Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Faith (or) The God?

An American friend is about to convert to Judaism. She’s almost through with the classes, and is excitedly awaiting the conversion rituals which she described to me in detail. I could not help but listen to her description of Mikveh while distracted by the light radiating from her.

She was happy. Life in her heart was coming back to its elemental state of water, wood and fire. She looked light, so light that she could fly beyond her own heritage and upbringing into that of fairytales.

“I have to remove any makeup, nail polish and bandages, before I enter the water,” she said. “I have to immerse my entire body in it, untie my hair, while the rabbi recites things from behind a screen.”

Throughout her description of Mikveh, I tried relating it (in my mind) to the purifying procedure that goes on in Islam:
Ghusl. I wouldn’t change from a religion to another to do the same thing, I thought to myself. But then I had to stop and wonder why I was contemplating the idea of conversion in the first place!

“How’s your family reacting to that?” I asked her to get myself to focus.
“Surprisingly, my mom though a practicing catholic is very excited. She insisted on throwing me a party that day!”
My eyes must’ve darted out or something because she explained immediately.
“I think because I’ve never believed in anything while growing up, she’s happy that I now have a faith and that I’ve become a believer.”

A believer. That word sounded so beautiful to me. A believer. Nothing more, nothing less, nothing in-between. So big a word, that it needed no fillers. A Catholic mom was happy that her daughter is becoming a Jew because she will finally become a believer.

We were at a party, but nothing could distract me from my thoughts after that point of the conversation. While many religions divide the land of God to countries, cities, and maps, streets and street regulations. While some religions place penalties as high as death to those who are leaving, and other religions place hardships as much as rejection to those who knock-a mom was clear enough in the eye to see the light radiating through her daughter and embracing the boundless God.


Saudi Stepford Wife-Daisy said...

my mom had a similar reaction when someone noticed a picture of me (in hijab) with my sister on my mom's desk. "Aren't you upset your daughter's a Muslim" the person asked my mom. She replied, "my daughter's 19 years old, doesn't drink, or do drugs, isn't sleeping around or hanging out at clubs, she dresses respectably and she worships God...I couldn't be a happier mother!"

Dotsson said...

I agree that it was very cool of your friend's mom to be understanding and share her daughter's happiness. Wish my mom would be like that.

However no offense to you or your readers...
*Being rant*
I personally have a very strong distaste for converts to any faith mainly because as new "ambassadors" they are more extreme in the way they practice and they never miss a chance to defend everything and anything that involves their religion.
The people who are born Muslim for example, naturally possess the ability to criticize certain aspects of their religion or society. Converts, by default, can’t do that and will be the ones who defend everything. “Polygamy, religious police, niqab… it is all correct.”

If they admit that something is wrong, then they will start to question the reasoning behind their conversion and if they do that, they might begin to doubt their whole little “journey of faith.”

Aysha would you ever convert to another religion? NO! Why? Because you are normal.
Now if you were the ugly child on the block that no one ever asked out on a date, were sexually abused, grew up in a dysfunctional family, had drug problems or were depressed then the chances of your converting would increase drastically. That whole “I converted cause I saw the light” is bullshit the religious folks love to shove down our throats; similar to the propaganda they use during wartime to recruit soldiers.
Converts are disturbed people… they are never happy with their lives, there is always a VOID that they have in their lives and they turn to religion to fill that void and make themselves happy. You wanna be happy and live a normal life? Then go see a psychiatrist cause unfortunately God doesn’t talk us through our problems.
*End rant*

Saudi Stepford Wife-Daisy said...

Although it doesn't happen often, I agree with Dotsson on ONE of his points. I think he's only seen the more-Muttawwa-than-thou converts who make hijra to escape the evil influences of the kuffar.

I have to admit, I have a problem with some of the more aggressive "born-again" Christians chasing me down the street telling me I have to "love Jesus", till I inform them as a Muslim, I revere Jesus- it shuts them up quick. I've also ended friendships with a couple of overboard "reverts" too, although most new Muslims I've met cool their jets after a few years and reality beats them down a notch or two.

Meanwhile, I just nod as they lecture me on my tight clothes and cleavage even though we're only around other women knowing full well after a few years the wind will be stolen from their sails. Even Muslims born into Muslim families, at some point, CHOOSE to be Muslims or not. "Reverts" aren't the only ones.

Cairogal said...

I think Dotsson has described one profile of converts, though not all. I am often leery of converts to Islam (no offense, D. You know I love ya), as I have met my fair share of messed up people over the years. On the other hand, I've met some really sound individuals that came into the faith on their own and with a lot of self-education AND moderation. Some do become more moderate over the years, too. For many, however, I think Dotsson is correct. They don't want to reject any aspect of the faith-perhaps for the reason that dotsson indicated, but perhaps also out of fear of criticism from within the community. Many seem to err on the side of conservative.

BTW, Aysha, I was thinking the title of this post should be "Becoming a Believer."

Aysha said...

Wonderful takes Daisy and Dotsson. Cairogal is correct about the post title, which I wrote for a starter and before the ideas developed. I only noticed the title after the post had been uploaded, thought it was irrelative to the general purpose of the post, but thought changing it this late might be unethical.
Now that I have Cairogal to blame, I will ;)

Cairogal said...

Nice title!

Hning said...

A catholic friend once told me, "If you really look into your religion, you wouldn't find a reason to leave it. So it's a matter how deep your search for affirmation."

I thought that everything you need to believe in is all available in whatever religion your parents have raised you. The question is, whatever it is that you're looking for, is it availble within the frame of a religion?

Or a God?

Be well, Ayesha. And thank you for this post. You have no idea how much it cheered me up today. With everything else going on around in the world, this can truly uplift a person's hopes in the way people view the Lord.

Dotsson said...

Hning makes a very good point. In essence, all Abrahamic faiths are nearly the same.
Again, I think it has more to do with how you were raised and your circumstances rather than "seeing the light" because they are all books of God and they are all the same.