Posts Tagged ‘christianity’

Jabreel’s Inferno

August 20, 2008

“Per me si va ne la città dolente,

Per me si va ne l’etterno dolore,

Per me si va tra la perduta gente.

Giustizia mosse il mio alto fattore:

Fecemi la divina podestate,

La somma sapienza e ‘l primo amore.

Dinanzi a me non fuor cose create

Se non etterne, e io etterno duro.

Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate!”*

Lately I have been reading Dante’s Inferno and while usually I can dismiss religious texts, it has inspired me to ponder on the (debated) reality of heaven and hell. I’ve never been a ‘Christian’ girl to the dismay of my Catholic grandmother, although in my youth I entertained the possibility and attended a couple of masses with her, and even wore a beautiful silver cross encrusted with shining azure coloured topaz. Although, I admit I wore it more for the beauty of it than the meanings attached.

My parents both rejected the Christian ways of their parents as they grew older, my father once walked in on my Nanna telling us what to say in prayer and cried in exasperation “Don’t teach them that bullshit!”. I was always told that I didn’t have to participate in Religious Education in Primary School, and while I did go in the beginning, I soon tired of singing ridiculous hymns and remembering verses, and arranged to be removed from the class. I’ve never cared for Christianity.

But I can’t shake the belief in Fate, that destiny controls my path and that I’m lead to come across certain things for my own benefit. I’ve never had an inclination to read the Inferno, but a friend of my sisters lent me a big stack of books and it was in there, along with the other two parts to the trilogy. Even then, I wasn’t too keen, but one of my lecturers mentioned it in class and said that no-one could ever reach the last text, because it was too boring. And so with such a challenge issued to me, how could I refuse?

So I’ve been reading it, and with each circle of Hell Dante passes through I wonder is that where I will be? Is this the torture I will suffer? Then I think, you don’t believe in this fairy tale bullshit do you? That death is followed by another life in a magical realm? Such things couldn’t exist. But then, why have I been influenced to read this book? I never wanted to. And it has planted a seed of doubt in my mind, a seed that may have been destined to fall into place to make me question what the world is about.

Not that I would apply that belief in Heaven and Hell to Christian beliefs, I would think of it as something that would push me back to an Islamic path. Otherwise, why would I have made so many strong Muslim friendships and fallen into their culture and beliefs so easily? In Islam, there is the notion that everyone has the chance to revert and it is up to them to take that chance. It seems to me that I’ve been given so much in the way of Islamic influence, so much information, so many connections, but my feelings towards it being truth are unfounded.

If I was meant to be a Muslim, then why was I born with such strong feelings against organised religion, and an unwillingness to believe anything that was not provable through science? I used to tell my Muslim friends, back when I was still on the path of reverting, that they were lucky to be born in Muslim families, because they never felt the conflict of reason versus faith. They used to tell me that the reasoning and signs that pointed towards Islam were all there, but I was allowing myself to be blind to them.

Another thing that haunts me is a dream I had, back when I was still ‘Islamic’, on the eve of Ramadan. The Ramadan before that I had been fasting only every second day, which was a stark comparison to the Ramadans I’d fasted before, when I would only miss out on a few days. And so, I began to wonder whether this was truly the path for me and said to myself if I couldn’t fast a whole Ramadan, I could never be Muslim.

Anyway, the eve of that Ramadan (I think it was 2005 or 2006) I had a dream that the angel Jabreel (or Gabriel) came to me and told me that I must fast, and that I had to look after a young majnun (Arabic for a crazy person, or mentally retarded person) or all would be lost. He didn’t exactly say those words, and in all honesty I can’t remember any exact words or even remember his lips moving, I just remember the message. And in my dream he was shining with a bright golden light around him, he had golden hair and bright, intense, scary blue eyes and he was so powerful that I was overwhelmed with fear, I was completely freaked out by him in a way that I can’t even properly explain.

