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Let me be clear.  I don’t mean that in a hypothetical, empathic “I am Spartacus” sort of way.

I mean that one morning a couple of Septembers ago, I faced Mecca, prostrated myself before Allah and said the following:

“There is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is his messenger.”

That’s it.  That’s all I had to do.  In my naivete when I did it, I was under the impression that I needed Muslim witnesses, but I found out later that Allah is the only witness I needed.  So it was done.  

But why Islam?, you might be asking.  The short answer, like many things in life, is “I don’t really know.”

I’ve been fascinated with Islam since I was in High School; buried deep in my library are many books about the faith, what it means, who Muslims are, and many other things.  Perhaps it wasn’t until the 90s when I had several friends that were members of the Nation of Islam.  They always considered me a ‘brother’ and often tried to get me to go to Don Mohammed’s Mosque in this city [Boston].  Like many other things, over time we drifted away and I’ve since lost touch with them.  But reading the Final Call every week actually re-kindled the dormant interest of mine.  But that’s a particular brand of narrow-focus Islam.  I did start reading and exploring more after that, but never did go with them to a meeting.  

In my life, I’ve been Methodist, Protestant, Agnostic, Atheist, and an actual, confirmed Roman Catholic (primarily to get married.)  During our fertility troubles in the late 1990s, I developed a bitter hatred of the Pope and the Catholic Church’s policies in that regard…it’s the law of unintended consequences.  Birth control is illegal, but as it turns out, so are most advanced reproductive therapies under Catholic Dogma.  By the mere fact of wanting to procreate “in the prescribed manner” (albeit with modern man’s help), Mrs. TriSec and I were de facto excommunicated by the church in 1999.  While we went through the motions to go through the adoption process in the early 2000s, in my heart I knew I wasn’t a Catholic anymore, and never could be again.  Being here at Ground Zero for the global child-sex scandal further cemented that decision.

So for the better part of the last decade, it’s been a rudderless spiritual existence for me.  We visited the Lutherans for almost a year, and very nearly made that one official, but over time we drifted away from that.  We had one visit to the Unitarians, and that was that.  A while ago now, to fulfill our last obligation to the Heart of Mary Villa where Javier was adopted from, we briefly went back to Catholic Church and had Javier go through First Communion.  Fortunately, the priest at our neighborhood parish is a Franciscan, a denomination I have far less problems with.  But I wasn’t happy about it.

But why Islam?  I can’t really say.  Perhaps I’m genetically predisposed to it.  My family is from the island of Mindanao in the Philippines, a longtime Muslim area.  I’ve had Muslim friends off and on, and there have even been a couple that have passed through my Cub Pack.  (Converts at that.)  Perhaps it’s the “purity” of the Koran that appeals to me….while the Bible was written by man many years after the fact, the Koran is the revelations of the Archangel Gabriel (yes, the same one) to Mohammed, and were written down at the time they happened.  Perhaps it’s something I heard from a Muslim Scholar a while back.  Because the Koran came later than the Bible, its Allah’s attempt to ‘correct’ what man got wrong.  Where the Koran and the Bible agree, both are correct.  Where the Koran is different, because it came after the Bible, that’s the correct version.  I would urge all of you to look up the Koran online and just read some passages…the similarity between both documents is striking.

But at the end of the day, does it matter which prophet’s writings we choose to read and follow?  If the entire concept of Monotheism is to be believed….it’s all the same God.  

Buddhists…Sikhs…Jews…Christians…Shinto…Muslims…all the religious texts are written by different persons…but isn’t the essential truth the same?

So, I am a Muslim.  To be sure, not a very good one…and hardly even a practicing one.  At the time I made my pledge, it felt like the right thing to do.  But I never really followed through.  I’ve not been to a Mosque, nor have I made any of the real observations and actions that it means to be a true Muslim.  Sure, I read the Koran, I pick up some podcasts, and I try to make at least the morning prayers, but not much else.  But as I commented to someone a while back…Allah knows what is in my heart.  It’s my weak mind and will that have yet to come around.

