Here’s the story. I’m sitting in a coffee shop with a friend. She tells me about her daughter in college. Her daughter has been questioned and challenged by her friends about why she believes and follows her faith. The topic invariably boils down to questioning faith in the light of science. The topic is about religion. Any religion. Why does someone believe in God or some other deity? Why believe in Adam and Eve, when you have the big bang theory? My friend and I talk about the climate of disbelief as both of us try to understand this new wave of distrust while we sip our coffees.
I’m Muslim so I can only speak for the Muslim religion (as well as I understand it), but I’m also a woman of faith and spirituality. It may really be the same thing, but interesting enough I’m also a pediatric dentist so I have quite a bit of science running through my veins. Yet, I sit there and wonder about why I believe. Every cell in my body believes in a higher power. I know there is an amazing Being out there who is far beyond our imaginations. I know this because I can feel Its power. I can feel It course through me. How do you explain a “feeling”?
A few years ago, I got introduced to the Secret and it changed my life. It connected me to my religion and to God and the Universe and when I read verses from the Qur’an, I feel part of the circle. I’m plugged in. I’m connected and all charged. Yet, I would not be able to explain how I feel. I cannot explain the peace that comes through such faith.
I would have to say to those who question me that love can only be felt. It’s not something you hold in your hand. You could hold a diamond ring as a symbol of that love as you could hold a holy book, but you cannot hold love. You cannot see it. You can only feel it sweep through you.
Some people say all religions are bad. I guess the rituals bother them. I don’t know. I guess they worry about dealing with crazy people, or it could be that the rituals do not make sense to them. I’ve had people ask me why I need to fast or pray? Why does anything have to be absolute and make sense? Why can’t we just believe? I feel sometimes rituals can ground a person. It can be quite helpful. It also unifies. You identify with others who perform rituals although it’s not your own. We all understand taking exams or tests. If we heard of someone in another part of the world studying for a test, we don’t ask why s/he is studying or why the grade matters, we just understand. There are people who question an education and that’s not the topic here. There will always be people who question and it’s wonderful in that it opens dialogue. Sometimes, there’s no real answer to faith, though.
I hear people talk about extremism and all religions have to deal with it. It’s not the religion that is inherently bad. It’s the people following it. It’s people who behave in ways that twist a faith. I’ve heard the expression, “don’t shoot the messenger”, but what if the messenger opened the message and changed it to create discord in the world? That’s the case with religion. You have few people creating havoc, taking passages out of context and you have the media having a field day out of it. In the early days of this nation, people said slavery was biblical! That’s going out in left field again, but
I think we all believe differently. Sometimes people believe differently within the same faith. I feel we need to try to see and accept the other person’s point of view as best we can. If we can’t, we should move on, rather than throwing stones at it. We need to be above this climate of distrust. It’s not always easy, but it’s a step in the right direction to just accept people for who they are, irrespective of their religion. So, while religion just walked out the door for a lot of people, I only hope that perhaps acceptance walked in.
Best to you all,