Are my Islamic beliefs different from what is taught in the Quran?

Published: November 10, 2015
Email

I started reading the Quran, and I was hooked. This is what you would call the first stage of the journey. PHOTO: REUTERS

I believe we as believers pass through different stages of consciousness on our journey towards God. I have long thought about this, and today, I wish to share my journey with all of you. So, it started off as an unexpected interest in Islam. As I started reading the Holy Quran, I was hooked. Perhaps this is what you can call the first stage of my journey.

Once I actually started reading, I came to know about the stark differences between what God says in the Holy Quran, and what is widely believed by our community and religious peers. Ignorance drives us to be judgmental and take great delight in debating, and proving other people wrong. A sense of superiority reigns over us and we believe our argumentation will save people from the endless doom of fire. Unfortunately, and I say this with the deepest regret, most religious individuals do not grow past this stage. The written word is absorbed and regurgitated without any kind of deliberation.

The next phase of the journey begins, if you’re lucky enough (and I sure was), to meet people who challenge your beliefs and ask you to present logical explanations for why you believe certain things. It feels new, in the beginning, employing rationality to present your religious beliefs. You think to yourself,

“Does my belief warrant a logical explanation?”

The fact that the Quran places a great amount of significance to logic (7:179) encouraged me to continue using reason.

The next step is to unlearn the things you have programmed yourself to believe in, and look at things from a rational perspective. It is very difficult initially, mind you! You’re in tatters!

For example, you question yourself,

“Does God really allow men to beat women?”

Your inner voice immediately says no. You realise that perhaps you, yourself have a lot to learn from others. Differences of opinion are now regarded as food for thought; you no longer want a front where you correct others. It is a stage of uncertainty; you feel a hollow void within yourself, desperately asking God to provide answers to your endless questions.

This agony lasts for a while.

Then suddenly, you have a Eureka moment!

And everything starts falling into place and making sense. You no longer accept the translations of the Holy Quran as perfect; instead you interpret it for yourself through a range of different exercises and realise that the many contradictions that lie within these translations are true. In this phase, you thank God for opening your eyes towards the truth.

Soon, fear stops being a motive for believing in God. Unconditional love for God becomes the foundation for your faith. You help other people get rewards, simply because they are your brethren in humanity and are in need.

This is where the real fun begins, folks. When you enter this stage, labels don’t matter anymore, only character does. You stop indulging in debates, because you realise that they are only a clash of egos. An inner serenity overwhelms you. This, I believe is the third stage. The farthest I have walked yet.

I have never felt more at peace in my life.

I would encourage everyone to start their own religious journey today. Be water, let go of your rigidity and evolve!

Rohail Waseem

Ro Waseem

The author is a Muslim who writes about Progressive Islam. He runs a weekly blog on Patheos (www.patheos.com/blogs/quranalyzeit) and has contributed some of his articles to Huffington Post, Onfaith, & Tikkun, among others. He tweets as @Quranalyzeit (twitter.com/quranalyzeit)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.