This morning, I read about the two Muslims that were almost kicked off a plane because passengers were terrified that they were extremists who would surely blow the plane to bits after maybe an hour after take off.
The matter was settled and ended with both men offering those same passengers treats of baklava.
That was a generous gesture considering the humiliation those guys had to endure simply because they outwardly represent a religion that has been hijacked by crazy assholes who unimaginatively justify their despicable actions with the full support of a supreme being that doesn’t exist.
No God would condone the act of strapping little girls with devices programmed for detonation.
But as Christians, we are taught that God previously wiped out the human race because He was fed up and needed to rid the earth of the filth that was taking hold. That sounds pretty damn crazy but it’s in the bible and some of you take that stuff very seriously.
So, I guess religion is a complicated web of sordid fare that can be dissected as we wish depending on how our mental faculties are arranged.
I am a Christian but not the kind you’ve been privy to because I don’t subscribe to the teachings of ordained ministers or pastors who are drenched with the gold coins of mega churches. I am my own preacher and my relationship with the Almighty is a deeply personal one that can’t be fucked with because I guard it carefully.
My God is a tolerant master who loves me despite the fact that I sometimes drink way too much and don’t allot nearly enough time towards my spiritual development as I should. He also loves everyone equally regardless of race, creed and sexual preference. He takes responsibility for our transgressions because He created us, which means he made allowances for those times that we would screw up and ask for forgiveness.
Basically, my God is awesome. And I love Him. A lot.
I also adore Allah. I grew up loving Him as an impressionable youngster in Lagos, Nigeria. The Call to Prayer woke me up every morning. I can still recall it. “Allahu Akbar”. I would lie there imagining the Mallams gathering in response as they stoically follow through with the ritual that I absolutely recommend you witness at least once because if you do I promise it will leave you breathless.
I lived in an extensive apartment complex that recruited occupants that worked for the government — otherwise known as civil servants. My parents fit that description so we called 1004 Flats or Federal Government Housing Estate our home and it was a vibrant hub that subbed as a mini-city. It had everything you could ever want.
It also housed a large area regulated to the Islam scholars also known as Mallams. We endearingly referred to that part of the estate as “Mallam’s Place”. And every time I was asked to pick up items from the local grocery store, I had to walk through Mallam’s Place — and when I did, I quickly observed the elegant dedication these men devoted to their religion.
There was never any fear or anxiety on my part but rather a sense of curiosity and respect. I was old enough to comprehend that Islam was a way of life that demanded discipline and a methodical approach that I found more appealing than Christianity.
This fascination carried over into my boarding school days. Since Nigeria was a former British Protectorate — we inherited their system of existence, which meant that at the tender age of eleven we were carted off to boarding schools. I was essentially forced to live with other girls my age and of course that experience exposes you to an array of habitual tendencies.
The most memorable for me was blatantly observing my Muslim friends taking the time for prayer. Apart from the fact that these girls where aesthetically gorgeous — they were also completely immersed in their need to honor their commitment to systematically step away from their daily routine to worship Allah through the course of the day — with the final bow before going to bed.
As I watched them discretely demonstrate their love for Allah, I wished with all my heart that I could join them. It looked so beautiful and peaceful. The mat, the kettle, and the timed movements that flowed gorgeously to a melody that only they could dance to — yes, I wanted desperately to be a Muslim.
I wanted a Muslim name and I wanted to experience the delight of participating in Id el Kabir because of the look of accomplishment on the faces of my friends after they successfully fulfilled those obligations.
Christianity was a pain growing up. I had to get up and wear the dress my mom picked out for me. I had to have my thick hair wrangled into the style of the day. Then I had to sit in the pew and spend two hours imagining what my life would be like in my twenties when I would have the power to avoid being in the situation I was presently undergoing.
Why couldn’t I be a Muslim and piously give Allah his due while looking cool, calm and collected under his loving gaze?
Don’t get me wrong, I am not completely unaware of how unfairly women are treated in this layered world but that goes across the board even though the levels are not quite the same.
All, I am trying to convey is that my memory of Islam is what sustains my belief that it isn’t this dangerously vile practice that is instituted for human extinction. It never was that. Human beings are flawed and restless with greed. They often find ways to dominate and destroy and that is exactly what inspires extremists to use the name of Allah in vain.
They are succeeding in giving Westerners a terrible impression of a religion that I always admired. I still admire it and I still wish I was a Muslim. Who knows, maybe I will be one someday. If Allah would have me.
I challenge you to make the effort to familiarize yourself with the core principles of Islam. Educate yourself and truly approach this exploration with open enthusiasm and a willingness to be pleasantly swayed.
Islam is a beautiful expression of what it means to truly adhere to the greatness of the One who Alone, without partners or helpers created all that IS created in creation, either known or unknown.