an apple is really an orange. They’re just as extreme as the sects, but worse since they claim to be of a superior intelligence.
I don’t like to be taken as a fool, so I distanced myself from them.
Found myself alone again, with weird people around me. I continued my journey. I tried to find more about Islam, with my limited time and capability. I worked hard to filter the wacky interpretations, and goes straight to the source and original interpretations. And what I found have made the journey worth it.
Islam : is all about compassion, good behaviour, and love to others. The prophet stated that his mission is to make us better in our akhlaq. That is it.
I’ve been presented with spins from Liberals & Islam-haters, trying to rebuke it. But I always managed to find out every single time the truth behind it – some are not presenting the whole picture, some are presented without its context, some are misinterpretation from the original language, some are very liberal translation, and some are downright lies.
Many of the Islam’s problems they presenting are actually really Muslims problem. And they dare claiming to be the superior thinkers ? I don’t think so.
Islam : wants their believers to think and use their brains. The command “Afala ta’qiluun” – have you think about that ? It’s written many times in Quran.
My journey was emotionally and intellectually painful. I’ve had to wade through so much crap and non-sense, sometimes even from people I thought would know better. This command kept me going, enduring the pain.
The result is, not perfect, but definitely a better me – one who finally understood the essence of his religion, and at ease with it. The old cliche is still true – no pain, no gain.
I also found several inspirations from some other good people :
- Amar Ma’ruf Nahi Munkar : This is the principle of da’wa / calling people to Islam, meaning “call people to good, and prohibit them from bad”.
Notice how the call for good is mentioned first. Then I noticed that the most successfull preachers are those who busy themselves in calling people to the good – with sympathetic words, understanding of people’s problems, and positive attitude in helping people to get over with their problems — instead of just criticizing people on their faults.
People become attracted to the good, and automatically, they leave their bad side.
These preachers solve problems, instead of adding more of it.
I shall try to do the same.
- Care for others : This must begin with your closest ones. If you claim you care for others, while neglecting your own family, I’ll call you a hypocrite.
When people care about others, Islam will be able to fulfill its promise as the rahmatan lil ‘alamin – a blessing to the world.
I’ve realized now that the problem with Islam is really the problem with Muslims. Many are ignorant, led by ignorant (or downright evil) ulama / syaikh / community leaders.
We need to awaken them by tapping on them gently and using kind words. Not kicking and screaming on them – and later wondered why they ended up beating you into a pulp. The way of Islam is the middle path – kind, gentle, soothes, and most importantly, enlightens.
So I begin my new journey. May God look upon me kindly and strengthen this weak shell and its soul for this journey, which shall not end until my death.