Although it has not yet been a year, I feel the time has come to reflect. After reading many books, spending countless hours on forums and informational websites, and, of course, blogging, I feel I’ve reached an understanding. Some of what I’m about to say may challenge orthodox or even progressive views about Islam, and I regret any offense I may cause. But I need to be honest with myself and with you, whoever is reading this.
Issues like defining what Islam is, deciding which sect (if any) is right for me, deciding how far to go with labels… all these are just a few examples of the questions I’ve been asking. But what’s really troubling me of late is something deeper: does this religion come from God, or humanity? Don’t get me wrong, I still am just as smitten by the words of the Quran as I was when I started. I still feel humbled and grateful every time I read it. And yet, I find myself unable to honestly say that I think it is the direct word of God. While at this point I believe that it may be inspired by God, I cannot believe it is the verbatim Word of God. The fact is that the Quran has been edited several times – copies exist today that are slightly different from the oldest copy found to date (the famous Sana’a manuspcripts). While great and sincere effort was put into preserving the Quran as originally expressed, the effort could only go so far. Therefor I cannot believe that the Quran is uncorrupted. Furthermore, as I believe Muhammad was inspired and not dictated to, that potentially means that Muhammad – and those who came after – created Islam, not God (at least, not God directly). A disturbing thought, that Islam could be a human creation… disturbing at first.
Later it occurred to me that a religion created by man is still perfectly valid. In fact, I think humans are bound to find their own ways to God, and maybe God designed us to do just that. Think about it: humans create lots of things, like scientific theories, types of exercise, music and poetry and great works of art. We value these things even when no one claims God created them. If anything this viewpoint helps clear up a lot of confusion for me regarding Islamic traditions. Even hadiths seem like something I can finally wrap my brain around now, since even if they don’t have perfect accuracy about the Prophet’s life, they do reflect the many-colored beliefs of Muslims in the centuries following his death. And yet, several months of painful introspection has led me to a conclusion.
I am not Muslim. Nor am I Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, or Atheist. No religion fits. Agnostic… far too small a word. What am I? I am God’s daughter. I am your sister. Whoever you are, whatever you believe, or think of me, and even if you don’t know I exist: I love you. And I wish to spend every day that I live loving you, and trying to bear the beauty of this world.
Now, what does that mean for this blog? I will continue to search for God, just not religion per se. Or maybe I’m searching for all religions. Expect to see more of a focus on comparative religion, interfaith activities, etc. I plan to keep most of my links up, although I may reorganize as new links appear. I also hope to break out of my shell and go to places of worship: a church, a mosque, an ashram, a gurdwara, a synagogue, a temple… and tell you all about the experience. This will be hard for me, but I think it will be worth the experience.
I will always see beauty in Islam, and I hope to keep many of the things I learned incorporated into my daily life. I just don’t think the rituals are for me. I will always treasure the Quran, and I will continue to study it regularly. I am so grateful to all the bloggers who came here and read my ramblings, supported me, argued with me and, most of all, taught me. I invite you to continue teaching me, and I hope you will accept.