But the point of all of this is Muslims are everywhere.  It could be your neighbor, a teacher, a fireman, a city official, any one of us here in these United States with the freedom to choose which God we follow and how we do it.  Because of the ignorance and fear of a distinct minority, they have managed to hijack the national debate and turn it into what amounts to a witch hunt.

We've had witch hunts before.  Look up Salem, MA or Tule Lake if you need concrete proof.  The question now is, how far down this path are we going to go?  Are we going to smash some storefronts, burn some Korans, execute a few innocents, round up a few thousand and send them to internment camps in the desert…or is there a new Wannsee Conference in the offing if the Republicans and the Religious Right have their way?

Originally posted to TriSec on Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 04:34 PM PST.

Also republished by Street Prophets .

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Comment Preferences

  •  If you are shopping around different philosophies (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DFWmom, Patrick Costighan

    and theims until you find the one that fits, what does it mean?  Aren't you judging god before you let him judge you?

    (Sorry, I had to ask.  Happy atheist over here).

    To any wingnut: If you pay my taxes I'll give you a job.

    by ban48 on Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 04:40:27 PM PST

    •  It means there are many doorways to the Creator (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      zenox, Navy Vet Terp

      or, as Meister Eckhart said,

      “The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God's eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love.”
      Not all of us use that eye, and perhaps some of us do not even have it. And life goes on.

      YES WE DID -- AGAIN. FOUR MORE YEARS.

      by raincrow on Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 07:14:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Happy or taunting? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      raincrow, Mortifyd

      If a person can be unsure of an aspect of themselves such as sexuality, where they aren't sure if they are straight or gay, or would rather be a man or a woman, then is it really so surprising that people search for a spirituality that fits them ?
      Did you really have to ask ?
      I think you are coming from a pretty simplistic view of religion's role in a person's life.

      •  Yeah, I had to ask. If he's putting it out there (0+ / 0-)

        asking should be fair game.

         Besides, he hit it in the middle of the diary:

        But at the end of the day, does it matter which prophet’s writings we choose to read and follow?  If the entire concept of Monotheism is to be believed….it’s all the same God.  

        Buddhists…Sikhs…Jews…Christians…Shinto…Muslims…all the religious texts are written by different persons…but isn’t the essential truth the same?

        except for me, I would edit it down to this:
        But at the end of the day, does it matter which writings we choose to read and follow? all the texts are written by different persons…but isn’t the essential truth the same?
        I don't see the point of limiting your inspiration to theist-approved religious texts or expecting to find a one-text-fits-all solution.

        To any wingnut: If you pay my taxes I'll give you a job.

        by ban48 on Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 08:18:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  So if someone states they're gay, would you ask? (0+ / 0-)

          Would you ask them if they are sure or if they just haven't found the right guy/woman?

          Wold you appreciate it if evangelists came to your door and invited you to their services, just to be sure you're not religious ?

           

  •  Republished to Street Prophets n/t (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    poco, zenox

    "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals, now we know that it is bad economics." Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jan. 20, 1937

    by Navy Vet Terp on Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 04:49:45 PM PST

  •  I guess it wouldn't matter... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    zenox, poco, Mortifyd, AaronInSanDiego

    ...which religion one chooses if all of monotheism is directed at the same entity.  I'm Jewish, but currently on sabbatical.  

    I'm not always political, but when I am I vote Democratic. Stay Democratic, my friends. -The Most Interesting Man in the World

    by boran2 on Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 05:12:26 PM PST

  •  I am going to say something really mean here... (7+ / 0-)

    I am going to write something really mean here.  I think even my brothers and sisters in Islam will think is 'discouraging'

    Alot of this diarist writing seemed to me that he is Muslim because he is 'disallusioned' with everything else.  

    Perhaps because I a am not a 'convert' (not correct term in Islam, but used for clearity) I dont understand....but I am going to say anyway.

    I dont think it is a good idea to become Muslim because you dont like everything else.  I dont think the decision is as easy as saying the Shahada, and doing the ghazal ritual, and like magic, you are Muslim.

    I hope for you brother or sister, that you have taken careful study before you have made your deicision, and quickly get under the guidance of other good people who manifest Islam (not just in prayers or masjid attendance) in their lives everyday.

