My secular friends-1


A letter -from the heart- to my secular friends

Why defend God and Islam?

 And why now?

Dear friends:

It is the wining of the religious Islamic party Hamas in the Palestinian elections that actually prompted this dialogue; it all started with my response to my dear friend Greg’s response to an article I sent to him.

 Gradually, I felt the need to shed some light over certain issues. Hence I felt the urge to start writing.

I will try to focus on issues within Islam that -I believe – are seriously misunderstood by non-Muslims. Some of these issues have surfaced through the apparent understandable anxiety of my dear atheist friends in their initial reaction to Hamas’s win.

But before I start defending Islam or talking about God; please don’t ever think that I am trying to preach or convert any one here. I really don’t like preaching or moralizing, as I am absolutely terrified of saying things and failing to live up to them.

 Also I am petrified of the deadly disease “I am right and all others are wrong”… (I mean…arrogance) creeping in causing a real down fall of morality and forming a barrier to understanding.

Therefore I welcome with an open heart all responses and criticisms to my letter, as this will only help me understand and appreciate the views of others. Also at this point I’d like to ask you to persevere with me as I appreciate that the topic that I’m discussing might not be one of your favourites!

Here and now, I just am, I try to live what I believe; however, when my faith is misunderstood I feel the need to try to clarify it, because my faith (like many Muslims) means every thing to me.

Simply and frankly my faith is my only reason for….being. Otherwise I would have been gone long ago.

 (Even though- I have to admit- deep down in the bottom of my soul I’d like every one to experience and enjoy the feeling of closeness to God; purely because there is nothing, no joy, no happiness, no pleasure that can be compared to it. It’s really the ultimate bliss … it is heaven). But anyway that is not why I am writing.

I will start by explaining the core of the Islamic faith, by that I mean the belief in God.

 And here, I am going to draw on my own personal experience just to give you a taste of the magnitude and importance of the concept of God in the Islamic society.

About God:

I started asking questions and thinking about the world and later on about my very own existence, and about God, at a very young age. As a toddler I was fascinated by my surroundings, the trees, birds, flowers, people, but more so the sky, how vast! How beautiful! How perfect! It was always urging me to look at, at first to admire and then to question.

 As I grew older my fascination grew deeper, I started to look for meanings and explanations, trying to make sense of what’s around me.

 “What is all this? … Why is all this? … Who am I? … Do I really exist? … How and why I can comprehend the fact that I exist? …. Why am I here? … What is the purpose of my life?”

Endless questions burned in my little head.

I thought and contemplated for many years; and while many of my friends were playing I used to be drawn into this world of mine searching for meanings and answers.

 The only valid explanation for me was that there must be a perfect designer, a mastermind, an intelligent power behind all. If any thing is to have any meaning at all; this was the only conclusion that I always arrived at.

Later on, and as I went through certain experiences I came to feel God in the real sense. God was as real -if not more- than my own reality.

If faith and the concept of God provides a logical explanation to my existence, and if it helps me understand myself and the world around me in a rational manner, if it can give me a sense of fulfilment, contentment and satisfaction, If it enables me to survive adversities of life with minimum trauma and more patience, grace and sanity, if it fills my soul with love, joy, peace and tranquillity, if it makes life more fun, more enjoyable and my experiences more real and intense ; then how and why should I complain?

After all there is nothing to lose and everything to gain.

As far as I know, no one can prove that God does not exist, logically, there is a possibility no matter how slim -or huge- that there is a God, if that is the case; I through my faith would have lived a happier life and most likely a happier after-life.

 It’s a win- win situation! My logic concluded.

Why Islam:

As a teenager I started looking into different religions, I read about all major religions and for a while I was attracted to many concepts of Buddhism, but Islam appealed to my reason and intellect more. It made more sense because of the utter simplicity, clarity, and its ability to unite the seemingly contradictory concepts such as:

 faith and knowledge, mind and soul, science and religion, material and spiritual, logic and emotion, political and moral, economic and ethical.

Every thing just blends so effortlessly, smoothly and beautifully.

Moving from the personal to the general, many young people in Islamic  and non-Islamic societies go through similar experiences, those who embark on the path of searching for God, or start a journey of  hunting for meanings of their lives find in Islam a revolutionary way of thinking. It demands a reformed way of living and working for a better world, an ideal world.

The emphases on equality, liberation, and social justice are also land marks that can’t be missed by the seeker. Hence faith becomes inseparable from the daily life of Muslims. Faith is life.

We surrender to the sword of Islam; that irresistible, most tender sword that strikes the mind, invades the heart, and captures the soul.

 That’s maybe why Islam-despite the very negative publicity- is still the fastest growing religion in the world.

God is central:

 Is it not only reasonable then to assume that secular ideology might not fulfil the needs of a deeply religious society; God lies at the core of the society of faith, while denying God is an essential part of the secular.

 Most socio-dynamics in an Islamic society; stems from that belief, starting with God-man relationship, ending with man-nature relationship, including all what is in-between , i.e. the boundaries of personal freedoms, and extents of responsibilities in  the man-man relationship.

That is not to say that it is a rigid society; on the contrary, in fact flexibility and on going debates to advance understanding and tolerance are well noticeable characteristics within those societies. There is no hierarchy system in Islam which allows every knowledgeable, educated Muslim to become part of and to openly contribute to these on going debates.

Another very important point here is the fact that within Islam there are main beliefs and ethics that all Muslims agree with such as belief in God, equality, justice for all, and brotherhood of mankind, also there are differences that stem from man’s understanding, interpretation and adoption of ideas that are deemed to be of less importance, and that can be employed in specific cultures for their own specific needs.

 It’s very important to notice here that many cultural practices might be the cause of wrongly condemning Islam, yet Islam’s teachings might oppose explicitly these practices. What comes to mind here is the example of forced marriage in the Pakistani culture that is in total contradiction with the most explicit teaching of Islam.

 Religion and the state:

It might be true that if a religious ideology actually takes state power it can lead to corruption and abuse, but that’s not unique to religious ideologies alone; It also includes secular ideologies, communist ideologies, and most obvious capitalists ideology…etc. We all remember the Soviet Union and the persecution of all religious minorities; secular France and the ill treatment of its ethnic minorities…etc.

 It is presumptuous to say that if a religious ideology takes state power that it will inevitably oppress and dominate with dictatorship and violence.  Any leadership, regardless of ethnic or religious ideologies, can fall victim to the corrupting force of power.  Why is there a need to single out religious ideologies as the factor most likely to lead to corruption and dictatorship?

Some people might give the example of Israel as a proof of the corruption and immorality of religious states. Israel is truly a state for Jews but I am not sure at all that it’s a religious state, there are religious political parties but as I understand it they are a minority, the far majority of Jewish people in “Israel” are non religious, secular, and atheists (according to their own researches).

 Also when Zionists abuse the fact that Jewish people are entrusted with a great message to all mankind and use it for their own self-interest, it’s not the fault of the message, the messenger nor the faith that they should become selfish, arrogant, greedy and exclusive that they want the land only for themselves.

When some Christians use the pure message of love taught by Jesus (peace be upon him) to justify the crusades or the invasion of Iraq or Iran, it’s hardly the fault of Jesus is it?


© Copyright 2006 Nahida Izzat -PoetryforPalestine – All Rights Reserved

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