what you should know part 2

Part 1

Although I don’t know why most people read this website, I can gather from emails I receive occasionally that for some the reason might be some form of religious consultation. I am going to tell you that I am a Bad Person to ask for religious advice. That is not to say I don’t have plenty of it. (Bad people, as you have doubtlessly discovered, nearly always have plenty of religious advice.) And that is not to say that I would be more than willing to offer it to you. I am not entirely so bad that I would offer it without an invitation. (Bad people, as you have doubtlessly discovered, never require invitations to demonstrate their impressive expertise in religious advice.)

What I mean to say, is that if you are coming to me for religious consultation of any sort, then you ought to know what kind of person I am as to evaluate my worthiness for giving advice. And I am saying I may not have Credentials for Worthiness, on account of when I pray every day, I have stopped asking God for things at the end of my prayers.

Do not mistake this as modesty. It is true that I used to be shy to ask God for anything, but the reason I have stopped is nothing of noble consideration. The reason I have stopped is in fact much less noble, and much less considerate, and that reason is that I have cried and cried and cried about things that happen in the world like the murder of children and women who are trafficked into sex slavery, which means I imagine that the victims have cried and asked even more, and my heart is no longer able to ask God for anything without a sense of defiant numbness.

You may consider this being without light (in the Islamic sense) or worse–faithlessness, but the truth is that when I don’t become frustrated with God over the job I wanted, or the shoes, it is not a sense of faithlessness I feel but a sense that I don’t expect anyone to care about these things. (Or at least I think that’s why. Maybe I am being passive aggressive with God.) However, you are free to interpret this behavior as you see fit, while you are deciding whether you’d really want me to give you advice of the religious variety.

Some may argue that a God who demands to be Worshipped by them ought to deliver. I would agree, though I don’t believe God ever asked to be believed in while not delivering–the Qur’an would not speak of Signs, would not bring to our attention it was “revealed in a familiar language so to be understood”, would not advise us not to make religion irrational and difficult because that endangers our worship, if God expected to be worshipped while not delivering.

There is a large part of me that feels I shouldn’t hold God to a standard that I don’t hold myself, as such a thing would be inconsiderate. There is a saying–I can’t remember which language I read it in–that goes along the lines of, “Show me thanks and I will give you more and more.” The generosity comes naturally from being moved by such thoughtfulness. It never bothered me, consequently, that I pray five times a day. I have merely stopped asking at the end of them.

At least directly anyway. I still doubtlessly have quiet hopes that I don’t speak, that I simply don’t address to God, because it is impossible to crush this portion of the human spirit. It rises, and soars, imbued in our nature, this thing of hope, as though still conversing the same way to a God to Whom you have ceased asking for things.

Choose your religious consultants wisely.

3 thoughts on “what you should know part 2

  1. Moz in Australia

    But, but, you blog. And your writing is interesting. And you’re muslim. And female. And feminist. And stuff. You’re the obvious person to ask for religious advice. Like, “I have an infestation of Hindus at at the bottom of my garden, what should I do?” or “Do you really have Christmas in the middle of winter in the northern hemisphere?”

    Actually, the one real question I have is about the quote I saw on the wall of a vegetarian restaurant the other day. Loosely, “you should not let your stomach be a graveyard for animals”. Unfortunately that seems to be a common vegetarian quote and the Islamic sites I found looking for it don’t mention it. Even http://islam.about.com/od/islamsays/a/animalwelfare.htm which has a bunch of stuff. So, do you know if that quote actually originates in Islamic works or was it misattributed? I’m guess the latter just because of the amount of Islamic guidance about how exactly to kill and enslave various animals.

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    1. Actually that quotation is mentioned in several Islamic sites, though none I would really take too seriously. It’s attributed to the Prophet, but it seems to be simply accepted that he said such a thing rather than confirmed, since no one seems to be able to cite to the exact (chronicled) hadith from where it was taken; there doesn’t seem to be a chain of narration, which is odd.

      The language sounds like something he would say; I mean it sounds Arab, as in like an Arab proverb. That’s not enough, however, to attribute it specifically to him (or to the 6th century Arabs in general.)

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