    Especially these days, and yes, even in the west, there are people out there looking for people to misguide and make 'evil doers', haters, and bigots in the name of Islam toward others.

    So, first, dont become Muslim for anything other than seeking what is true...not for a spouse (or partner), not for political statement, not because you dislike everything else you have tried, but because you have carefully studied and asked questions, because you fully understand what you are doing, and that you are ready to manifest the teachings of ALL of the great Prophets who inspire Muslims.

    The true strength of of an oath is forged in adversity.

    by Nur Alia Chang on Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 05:20:45 PM PST

  •  In your explanation of Islam (6+ / 0-)

    you wrote "....while the Bible was written by man many years after the fact, the Koran is the revelations of the Archangel Gabriel (yes, the same one) to Mohammed, and were written down at the time they happened."

    How exactly do you know that the Koran is the revelation....and not written after the fact like you say the Bible was?

  •  Re: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    crose

    Rather than try to detail reason for your recent conversion, perhaps you should explore your own whatever revelation--if any--led you to your beliefs.  Otherwise, aren't you just window shopping for a new God?

    When God gives you lemons, you find a new god.

    by Patrick Costighan on Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 05:30:43 PM PST

  •  I recommend studying Islamic mysticism (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    UnaSpenser, poco, raincrow, Navy Vet Terp

    Rumi's poetry is quite popular in the US, for example. I like the peaceful and poetic mysticism of the Sufis.

    "Corruptio Optimi Pessima" (Corruption of the best is the worst)

    by zenox on Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 05:31:02 PM PST

  •  By all known accounts (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gsenski, Utahrd, crose, skohayes, leftynyc

    something similar happened to Joseph Smith.

    "There ain't no sanity clause." Chico Marx

    by DJ Rix on Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 05:31:52 PM PST

  •  A friend of mine (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    zett, raincrow

    had an interesting view of religions...

    She that Judiasm started as a way of establishing some type of equality among people. By the time Roman's ruled the region, the priests were so rich, powerful, and corrupt that it no longer resembled what it started to be....

    Thus Christ. He brought another attempt at leveling the playing field. This took hold throughout the region. Then some people took control of it. Found a way to make it into a political force. (See the current Catholic Church..)

    Then came Muhammad. The religion also has very strict economic policies, like not charging interest. It built on the other two religions to attempt some kind of guiding policy that would keep all equal. Giving to the poor is one of the five pillars of Islam.

    And many Muslims still believe that.

    Then you have the oil rich Sheikhs that have corrupted the religion into what we see in the U.S. The Islamic right kind that ties Islam with an AK. Just like the Christian right that ties Christ with guns.

  •  Please don't forget (6+ / 0-)

    about Pastfarianism. If I were test driving religions, I'd be foolish not to consider the teachings of His Noodliness.

  •  Until someone gets hurt (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shaggies2009, Utahrd, crose

    It's all very nice until someone gets hurt.

    Odious: "(Such) as dispute about the signs of God, without any authority that hath reached them. Grievous and odious (is such conduct) in the sight of God and of the Believers." [40: 35]

    Mocked: "But on this Day the Believers will laugh at the Unbelievers." [83: 34]

    Punished: "But ye have indeed rejected (Him), and soon will come the inevitable (punishment)!" [25: 77]

    Terrorized: "I will instill terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers." [8: 12]

    Destroyed: "Of the wrong-doers the last was remnant was cut off. Praise be to God, the Cherisher of the Worlds." [6: 45]

    Slain: "Seize them and slay them wherever ye get them: in their case we have provided you with a clear argument against them." [4: 91]

    Crucified: "The punishment of those who wage war against God and His Apostle, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides." [5: 33]

    Evil: "Say thou: 'Yea, and ye shall then be humiliated (on account of your evil)." [37: 18]

    Cursed: "They shall have a curse on them: wherever they are found." [33: 61]

  •  Mohammed plagiarized from Judaism and Christianity (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    crose, leftynyc, jabney

    generously, albeit shoddily, to create his story/religion.

