How I Found My Religion Way of Life: Part 2

How I Found My Religion Way of Life: Part 2

This post is continued from Here!

So I started to read the Qur’an. Now this book, although similar to the bible, felt different. At first it was repetitive. The first Surah was short ……. like it was written directly from God. Like these were God’s own words. I remember reading passages and in my soul I heard a voice say “This is the Truth” it was awe-inspiring and overwhelming. At times this text was just so dense and hard to read, not because of what it said but because well… there is no other book like it. I will have to do a separate post on this. So… thy seed was planted in my hear to follow this.

I never said the popularized Shahada to formally convert. For me I am more of an autodidact and immediately started studying. I was interested but not really a formal practicer of Islam. I tried to get my father to teach me how to pray but, it’s not that he didn’t want to show me, he’s just not much of a teacher. A friend of mine pointed out that the prayer essentially starts with the opening chapter of the Qur’an (Note: The Qur’an isn’t in order of revelation) I had purchased an audio cd collection of the Qur’an with a beautiful recitation. The first surah, Al’Fateah, was like a beautiful poem that lulled you in with it’s poetic rhythm. Something that can give chills to people who don’t even understand the language. It wasn’t until years later did I realize why it is called by so many names. It really is the key to understanding our religions.

I happened across a booklet that taught the step-by-step way of performing the prayers. I didn’t know about the different sects of Islam back then and just assumed we were one big global community. I knew that we were commanded to not make division in Islam, or I thought I knew. So I started to pray, with the help of the booklet. It was good. It felt good but no sooner had I started praying then the rules started appearing. The Sunnah prayers and the Nafls. The prayer became a chore that could take about a half an hour or more. When I tried to do the “required prayers” people essentially pressured me into not “half-assing it” for lack of a better term. I felt guilty even when doing the required prayers or tired and punished when I did all the extras. Eventually I fell off and stopped praying, like so many people do. It wasn’t until years later that I decided that the “Required” prayers were going to have to be enough because the chore of extra prayers had turned me away from praying.

I prayed regularly for a while and fell off, on and off. I had never finished the Qur’an. So many people told me that I needed to learn Arabic and study the true meaning. Maybe go to school for it or follow this Scholar or the other. My objections to the Hadith were met with classical objections like, how will you know how to pray or how to wash up if you don’t follow the Hadith? I was disheartened.

In theory there was this beautiful religion but there was so much wrong in the name of this religion. I observed cognitive dissonance. Like with so many religions I believed the Qur’an and the Hadith needed to go together and the Hadith was the necessary evil because there was no way to get along without it. The justification for so much wrong is found in the Hadith. Child Marriages, Hadith. Death by stoning, Hadith. Mistreating dogs, Hadith. If you find something severely mean or wrong I can bet it’s coming from the Hadith. Yes, there may be some good seeming chapters like the extra prayers but those even become burdens and turn people away from what they are enjoined to do by God.

So I had a theoretical love of my religion but I wasn’t practicing it because it was an extremely difficult religion, or so I had thought.
Some years passed and now I was married. Observing the prayers were usually phases in peoples life, rarely maintained when things got busy or took any turn for the worst. It wasn’t just me. I saw it in the people who were the most “devout” unless you had a lot of free time on your hands and were retired, chances are you were skipping or postponing your prayers.
Ramadan was another thing. For me the sacred month was like one of those retreats where you get away and meditate, maybe do a juice cleanse. Except you keep your life going while you do this. At night I would often open my fast in the Mosque. I did all sorts of things that weren’t good like drugs, smoking and even drinking. Come Ramadan I put them aside and spent the month abstaining from those habits.

Too often I would see a person racing to shove food in their mouth to run outside and have that first cigarette. The time between opening your fast and the prayer really just gives you enough time to get a drink and a few bites in. People eat a whole fruit salad in the time I can comfortable eat 4-5 dates and a small glass of milk. While standing in prayer you can hear lots of burping and the smell of cigarettes is stronger than at any other prayer time. I didn’t know what was going on but this didn’t seem right. There was an old man I loved who lived across the street. We would often split the meal between us. I would split my fruit salad with him and, after the prayer, he would split his meal with me. We both realized that our stomaches had shrunk and we weren’t getting anything out of being bloated with acid reflux. I had read the letters of the Prophet and saw the merit in eating very little.

I was a Muslim but, for some reason, the biography and Qur’an didn’t correlate with the man in the Hadith. I didn’t want to follow the man in the Hadith but I was under the impression that the religion wasn’t complete without these book and without included the Prophet. It reminded me of the Christians who maid the claim that I would not be saved from the fires of hell if I didn’t “Accept Christ as my Lord and Savior.” I thought Islam was a direct link to God. All of these practices were from Muhammad and without him how would we know what to do?
Years went by with my “in between” faith. In my heart I didn’t want to worship anything but God. In my prayers I sent peace to the Prophet and Abraham (an odd thing to do) In my life I tried to think how Muhammad would live or act. It never took. Where was this “Neither shall I fear Nor Shall I grieve” that was supposed to be part of the believer’s life. I don’t know. It felt like another religion was a bust. Maybe I wasn’t praying enough? I knew that was true. I wasn’t sure what it was.

The Question In My Heart
One day a question popped in my head. “If you had to choose to follow Muhammad OR God who would I choose?” My instinctive response was “I don’t have to do that because following the Muhammad is to follow God.”

