Islam Can Speak to Us All
My life has been largely a religious quest. Religion has fascinated me, frustrated me and filled much of my intellectual life. Sadly, it has seldom satisfied me. It seem there is part of me that resists "submission" to the Mysterious. This may be a tale for another time: my journey from the child in school banished to the corridor for not publically reciting the Lord's Prayer to the clergyman I become as a vehicle for my personal seeking.
I have long been interested in World Religions. At one time, I could have been persuaded to become a reformed Jew as a result of a wonderful service in a Toronto Synagogue. Likewise, I was deeply impressed with Buddhism. And then, I was tempted to consider the life of a brother in a Trappist Monestary.(I fancied the robes and solituded. And I had read far to much of Thomas Merton) I found I came to hold a loyalty to the liberal religion of the Unitarian -Universalist denomination. It gave me a religious home when it seemed their was no place for a questioning religious person. If I were beginning again I might very have well become a Quaker.
Being a child of the '60's there was always the temptation of New Age religion through chemical mysticism but all that seemed so undisciplined. I find classical mysticism of all Faiths, requiring submission and discipline much more interesting. I am not very good at either. So I have limited my fascination with religion and mysticism to intellectual inquiry of the religious, Religion and particular Religions.
We all have much to learn from other Faiths than our own. In trying to understand them I believe one must consider them at their best to learn the great truths they have to teach. All Faiths have forms that are less than ideal and with element brought in from history, custom, ignorance and prejudice which detract from what they have to offer us. Also, I think one must try to understand what the meaning the religion has to the humble practitioner. "Theology is the price you pay for converting intellectuals to religion". I once read on the jacket of a book. This is not where religion is lived and felt as stimulating as the intellectual inquiry is.
Thanks to the American invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq and their war against Islam, I have become interested in Islam and in particular, Shi'a Islam. Of all the world Faiths, it calls the loudest for submission; the very name, Islam, means to submit.
We are in the midst of the Islamic holiest time of the year. Ramadan. This is a wonderful religious and family and community time. It is a month long spiritual discipline of fasting during the daylight hours during which scripture and prayers are said, and eating with family and friends wonderful food after sunset and before sunrise. It is a time when Muslims seek to purify themselves and bring themselves once gain into the right relationship with God. Charity is also encourage at this time as are other ideal behaviours. http://www.amaana.org/ISWEB/ramadan.htm (This is part of the website for Ismaili Muslims. It is one of the Shite branches of Islam whose Iman is the Agha Khan IV who is the 49 Imam, a direct descendent from Allah. The whole website is a fascinating read. I first met Ismaili Muslims when they were driven out of Uganda by Idi Amin and some came to Canada, and shared "church" space with the Unitarian Church in my home town.)
The other blog I enjoy reading is by an American Muslim woman who lives in Boston. Her father is an Imam in that city. She explains the meaning of Islam very well. http://theimamsdaughter.myminaret.com/
If you know little about Islam I invite you to read in a couple of blogs on my sidebar, particulary about the meaning of Ramadan. The first is the one by "Sunshine." She is a 13 year old Iraqi girl, living with her family in the midst of a war zone. She is articulate and a delightful person. http://livesstrong.blogspot.com/