I woke up straight away and then immediately thought, it wasn’t real, it was just a dream and turned to my side and closed my eyes. The moment my eyelids shut I saw the vision of him again, just as frightening as before, and I quickly opened them with a gasp. It was 6am, or something close to it, and the sun was shining into my room. I was pretty cut that I’d woken up so early because it meant I’d be awake and so, fasting longer, but I was too afraid to close my eyes. It would have been a good start to a Ramadan, being up so early and having a lot of time to listen to Islamic lectures and learn to pray, but that Ramadan I barely fasted at all. I ignored the message.

When I told my Muslim friends of the dream they were astounded. My best friends mother interpreted it and said that it was a very good dream, that it was extremely rare that one would be blessed to receive an angel in their dream and that the majnun was myself. They all could not believe that even after such a powerful and scary dream I was still holding back from reverting. Sometimes, neither can I. But then I think of the world through eyes of logic and reason, and Islam seems once again like a strange fantasy.

I still feel the guilt though, and I can’t shake it, especially after drinking. Even now, I feel bad for every sin and I try to stay ‘pure’. I wonder where I got it from, I was never enough of a Catholic to begin the guilt process. Its so weird being stuck in the middle. But I can’t get past the parts of the religion that I feel are wrong, even though it feels like Fate leads me towards it so often.

So I let it go.

*Translation: Through me is the way into the woeful city; through me is the way into eternal woe; through me is the way among the lost people. Justice moved my lofty maker: the divine Power, the supreme Wisdom and the primal Love made me. Before me were no things created, unless eternal, and I eternal last. Leave every hope, ye who enter!


Another Dead In The Name Of Religion

August 12, 2008

A 19 month old boy was starved to death for not saying ‘Amen’ after eating, by a cult which included his own mother. Oh, you cruel animals. How could you do that do a child? No offense to those who follow organised religion, but why are we all still suffering violence at your hands?

For a long time, I was making the moves towards reverting to Islam. I was listening to Islamic lectures, fasting during Ramadan, reading the Koran, learning to pray. I’ve always dressed conservatively, so that was no problem. I was learning Arabic, which I had gotten pretty good at. I can understand what people are talking about quite well, my speaking is disjointed though, I would love to continue with the language some day.

One thing I couldn’t understand about the religion, despite loving it, was the part that women were not equal to men. I asked a lot of my Muslim friends about it, but never got a satisfactory answer. I suppose I should have asked a Sheik, but I didn’t. I let myself be discouraged after years of study. I knew more about Islam than most of the Muslims I knew, but I just gave up.

I’m not saying all this to show Islam unfavourably, I still think it is a beautiful religion, based on submission and peace. I’m merely trying to show you that I understand. I get where you are coming from. I understand that giving yourself wholly to a religion provides unmatchable comfort and a relieving sense of the world being as it should be, all is taken care of, all is well. The meaning of life is under wraps and all you have to do is the best you can, to be a good person. It simplifies everything.

But I hate where religion goes when you take it too far. Too many people have died in the name of it, especially considering they preach for ‘peace’. Discrimination is promoted by religion and thats where my problem lies. No homosexuals, no female priests or sheiks, no marrying someone from another faith. They are wrong and we are right. They deserve to burn. I have this part of me that wants to believe, and yet another part that screams, “A bunch of old patriarchal minded men sat down centuries ago to dictate how the world should be lived, and you’re listening to them? Are you fucking stupid?”.

And then the other part of me who laughs at this quote: “Christianity – The belief that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.. yeah, makes perfect sense.”

Everyone has the right to believe what they like, faith is a complicated thing and I am not one to tell others how to live their lives, even if I disagree with them. Why was that boy not returned the same courtesy of simply being allowed to choose whether or not he agreed with his mothers ‘cult’? I don’t know, I’m pretty disgusted right now, so forgive me. I know I’m being very offensive. I know that extremists are not examples of religion in its whole form. But, I’m not wrong in saying religion discriminates.

It does, and thats what makes it unacceptable.