15-16 year old me was upset. That wasn’t supposed to be the answer. It should have been a resounding GOD! No hesitation, no doubt, no question. Somehow I was mislead even with my intention being to follow one God. What went wrong?

There is only One Religion

The Qur’an 42:13-17
The idol worshipers will greatly resent what you invite them to do. GOD redeems to Himself whomever He wills; He guides to Himself only those who totally submit.

Ironically, they broke up into sects only after the knowledge had come to them, due to jealousy and resentment among themselves. If it were not for a predetermined decision from your Lord to respite them for a definite interim, they would have been judged immediately. Indeed, the later generations who inherited the scripture are full of doubts.

This is what you shall preach, and steadfastly maintain what you are commanded to do, and do not follow their wishes. And proclaim: “I believe in all the scriptures sent down by GOD. I was commanded to judge among you equitably. GOD is our Lord and your Lord. We have our deeds and you have your deeds. There is no argument between us and you. GOD will gather us all together; to Him is the ultimate destiny.”

Those who argue about GOD, after receiving His message, their argument is nullified at their Lord. They have incurred condemnation, and have deserved a severe retribution.

GOD is the One who sent down the scripture, to deliver the truth and the law. For all that you know, the Hour (Day of Judgment) may be very close.

The truth is this. It’s been one religion since Abraham (possibly before)
We call the 3 religions listed above Abrahamic Religions. God says it’s one religion.

So I decided I was going to purify my religion from ascribing any allies or partners to God in my prayer, Testament of Faith, and Call to Prayer. I didn’t stop believing in the messenger. I still wish I would have met him. It’s just that, if I was wrong and added Muhammad when I wasn’t supposed to that would be worst than if I was wrong and left him in. The cautious side was take him and Abraham out of my formal worship.

Things started to change.
The Shahada could no longer include.. I bear witness that Muhammad is.. etc. My mind started to open up and I started to feel peaceful. The verses started coming together. It was and still is amazing. Reading the Qur’an isn’t chore. I have a hard time thinking about something else.

True Unity
After following the original concept of “No God but God” I realized, if a Christian or Jew and I prayed together they wouldn’t have a problem with what I said. I am not mentioning a prophet. It was a unified religion in truth.

Then God guided me to these verses confirming what I already knew in my heart to be true:

The Qur’an 72:18
The places of worship belong to GOD; do not call on anyone else beside GOD.

The Qur’an 39:45
When GOD ALONE is mentioned, the hearts of those who do not believe in the Hereafter shrink with aversion. But when others are mentioned beside Him, they become satisfied.

This is exactly what the Modified Shahada does. It adds Muhammads name besides Allah as a precondition to being a Muslim. Muhammad isn’t needed to be a Muslim, It is Abraham. The Shahada doesn’t even make logical sense unless you take out Muhammad.

This isn’t disrespect Muhammad wouldn’t have include ANYONE, not even himself, in the prayer. He was a devout Muslim. Why would he send peace and blessings to himself in his formal prayer. That is what the Dua is for. Praying for someone. Salat is for contacting God and increasing our own blessings.

The Qur’an 40:10
Those who disbelieve will be told, “GOD’s abhorrence towards you is even worse than your own abhorrence towards yourselves. For you were invited to believe, but you chose to disbelieve.”

They will say, “Our Lord, you have put us to death twice, and You gave us two lives; now we have confessed our sins. Is there any way out?”

This is because when GOD ALONE was advocated, you disbelieved, but when others were mentioned beside Him, you believed. Therefore, GOD’s judgment has been issued; He is the Most High, the Great.

He is the One who continuously shows you His proofs, and sends down to you from the sky provisions. Only those who totally submit will be able to take heed. [40:14] Therefore, you shall devote your worship absolutely to GOD ALONE, even if the disbelievers dislike it.

Lastly, I want to add the verse that confirms that purity in religion leads to understanding the Qur’an.

The Qur’an 56:75-
I swear by the positions of the stars. This is an oath, if you only knew, that is awesome.This is an honorable Quran. In a protected book. None can grasp it except the Pure/Purified/Sincere A revelation from the Lord of the universe. Are you disregarding this narration?Do you make it your business that you disbelieve?

This doesn’t mean you can’t pick up the Qur’an if you are dirty. That it refers to the meaning. It’s easy to know the difference Can you physically grasp the Qur’an if you are unclean… yes. So this verse does not refer to physically grasping the Qur’an.

This is the key to understanding.

Before I prioritized the Messenger and God as the same thing. I put them on the same level. I, unintentionally, ascribed a partner to God. Yes I called him a slave or servant of God but whenever God was mentioned the messenger’s name wouldn’t be far off.

Finally I have experienced: Neither shall they fear nor shall they grieve.

There is a profound peace if you keep God first on the list of priorities in your life and heart. It takes practice like a muscle that hasn’t been used but I am practicing and have already saw a HUGE shift in my peace. Praise God. God always keeps his promise and I swear by all that I am and have ever been there is One God and He is the same God of Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Noah, Muhammad, David, Mary. They all believed in Him and I believe with them. I will not raise anyone up near God. I will keep my worship pure for God alone.

My greatest fear now is that I somehow revert and get tricked into worshiping something else. Even my own Ego is a danger. When I take pride in a job “well done” I forget that God gave me the skills to do that Job. I recommend praising God in your heart whenever someone says something that increases your pride.

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