Friday, December 27, 2013

Religion VS Culture - WHO AM I

Wow, this blog is full of drafts. I have one draft saved for practically every post I've put out in the last year or two... I never seem to get to the end of my ideas.

I've been struggling with this whole "religion vs culture" thing for a while... Trying to figure out who I am... It's an identity issue. I have beliefs that correspond to Islam and go against the typical beliefs of my culture and I have beliefs that correspond to the typical ones in my culture and contradict Islam (or most interpretations). So what am I?

At first I thought there was a way to have both in perfect harmony... I'd be a Muslim, a more "progressive" and spiritually-focused type with more open beliefs than most, like traditional Saudi-type views, but that wouldn't take away from the fact that I am Muslim. It also wouldn't take away from who I am as a Quebecker and Canadian, the cultural me. I wouldn't give up my language, dressing style, manners, holidays celebrated, etc.

With time I began to believe that NO, it was not possible to have harmony between the Muslim me and the Quebecker me, not with the beliefs that I held. I don't see myself as being more united to other Muslims than I do with people of any other religion or even atheists... I see myself united with people of all faiths or non-faiths, united by the good values we have in common as humans. I don't see myself as having anything more in common with Muslims than any other group of people including my non-Muslim friends and family.

Why would I separate myself from everything I know by slapping the label "Muslim" on myself when it doesn't represent me all that much anyway!? At the same time, if something like a label of "Muslim" makes people around me leave me or see me differently, makes the unable to see what I actually am rather than what they imagine I am because of this label, are they really worth it?

Where do I belong when I disagree with so much of what Muslims believe and so much of what Quebeckers believe? Racist, xenophobic Quebeckers don't represent me and intolerant, homophobic, judgemental Muslims don't either...

I believe in God and the Qur'an as being divinely inspired through prophet Muhammad and that there's wisdom therein for us to learn from and better ourselves from and one might say that makes me a Muslim... But I am so against the way "organized" Islam is right now, with the (man) scholars dictating what people should belief, twisting any hadith or verse in the Qur'an to support anti-women beliefs and practices. I'm also so done with my fellow Quebeckers hating everything that is different! Different language, culture, religion, skin colour, it's all bad. A lot of them are perfectly OK with immigrants who have an accent but who otherwise have adopted our way of life, as long as they're not on welfare and are easy to understand  when they speak but honestly there's vast lack of respect and acceptance for immigrants that fall outside that category. Like they'd have been better off in their own counties.

I just feel completely disconnected from it all right now. I guess I'm Muslim but I don't want people to think I am. I know I'm Quebecker because I just can't deny where I was born and how I was raised, but I do NOT support what our government is doing on a lot of levels and I feel lately that I have a lot less in common with the population than I thought I did.

Where does that leave me? My top label so far is agnostic theist. I think it represents my beliefs well... I believe in God but I know that this is not knowledge, but only belief. That the truth of whether or not there's a God is unknown, but that I personally believe there is. It's a hard thing to understand for Muslim, and even for most people who associate "agnostic" with "not concerned with whether or not there's a God". But it's who I feel I am for now. I feel the need to specify that I can't KNOW because it makes it clear (to me) that I accept any other person's beliefs as valid and possibly real. I might not agree, but I respect it out of principle. Any belief that comes from goodness is, to me, based out of truth even if not completely correct. I have something in common with EVERY person who beliefs in ANY good thing. That's mostly who I am.

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