Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Get to know me #3 - What has been the reactions to my conversions

I know I do a lot of complaining and ranting about some of the situations that I come across but I'm overall very grateful for the love and support I have received throughout my journey. So this video is more of a shoutout to all the beautiful people who have been there for me throughout this journey so far.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Kicking off the habit

The more it goes, the more I realize that most aspects of my life can be considered as habits. From the food I eat, to the people I speak to, my comfort levels lie in the knowledge, commonality and familiarity. I try as much as I can to grow and improve, but sometimes I find change difficult. Difficult, not because of the effort required to accomplish that change, but difficult because it requires that I change all the habits which revolve around that element.

For example, when I decided to start wearing hijab, what I found difficult was adapting the headscarf to my style and indivuality. I could have easily chosen to change my style, but I knew that this was not what I wanted to do. Gradually, I learned how to make different styles using tutorials, eventually learning to improvise my own.

This is true of most change. When I moved to Ottawa, what I found most difficult was not the adaptation to the city, but the fact that my social circle was so limited. For years I had a solid social circles where I could visit friends at the drop of a hat, of course I have now rebuilt my social circle to a similar level, but it took some time, and the initial blow took a toll on me.

I am now at a phase of my life where I know I need to make a change. I am very uncertain of the path I wish to take and, while considering my options, I find that I rely on familiarity to take on the next step. I have often made changes by jumping in, relying on nothing but faith and hoping to redevelop habits once settled. My current clinging to habits is new to me and makes me wonder whether I've grown wiser or weaker.

Am I avoiding unecessary risks or am I scared to take necessary ones? I am in a good place physically and mentally, I have found an inner peace which has long lacked in my life. A change is required in my life, and currently it is innevitable, but somehow, I cling to this stability in fear of losing it once change happens. Sometimes the worse habit to kick off is comfort itself!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Defining religion

For many years, I have defined myself as a non-religious person. Not an atheist, not even quite an agnostic, but I did not associate with any particular faith. At the beginning of my journey towards Islam, I got caught in a debate about faith as distinct from religion. At the time, I defined "religion" as the community and belief system of a community whereas my "opponent" claimed that there was no difference between the faith and religion. If one was a Muslim they were automatically part of the religion that is Islam.

Throughout my studies of Islam, I certainly found enlightening the perception of individuals and religion within its context: Muslims are not to pray to prophets or saints, angels or passed loved ones, but to God Himself, and no other. Imams and clerics have no power to forgive or expiate you from sins. So the power of the "religion" rests solely on the individual and God.

So how does one define religion outside of the social construct? That's one concept I am still trying to fully develop. From my understanding, every religion (or belief system) is a set of moral and ethical rules and values to hold and protect what is "right". The definition of what is "right" or "wrong" might differ and the reward or punishment for doing right or wrong can be different, but the basic understanding that one must do "right" stands true for all religions (and belief systems).

Now where can there possibly be the problem "with religion" if every individual is simply thriving to do "right"? There's none! Unfortunately, humans are social by nature. Socialisation forces humans to connect on similarities, and that includes moral and ethical rules. Eventually, we come to a consensus on what is considered "right" and "wrong" within the greater community. From this concesus and the human desire to "fit in" we begin to compare our own moral compass to that of the masses to determine, not what is "right" but what is good. Good becomes the greater of the "right", achieving a higher social order by abiding by what is right not solely for the individual but also for the community.

It is within this comparative that problems often begins. We begin to behaved based on this comparative: one community is better than the other, one country is better than the other, one gender is better than the other, and, unfortunely, we begin to define one belief system as better than the other.

Unfortunately, these comparatives create conflict. To become Good, the reasonable thing to do would be to improve oneself, to learn and adapt and discover the reason behind the "right" of others; however, that is not what people do. Instead of becoming the better person, we attempt to make others worse. We concentrate efforts on diminishing others or on bullying them into agreeing with our versions of "right". And of course, some people will use their religious belief to do so.

In reality, most if not all religions and spiritual beliefs stand against dimishing others for our own selfish gain. However, human nature doesn't. Personally, I try very hard to better myself for my own and for God's sake. I cannot help anyone else, I cannot define anyone else's belief. I can encourage and answer questions, explain my own belief and explain what I believe is ultimately "right", but I refuse to force or bully anyone into agreement. I refuse to believe I am ultimately right in everything. In my personal belief, I believe that I could be very wrong in my definition of right, and it keeps me open to learning, to becoming better.

So how do I define religion? I define it as my vision of "right" as per what I have been inspired by God to believe. It's that "simple"!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Love conquers all?

My relationship has come to an end. It is incredibly saddening and devastating to see something you've worked incredibly hard and invested so much of your soul into fall appart. However, God knows that we've tried everything. The hardest part for me to accept that love doesn't always conquer all. And in ways I still believe it does. I just know now that this may not have been the right kind of love to conquer our problems.

I put my faith entirely in God that He will guide me where and to whom I belong when the time is right. Meanwhile, I learn from every love gained and lost. From my ex, I  have learned to let the past go, let lost loves be lost and truly give yourself to your present. (Ironic much?) I have learned that having standards is good and that one should not sacrifice what feels right for what feels good. I became a Muslim with his help and support and will continue to be one with His Love and Support.

Because in the end, that's what always holds true: God's Love conquers all or at the very least God's will, and since I believe in a God that is Most Compasionate, Most Merciful (Ar-Rahman, Ar-Rahim) I believe His will is one of Love. So I continue my journey through faith, through love, through life better, stronger, grown of my love for a man which has nurtured my love for the Creator.

May God keep us both happy and succesful, lead us to the straight path and lead us not astray.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Get to know me #1 - Why I chose Islam

So many have asked me that I decided to give one clear answer to you all... clear-ish. I'm still not quite sure myself what really happened that made me Muslim, all I know is that it feels right, answers most of my questions about religion and that it fits with everything I believe.