Secular Unorthodox Muslim

Growing up as a Muslim in America placed me in ethical and socially contradictory environments from an impressionable age. Straddling the gaps between two cultures resulted with my mind becoming a bending, twisty, path between conflicting morals, questionable behavior, and unorthodox beliefs.

So for the past few years I’ve been un-twisting some knots. Sometimes I’d like to take a hot iron to it and smooth out the wrinkles, flatten myself out into a nice crisp set of beliefs with perfect edges that fold just right into my head.

I have some odd beliefs about faith, spirituality, and what being a Muslim is about. But I believe them, they’re my little believies, as Louis CK once put it. And one of those beliefs is that the first Muslims were unorthodox in mind and action. They were questioners of the system by which they’ve lived their entire lives. They were idealistic but were led by a great man who knew how to guide that force.

I also believe that a Muslim is someone who strives for discipline in their behavior and the choices they make. To take the extra time to think and hold off action. To try and learn and not give up even if they don’t get it right the first few (hundred) times.

To the core, I still consider myself as a Muslim because I am always trying to achieve grace. I believe that grace is the underlying theme within the message that our Prophet brought. Grace in form of mercy and of gracefulness, a soft kind touch when possible.

So far I’ve untwisted some of the knots and straightened out the lines of thought into a few of these basic principles (of my own) of being a Muslim. I do not pray 5 times a day but I try and practice discipline in my craft and my hobbies. I don’t socialize at the mosque much, but I try to be gracious and grateful for the conversations I have and the people I’m with.

And I create trouble in the meantime by questioning everything, wondering if there really is a God up there. What if there’s no after-life? What if hell and sin doesn’t exist? Questionings that other “Muslims” would condemn me to the hell-fire for.

What I’m learning in Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s book “Moving the Mountain” part 2

It’s actually against the will of God to mindlessly believe and practice the “religion of your father.” This is the mistake that Abraham was unwilling to make when he bashed all of his father’s idols and probably ruined the family income for a few months. It’s a source of the hypocrisy that the God keeps iterating over and over again in the Quran that we need to avoid.
Respecting your parents doesn’t mean blind obedience. Respect means to listen and to make an concentrated effort into understanding and then practice based on your own personal acceptance of certain conclusions, not your parents.
That is what the Prophet wanted from his Ummah, that is what God wants from all of us. So it’s ok to express your misunderstandings and your doubts. If you feel like you don’t even believe in God, chances are you do but you were just spoon fed a concept of God that is just another idol that falls short of the wonderful reality that you see. It falls short because reality is so amazing that there no contradictions in reality, but you see blatant and obvious contradictions in your religious faith, in the practicers of that religion, and in the concept of God that you are supposed to believe in. There is no contradictions in God.
And at a certain level, language is insufficient to transmit a full understanding of God without there being contradictions. So religion is something you have to personally experience yourself and it is your own and only you can make sense of it in your own head outside of language.
But be aware, just because you may be excused from language, doesn’t mean you’re excused from contradictions.

Blind Faith as the Foundation of Relationships

Is trust something you earn or is it something given? I don’t know, I struggle with that myself. Maybe it depends on the circumstances. I wouldn’t hire someone to take care of my business if they haven’t first shown me some sort of proof of their trust. But I don’t think you can really start something like a relationship without first having some sort of initial trust.
There are so many things that you can’t tell about a person, even after years of knowing them. What exactly is going on in their heads? Do they really even like you or do they have some sort of agenda? Are they going to remain faithful? Are they going to like you once they see you with your hair all messed up and a giant booger hanging from your nose. Are they going to back you up when you’re angry at some asshole for cutting you off on the road? All those are important things that you need to have assurance of from the person that you’re basically handing your life to.
But unlike a job resume showing 3-5 years of good work experience and a referral from your previous employer, there’s no way to have proof of your qualifications as a good husband or wife. There’s no resume requested and it wouldn’t be such a good idea to try and get a referral from your Ex, usually.
There are a few simple (simple doesn’t mean easy) core foundations that any good relationship must be built upon. Two of which are:
-You must like the other person
-You must know that the other person likes you
The first is easy to figure out. You’re you, you can know yourself if you like someone or not, independent of why. It doesn’t matter why, there is NO RIGHT REASON TO LIKE SOMEONE. I don’t care if you like that person because they are an evil and disgusting human being that likes to kick puppies and kittens. Sure.. that should tell you a lot about yourself and the kind of person you are, but that’s who you are and it’s your right to like whoever you want.
It’s the second where all relationships start to break down. How can you be sure that the other person really likes you? And if you’re not 100 percent sure, then you are not going to have a 100 percent good relationship. The level of assuredness you feel is the level at which you will be happy in your relationship. Not being sure if the other person will stay through all your crap and mental and/or physical issues is not just a bad feeling, but it also impacts how you interpret what the other person does or says. You may, for example, perceive silence to be anger towards you instead of just an inability to find something to say at the moment.
Also, usually your insecurities is tied into this such that, if you don’t feel like you’re worthy of their attention, you’ll find “proof” that their attention is false and not sincere. What comes first? A feeling of self worth so you can believe that the other person does truly like you? Or trust that the other person does truly like you and so you gain a sense of self worth?
The combination of insecurities and distrust causes behavior that creates rift in a relationship which causes more insecurities and further distrust. This cycle goes on and on till you both feel so horribly shitty and it’s so difficult to interact with one another without conflict that the relationship falls apart and finally ends.
So what to do about it? How do you prevent it and how do you fix it if you’re already in this cycle?
I’m still trying to figure it out, but if I were to lay out all the pieces:
1. I need to somehow feel assured that the other person really wants to be with me
2. Assurance like that is impossible to provide proof for in this lifetime
3. My insecurities makes it difficult to feel assured, maybe even prevents it entirely
4. My insecurities comes from a distrust about my own worth as a human being
I come up with the following conclusions:
A. If there’s no way to ever get concrete proof, then “blind faith” is required and
B. I require the same “blind faith” about my own worthiness
It seems like the key to happiness is blind faith. Blind faith is assurance of an existence of something without any proof. I don’t know how to acquire such kind of faith, I don’t know what to do or where to go to get it.
But it does seem like, without it, I won’t be able to feel assured about myself and I won’t be able to feel assured about any one else. So now I’m in search of some blind faith.