Aas paas hai khuda

How strange that I am looking for God/spirituality in places I hadn’t before. The lack of centuries old traditions, the lack of conviction that our beliefs are the absolute truth, lack of community and it’s obligations, the lack of roots, imagined roots and imagined narratives. It’s like swimming and quite liberating but then my ever so structured mind feels the anxiety of being everything and everywhere and wishes for some limits, some parameters. They’re all made up anyway, why not make up some of my own? And then put God in there.

Funny how man-made songs take us to God, words and music written by humans and we feel the Divine. Maybe these people write it because they feel passionate about it and love creating music, maybe they do it for the money and hope it’ll pay the rent, or make them rich and famous; but here they are, the very words that God wanted me to know.

I went to a lecture on Legalism in Islam and Judaism in America and there it was, the words again, brilliant and making perfect sense. What is it about things I know being eloquently said, the Muslim speaker talking about the components of sharia and the Jewish one blowing us away by talking about pluralism, and wondering along with me, what the hell are we to teach our kids and at what age? Tell them that we have a monopoly on truth or tell them that there are many viable philosophies and we have much to learn from them, that people are all just trying to feel less like an insignificant cosmic speck in a huge universe. People are just trying to give it all some Divine meaning. And then are we to watch with our hearts in our mouths as the children go along on a path different from that of our truth? I never said it was absolute.

Advertisements

Apparently all I needed to get out of my mood was some girlie time. Last night I got to do a sleepover at lovely D’s place and felt much better after some heart to heart discussions on life, religion, clothes and careers. Also got a head massage and watched a romantic comedy (The Sweetest Thing) and some episodes of How I Met Your Mother. Needless to say I came back feeling energized today.

That said, the spiritual quest continues and I came across a very popular blog that only I was probably unaware of before: Achelois: Raw and Uncut. Her older blog where she does not write anymore is mainly on Islam and women, and even though I am not always sure what she is arguing for or whose side she is on, I have been avidly reading it. Like I said, I don’t understand her views enough to know whether I relate to them or not but I have enjoyed reading a very tolerant Muslim’s posts. I like her fascination with other religions and her completely non-conformist way of being a Muslim. Her attitude is very different from what I did when I felt frustrated with Islamic ideas and the role they wanted me to play. It seems that she delved deeper into texts and history whereas I just avoided it. It doesn’t help that I don’t believe in one single logical truth that explains Islamic laws and history as logic is used by many religions to justify worldviews. Coming from both Sunni and Shite sects, I have seen both sides give their irrefutable proofs.

I guess I just decided that I’ll find my own way that didn’t have to be sanctioned by a scholar of the 18th century. After all, if I am going to answer to God for what I made of my life, how can I tell Him that I lived it half-heartedly because I thought that was what He wanted, and at the same time wondered how He could want that? What if He asks me why I followed what I felt was not right even if it was in His name?

For more coherent thoughts and a beautiful post, read Achelois’ ‘The Shepherd and the Soldier‘.

Secular

It has been awhile since I wrote and it has been because I have been wondering how to express myself and also for my anger and emotions to subside over this issue. Also, many of the blogs I read have been writing about events unfolding in Pakistan and they have been doing a much better job of expressing their anger and sadness.

I feel like I am coming to terms with my spirituality in a way that suits me more. I no longer try to justify the limitations I have perceived in religion or try to explain away the inequalities between the genders that seem to crop up that different scholars justify with their modern logic.

I guess I don’t believe that an old system can dictate a modern way of life. I am tired of people continuously defending Islam as a way of life when their interpretations don’t fit in some societies. I do believe in a secular state now because I don’t believe the ‘Islamic’ laws that govern us or the method of life preached by scholars are Divine. I believe people worked them out and some ideas may work very well whilst others don’t. As long as we are allowed to debate them openly and question them and work on improving them as we go along we will be fine. But in Pakistan, we hold on staunchly to outdated notions in the name of Islam. We are afraid of venturing forward in the field of arts because of supposedly Islamic limitations and perceptions. We believe in an ideal Muslim society and community when in reality, God has put on Earth so many different people with different desires, different societal structures, different ideas, different races, different climates, that I don’t think He ever intended us to follow the same laws. Maybe the challenge is to deal with all these differences in a globalised world and that is His test.

It is human nature to justify one’s own way of being of living as above all else. We hold on to our values dearly and like to propagate them. It is the same in the West as it is in the East. So I guess Muslims aren’t so much to blame for thinking that they have been granted the pathway to the perfect society. Many Christians believe that they only have access to heaven and everyone else goes straight to hell. What we could use among Muslims is more tolerance, which is hard to practise when one thinks one is carrying out the way of God. Nothing can be questioned then, nothing can be debated, no other points of view exist in front of God’s word. I guess we just have to learn that we are not God and we only do the best we can. The scholars were/are only human and speak from their own spatial and time limits. We have to work out ways for ourselves in the modern world and let others do the same in a secular society where people are free to choose.