    Craig Wynn, an internet pioneer, dissected the Quran critically (following 9/11) and wrote his book "Prophet of Doom," which can be read and downloaded from here.

    This is a key chapter in the book:

    Dishonest Abe

    Nothing is more essential to Islam’s credibility than Muhammad’s version of Abraham. Islam must prove that he was a Muslim, that his God was Allah, and that he worshiped in Mecca. Recognizing this, Muhammad tried desperately to make the case.

    We pick up the trail in Tabari's History with something that sounds like Hitler's idea of Arian supremacy. Tabari II:21 "Ham [Africans] begat all those who are black and curly-haired, while Japheth [Turks] begat all those who are full-faced with small eyes, and Shem [Arabs] begat everyone who is handsome of face with beautiful hair. Noah prayed that the hair of Ham's descendants would not grow beyond their ears, and that whenever his descendants met the children of Shem, the latter would enslave them." The slavery theme keeps reappearing because Muhammad used the slave trade to finance the spread of Islam. Turning Noah into a racist to justify such behavior wasn't beneath Islam’s prophet - but then again, little was.
    ...

    I recommend going through Winn's work to anyone who is open and willing to critically examine Islam.
    •  Certainly hope you're not implying that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JDsg

      the texts and lore of Judaism or Christianity somehow "plagiarize" less than Islam :~)  They're all rooted in, borrow from, re-write and elaborate specific elements of the broader Ancient Near Eastern / Bronze Age eastern Mediterranean mythology.

      Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time. (Terry Pratchett)

      by angry marmot on Mon Mar 04, 2013 at 04:56:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Can you say "cherry-picking?" (0+ / 0-)

      So, you and Wynn rely upon a cherry-picked quotation from a minor history to "prove" a point that flies in the face of all the other historical evidence showing that, contrary to using a slave trade to finance Islam, the early companions of the Prophet (pbuh), especially Abu Bakr, used their own money to free slaves.  All the while asking people to be "open and willing to critically examine Islam."

      Perhaps, with your Islamophobia, you and Sandbox would be more comfortable over at a site like Red State?

      Muslims and tigers and bears, oh my!

      by JDsg on Mon Mar 04, 2013 at 04:43:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I hope you find meaning and happiness in Islam (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mortifyd, Navy Vet Terp

    I hope Islam gives some more meaning and/or happiness in your life. I hope you will find that it resonants with you, gives you a sense of community with others and helps you be a better person.

  •  I'm happy that you have found your path (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JDsg, angry marmot

    and wish you well on it.  It doesn't matter why you came to Islam, or where you had been before - only that it fills the need you have to observe and serve. I hope you find much peace, growth and happiness.

    And we sail and we sail and we never see land, just the rum in the bottle and a pipe in my hand...

    by Mortifyd on Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 07:52:13 PM PST

  •  You (0+ / 0-)

    are my brother.

    Orly, it isn't evidence just because you downloaded it from the internet.

    by 6412093 on Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 09:13:39 PM PST

  •  I had a Catholic grandmother (0+ / 0-)

    in my home. I was baptized Catholic to alleviate that side of the family's fears of Limbo, quite widely held until recently. But I was raised Methodist, like my three older siblings. I admire Roman Catholicism, even love it in some ways, the dailyness of Catholic observance, how it can bring a different kind of order to life on a spiritual calendar. But every time I ask myself, "Why not become a Catholic?" I come up with the same objections, having to do with a few doctrinal matters & the institutional structure of the Church. The Catholic Church is within my frame of cultural reference & familiarity. Buddhism, Hinduism & Islam are not. The Dalai Lama & Mahatma Gandhi recognized this & both counseled Christians to remain in their faiths, that all one needed was available there. Good luck on your spiritual journey.   One may be "predisposed" to one faith or another, but embracing that faith is as much a form of marriage as committing to a life companion & to everything that person is & everything that person brings to you. Yet, there is nothing in this diary that hints of the richness of Islam, of what is available there to you. There is no joy.

    "There ain't no sanity clause." Chico Marx

    by DJ Rix on Mon Mar 04, 2013 at 12:42:05 PM PST

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