Religion and My Reason

How did I come to believe in Islam?

I figured this would be something interesting to delve into because my religion guides me in every aspect of my life and I’ll reference it often alongside other sources and stories, so some context about my perspective on religion might be nice to have.

Slow and Steady

Trying to tell you my journey into religion can be somewhat difficult because I can give you a number of different origins about how I came to believe in Islam, which may sound strange. I studied, remained patient with the information I had until I felt I’d reached its limit, then some. Many of the leads I took lead me back to Islam, so each time it did, my faith got stronger until I was certain. Many of these leads were happening simultaneously, so I can’t say for sure if it was a single moment, many minor moments or a mixture of both that lead to my belief. I didn’t get every answer I sought and I’m still seeking, but there comes a line where you have to stop making excuses and realise that you neither know nor have the means to everything, leading me to adopt a different approach in general that involved acting on what was likely.

Something we might not realise is how our attempt to insist on certainty can backfire, simply because it’s not easy to get and extremely slow to assess, assuming it can be reached. You’re considering what fruit to buy, but because you’re uncertain about which one you prefer to eat, you tire yourself out thinking about something you could never guess until you decide to go for something random, so you can argue in this case that you gave up your right to choose. It may also be that your only certainty here was that you didn’t know, so you might even refrain from making a choice altogether until you know what you want, which prevents you from eating something healthy until then.

Although that was a minor decision, you can probably infer the consequences of doing this on a more significant scale like in a marriage or career. You find someone amazing, but you don’t know how he or she will be like when married or whether they turn for the worst in the long run. Our attempt at certainty here is more or less a subtle attempt at seeking Mr or Ms Perfect and the perfect life, so we all know how that’ll turn out. With this, you can end up mistaking lust for perfection or deciding never to marry because your only certainty was that no one can ever be perfect.

When I refer to my approach as seeking what’s likely, I mean to seek the vital qualities that make up the bulk of what I’m searching for, then making do with the rest. Whether that means accepting someone or something for their flaws, developing my understanding of it or nurturing it, illogical is when you allow the minor details to so easily confuse the strong and the sound. You may not be certain of the future of a marriage or someone’s true character, but you can say with certainty that such and such is worth marrying from what you’ve already witnessed and assessed. In reference to religion and reasoning, you may not have everything you wanted to prove your case, but you can continue to gather information until you have everything you need to act with certainty in your beliefs.

To build a home if you have the means and skill is surely more secure than never having one to begin with, even if that safety can never truly be guaranteed.

On Equal Footing

I also want to spend some moments expanding on how I’d accounted for other beliefs.

Some background information may be worth mentioning first to set the scene with. When it came to religious education classes in school, there was a year in which two of the people in my class held strong beliefs which they were generally outspoken about. The teacher would spark a discussion about religion in class, to which you’d often have the same Christian and atheist debating their views and giving their take on something. For some reason, I’d get dragged into the middle of it out of nowhere because the teacher would often ask me for an Islamic take on the matter. As shy as I was, it was admittedly nice to be able to discuss life with everyone. At the end of the day though, it didn’t prevent us from supporting each other in other classes or being nice.

So that same Christian once said to me that she’d find a way to convert me to Christianity one day and I was simply like, okay, I’m all ears. Likewise, when a Jehovah’s Witness knocks on my door and tells me about their beliefs, I’ve been more than happy to hear them out. I wasn’t focused only on Islam, I was additionally interested in how others came to believe in theirs. Of them, I thought about atheism a lot because at first, the concept made most sense to me, but that didn’t last. Atheism has a set of unique traits that were specifically interesting to look into, so let’s talk a bit more on that.

At first glance, the arguments put forward by atheists seemed to make sense to me. Like if we couldn’t trace something to God or prove that the universe was designed or influenced by one, then you couldn’t make a credible claim for God to exist. However, as time went on, questions began clouding my mind that I couldn’t shake off no matter how I tried to make sense of it. Something that really irked me was how every religion could be assessed by their beliefs, but not atheism as it stated that it was free from all of them. This meant that any discussion was placed on extremely unequal grounds in that atheism was often free from any criticism and could be dismissed due to the broad spectrum that it could potentially involve. Like how we assign the value zero to make sense of nothing, I instead opted to treat atheism as a belief in the absence of a God, as opposed to defining it as the disbelief in religion. This allowed me to put it on equal ground with everything else. Once it did, it became a lot easier to assess. I realised that many of the claims atheism made against religion could be applied to themselves, like how if you wanted to prove the absence of a God, you’d need to prove that something can come from nothing, that different laws can perfectly string together to create harmony in the universe. That can be as difficult as proving God exists, yet we somehow default to atheism when we lose faith in a religion. Going by sheer numbers, inclinations and history, the default would be that God exists, albeit we might then say that we don’t know which religion adheres best to it.

With atheism on equal footing with other religions, I could no longer accept it as a default, so I started to account for what seemed to be a blend of most likely and within my proximity, i.e., my own religion and the views I’d come across from others. I kept an open mind and took the information I came across as a means to certainty, rather than seeking certainty itself from it, so I was patient with what I came across. Hence, we have that journey from probability to certainty.

Afterthought

With all that said and done, I’d like to end with an afterthought. Anyone is okay to disagree, but I won’t let that cloud my judgement with every other interaction I have with those that disagree and I hope they can be the same. We don’t need to agree on our beliefs to respect and support one another elsewhere.

… a bier passed before the Prophet (ﷺ) and he stood up. He was told that he (the deceased) was a Jew. Upon this he remarked:

Was he not a human being / Did he not have a soul?

Sahih Muslim 961a

I think that discussions on belief are good for us when we can respectfully express them. It more often seems to make sense to me to iron out the differences now and find common grounds for us to accept and account for, than to hide and then bring up our grudges and fears during a moment when we need to be on the same page and fast. What about you?

3 thoughts on “Religion and My Reason

  1. I think that within the broad umbrella of atheism, there are a couple of distinct positions. One is the hypothesis that there is no God. The other is the null hypothesis that accompanies the hypothesis that there is a God (or Gods). I fall into the latter category. I have no way of knowing if there’s a God or not, but I haven’t come across anything that makes me inclined to accept the hypothesis that there is a God, so I default to the null hypothesis, as I would if I were doing an experiment and my data didn’t support the hypothesis.

    But I agree, the hypothesis that there is no God is just as much a belief system as the hypothesis that there is a God.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s always difficult to talk in terms of systems due to how broad it is. There’s so many different aspects and variations to consider that you have to be as broad as the system itself.

      Although I do love to write and see the good in it, I still often prefer one to one as it’s easier to assess or address a system in accordance with the person following it.

      Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started
%d bloggers like this: